We’ve all heard that the M1 Garand is the “greatest battle implement ever devised”, and many folks speak of it as if the weapon never malfunctioned. It’s pointed to as an example of how a semiautomatic rifle with a piston and an op-rod is immune to external influences such as mud or dirt.
Unfortunately, this article from 1941 tells us that that simply wasn’t the case. One sentence accurately describes the testing: “Sum & substance of the findings was that the Garand was a fair-weather rifle.”
Roy Dunlap’s book Ordnance Went Up Front tells us:
“The M1’s were going to ruin for lack of cleaning in the holes up front-the poor guys did not have anything to take care of them with, and often were not in a position to shoot them often enough to keep the barrels clear of corrosion (grass won’t grow on a busy street-regardless of the corroding primer compound, if a .30-06 barrel gets a bullet through it every six or eight hours it will stay in pretty good shape). As a result of the fouling of gas cylinders and pistons, a large percentage of our semi-automatics were becoming singleshots.”
The Garand was certainly an excellent rifle, but its legendary status in some circles proves to be a little too excessive.