National Match Armory
Frequently Asked Questions:
In our travels and in talking with enthusiasts via e-mail, we find that misinformation is widespread and rampant in the shooting community when it comes to basic truths about the M1 rifle.
A famous old American humorist once said, "It ain't what you don't know that hurts you, it's what you know that ain't so." Nothing could ring more true in our face-to-face experience with Garand enthusiasts.
It has been said that an opinion, repeated often enough, becomes a fact regardless of its actual merit. One of my dear friends calls this the "Bubba see, Bubba do" syndrome.
Unfortunately, this is as much the case among long-time shooters as it is with relative newcomers...perhaps even more so.
So, with that in mind, here's a sample of the most frequently asked questions we get at gun shows and at matches. Hopefully it'll help.:
"How can I tell a good used Garand from a bad one?"
Good question, but you won't like the answer, which is, "you probably can't".
And the two most commonly used indicators of condition - price and appearance - are almost as unreliable as the spin on the story you'll invariably get from the seller.
The sad truth is that unless you know where the rifle came from, it's most likely flawed in one or more ways - some more serious than others. No matter what the guy tells you, really good M1 rifles don't usually end up on gun show tables.
Sure, there are exceptions, but only a full inspection by a qualified M1 riflesmith with experience, knowledge and the proper M1 gages can separate a good Garand from a bad one.
We offer this service at no charge at gun shows we attend, also at the shop on a "by-appointment" basis.
"What about the "new" M1 rifles with "newly manufactured" receivers I see advertised in such places as Shotgun News? They are attractively priced, but are they any good?"
We have done our homework on this subject. We have purchased randomly selected examples of each currently available "newly manufactured" M1 at retail from dealers who didn't know us from Adam.
We did this with the idea of inspecting and testing these offerings ourselves in order to answer questions about them truthfully and from first-hand experience.
In all cases, what we learned was this: The only true attraction any of these rifles have is the price.
So, if you haven't yet learned your lesson about "getting what you pay for", buy one.
Just don't ask us to do any work on it. We won't.
"What if I only want a 'shooter', not a match rifle?"
If there was ever a "universal first question" about Garands, this is it.
The central issue is that many people believe that, except for visible external differences in cosmetics and the brightness of the bore, most used M1s are in pretty much the same "good" condition.
This opinion usually stems from their experience in the realm of used civilian firearms where it is fairly well founded.
The problem is that most "operable used" M1s are not like most "operable used" civilian firearms.
Civilian firearms are not likely to be worn out, or even heavily used, as many Garands are or have been. Civilian firearms are also not likely to have been abused and misused as most Garands have been during their service lifetimes. And, civilian firearms are not nearly as likely to have been "backyard gunsmithed" as many M1s have been, before and after being surplused out of military service.
Knowing that most used guns are judged by their overall appearance, importers of used Garands have for decades reparkerized their rifles with no consideration for their internal condition before offering them for sale. Some even went so far as putting these refinished rifles into new wood and packing them in fancy cardboard boxes.
The bottom line is that, even though these imported M1 rifles look new, they are in fact far from new, many being flat worn out. As prices rise, many of these good looking junkers resurface at gun shows, marketed along with a believable story to unsuspecting buyers who take the seller at his word.
The same unscrupulous tactics continue to be more and more evident at gun shows from coast to coast. Private individuals are spiffing up rough M1s and offering them for sale as "reconditioned" and "shooter" grade rifles. We've even seen some tagged as "match grade" rifles, the only difference being the "NM" on the operating rod!
The sad thing is that these rifles sell.
So the real question is: What is the true condition of the "shooter" Garand which has caught your eye and which seems like such a bargain?
The solution is the same. A checkout by a qualified M1 riflesmith can help, but our experience has shown that good "shooter" Garands are rare in today's used rifle marketplace. And, should you be fortunate enough to locate one, you can bet the condition will be reflected by the price.
The closest thing to a "shooter-grade" Garand offered by National Match Armory are "John C. Garand Match Rifles" which are fully rebuilt "as-issued" M1s that have been blueprinted, restocked and refinished as well. These make excellent all-around rifles for general use as well as for entry level Garand match shooting.
Yes, they are more expensive than most gun show "shooters", but you can buy with confidence that you are getting what you pay for. See our "John C. Garand Match Rifles" page for details.
"Why would I want an accurized rifle? I'm not that good a shot."
And, you never will be unless you select a rifle that shoots better than you can.
Rifles with poor accuracy can always be blamed for bad shots or bad match performance - if you need to blame something - but they will also most assuredly hold you back in your quest for improved shooting skills.
The worse the rifle, the more it'll hold you back.
But the opposite is also true, the better the rifle, the faster you'll improve your skill in shooting.
Why? 'Cause there's nothing left to blame... but you.
Most "shooter" and "as-issued" M1 rifles shoot somewhat poorly, compared to the accuracy they would be capable of if they were accurized.
So, if the ability to explode milk jugs at 100 yards is all the accuracy you need, great. But if you'd like to do better, a good accurizing job is the best way to get there.
"What can I do to make my M1 rifle shoot better?"
Much has been written about at-home accurizing of the M1 rifle.
Rarely, however, do these articles address the two major causes of unsatisfactory accuracy: worn out parts and improper assembly.
Shims in the stock, tinkering with the handguards and all the other hocus-pocus "tabletop accuracy tricks" won't help a mechanically flawed M1 shoot more accurately any more than putting drag slicks on a clapped-out Volkswagen will make it go faster.
You may feel better once you've done something, but don't look for any measurable change downrange. You'll be disappointed.
Please don't take offense, but the fact is that the vast majority of M1s we see are cranky, hitchy and miserable in the way they operate. And, most owners don't know the difference because, never having owned one, they don't know how smooth a good M1 can be.
The same, of course, can be said of accuracy.
Again, please do not be offended, but by the same token, most Garand owners don't know proper assembly from improper assembly, correct fit from incorrect fit or good parts from bad parts.
Once in a while you might get lucky and fix it yourself, but unless you've the knowledge, skill and specialized tools, you are at the mercy of Lady Fortune, the dreaded Unintended Consequence...and Murphy's Law.
So, what can you do to make your M1 shoot better? Take it, or ship it, to a Garand specialist like National Match Armory and have it evaluated. This service is free, or you can opt to have the rifle professionally cleaned, lubed and test-fired at the same time, for which there is a fee.
Once you've obtained a straightforward evaluation of your rifle and an estimate of the cost to set it right, you can decide, in an informed manner, what you want to do.
We encourage all M1 owners to visit our gun show booth or our shop, inspect our sample rifles and feel how a really good Garand operates.
Chances are, you'll be amazed at what you're missing.
"How do I determine what grade of M1 rifle is best for me?"
There is only one way to accurately determine which Garand grade is best for you.
That is to ask yourself "What do I honestly plan to use the rifle for?"
Surprisingly, in today's world there are only a few possible answers:
* General Shooting (Plinking)
* Informal Target Shooting
* "As-Issued" Match Shooting
* Formal Match Shooting
Select the answer which most closely describes the most demanding type of shooting you will do, and look for a rifle which is capable of excellence in that catagory.
It is only human nature, especially in this age of instant gratification, to look for reasons to "buy down" to what you can easily afford at the moment.
Long-term satisfaction, however, comes from honestly evaluating your own personal needs and then thoughtfully allocating your limited resources to fill those needs.
Ask yourself this question: If you have one excellent gun and a whole safe full of not-so-good guns, which one are you going to shoot in the match?
A trusted M1 riflesmith, not your pocketbook, is your best guide...even if you have to save for a while before you make your purchase.
Besides, a really nice M1 will give a lifetime of enjoyment while at the same time representing an excellent investment for the future.
"If I put more money into my M1 by upgrading it, can I get it back out when I sell it?"
Well, maybe no...and maybe yes.
Remember, there are very few investments in this lifetime that will give you a guaranteed positive return upon resale, so maybe this isn't as important a factor as it may seem. Perhaps "value" is a better criterion.
We see "value" as a function of the enjoyment you get from your rifle while you own it, regardless of what you get back when you go to sell it.
If you are a moderate-to-excellent shooter, no amount of "projected return on investment" will improve your enjoyment of an M1 which is not at its peak of performance and accuracy.
So the bottom line is easy: If you shoot for enjoyment, go ahead an invest the money to upgrade the rifle and don't worry about getting it all back. You probably won't.
But at the same time, be honest with yourself: If it's a good gun, you're never going to sell it anyway.
"Why should I have National Match Armory build me a rifle?"
Why? Because if they were all priced the same, you'd choose a National Match Armory-built rifle over any of the others.
And you'd do it every single time.
Use any criteria you want: superior accuracy, superior fit and finish, superior smoothness of operation, superior reliability, superior overall appearance, superior service, superior warrantee, superior investment, superior value...or whatever combination of attributes is important to you.
By any measure, National Match Armory rifles come out on top - bar none!
The best doesn't cost that much more, so why settle for less?
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National Match Armory
"Why settle for less?"
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