Of all the guns I ordered from CMP, this Winchester Rack Grade was the cheapest. Turnes out that there are two grades of Field grade that are cheaper I overlooked, so unless you are a Winchester fan and want one specifically, it probably isn’t your best choice. She shot good, but she isn’t the prettiest girl at the ball.
Besides the match grade Federal and Hornady rounds specially marketed for Garands, we shot hundreds of rounds of this suplus ammo on 8 round Garand clips.
As you can see, the Rack Grade has very little original finish, and the wood not only doesn’t match, it just doesn’t go. All the guns worked reliably though, even though the two Winchesters were full of cosmoline. The Garand clips pinged out like they are supposed to and landed right next to the guns, on all of them.
The Field Grade Winchester doesn’t match either, but it isn’t nearly as ugly, and the metal actually has mismatched finish on the receiver, though the barrel and gas tube look a lot like the Rack Grade.
If you click to make the picture bigger you will see that there is gummy cosmoline in the action of the Field Grade as well, but not as much, and the action is good looking. This has the single round feed devide called the SLED that was misplaced for the Springfields.
If you click to make this one bigger you will see the two-tones of the action and the roughness and open grain of the wood on the stock, but overall not a bad looking gun.
The CMP Special is a parts gun that has been completely reparkerized clean and green, with a new Criterion barrel.
They are like getting a brand new gun, even though many of the internal parts are old GI mixmatches. Because they are issued from CMP, they begin a new era of collectability, even though they may not be historically collectible. That’s the point! Take non-collectible stuff and make it great.
My CMP Special was just built in April, when I ordered it. It’s nice to have a shiny new Garand just made for you.
This is the gun I misunderstood. It is the Service Grade Special. These are supposedly collector grade guns with new stocks and stock hardware. It also has the CMP cartouche, and was the best shooting of the lot. See the targets below.
Civilian Marksmanship Program Sales
In the first installment of this series, if you missed it, I ordered six M1 Garands from the Civilian Marksmanship Program, or CMP. The premise is that now is the time to buy these historical treasures, before they dry up and get really expensive, like the 1903 Springfield has since it dried up through the CMP. There are a few details I have learned since that first article, partially from a post on the CMP forum. I wish the members had commented on our article, which was read over 45,000 times the first day it was out, so we’ll correct a couple things, and lets go shoot the guns!
I guess the most important thing they mentioned is that I missed some kind of rule that you are not allowed to re-sell them. This is a pretty big point wouldn’t you say? But for the life of me, after scouring the CMP website, I find no evidence of this whatsoever. In fact the site has no “rules” section at all, and the sales page specifically talks about Garands being hot collector’s items, which implies that you would horse trade them like any other collectible. Furthermore, there is no agreement in any way, shape, or form that you sign on the sales application , however there is a liability waiver. Therefore, unless one of the geezers wants to come and comment here, and explain exactly from where that comment is derived, I am going to consider it a dead or non-issue. And no, by the way, none of these guns we ordered will be sold anytime soon. Next.
The biggest mistake in the first article was in my description of the RM1SASSP, Springfield Service Grade Special, $950. As one of the guys noted on the forum, and I saw when the rifle arrived, these are not parts guns. They are next to new, collector rifles that have had the stocks and stock hardware replaced with aftermarket parts. The RM1SASSP was the most accurate rifle out of the four we have tested so far as well, and came in clean as a whistle. The CMP Special, which is actually the RM1SPECIAL item, is actually $50 more, and that is in fact a parts gun, with a new Criterion brand barrel installed. Maybe this will cause a little more snickering on the forum, but that Service Grade Special is the best buy in the lot from what I saw.
My other mistake was about the Winchesters not being as collectible as the Springfields. I looked into it, and in good shape, matching, etc., the Winchesters are extremely collectible, but these Winchesters from CMP are parts guns, catalogued at CMP as parts guns, so even if you hunted down the right stock with the right cartouche and found the right parts to go in the gun, that serial number will always be immortalized and checkable at CMP as a gun that was sold as a base level parts gun. Of the Field Grade Garands available, the Winchesters are not the cheapest. I don’t remember why I decided to order that one specifically, I guess because it was at the top of the list I didn’t notice that it wasn’t the cheapest. Both the Springfield and the H&R are both $525, while the Winchester I ordered was $695 in Field Grade. The Rack Grade Winchester was $595, so I did actually miss the least expensive guns on the sight, and I may just order them now just to see.
I am going to skip the M1C and M1D sniper rifles for now, because they are going to require that we buy some parts to make them whole, and they will need much more extensive testing. If you are curious, we didn’t include pictures here, but the $3,000 M1C is really sweet, and the bracket came installed. That rifle went out to Griffin & Howe already, the company that originally installed the M1C mounts during WWII, to have the sliding piece of the scope mount fitted to the gun, as the originals all were. The $1,500 M1D is also very nice, and we will be ordering the parts we need for that from Gun Parts Corp. this week.
That leaves us the two Winchesters and two refinished Springfields. They are worlds apart, much further than the $300 price difference would imply. By the time my guns went out, the folks at CMP had been blasted by you guys calling when the article hit, so they knew that they should send representative guns for the various conditions. My guns came that next week. Please note that the Winchesters came full of cosmoline, and that you should clean it out before you shoot them, even though I didn’t. A little bit of grease trapped in the wrong part of a firearm can create hydraulic pressure and actually break the gun. Had I realized before I went to the range that they needed going through I would have, but I decided to just shoot them once I arrived and opened them up. Who would have thunk it. Can you imagine buying a new rifle for $650 and having to clean the grease out of it from storage?
Rack Grade and Field Grade in the Winchesters only carry a $100 difference between them, but there was a big difference in the way they look. If you read the sales page description, the major difference should be the wood and, if you measure the throat erosion, that should be worse in the Rack Grade. It does say ” The overall appearance and condition of the rack grade will generally be rougher than any other grade.” and it is true. There was almost no finish on the metal parts of the gun. The wood doesn’t match and is quite ugly, and it is literally full of cosmoline inside. Despite the measurements though, it shot pretty good. Nonetheless, had I noticed the $525 Field Grade options, I would have checked them out instead.
The Field Grade gun was not entirely offensive. It had an old finish on the outside metal that appeared to be some parkerizing (green), and some bluing, or maybe just old parkerizing, I don’t know. It didn’t look bad though. Unfortunately it also did have a good deal of cosmoline in it, though not as much as the Rack Grade. And the wood didn’t match, but it didn’t look totally out of place either. You could show up at a service rifle shoot with the Field Grade and not feel like people were pointing at you. But don’t forget, since these stocks don’t have inspector marks, called cartouches, you can refinish them, and if you frequent gun shows, you may find a matching color stock for your gun cheap, and you’ll have a decent looking firearm without a huge investment.
Of the targets you see here, there were many more, and these were not cherry picked. The guns shot consistent if anything, and to get tired. Ammunition for Garands can be a little tricky. The original round for the Garand was 151 grains, and the later Match M2 was 173 grains. Some people will tell you not to shoot your Garand with heavier than 150 grain bullets, but that isn’t true. We are going to look at a gas regulator in a future article here that allows you to shoot heavier bullets in Garands, but even without this a regular 165 grain will generally shoot fine. As you can see, we tested with both a 150 grain Federal American Eagle specifically marketed for Garands, and the 168 grain Hornady Match Garand. All the rifles overwhelmingly liked the Hornady stuff better, and we will be using that for the rest of our tests down the road, even though there is still a half a case of the Federal left. I think it is going to end up as coyote fodder.
Moving on to the refinished Springfields, they are both gorgeous, with brand new wood, a fresh and new stamped CMP cartouche, and spotless internals. We had some problems with the CMP Special with the Criterion barrel. I don’t know if it just needs to settle in, but using a special 5 round Garand clip, it threw the first round of the clip high. It even seemed to do this with the two round clip we have as well, and of course on that day I misplaced my single round clip, so we just dealt with the flyer. As above, the RM1SASSP Service Grade Special is truly special. If it is all collector matching inside like the forum guys said, even better, but for the money it is a great rifle even without that. I’m sure the flyer issue with the CMP Special will settle out, and it didn’t seem to do it as bad with the Federal ammo, though it didn’t shoot it as well overall without the flyer, but we’ll figure it out. These guns will hopefully be back for more down the road as we look into shooting Garands, reloading for Garands, and even hunting with Garands. The most classic American rifle of all time has got to be the M1 Garand, and you can buy really nice ones for utility prices right now, the cost of an AR or less, and the best part about them is when you make them go bang.
(Scroll down for target pictures)