M1 Garands with Marine Corps provenance have been notoriously difficult to find, as the archival records and rebuild traits that allow for identification of rifles like the M1903 do not transcend to M1 Garands as easily. One of the best ways to find a Marine Corps M1 Garand has been through the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP). Formerly known as the Director of Civilian Marksmanship (DCM), the CMP sanctions the prestigious National Matches, as well as regional matches nationwide. In their mission to promote marksmanship, the CMP offers surplus government rifles to the public, the vast majority being M1 Garands. From their stores at Anniston, Alabama and Camp Perry in Ohio some excellent USMC M1 Garands have been made available to the public, showcasing the various types of Marine Corps Garands a collector can search for.
Hang Tag Turn-Ins
Springfield Armory M1 Garand #4257757 with serialized USMC hang tag. This particular rifle was turned in by the 1st Infantry Training Regiment to Ordnance Maintenance Company, 2d Fleet Service Regiment on December 18th, 1964 (Tim Plowman collection).
The earliest USMC M1 Garand rebuilds have been identified with the presence of a maintenance turn-in hang tag on the rifle’s stock. Hang tags from the 1950s and early 60s are generally NAVMC (Navy/Marine Corps) marked, while mid-60s and later are marked MCSCB (Marine Corps Service Center Barstow). MCSCB types are the most common hang tags encountered, and various condition and maintenance information is contained on each. Marine Corps hang tags dating as late as the 1980s have been observed on CMP Garands, showing the considerable length of time these weapons existed in storage at various locations. It is important to note that the presence of a hang tag on a stock is not enough to prove a Garand as having belonged to the USMC. CMP armorers often have to replace stocks, using whatever inventory is on hand from other Garands needing maintenance to do so. That said, many hang tags are serialized to the rifle, making a serialized match obtained straight from the government via the CMP rock solid provenance. Some serialized hang tag Garands also include unit information, further enriching the rifle’s history. Hang tag Garands without serial numbers should not be summarily dismissed, however. More likely than not they are on a rifle that was turned in by the Marine Corps, they just cannot be proven absolutely. The presence of other traits, such as serial number ranges that are dense with Marine Corps rifles, fit and finish, and dope tags in the trigger housing also support the likelihood of a non-serialized hang tag Garand being USMC. Recently, the CMP has released a considerable amount of Garands with Marine Corps turn-in tags. Finding a cluster of such rifles at one of the CMP locations creates a favorable chance of obtaining a USMC M1 Garand.
Springfield Armory M1 Garand #4267220, with hang tag showing indicating the rifle was turned in to Marine Corps Service Center Barstow on March 2nd, 1965 (Tim Plowman collection).
International Harvester “Gap Letter” M1 Garand #4651039, turned in by the 7th Engineer Battalion in 1981 (Tim Plowman collection).
An excellent example of a pristine USMC O-6x unissued since rebuild, this early Winchester M1 Garand bears all the hallmarks of the O-6x rebuild program (Ryan Niederman collection).
Beginning in 1964, a Department of Defense mandated rebuild program was launched to recondition older American weapons. What would make this program unique was the use of electro-pencil to mark a rifle that had been through overhaul, in turn giving collectors the opportunity to trace the service lineage of 60s rebuilds. While the army would denote month, year, and place of overhaul on the leg of M1 Garand receivers, the Marine Corps chose to electro-pencil the receiver heel instead with “O” for Overhaul, and the last two digits of the year the overhaul took place. The earliest and rarest of them all, only a couple O-64 marked rifles have been found thus far, likely due to the Marine Corps beginning the rebuild program late in the year. While a significant number of O-65s have been seen, the vast majority of USMC overhauled M1 Garands are marked O-66, suggesting 1966 would be the height of the Marine Corps’ efforts in the rebuild program. O-67 marked Garands have proven to be relatively rare, suggesting the Marine Corps must have finished overhauling Garands early in 1967. Some examples have be obtained from the Civilian Marksmanship Program unfired since their overhaul half a century ago, providing an excellent peak into the details of the work Marine Corps Service Centers Albany and Barstow completed. 1960s rebuilds have taken on a collectibility of their own, and redefined the term “correct,” as they are correctly rebuilt by that branch of service and unmolested since, despite being a hodgepodge of reconditioned parts. Many rebuilds, and especially those rebuilt by the Marine Corps bring a premium to the right collector.
1965 USMC Overhaul of an International Harvester M1 Garand (Ron Harden Collection).
With the recent turn-in and rebuild USMC Garands that have come through the CMP, some similarities in attributes have been observed. Many of the USMC Garands have blackened rear sights, rear sight bases, and sight aprons. This is very similar to mid-WWII era USMC M1903 rebuilds, both almost certainly to have been done to reduce glare for the shooter, and reduce the need for blackening with soot.
A USMC turn-in rifle and O-66 rebuild with blackened rear sights (USMC turn-in rifle: Andrew Griggs collection, O-66: CMP Auction Site).
The O-6x rebuild program included both M1 Garands and M14s.
Freshly refinished USMC O-6x rebuilt M1 Garand actions
Springfield Armory O-66 #1766250 (David Braun collection).