Civilian Marksmanship Program Sales
Did you wish you bought real estate in 1999? What about gold in 2001? Well the same thing is happening right now with the rifle known as the M1 Garand, the primary battle rifle of the US throughout both WWII and Korea. On the consumer market Garands have already begun to rise in price, but what many people don’t know is that the US Government, or rather a quasi-governmental non-profit corporation who took it over from the US Army in 1996 called the Civilian Marksmanship Program, or CMP, is currently selling off what are probably the last batch of government Garands to the public. All you have to do is apply, supply the required documents, pay, and you can have a certified authentic M1 Garand shipped right to your door, in most states.
There were over 6 million Garands produced for the government over the life of its service. Some of these have been destroyed over the years (it takes an act of congress), and some are still in the hands of foreign governments that they were loaned or given to, but the majority are today either in the hands of shooters and collectors, or currently being sold by the CMP. And even though there may be a ton of Garands out there, the M1 Garand is the ultimate and most romanticized collector rifle of the last 100 years. Saving Private Ryan, Band of Brothers, and even Gran Torinohave spiked interest in, and ultimately the collector price of Garands. All it will take is one more blockbuster movie and the most classic rifle ever will be outside the range of its utility value, and outside the range of my average shooters on a budget.
Unfortunately, in the consumer market of mildly collectable non-matching Garands, there is a mess of disinformation out on the web. Books abound, but many of them disagree, and there are, believe or not, fakes on the market, as well as re-welded previously de-milled rifles. Even for an expert, it is generally a crap shoot to buy any Garand without proof of what it is and where it came from. The reality is that nobody was watching the ship as Garands were taken out of service, some re-arsenaled, some not, some given away, some destroyed, some re-imported, with import marks, others without import marks. You can buy a stamp to reproduce the inspector signature (cartouche) on a Garand stock today on Ebay. Nobody could possible catalog all of the tricks, traps, and disguises that have fallen upon the M1 Garand over the last more than half a century, but thanks to the CMP, you don’t have to.
Historically, through experience with the 1903 Springfield, which used to be in plentiful supply at CMP like the Garand is today, the most collectable thing about a collectable US rifle can be that it has CMP paperwork accompanying it. When I rifle comes from CMP, it has never been in the consumer market before, and therefore it has to be 100% real, even if it is not 100% original as issued, and most aren’t. The important thing is, this was the condition of the rifle when the government last touched it, and as you’ll see from some of the rifles we ordered, the CMP itself is refurbishing Garands even themselves.
I discovered this secret about the CMP a few years ago, yet never bothered to order a rifle. Back then they had some 1903s to sell, as well as Garands, but none of the rifles seemed like they were in all that good a condition, and they weren’t exactly cheap. The CMP is a corporation, and they aren’t stupid. They know how much money you can sell their guns for as soon as they come to your door, on GunsAmerica (where dozens of CMP guns come and go every week), so they are priced somewhat competitively, to what the market will bear. But I decided for this article series that the time is going to come soon that they run out of Garands, and that I, as well as our GunsAmerica people, had better figure this CMP thing out before it is too late. Today CMP only gets a handful of 1903 Springfields now and then, generally sent back from veterans organizations that are now defunct, and the rifles are not that great. Is this going to be the case with Garands in two years? Who wants to take that chance?
To start the process, I ordered six (6) rifles. You are limited to 12 per year, per person. If you look on the rifle sales page at http://www.thecmp.org/Sales/m1garand.htm, these are the models I ordered.
- RM1WRAR – The least expensive model on the list, a Winchester Rack Grade, $595. Winchester was one of several manufacturers that supplied the M1 Garand to the government over the years. They are not as desirable as the Springfield Armory guns, today at least. Good luck finding any Garand for six hundred bucks today that works. We will see when it comes what you get for this kind of money, but if it looks ok and shoots, it is a steal by today’s standards I think.
- RM1WRAF – The same Winchester in “Field Grade,” $695. We will see what the difference is.
- RM1SASSP – “M1 Garand, Service Grade Springfield Special,” $950. Special Grade means refinished. The metal is “collector grade” and the stocks are brand new manufacture. None of the parts on any of these guns will be matching, so most likely these guns are put together from parts piles with new wood. If they look good and work good who cares? Eventually everything becomes collectable once it runs out, and these guns have CMP paperwork.
- RM1SPECIAL – These $995 Garands were just introduced recently, and this was what got me to finally order some guns for this article series. This is a completely new gun, except for the receiver that is original USGI, and it has a Criterion barrel, so if you really want to shoot Service Rifle, this may be the best option. They are available in .30-06 and .308, but I would stick to the .30-06.
- RM1CSB – The famous original M1 Garand sniper rifle, the M1C, $3,000. It was a stretch to order one of these for the articles, but if we risk the three grand, at least it’ll give all of you an idea of what you get for three grand. The M1C used a Griffin & Howe mount that is still made today believe it or not, and when this gun comes we will see just how much work it will require to bring it into service, and how good it shoots.
- RM1DS – The M1D was the second sniper rifle made from the Garand, $1,500 at CMP while supplies last. At half the price of the M1C, there is no wonder that none of the original M1Ds were originally sniper rifles. Unlike the M1C that was send brand new from the Government to Griffin & Howe for a side scope mount, the M1D was created to be able to be converted by field teams. The mount is crude, and when this M1D gets here we will test the original mounts you can find around, as well as the reproduction mounts. The optic on most of these rifles was the M81/82 and after WWII, the M84. These were Lyman Alaskan scopes, make in New Mexico, and we are going to be able to test an original Lyman, as well as a couple reproductions from Gun Parts Corp.
Not a bad rack of guns, and though they are all M1 Garands, they should be drastically different in fit, finish, and overall look and feel. Shipping is $24.95 per rifle, and the PDF of the order form, with fillable fields, is at http://www.thecmp.org/Sales/orderinginfo.htm.
If you download the application, scroll through the pages and you will see a list of things you have to send to CMP with your order. Once this article hits there should be a flood of orders into CMP, so act quickly, but also make sure you get your stuff in correctly so they don’t have to contact you. I inadvertently forgot one thing myself but they don’t seem to be too backed up at present, and it was only about a week and a half before I got a personal email from a human requesting the thing I forgot. The full explanation of the eligibility proof is at http://www.thecmp.org/Sales/eligibility.htm, and this is an overview of what you need.
- Club Membership – If you are a member of a gun club, check the list at http://www.odcmp.com/clubs/searchclubs.htm to see if your club is a CMP member. Mine was, so I just send a photocopy of my membership card. if you aren’t a member of a club that is on the list, or if you aren’t in an affiliated veteran, law enforcement or community group, all on those state lists, you can join the Garand Collectors Associationfor $25 and that will cover you.
- Proof of Age – A drivers license photocopy is fine for this.
- Proof of Citizenship – But a drivers license is not fine for this. It was my mistake, and I returned the email request from customer service with a photocopy of my passport, which was fine. it says any birth certificate kind of government document works, and they apparently will not be involving Sherriff Joe.
- Proof of Marksmanship or Other Firearms Related Activity – Any NRA course form, probably including a basic hunter safety certificate, looks to be ok for this, though it says it must include life fire training. I sent my CCW license which it specifically lists as OK. Any law enforcement or military history is proof as well. There is also a PDF you can have a range officer sign on the eligibility page.
- **NOTORIZED** NICS Form – I am sure a lot of people get caught up with this. They run a NICS check for every order and part of the form you download and print is a standard list of questions from the BATFE Form 4473. But unlike filling out a 4473 in a gunshop, you have to **WAIT TO SIGN THIS** until you take it to a notary public in your state. They will take your driver’s license and you sign the form in front of them. They then stamp your form to certify that it is in fact you who signed it. You can find a notary at most banks for free, and for a nominal fee at town hall, and even at pack and ship places. The notary will not stamp it unless you sign it in front of them.
- Your order form. – This includes all of your payment information and the details of your order.
- Firearm Owner ID Card – If you live in a state like Massachusetts, where state laws, in violation of the US Constitution, forbid you to possess a firearm without a special permit called a Firearm Owners ID card, YOU MUST SEND CMP A COPY OF THE CARD WITH YOUR APPLICATION. I am sure that there are states where individual guns must be registered as well, and it is impossible for us to keep this article fresh with information over the years it will be up, so if you live in MA, CA, NY, CT,NJ, HI, IL, or any of the other bad gun law states, check with CMP before placing your order. Their phone number is 256-835-8455. If you are in a flyover state, or Florida, you should be fine with just the CMP stuff.
Please note that though the website says you can scan and email in your order, I would use US Mail to be safe. I tried to email in the photocopy of my passport with an explanation that I had forgotten it with my US Mail order, before the US Mail order even got there, but they claim that they never got it. It wasn’t until my file was created from the printed, notarized US Mail order that I got an email from customer service requesting the proof of citizenship. This did not come from the general customer service email box that I had originally emailed. It was a private box from a customer service rep at CMP, and my reply to her with the same PDF scan of my passport was answered with a “thankyou” within a couple hours. I did not try to fax, which should be safer because it should spit out actual paper, but I know for sure that the US Mail orders were processed within a timely manner regardless. Just make sure you have all the stuff correct.
Oh, and she also said my guns would be here in two weeks. So I guess we’ll see. The website says that there will be a 30-90 day wait on most guns, and some grades are already sold out. Just beware that hundreds if not thousands of orders will come as a result of this article, on top of the normal workload, so the sooner the better if you are going to order, and you are already a member of a CMP organization.