|Issue #89 • September/October, 2004|
What follows is my personal quest to acquire an M1 Garand through the Civilian Marks-manship Program (CMP). We’ve all heard about getting government Garands, but personally I never knew anyone who had, so I thought I would give it a try and document my experience. My hope at the outset is that this article will encourage more of you out there to do the same while you still can. That flat panel monitor, digital camera, or new rifle will probably still be there and mostly likely be cheaper next year, but who knows for how much longer you’ll be able to buy a piece of history in the form of an M1 Garand rifle for five hundred dollars or less and have it shipped straight to your door.
Friday 3/26: While standing in one of my favorite local gun stores I see the proprietor hand a nice M1 Garand over the counter to a perspective buyer with the comment that it was a just like in “Band of Brothers.” They then ended up in a good discussion that included discussing the buyer’s military past. At this point the shop owner asked him if he had considered buying a Garand through the CMP as his discharge papers exempted him from the marksmanship requirements. The CMP—I hadn’t looked into them in years. Given that the price they were discussing on the Garand was almost a grand, I thought I might want to give them another look.
Saturday 3/27: Finally I got a moment to look at the CMP website (www.odcmp.com) and I was very surprised. I seem to remember that in an earlier day you could roughly specify grade and that’s it. Also, there were limits on the number, not that that is a big deal for most of us, but it should be noted. Finally, you also had to compete in a CMP associated shoot and qualify with a certain level of marksmanship. Not that this is an arduous task, but it is time consuming and time is something we are all short on. So completing the marksmanship criteria, and then not having much of a choice wasn’t appealing. How times have changed.
Now my Concealed Carry Permit fulfills the marksmanship requirement. Military discharge records still work as well, but so do a whole host of other certifications. They have also streamlined the process for repeat customers. So buying again, be it another rifle or ammunition, will be faster. This is due in part to the fact that the form that documents you are you is valid for three years. Most importantly, you can now specify not only grade, but manufacturer as well. So if you want a Winchester, you’ll get a Winchester. However, at this point there is a waiting list for International Harvester made Garands and the wait list is closed. The prices currently range from $350 for a Rack Grade Danish Issue to $1300 for a Collector Grade International Harvester should they have one available. Either way these prices are far less than can be found even on Internet auction sites.
Garands are not the only rifles available through the CMP. Currently you can buy M1903s, M1903A3s, M1917 Enfields, 22 Caliber Kimber Target Rifles, and it’s anyone’s guess what will come up under the heading Misc Rifles. As of this writing this category lists Mann Accuracy Barrels.
Tuesday 3/30: After trying to chase my uncle down for a few days I finally met up with him. He is the official notary in the family, and the statement attesting to the fact that you are who you say you are and can buy one of these requires a notary to guarantee your signature. So it’s into the Priority Mail envelope with all the paperwork and off to Alabama. Now begins the wait. I hate waiting, don’t you?
Wednesday 4/14: An email arrives from CMP with bad and worse news. The bad news is my Florida driver’s license didn’t qualify for proof of citizenship, so I had to fax over either a photocopy of my passport or birth certificate. The worse news is the Winchester manufactured Garands are on an approximately one-year back order. I reply with a faxed copy of my birth certificate and email asking what is available now.
Thursday 4/15: I receive a response saying the Springfield Garands are available now and the Harrington & Richardson Garands should be available in two months. Time to contemplate.
Friday 4/16: I decide the best move is to double down and buy insurance. I augment my order to two Winchesters and one Springfield. Well you didn’t think I could wait a year did you? I get an email back acknowledging that my order has been amended to two Winchesters and one Springfield. Curiously enough, they now comment that it might take two years to clear the Winchester backorder. Maybe I should have made it four Winchesters.
Thursday 4/22: I get a call at work from my wife. She utters the words I’ve been waiting to hear, “FedEx just dropped off a gun; I take it you’ll be home early?” Unfortunately as Mr. Murphy is seldom wrong I end up having to work later then usual and the traffic seemed unusually heavy on the way home. As soon as I arrive I make right for the bedroom where the rifle is now waiting.
The box is extremely well built and there isn’t a scratch on it; so far so good. Four strips of tape and the box opens easily. The rifle is held in place by dark gray foam pads. The CMP does a great job packing up the Garand so it won’t die an undeserved death during shipping. After lifting the top layer of foam I see her. There is no mistaking the look of a well-used Garand. I’m pleased to see they’ve included a clip and sling along with some instructions and brochures from a few companies offering their help in caring for and feeding your new Garand. An added bonus is a Certificate of Authenticity that states the model, serial number, who it was sold to, and the date signed by the Director of the CMP.
I lift the Garand out of the box and give it a quick physical inspection. There are only two real ugly spots. One is up at the front of the rifle where wood meets metal on the forestock and the other is where someone put some masking tape on the stock, probably back during the Kennedy administration. Other than that it’s just got the normal dings and dents, as one would expect. Upon further inspection it becomes clear that the forestock portions appear to be replacements as they are far less aged than the buttstock.
Next my attention shifts to the serial number. It reads 3,687,XXX. Now I’m not knowledgeable enough to know what year that puts the rifle’s birth date on, but with some quick checking on armscollector.com I get the response: 1945. Doing a little more reading it comes in highly unlikely that it was made in time to make it into the fray in either Europe or Japan, but at least it can claim WWII lineage. Further proof of this lineage is found in the markings on the buttstock where the cartouche reads SA NFR and has the cross cannons right next to it identifying it as a late WWII piece. I guess I’ll just have to buy a few more to see if I can get an early WWII rifle, such a pity. But for now, I’m just going to enjoy going out and blasting away my ’06 ammo and listening to that wonderful “ba-ding” as the clip pops out every eighth round.
I can’t say enough about how friendly and quick this whole process was. The CMP’s personnel were both courteous and prompt in responding to all inquiries I had and in resolving the small issues that came up. If you’ve ever wanted a Garand I suggest there is no time like the present to go to get one.
(Readers wishing to obtain an M1 Garand through the CPM can write to Civilian Marksmanship Program, PO Box 576, Port Clinton, OH 43452, but it’s easier to go online to www.odcmp.com.)