Thursday, July 14, 2011

Magazine Fed Up.

Michael Z. Williamson has a pretty droll rant up about the Garand. I largely agree with him, too; I think the Garand is thought of a little overfondly. Sure, I'd rather have a Garand than a Mauser Kar.98k, but I'd rather have an FN-49 than either.

I only had one involuntary twitch while reading his post: Everybody always refers to the Short Magazine Lee Enfield as having a "detachable magazine", which I guess it technically does, in that there's a catch that can be operated to release the magazine from the gun, but that's not how the rifle was used. They were reloaded or topped up through the top with stripper clips, just like any other halfway-decent bolt action service rifle (which categorization, you'll note, neatly excludes the Lebel as well as any rifle using Ferdinand Mannlicher's annoying en bloc clip-loading system.)

As anybody who's wandered gun show aisles in despair for more than fifteen minutes knows, the British made 17,000,000 Enfield rifles of all patterns and 17,000,001 magazines for them, and that old guy wants too much for it, and the follower's all rusty, anyway.

As a matter of fact, since the relentlessly class-conscious British officer's corps was sure that the average Tommy couldn't be trusted with anything more complicated than a spoon lest he injure himself with it or lose it, SMLE magazines were actually chained to the rifle like a mitten on a string, at least until the urgency of wartime production caused such fripperies to be discontinued.

(The magazine situation isn't quite that bad, although I would caution against most aftermarket SMLE mags. I have a pair of extra mags, one for each of my Enfields, but they're more by way of spare parts than for reloads.)

(H/T to Bayou Renaissance Man.)


pdb said...

Adding to the fun is that every magazine was fitted to the rifle during armory service. So if you do strike gold and pick up a spare, be prepared to tweak on it some to get it to work properly in your gun.

Between that, the stretchy and inconsistent headspace, the stupid bolt head cutout notch on #4mk1*'s, limited brass life (see #1) and a few other hassles, I'm enjoying my 1903A3 a lot more these days.

Robert McDonald said...

I read his post a while back. I have no complaints about it. I still like the Garand, and I still want one. The main reason is because of the historical significance, and that's something about it that can't be denied. The next is that it's relatively cheap and the ammo is both relatively cheap and plentiful. And they're fun to shoot for fun.

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

If you lock a Tommy in an inescapble windowless room with nothing but 2 bowling balls, overnight, in the morning one of the bowling balls will be missing and the other broken.

Anonymous said...

You forget the media drives the gun culture, not reason. No one has made a movie or an HBO Special about the FN-49.

During "Band of Brothers" people would watch the program with M1s on their laps.

Make a movie with the FN-49 and the prices will double overnight.

Shootin' Buddy

Bubblehead Les. said...

Agree about the FN-49, but since a friend of mine has gone insane, mumbling something about "my Precious, my Precious", and is buying every single one he can get his hands on, they are Pricy. Plus the fact that, what, 50,000 or so made in total, most in 8mm Mauser vs millions of Garands, and little aftermarket accessories, well, I'm just glad I have the Combo to his Safe, just in case of emergency, you see. But having a Garand or 2 around is never a bad idea.

Mark said...

Well, here's the part of his rant that made me go "huh?":

"Oh, and when you stick the fresh clip in, it's going to try to double-load the new round on top of the chambered round. That's going to be ugly in some fashion that we probably shouldn't go into at this point. (I get the impression that most of these fanbois have never actually tried all these clever tricks. I have. They don't work. Really.)"

So let's see, You eject the unused cartridges and clip, insert a new clip, drop the bolt and....ugliness ensues because you just fed a round on top of the one in the chamber. How, pray tell, did you eject the partial clip and insert a new clip without pulling back the op-rod handle to open the bolt? That little spring on the clip release isn't going to overcome that big old op-rod spring. Oh, you DID pull back the bolt, well then did your extractor just HAPPEN to fail at that moment, because that's the only way there's still going to be a round in the chamber! Oh yeah, I imagine a failed extractor at JUST the right (wrong?) time would cause double-feed-ugliness in just about any magazine-fed repeating rifle. I really want to know how you managed to try that particular clever trick.

Tam said...

I must have skimmed past that...

Tam said...


"During "Band of Brothers" people would watch the program with M1s on their laps."

What kind of idiot would do that? You could get distracted and wind up chambering your thumb, requiring your friend Jen to put a bandaid on the mangled thumbnail because you were too skeered to look..., hypothetically speaking, that is.

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

I noticed that too, Mark. And other little things. Which you'd expect since he doesn't like the gun he'd avoid using it much.

Makes me think he is less familiar with the Garand than I am, and I am a n00b.

Stretch said...

"During "Band of Brothers" people would watch the program with M1s on their laps."

Or volley fire their Martini-Henrys during "Zulu" or break out the Winchesters and SAAs during "The Magnificent Seven" or ... No?


Anonymous said...

LOL. Great post by MZW. Although my Garand (DCMP, straight out of Anniston's rebuild) is absolutely reliable and sufficiently accurate.

A good friend of mine is a Garand fanboy, to the point of buying a 5lb bucket of the original spec'd lubriplate to grease it (of which he has 4.99 lbs remaining, 10 years later). He refuses to acknowledge that the Army won't rewrite the manual for the Garand to include modern lubricants and there are far better lubricants out there (synthetic CV joint grease works well).

Bram said...

Very funny stuff. The oldsters at the range love their Garands. They are great looking rifles but I shake my head while they wrestle with the finger-crushing action.

And Mike is right - they always fire 8! They would rather pump extra's into the berm than unload that thing.

og said...

I've only ever seen one SMLE with the chain. I wonder what happened to them all? Suppose they made bracelets out of them? I wonder if they were in the habit of getting caught on stuff and sojers just twisted them off?

krazmo said...

I sold my Garand to buy more AR15 stuff.

Mea maxima culpa.

NotClauswitz said...

Same SMLE-thing with the Swiss K-312 magazine, although there's more of a possibility for interchangeability since it's made by mountain gnomes.
WE shoot our Garands at 200-yards and there are guys who can clean the X-ring - but I would love to have an FN-49, the elder brother of the FAL or something like that.

Thomas Smith said...

Y'know, of all the guns I've ever sold I feel worst about the old Swedish Mauser in 6.5x55, matching serial numbers. And the damn thing must've had 12 serial numbered parts. I saw a bunch of 49's at one time in 8mm Mauser, wish I'd gotten one of those when I had the chance.

Firehand said...

I seem to remember that the Brits got rid of the windage adjustment on the rear sight, and a lot of the ones out there were pinned so the troops couldn't mess with them.

Kristophr said...

Did you get that thumb-blood off the Garand before or after you got the bandaid?

Anonymous said...

The magazine chain link was only present on the earliest SMLEs, specifically the trials rifles, the Mk Is (no star) and the converted MLEs/MLMs (it was standard on the MLEs, MLMs, and carbines). The No. 1 SMLE magazine that has the loop is quite rare and usually sells for a couple hundred bucks.

The staple on the later SMLE triggerguards is for tying on the canvas action cover.

Gewehr98 said...

MZW barks up the wrong tree. He's either stirring the pot for effect, or he's not that familiar with the M1 Garand. One of the two problems can be fixed...

Murphy's Law said...

I had an FN-49 in .30-06, but I didn't really care for it's trigger or it's sights compared to my Garands, so when I ran short of money, the FN-49 went. I would never consider it superior to or even equal to a Garand even if it does hold two more rounds.

As to the Enfield magazines, remember that a #1mk3 mag will only fit #1mk3s but a #4Mk1/2 magazine will fit both the #4 and #1 models. I like my Enfields but honestly prefer the #1mk3 models as shooters.

Vaarok said...

The funny stuff is how the press went ape when news reports from Finland in '39 reported Soviet infantry using a healthy share of autoloaders, and suddenly the sooper sekrit semiauto was beaten to the field by a bunch of peasants.

Peter said...

Yes, avoid the ProMags made for the No4/SMLE like the plague. They can be made to work, but not really worth the effort.

I have installed a permanent scope mount on a sporterized No4 which covers the charging bridge, which meant that I needed to get extra magazines. It takes about a minute to render a surplus SMLE/No4 magazine able to drop free from the rifle, and less than half an hour to reshape the front of the triggerguard to give greater access to the mag release.

This way, when the JihadiZombies attack, I can save myself by waving around my Enfield and claiming that I'm Canadian. Or something.

staghounds said...

1. The ability to supervise proper soppn use was one of the original test for corporal's rank in the non-guard infantry regiments. Royal engineers and Medical corps, lance corporals.

2. I have always thought that the FN49 would make an interesting bullpup.

Anonymous said...

A Marine armorer worked over my DCM M1. On my first trip to the range, I rather embarrassed a gentleman with a high dollar Remington bolt gun mounting what appeared to be the Hubbles' baby brother. He actually came over with wallet in hand, wanting to know what I'd take for my rifle.
The Garand rewards a rifleman, so it doesn't bother me that the cast and stamped metal crowd wonder why we bother with that old thing.

Drang said...

@Staghounds: The ability to supervise proper soppn use
English, ;please. ;-)

Anyway. I haven't read the article, did he dig out the old chestnut about "the distinctive 'ping' when ejecting the clip informing the world that you are reloading"? Cuz I know that noise sure does stand out in the middle of a firefight...

Tam said...

Anon 6:09,

"The Garand rewards a rifleman, so it doesn't bother me that the cast and stamped metal crowd..."

First, the Garand is a young pup in my rifle collection, falling somewhere in the latter quarter chronologically speaking, so sell that "cast and stamped" crap to the Gun Forums crowd.

Second, your claims of mystical accuracy from your M1 (and I don't care if a 'Marine armorer' worked it over or if it was given a golden shower by John C. Garand hisownbadself) can be disproven by a quick glance at the firing line of any high power match, where Garands get pwnt by poodleshooters on a weekly basis.

(FWIW, I actually like my Garand, but that doesn't mean I need to buy into the mystical hype...)

Nylarthotep said...

I've got all the guns mentioned and I do like the Garand the best. I also have the SVT-38 and the AG-42 Ljungman which I'd put on par with the FN-49 or maybe a little better.

The Ljungman is quite pleasant to shoot except that the ammo is now getting to the point I'm going to need to start reloading.

The SVT-38 is great fun with the cheap ammo. I tried to find an extra magazine about 5 years ago and only found one for $125. Nearly choked. I thought I needed a new once since the one I have tends to fall out when shooting if you don't put it in carefully. I'm told that is the problem with that gun, but I find it a bit hard to believe any military would put into service a gun that does that.

I also bought a MAS-49/56 in 7.62 NATO. What a crappy gun.

Tam said...

"I've got all the guns mentioned..."

Me, too. Multiple copies in some instances.

Sold my SVT-40. The guy I sold it too sold it as well, after he couldn't get it to shoot worth a damn despite handloading for it.

Your mistake with the MAS was buying one of those crappy 7.62x51 conversions. In 7.5 Frog, it's a highly-respected little rifle: Hits like a .308 and handles like an SKS, but with proper receiver-mounted aperture sights. Its major fault is the massive firing pin which tends to slamfire with soft-primered commercial ammo...

Nylarthotep said...

I never had issues with the SVT-38. Not sure if I just got a nicely maintained one or what.

I thought about getting the MAS in the original cartridge, but was convinced that the .308 was just as good. Well, live and learn. Probably will sell it sometime so I can buy something older. I've always been partial to WWI rifles and have almost all the major rifles from that war.

My problem is that I realized that I was spending too much on collecting and had to get some restraint. I've got a collection of Lee-Enfields, Mausers, and Krags and I bought most of them about 10 years ago. Now I just get depressed when I want to purchase. The prices of everything has gone through the roof.

Guess I'm just going to have to start buying new guns. I hear there's this new .223 ammo out there. :)

Overload in Colorado said...

Any opinions on the Ishapore SMLE in .308? I assume the magazine swap goes for it too? (I believe it holds 12)

Tam said...


"I never had issues with the SVT-38."

No "issues", unless you counted truly mediocre accuracy as an issue.

I didn't much care about the accuracy one way or t'other, since it was just a collector's piece for me, and Ed made me an offer I couldn't refuse, but he was definitely disappointed with the groups it turned in, no matter how carefully he brewed his handloads...

John said...

Ishy's are proper rugged, and while their cosmetics are rough looking with that goop-thick black enamel, painted dirt crust, the machining and steel is mostly pretty OK. There were quite a few in the imports that were in near mint or not used much, but the ones seen commonly on tables look like fence posts stored in an open shed..

However, they do shoot well enough to ding 12" plates at 300 yards with decent ammo. There was some mixed lot Israeli 7.62NATO surp that I promptly sold off, being quite variable in report,recoil, and accuracy. Other bulk ammo worked fine.

For the once-cheap price, a 'sporto'd Ishy with a decent bore is one of the ruggedest little knockaround guns a person could have. Alas, they too, have succumbed to the present incredi-firearm inflation.


Anonymous said...

Tami, no mystic hype required ( although the Moog and fog effects would be pretty cool).
Given a week or two notice of your next visit to Coal Creek, I could arrange to have the rifle - and a suitable supply of ammo) available for your shooting pleasure. Can't make it myself, or supply the special effects (dang it).
Having competed in high power, I readily admit the AR can be made more accurate. Then again, what would I rather be shot with at 600 yards?
Which is better? Whatever suits you... The M1 is obsolete, no doubt... Doesn't mean it won't do the job.

theirritablearchitect said...

Mike seems to have grudge about the Garand, or something.

I can't understand why he even attempts to make about a half-dozen points in that piece of his, but oh well, to each his own.

global village idiot said...

I sometimes wonder what gets people so worked up about a gun that it inspires them to column-inches (or whatever the equivalent unit is in bandwidth - what's the conversion again?) to it.

I own a Garand and like it, for reasons that appeal to me and no one else. I also own an M4. I consider the M16-series of firearms to be among the most ergonomically sound service rifles. I was trained on M16s in the Army and know them inside and out. I'd never take a Garand downrange, even if the option was open to me.

I own a surveyor's transit made in 1953 and have actually done some work around Chez gvi with it. But I wouldn't think of using one at work - even the instrument I used in 1992 was several generations removed and did work far more quickly and efficiently.

I own a Remington Rand manual typewriter and occasionally use it to type letters or forms if it's not burdensome. But I'm not typing this post on a manual typewriter.

I own slide rules, logarithmic tables and an abacus and know how to use each. I don't use them at work of course - time is money.

I own a complete set of manual drafting tools. I use AutoCAD at work - see "time" above, plus the other advantages of CAD drafting vs. manual.

So on and so forth. There are things we enjoy using, and things we use because they are better for the purpose. And as for guns, all dogs have fleas.

One advantage to the M1 is that when I got it through the CMP for $450 or so, I didn't yet own an M4 and wouldn't for another five years. It turns out, however, that the sight picture is identical to the M16-series. Why is this an advantage? I offer range days to the Soldiers in my Reserve unit so they can get trigger time before qualifying (they're mostly from Chicago). Having a rifle for them to use with a similar sight picture was an advantage - they knew what they were looking at.


Hat Trick said...

As for mystical accuracy of the M1I shot highpower rifle matches for two years with a NM M1 Garand that had been tuned decades ago by Walt Weed. (Please correct me if I got the name wrong)

With military match ammo that rifle shot 2 inch groups at 200yds for me when slinged up in prone position. I pwned quite a few of the poodleshooters with that rifle. Had to sell it when I was laid off.

In two years of matches and practice not a single "M1 thumb". Probably because I grew up around machinery that would eat you if you didn't pay attention and use it correctly so I learned at an early age to get my appendages clear of the moving parts.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I'm sorry I wasted the time reading MZW's inaccurate trashing of the Garand. Reminds me of similar screeds by fanboys of modern Austrian plastic dismissing the 1911 as anachronistic.

In the 1930's with the War Dept sitting on a few billion rounds of .30-06 it was a lot easier and cheaper to design a rifle around a disposable, stamped lightweight en bloc clip to make use of that ammo than it was to build, load and carry millions of box magazines.

At the time, the auto-fed Garand was the "finest implement of battle ever devised" as compared to the bolt rifles fielded by Axis powers.

WilhelmDurand said...

Lee's original operational concept was for the rifle to be charged via a change of magazines.

Nylarthotep said...


Yeah, I agree on the accuracy part. The SVT does the job if you're fighting a war, but not really great otherwise. I didn't have high expectations for it when I bought it, as I don't for a lot of the collectible military stuff. Some are great, some are "where in the hell am I aiming this thing?" I got most of my guns to see what they felt like to fire during war. (well except the little issue of no Mud or rain or anyone shooting at me parts.)

The FN-49 and Ljungman are definitely better for accuracy. Or at least I find I can hit the target with them.

My biggest disappointment is not being able to shoot any of the German stuff from WW2. At least none of the interesting stuff. I'd love to try the fallschirmjägergewehr-42. I don't know many collectors so I don't get many chances to try stuff that I don't own.

Tam said...

Anon 1:49,

"At the time, the auto-fed Garand was the "finest implement of battle ever devised" as compared to the bolt rifles fielded by Axis powers."

Did someone say it wasn't?

Tam said...

(Incidentally, boy howdy do fanbois get riled.

I own a Garand, my second one actually. I like my Garand. I've fired over a dozen different Garands over the years, including Douglas-barreled match rifles that would easily shoot MOA. When I was temporarily without an AR carbine, my Garand pulled housegun duty, because, unlike my other military self-loaders, I had ammunition that was a known quantity with the gun, plus I have more trigger time with the Garand.

But suggest that the rifle is anything other than perfect, and the lynch mob forms. It's pretty funny.

Next Week: Why the distance between the center of the bore axis and the top round in the magazine in the M1911 contributes to feedway stoppages... :D

Geodkyt said...

You don;t adjust windage at the rear sight, you drift the front one. . . at th efactory, just as they adusted elevtion by replacing the front sight with one of the proper height.

(The manual issued to every Canadian recruit in WWII addresses this in reasonable detail -- ask your average US Army infantry or USMC NCO to define "jump" and you will likely get a blank stare or mumbles about recoil causing automatic weapons to send subsequent rounds in a burst higher.)

They did a damned fine job of it to, by and large.

Firehand said...
I seem to remember that the Brits got rid of the windage adjustment on the rear sight, and a lot of the ones out there were pinned so the troops couldn't mess with them.

12:52 PM, July 14, 2011

Tam said...*-windage-adjustment

Anonymous said...

A No1 MK3* with a windage adjustable sight is a VERY VERY rare bird. One is more likely to find that that was added after the fact on such a rifle.

Wartime Rifles had the excess stuff removed or never added in the first place for expediency and relied upon drifting the front sight in it's dovetail.

WWII era No1's would most certainly work to Geodkyt's format from everything I've seen, heard and read.

Anonymous said...

The en bloc clip is obsolete today and was probably obsolete in 1934 but unless you live in a tactical mall ninja fantasy land I doubt that any of us in the civilian world would be under-gunned with a Garand.
“AR-15 beats Garand” but if the reports from the battlefield that I have read are to be believed, it takes 3-5 solid hits from an M-4 to drop an enemy combatant. Which brings to mind a question: How many rounds of 5.56 ammo does it take to equal the man stopping power of one 8-round en bloc clip?

Tam said...


Lotsa variations within wartime ShTLE production.

My 1918-dated BSA ShTLE Mk.III* has a magazine cutoff, volley sights, and the windage-adjustable rear. Apparently as production wound down at war's end, there was some dithering about going back to prewar features. (And of course some FTR'ed rifles had windage-adjustable rears installed in the '20s.)

Anonymous said...

"At the time, the auto-fed Garand was the "finest implement of battle ever devised" as compared to the bolt rifles fielded by Axis powers."

Tam said...
Did someone say it wasn't?

Well, that was the whole point of MZW's silly inaccurate screed, dismissing Geo. Patten's famous assessment of the Garand as about as relevant today as the worthiness of a flint-tipped stick, no?

And regarding MZW's "Garand thumb": anyone with even a casual understanding of Garand function realizes that sticking one's fingers into a Garand action when the bolt is partially held back by only the follower rather than fully by the op rod catch as Mr. J. Cantius Garand intended is a recipe for pain and a bloody parade glove.

Anonymous said...

I like the Garand, but never owned one. I did own an FN49, One of 8,500 sold to the brazilian armed forces. It was well cared for, and showed no signs of mistreatment. It was a 7mm, and was dead accurate, I gave it to My nephew who is a Marine. I told him to use it at home while on leave to keep his skills sharp, before he went to Iraq. Its a great rifle!

Tam said...

Anon 1:37,

"Well, that was the whole point of MZW's silly inaccurate screed, dismissing Geo. Patten's famous assessment of the Garand as about as relevant today as the worthiness of a flint-tipped stick, no?"

Minus 1,000 Points for reading with indignation-loaded preconceptions.

Some Quotes:

"Let me start by saying I have nothing against the Garand for what it was—a forward-looking design for the 1920s. John C. did a fine job with the technology of the time, and it's not his fault what happened after."

"Now, the Garand is arguably better than the Mauser K98..."

Now for your statement:

"...dismissing Geo. Patten's famous assessment of the Garand as about as relevant today as the worthiness of a flint-tipped stick, no?"

That's not what he said.

He pointed out that the people who unthinkingly parrot Patton's "finest battle implement" quote tend to ignore the fact that the quote was made in 1943.

At that time, the P-51, Type IXD U-boat, and T-34 were also the "finest battle implements ever devised" but nobody repeats that quote today.

Once upon a time, the the yew longbow was The Finest Battle Implement, but nobody's clamoring to rearm the 75th Ranger Regiment with them.


hillbilly said...

I read the whole thing.

Pretty painful to read.

Especially when he uses 20-something Interweb speak "fanbois" to describe Garand aficionados who are, in my experience, a lot more likely to have gray hair instead of twitter accounts or loads of facebook status updates.

Of course, "fanbois" is just another way to describe anyone who disagrees with MichaelZ.

There is a funny thing about one of the criticisms he harps on. My Garand has a scope mounted in perfect alignment with the bore. It's a Nikon 2.5-8X EER on a Amega Ranges scout mount.

It sits in my safe next to my four ARs in three different calibers.....and my FAL......and my M1A....and a lot of other things.

Anonymous said...

Check MichaelZ's profile pic on his facebook page, linked from his blog.

Somehow, him posing as an ambiguously-heterosexual Renaissance Fair sword-swinger makes his Garand rant even more amusing than it should be.

I think he's looking for the six-fingered man or something.

The Freeholder said...

Pity his commenting system has some sort of issues, I wanted to leave hime this:

"I would like to point out that, even if the sights of the various mention guns are rated for x, y and z, the rounds of them may or may not be combat effective at those ranges. I would trust a .30 cal round to get the job done at 400 yards, providing I do my part. I would not trust a .223 round so much at that range. Not that you can't it the target with it; you can and I have, but that it will do enough damage to incapacitate the target quickly."

mac said...

I was trying to figure out where I've seen that name. He wrote a (maybe more than that) book with Oh John Ringo No!.

Michael Z. Williamson said...

Yeah, one or two errors slip into my gun rants, and I apologize.

The SMLE was intended to have spare mags. Economics and institutional inertia got in the way, but the capability was there.

I'm in the process of converting a Carcano to straight feed, to get rid of the stupid clips.

Anonymous said...

Everyone has their favorites, and loves to poke fun at those that don't share their views on them.

Me, I love my Grand(s, all 8 of them) (been shooting it since I was in JROTC in 1970-74 - never had an M1 thumb). But it won't be my first choice when the SHTF.

That will be my SA M1A (nice to have a real M14 but oh well). Seems I've read about the military scrounging for M14s for the designated marksman program. I heard they needed something usefull to counter the Taliban's .303's. Need something that has some punch at long range I guess.

Thats why the "mouse gun" is 3rd choice. but I do have that one set up with a Beta-C mag for close in fire support. Each gun has its strengths and weaknesses.

Phx, AZ

staghounds said...

1. Sorry, I meant SPOON use in the British Army had to be supervised.

2. I hate to say it but the longest straight view in my neighborhood 100 yards and it's full of vehicles, trees and houses. An M1 is a better choice than a .223 as between the two for defensive use in that environment.

Not for an army, but for me.

3. As Cortez learned, don't mess with the Gods!

Tam said...


"Yeah, one or two errors slip into my gun rants, and I apologize."

I've just been looking for a reason to use that "mitten on a string" line for a week or two, that's all. ;)