The M-1 Garand or “the greatest battle implement ever devised,” as General George Patton preferred to call it, is up for grabs. It was our nation’s first successful semi-automatic battle rifle in history. Not only was it the first, but it was used to defeat fascist forcers from the forests of Bastogne to the volcanic ridges of Iwo Jima, according to Forbes. The semi-automatic battle rifle is known as the M-1, thanks to the designer John C. Garand. This week at the Rock Island Auction Company, the only M-1 owned by Garand himself will be offered for sale.
Garand quickly established himself an as innovative weapons designer after he submitted an outlined plan for a light machine-gun project back in 1917. The War Department was quick to recognize Garand’s genius ideas and he landed a job as an engineer at the famed Springfield Armory in Massachusetts. The M-1 rifle was invented and continuously perfected during his stay in Springfield.
He created a gas-operated semi-automatic rifle, capable of firing and reloading quickly with its 8-round en bloc clip. The design and capabilities of the rifle made it a groundbreaking design in its era. The Garand became a game changed after the version adopted by the U.S. military was chambered in the 30-06 Springfield cartridge fired a 152-grain bullet at 2,800 feet per second using the issued M2 ammunition. The bolt-action among the M-1 outshined others in service with Allied and Axis armies.
Since then, over five million M-1 Garands were produced by a variety of companies including Winchester, International Harvester, Harrington & Richardson and Springfield Armory. Each unit cost was less than $100.
The rifle was popular for its accuracy and reliability. The M-1 Garand even saw service in every theater of World War II. When the U.S. Army troops defended the Philippines during 1941-1942, they used the M-1 rifle for the first documented time.
It also served through the Korean War and into Vietnam where it experienced limited use as a sniper rifle. Still to this day, the United States Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon uses the M-1 Garand for ceremonial duties.
At Garand’s retirement ceremony in April of 1953 at the Kimball Hotel, he was presented with his very own M-1 Garand with serial number 1000000, which was made in November of 1942 by the Secretary of the Army. The one-millionth rifle with be auctioned on September 8,2018, in Rock Island, Illinois. The M-1 is part of the Alan Cors collection and features “Eight gold-plated 30-06 cartridges and a silver-plated en bloc clip are included with this rifle along with some of Garand’s engineering tools and assorted other items related to the rifle and its provenance,” according to Forbes.
“It is as important as Henry Ford’s own Model T, if you think about the significance of the mechanism of the object and its influence on world history. Patton credited the Garand with winning the war and here you have the inventor who gifted the patent to the U.S. Government—the only thing he got in return was that rifle. This rifle was maintained by the family until about ten years ago. When the family sold the rifle, they auditioned collectors and they felt that Mr. Cors was the right place for this rifle to go,” said Kevin Hogan, president of Rock Island Auction Company.
“Unlike a museum, people have the opportunity to come here this weekend and hold that rifle. If you have the bank account and the desire to own a true national treasure piece, you can,” said Hogan. “I hate it when someone says that an item is priceless. I think its cliché and we’re obviously going to figure out what it’s worth. We sold John F. Kennedy’s M-1 for $150,000, which was a record. This should double that. It will definitely be a world record for an M-1. When you combine the condition, rarity and history, the sky is the limit.”
Garand’s M-1 personal rifle holds an estimated value between $225,000 and $375,000. It is listed as lot #1362 of the next Rock Island Auction Company Premiere Gun Auction.