Loading the M1 Garand

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Loading the M1 Garand

Post by Zeliard »

Originally posted by Cavetech with important comment by Swampy.


How To Load an M-1 Garand

Lately, I’ve talked with a few gun enthusiasts who were familiar with the M-1 Garand but not entirely sure how to load it one handed without getting their thumb crushed by the bolt when it slams forward into battery. Or, Garand Thumb, which is very painful.

I thought it would be fun to lay it out with photos as taught to me by a gunsmith and Garand Armorer.

I’ll cover two ways to load the rifle. Single shot without an enbloc and with a full enbloc. I’m going to make two assumptions. That the reader is familiar with the Garand rifle and knows what an enbloc is.

What you need.


Single Shot Loading

You may find yourself with an odd round left over at the end of the day shooting and want to send it down range. Or perhaps you are shooting in an M-1 Garand match where single shots are fired. You can’t put it in an enbloc and insert the enbloc into the rifle so you have to lock the bolt open and insert the round directly into the chamber.


Now comes the tricky part, closing the bolt without getting hurt. Picture this. The rifle is lying in front of you on the bench. You raise your right hand to your forehead to salute with your thumb bent and held in tight against you palm. Now lower your hand to the right side of the receiver keeping your hand held in that saluting posture and thumb tucked. Your thumb is now over the follower in the enbloc well and the heel of your hand is firmly against the cocking handle.


Simultaneously you need to hold the cocking handle back with the heel of your hand as you depress the follower with your thumb. This will take some strength. As soon as your thumb depresses the follower the bolt will be released and the heel of your hand is all that is holding the bolt back so beware and be prepared. The bolt will actually move forward slightly.


Now get your thumb out of there. As soon as it is clear raise your hand up fast which will release the bolt. This is actually all done in one smooth fast motion. Hand to receiver, hold cocking handle back, depress follower, raise hand fast. Bolt slams forward into battery and your thumb is just fine. And you have impressed the other shooters with your ability to load and fire a single shot with one hand.



Enbloc Loading

First you have to get the rounds loaded into the enbloc. The enbloc is shorter than the round so if you just lay rounds in the enbloc they will fall out. Cradle the enbloc in one hand and support the enbloc and the rounds that will stick out as you insert them into the enbloc.


Finish loading your eight rounds into the enbloc. You’ll probably have to push the last few straight down in.

Now take that full enbloc and insert it in the top of magazine.
Side view.


Rear view.


Push the enbloc down into the magazine firmly with your thumb until it clicks. When this happens the bolt will actually move forward about ¼ inch and then stop. Yes, it can startle you into thinking the bolt will slam forward and crush your thumb. If the rifle doesn’t malfunction that won’t happen.

Next push the back of the cocking handle forward with the heel of your hand and it will slam into battery and chamber a round. Here’s the quick smooth sequence; push enbloc down with thumb, bolt moves forward ¼ inch and stops, bump rear of cocking handle forward and bolt closes, rifle is loaded.


That’s it. To me the Garand is one of the finest main battle rifles ever made and a lot of fun to shoot.



Nice post.... but there is a big issue with your last photo and caption:

The photo with the red arrow showing the op-rod handle (Note: M1 nomenclature does not have a "cocking handle". The M1 has an Operating Rod and Operating Rod Handle, shortened to Op-Rod Handle.) with your palm bumping it closed can allow a viewer to interpret that they should shove the op-rod handle completely home to close the bolt on the top round.

This is a MAJOR NO-NO with the M1 rifle.

In the event of a slam fire this would result in the recoil of the gas system shoving the op-rod handle back through the heel of the shooters hand.

Severe contusions on the arm and broken bones in the hand and wrist would be the minimum result. A broken op-rod that exits through the side of the buttstock, sending wood splinters and possibly metal parts into both shooter and bystanders is also a real possibility.

If the M1 rifle in question does not want to close on the top round of a full clip of 8 as designed (And many do not) then the proper procedure is to bump the back of the op-rod handle with the heel of the hand AT A SHARP ANGLE in such a way that the hand and arm are long past the op-rod handles rearward path in the event of a slam fire.

Slam Fires DO happen from time to time. I've had a couple in the last 7 years. Thankfully, no injury.

A friend of mine was not as lucky as me, but still very lucky nonetheless. At Perry a couple years back during the JCG he had a slam fire during the rapids. He used the proper technique, but was just careless enough to not have QUITE enough angle on the "bump". The op-rod handle came back and scraped along the bottom of his wrist. No major contusions, breaks or bleeding, but he lost a big strip of skin and his hand and arm were numbed to the point that he was unable to complete the match. Bruising was severe and a bad sprain too. He carried his right arm in a sling for a month.

Just a Heads Up....
Proud alumni of Transylvanian Polygnostic University. "Know enough to be afraid."

"Vertroue in God en die Mauser".-Faith in God and the Mauser.

"Send lawyers, guns and money." -Warren Zevon

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Re: Loading the M1 Garand

Post by Gunny »

Great Post
"Although no sculptured marble should rise to their memory,
nor engraved stone bear record of their deeds,
yet will their remembrance be as lasting as the land they honored."

Semper Fi

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