Soldier Holding an M1 Garand MemorablePlaces Proudly Presents: The M1-Garand Rifle
An American Companion in Three Wars
Our Experiences With The CMP
M1 Garand Purchase Program
(Civilian Marksmanship Program)
in 1999 and 2000

Page 8

Trial and Error.. and Error.. and Error

Well... using parts from Dad's M1 Garand I tested everything I could on mine. I tried the numerous things that I hoped would ameliorate the problem. I fired the weapon several times for each variation or part change. Here is some of what I attempted that afternoon:

  • Re-lubed the entire weapon twice. Once with a little grease and once so it was 'gooey'.

  • Re-checked the gas hole size in the barrel and in the Garand gas cylinder.

  • Checked the gas cylinder lock screw valve for tightness and cracks.

  • Traded out mainsprings.

  • Substituted follower rods.

  • Swapped gas cylinder lock screw valves.

  • Exchanged gas cylinders both with and without original gas cylinder lock screw valves.

  • Peened the barrel to make the gas cylinder more snug.

  • Took a chance and switched The Garand oprods.

  • I even tried switching trigger groups on a lark.

Nothing worked. The maddening thing was that regardless of what I did, nothing worked to fix my M1 garand rifle... but it did on Dad's. It was aggravating! The parts attached to my rifle would fail to cycle the action but when bolted to Dad's M1 they worked just fine.

The bottom line was that basically I tried every combination and iteration of the gas system I could think of and then switched the gas and spring systems in total between the two rifles and for some reason mine still wouldn't work.

Another Annoyance For CMP

There is a point at which every person resigns themselves to defeat. I had almost reached mine and so I wrote to CMP explaining things. Nina wrote back the next day telling me that if what I was trying did not work to call Jerry Shealy the CMP armorer and he could probably help me to fix my M1 Garand over the phone.

A few days later (after trying some more to fix the M1 Rifle myself) I called Jerry.

I found Mr. Shealy to be a heck of a nice guy, direct, specific, and helpful. He and I discussed what I had already attempted at the range during the course of our 5 or 10 minute phonecall. He determined that what I'd tried was about as good as someone with my training and tools (or lack thereof) could do. It became clear to both of us that I just wasn't going to be able to fix my M1 Garand by myself.

Jerry asked me to once again pack my rifle up and send it back to him. He made it clear without even being asked that there would be no charge for this. Another bit of evidence of the professionality of the folks at CMP.

On January 12th I did just that. Thankfully I had kept the shipping box from the last time so with a little bit of self-recrimination at not being able to figure out what the hell I had missed, I packed up my M1 rifle and sent it on its way. I included a very detailed 2 page letter explaining all of the things I had tried and explaining which parts I had swapped out. I also included four shell casings which had strange dents on their case mouths in hopes that it might aid in the diagnosis.

Of course that weekend Dad couldn't resist suggesting that he wanted to go back to the rifle range... so I got to watch him show off his perfectly flawless CMP M1 Garand rifle while mine made its way back to Alabama. Ah the injustices of life! :-)


On January 18th I woke up to find a message on my answering machine. Jerry was asking for a return call... I telephoned the number he left and he explained to me what he had done.

First Jerry had changed the gas cylinder. Not happy with the results he put in a new op-rod. When this was not quite up to perfection he decided to go a step further and he changed out the barrel (again) and put in another bolt! When I asked what I had missed he noted that there was nothing that I could have done.

He ended the call saying that he had test fired the weapon and it had operated flawlessly and that he would be sending the rifle back that day. Jerry directed that I was to take the rifle out 'without disassembling it' and fire it as soon as I could. I figure that he wanted me to prove to myself that it would work before I went and fouled something up by taking it apart. :-)

Home Again

On January 20th the FedEx lady again rapped on my door and presented me with another elongated box. Inside, as expected, I found my M1 Garand rifle snug in the finger foam. I noticed that the CMP never re-used the shipping boxes. Despite a couple cycles of sending my rifle to them I never once received a used carton.

I kept my word to Jerry and did not so much as open the buttplate, but I did inspect what I could see from the outside. Jerry had indeed changed out the barrel, oprod, gas cylinder, and bolt.

The gas cylinder looked almost new. Very little wear was apparent and the finish was dark and crisp. I also noted with some surprise that the oprod had a big "NM" stamped in it. This could mean only one thing, that it had at one time been designated as a 'National Match' oprod and had been manufactured to very close to tolerances. I found out later from one of the CMP volunteers that Jerry once kept a supply of these for the most aggravating or truly 'problem' M1 Garand rifles. I asked if perhaps they also were now keeping a list of 'problem people' as well. I was assured that no, there was no list of problem Yankee customers that Anniston had determined to 'run down on sight'.... quote: "as far as you know".

Maybe that trip to Anniston to see the CMP operation that I wanted to do some day may not be such a good idea.

Anyway it was time to get up to the rifle range...

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