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Ain't it Garand?

May 17, 2007 |  1:41 pm

1957_0517_garand

May 17, 1957
Los Angeles

An otherwise unidentified author named James McLean writes a misty-eyed farewell to the passing of M-1 Garand, recalling the day in 1941 that his Army drill sergeant introduced him to the replacement for the '03 Springfield rifle, the standard weapon of World War I.

No, neither the troops nor the sergeant liked the M-1, McLean writes. The M-1's rear sight had a wider aperture than the Springfield's, which made it less accurate. The M-1 had less kick than the Springfield, but that was small compensation for the smashed right thumbs that soldiers suffered until they learned to keep them out of the M-1's operating rods, McLean said.

Praising the superiority of the M-14 rifle, which allowed automatic or semiautomatic fire, McLean says that although it may provoke grumbling and complaints, replacing the Garand with the M-14 is just as wise--and inevitable--as getting rid of the '03 Springfields in World War II.

If he knew, McLean certainly didn't allude to the tinkering of Lockheed engineer George C. Sullivan. Experimenting in the garage of his home on Lake Hollywood Drive, Sullivan began building a rifle that wouldn't be so heavy on his hunting excursions. Substituting plastic and lightweight metal used in aircraft whenever possible, Sullivan said, he drew the attention of fellow "gun nuts" and Air Force Gen. Curtis LeMay. The AR-10 passed the Springfield arsenal's tests in February 1957, clearing the way for introduction of the rifle.

 

1957_m16_2

Rechambered for .223-caliber rounds from the original .308 ammunition, Sullivan's design eventually replaced the M-14, which was discontinued in 1964. The M-16 is still in use by troops that weren't born when it was invented.

 

400pxus_marine_m16a4

 

Iraq, 2005, courtesy of Wikipedia

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