Both of the Field Grade Garands we ordered for this article were in great shape. You can see from this picture that they seemed to have stocks that had been heavily oiled and they always have a shiny, cloudy look to them, but it doesn’t look bad, and at this price you can’t really go wrong.
Both the Springfield and Harrington & Richardson varieties seem to be in plentiful supply at $525. The Winchesters were not available this year at all.
All of the CMP guns come with a hard plastic CMP case, and they are shipped Fedex overnight right to your door. This picture is very representative of the coloring of both rifles, though there is no gaurantee that you will get the same. The warning on the Field Grade guns is extremely ominous, but our guns are very nice.
These guns didn’t come with the accumulation of cosmoline that we found with the service grade guns. They weren’t spotless, but overall they have nice original finish and the cosmoline has been mostly removed.
The Springfields will always be in demand just because they are Springfields, and this $525 Field Grade is a great buy.
The HRA guns were delivered after the armistice in the Korean Conflict in the sunset of the M1 Garand, but they are nonetheless a piece of history and because of their scarcity they will be collectible. At this level of original finish you will have a very desirable firearm.
We switched to 100 yards for these tests and the Springfield was able to keep 3 rounds into about 2 inches, but opened up another 2-3 when opening the group to five shots. This was pretty consistent.
Each gun gives you a yellow tag with both muzzle and throat erosion measurements on them. These are not as bad as they could be, but not perfect either, which is why the guns don’t shoot as well as the other grades.
Though we did shoot some of the Greek ammo that CMP is selling, all of our accuracy testing was done with Hornady Garand Ammo, available through CMP, Midsouth Shooters Supply, and a few other online sources.
Somehow, in preparation for the first article in this series on ordering M1 Garand rifles from the Civilian Marksmanship Program, we missed the least expensive of the bunch. They are called “Field Grade” Garands, and at $525 (plus $24.95 S&H), they seem to be a great buy. We ordered both the Springfield Armory and Harrington & Richardson (HRA) versions of these guns, and the Winchester is no longer available. Of all the Garands we have ordered from CMP so far, if you are looking for a Garand to just shoot and enjoy, you can’t do any better for the money than these field grade guns. Look around in gunshops and online and you will be hard pressed to find a nice looking and shooting Garand for under $600. Even at live auctions these days more Garands go for upwards of a thousand bucks. These “cheapest Garands” are a real find, and you order them directly from the CMP, just as we described in the first installment of this series. Our guns came in less than three weeks, each with its own hard plastic CMP case, and certification paperwork. Who knows when these guns will dry up, so if you are thinking long, heavy boxes under your Christmas tree this year, now would be the time to order.
The condition listed on the Field Grade guns on the CMP sales page shows them as “Fair to Good,” and there is an extensive warning that these rifles may contain mixed manufacturer parts, or even import parts, and that you should not expect rifles in “mint” condition in this grade. This could be the reason we didn’t order them for the first article. It is worded pretty harsh. But as you can see from the pictures, these guns are actually nicer than the the $625-$950 “Service Grade” rifles we got in the first order. Those should have been the next step up, but based on what we got they aren’t. It could be that people get scared away like us, so there is a better pool in the field grade guns. Granted, there are advanced Garand collectors out there, and they will be able to tell you why these guns are cheaper. Some Garand parts for example, from specific manufacturers, are worth more than whole other rifles, and certainly these rifles. I’m sure these field grade guns aren’t a “steal,” but considering that they have been gone over by the experienced Garand gunsmiths at CMP, at least you know you aren’t buying someone else’s problem gun at a bargain basement price.
The prices on the CMP guns haven’t changed this year since our first article, which should lead us all to believe that there are still plenty of guns. You may have heard rumors that we will be getting more guns back from South Korea at some point as well, but so far that has been stonewalled by the current administration. These Garands are from Greece, and they carry no import marks. They are exactly as issued, going back to World War II and Korea, and it is doubtful that the Greeks every even used them. If you notice, on the sales page, several of the models that were original available are now gone. There may have been notice before they were marked gone, or there may have been no notice. Demand for Garands rises and falls with the movies, and the video games. There is no telling when the next blockbuster movie like “Saving Private Ryan” or video game like “Call of Duty” will pop and inflate the price of Garands, but right now we are in a dead patch in both Hollywood and the video game consoles. It was surprising how nice these cheapest examples were, and it could soon be a case of “you snooze you lose.” You just never know.
It could be that the folks at CMP read our first article (they did) and decided to clean the guts of their guns a little better, but these Field Grade guns came with almost no cosmoline in the action at all. The stocks were also closer to matching than the more expensive Service Grade rifles we had ordered for the first article, and one of the rifles even had a cartouche stamp visible on the stock. The finish on the metal parts, for both guns, is outstanding considering the price. The wood is a little hinky and seems to bleed oil somewhat, but it looks good, and in both of the guns the finish is very even across the main stock and the top of the forend, which was mismatched on the Service grade. We didn’t take them apart to check the numbers, but even if our numbers matched, with that strong warning on the sales page, there would be no guarantee that yours would should you order one.
To mix things up a bit, we tested the accuracy on these guns at 100 yards instead of 50 yards like the prior articles. As expected, the groups opened up, but we didn’t have Ben Becker our US Army Sniper to shoot for this article. We’ll bring him in for the next installment on the Garand Sniper Variants. Accuracy was nonetheless acceptable, averaging 2-4″ at 100 yards. Note the numbers on the yellow tags. They are measurements taken with a muzzle wear gauge and a throat erosion gauge. Muzzle wear is when the rifling wears away at the end of muzzle, leaving freebore, or partial freebore. This is a major factor in accuracy potential for a rifle, as the “let go” of the bullet, when not uniform, can cause it to do all sorts of subtle things that cost you in accuracy downrange. Throat erosion is on the other side of the rifling, when the bullet first enters. As you fire any rifle, the beginning of the rifling gets burned by the hot gases and scraped by the bullet, and this gradually wears it away, usually unevenly, and it can make the bullet start down the barrel slightly cockeyed as throat erosion gets pronounced. Neither of these guns had terrible readings, but even with a great shooter they probably won’t do much better than 2 minutes of angle or so, which would translate to a 2″ group downrange at 100 yards. Note that we also gave up on that crappy Federal Garand Ammo. It just doesn’t perform well. If you are shooting for accuracy and you don’t handload, use Hornady.
You may be asking, who in the heck is Harrington & Richardson? If you are new to guns and shooting, H&R is one of America’s oldest gun companies, founded in 1871. The original company lasted until 1986, and it survives today as H&R 1871. . If you ask anyone over the age of 40 what their first gun was and they may tell you that it was an H&R “Topper” single barrel shotgun, which are still made today. Towards the end of the Korean Conflict, H&R was tapped to make Garands, but the guns were not delivered until after the armistice was signed. The company later went on to make the M14, which is basically a Garand with a detachable box magazine, and H&R was one of only four companies to ever make US Military versions of the original M16. H&R Garands are both not collectible because they were not made during a war, and very collectible because not that many were made. For now you can get a really nice H&R for cheap, and all Garands will eventually be extremely collectible, so they are a great investment.
When it comes to buying old guns, no story in a review is always the best story because it means that nothing is wrong with the gun. These Garands have no real story. They functioned perfectly out of the box and had zero failures whatsoever. We tested them with the Hornady Garand ammo, as well as the Greek ammo that CMP is selling by the case, and we used the standard 8 round Enbloc clip, as well as the SLED single round, two round, and five round competition clips. The only quirk was that the Springfield tended to spit the single shot SLED out like a standard 8 rounder. You couldn’t ask for nicer Garands for the price, and if there is a steal in what is arguably the most classic battle rifle of all time, it is these CMP Field Grade Garands for $525. Remember you can only buy 12 guns per year, and they are supposed to be bought for your personal use, not for investment or resale, but if you are wary of the shrinking US dollar, it certainly can’t hurt you to tie up some cash in these Field Grade Garands. You can shoot them and enjoy them, and they will never be worth less than you paid. How many things can you say that of these days? Again, the ordering instructions are in the first article linked here.