Accurizing An M-1 Garand
Part II

11 January 2003
By R. Craig Johnson, 2002, All Rights Reserved
Be sure to read the disclaimer on Page I.

Part II. Prepping the Stock and Metal

Ok, now your Garand has arrived. For this and all other parts of this article, be sure the gun is completely unloaded before you begin. When you take it out of the box, you will note that it is covered with cosmoline or some other grease. Before you do anything else and before you shoot it, it will be necessary to disassemble the rifle into its three subparts and thoroughly clean it. Plan on at least 5 hours to do this. I like to see most of the work done with the rifle held using a padded vise for stability. With an ample supply of toothpicks, old toothbrushes, rags and denatured alcohol or other solvent and in a well-ventilated place (don't do this in your furnace room unless you want to ignite your basement), start by wiping it off with some clean rags. Then, disassemble into the three major subparts by pulling the trigger guard to the rear. With some effort, it will unlatch. Then, lift up and the entire trigger group will pull out. Make sure the rest of the rifle is supported while you are doing this. Next, the receiver/barrel group should come out of the stock by tipping upwards from the front of the stock ferrule. A gentle rap with a rubber hammer or wooden dowel on the bottom of the receiver lugs will start the process if it is sticky. The rifle should now be in its three major subparts.

From here, it is generally a matter of cleaning all of the parts as thoroughly as possible. When clean, I recommend you get some decent Garand ammo (don't use regular commercial 30-06 ammo -- it may be too "hot" for the Garand and may bend the operating rod), reassemble the Garand and head off to the firing range to test fire the rifle and see what kind of group you get. Always start with a group to set the baseline. If you are one of the fortunate few and have a rifle that shoots MOA or less, you should not do anything else.

If you are like the rest of us, now the fun begins. Take the rifle back home. With the rifle unloaded, clean it. Then, do a couple of simple tests on the operating rod, following the Baumgartner instructions on pages 28-29 of his book to see if the op rod drops down into its correct place and has free movement. Next, break it down into the sub-assemblies again. You will next have to study the various diagrams in the publications that you have, because you will be breaking the rifle down to everything that can be taken apart with hand tools. If you get into a bind, you should note that Fulton Armory has excellent disassembly instructions and diagrams on their web site, and the CMP has additional instructions as well.

First, unhook the operating rod spring from the follower arm by pulling the spring and follower rod towards the muzzle. It should unlatch fairly easily. Slide the spring and follower rod out of the operating rod and lay it aside. You won't need it again until you are through with the rifle. Next, do the bolt/op rod test shown on pages 30-31 of Baumgartner's book, which tests whether the op rod will lock the bolt effortlessly without the op rod spring in place when you hold the rifle 60 degrees and let the weight of the op rod and bolt work the action alone. This test will help you determine if the op rod is rubbing somewhere. The bolt should slide and lock effortlessly. If not, your op rod is binding, or may be bent. You will need to diagnose the problem before proceeding and you may wind up needing a new operating rod. If it is simply rubbing on the lower band (common problem), or if the gas cylinder is dirty (another common problem), and it is not bent, the problem can be easily corrected. You can clean the inside of the gas cylinder by unscrewing the gas cylinder plug screw using a large screwdriver. Next, you will unscrew the gas cylinder lock from the gas cylinder. Then, gently tap off the gas cylinder and front sight assembly using a wood dowel resting on the back of the bayonet lug. Use gentle tapping until it comes off. Then, clean the inside just as you would clean the inside of a barrel. For your later reference, the gas cylinder is stainless steel and won't take a blue touch-up. Lightly oil the cylinder and pull off the front handguards. Reassemble without the front handguards and redo the second test. If it is still hanging up, then you might need a new operating rod. You can forego this, unless the operating rod is really bent or damaged, but your accuracy will not be as good as it could be. (Note that the operating rod has two intentional bends to clear the various stock and barrel areas when viewed from the side, but when viewed from the top, it should be absolutely straight.) Assuming it passes the tests, then it is time to gauge the operating rod piston and the gas cylinder. Remove it all again. The gas cylinder (measure as best you can inside about 1/4 inch below the gas port hole) must be no greater than .532". The stainless steel button on the end of the operating rod must be no less than .525" and needs to be round. Assuming those pass inspection, lay all that stuff aside. Again, you won't need it until you are about done with the rifle. At this time, it is also a good idea to clean out the gas port hole. You do this carefully by inserting a wood dowel or pencil far enough into the muzzle so it goes past the gas port hole (to protect against nicking the inside of the bore), then with a new sharp drill bit slightly smaller than the diameter of the hole, inserting the drill bit and with finger pressure only, spinning the drill bit to clear out any carbon, burrs, etc. You can then use a drill bit that is larger than the hole to remove any burrs on the outside of the hole and add a small bevel to help smooth the gas venting. Use a sharp new drill bit and finger pressure only. Your goal is not to remove a lot of metal, just add a smooth bevel as the gas vents from the barrel.

Next, disassemble the receiver group. The follower & slide assembly probably fell out when you took out the operating rod spring and follower rod, and that is ok. You next need to remove the follower pin holding the remainder of the bullet guide and other parts. You do this by having the receiver turned upside down, lying on your table or held securely in a vise. The main pin has a large "head". Make sure you are pushing it out from the pin side, and not from the head side. Looking down at the upside down receiver, with the muzzle pointing toward your right, it should be on the far side of the receiver, with the "head" on the left, or furthest away from you. GENTLY tap out the pin. It should come out very easily. All other receiver parts will now either drop out or you can gently lift them out. Lay them aside in your parts bin. In all instructions, the "left" side of the gun will be furthest away from you when the gun is laying on the table in front of you with the muzzle pointed to your right and the butt plate on your left.

You should be able to remove the operating rod at this point. You will see a clearance cut for the rod in the rear of the receiver. Pull the operating rod handle until it is directly over the clearance cut and gently pull out. It should come out without too much difficulty. Then you should be able to remove the bolt assembly by pushing it forward and lifting it out of the receiver, as if it were going into battery, gently tipping it upwards and out. At this time, inspect the bolt to make sure the face is free from pits and burrs, that the firing pin hole is round, and that the rear of the firing pin is not heavily battered. If it is, you will need to replace the firing pin (see the CMP website) or if the bolt needs to be replaced, send the barreled receiver off to Fulton Armory to get a new properly headspaced bolt before the rifle is reassembled and fired. Do that after you have completed bedding, in case you will need to get a new stock if you mess up the bedding.

Next, disassemble the clip latch. You do this by gently tapping out the long clip latch pin holding the receiver clip latch from the rear of the receiver, tapping it forward with a very small pin punch. Hold the clip latch with one hand while you pull out the pin with the other, so you don't lose the spring. With the pin out, gently remove the clip latch and spring and lay them in your parts bin.

You can also, if you wish, remove the rear sight. Although it is not necessary for bedding, it is helpful for cleaning and also as an added benefit, eliminates the possibility of bending or breaking the aperture. You do this by loosening the slotted screw on the left side of the sight (which is the adjustment screw on the elevation knob), then unscrewing the slotted nut on the right side of the sight (windage), then unscrewing the sight by unscrewing the windage knob on the right side of the sight. All the parts should come out and then the sight cover can be gently pried off by inserting a flat head screwdriver under the rear of the sight cover and gently prying off. Clean it all and put it in your parts bin. You can also inspect the sight at this point to see if the click marks are sharp and the gear mechanism on the pinion is not worn. If so, replace with a new one. You can order from CMP, Gun Parts Inc., Fulton Armory, or other parts dealers. Fulton Armory also sells a new elevation disk with 1/2 or 1 minute clicks, but many of the second-generation sight pinions are too short to use it.

You can also at this time tighten the mating of the aperture to the rear sight base, or go all the way to improve the sight by installing a new NM Rear sight aperture and base that you can order from Fulton Armory. The Fulton Armory option will allow you to have true 1/2 MOA adjustments of both windage and elevation (instead of the full MOA that is standard in these sights) and is recommended if you enter serious competition. If you choose to just tighten the mating between the aperture and the base to eliminate most of the play, the best way is to remove the base and the aperture. The sight base is hardened steel, so if you wish to do the job correctly, you will anneal the sides of the sight base a bit before working on it. Then, using a center punch, carefully peen the top sides of the rear sight base in at least 4 places -- two on each side -- until the aperture will not fit into rails on the base. Essentially, you are making a couple of high points on the inside track of the rails of the sight base. Then, using a fine file or stone, carefully remove sufficient metal from the peened area on the rails until the aperture will reinsert with some effort, then polish with a stone or 600 grit sandpaper until the aperture slides in and out with minimal effort, but the play is eliminated. This is a trial and error process, but will greatly improve your rear sight by eliminating the play. I have also had some luck with using a punch to peen without annealing the base, but it is a more difficult proposition and does not work as well. If you want to forego trying to tighten the base entirely, then you can do what a lot of older shooters do, and simply run a rubber band over the aperture and the elevation knob to eliminate the play while you are shooting.

Because of the way the receiver has to "lever" off the front stock ferrule when the receiver comes out of the stock, it will be necessary to file a bevel on the bottom rear receiver lugs. With the receiver in your vise and upside down, you need to file a short bevel on the bottom of the rear lugs only. The best way to do this is to file it off about a 45-degree angle, then round it slightly. Don't get over ambitious with this -- you only need about a 1/4" bevel. Smooth up your file marks with some stoning or 600 grit sandpaper and then use some touch-up bluing.

You can now start on the disassembly of the trigger group. This is the only "dicey" part of the whole disassembly procedure. Carefully study the parts diagrams. You will see that there are two pins -- one holding the trigger/sear assembly, and one holding the hammer assembly. Before you do anything, release the hammer by pulling the trigger and cushioning the hammer with the palm of your hand. If you don't, it becomes next to impossible to remove the pins and you wind up with a real problem. Next, working from the left side of the trigger housing, gently tap out the trigger pin. Even with the hammer disengaged, it is under tension. I have found the best way to do this is to start driving it out with a small pin punch, then holding the trigger assembly with my hand and compressing the trigger/sear and hammer spring assembly, I can pull the trigger pin out without much difficulty by hand. I have also used my padded vise as a third hand to help in this process. When the pin is out, carefully release the pressure and then remove the trigger/sear assembly, and the hammer spring housing, spring and plunger. You should check the hammer spring housing at this point to make sure it is not cracked. If it is, replace it. Note that when reassembled, the "open" side of the housing faces inward.

You can next remove the hammer pin without difficulty by a tap or two on the left side of the pin. At this point, no further disassembly of the trigger assembly is needed, although I generally take the time to pull out the safety and thoroughly clean the whole thing. The safety simply "pops" out of the recess in the left side of the trigger housing and goes back in the same way. All you will need for the bedding job is the safety, and trigger guard, so put the trigger guard back in with the hammer pin and you are ready to apply release agent to the trigger assembly for bedding when it is time to do that.

Next, you will need to thoroughly clean the inside (and outside) of the stock. Remove the front ferrule by loosening the sling screw and gently tapping the ferrule off. Thoroughly clean and degrease the ferrule, both inside and out (you will be gluing it on the stock later), and set it aside. The best way of degreasing the stock, I have found, is to get some hot soapy water, a couple of toothbrushes, and some steel wool and give it a hot bath, scrubbing it both inside and outside with the soapy water, paying particular attention to the inside receiver inletted area and the front of the stock where the ferrule sits. Because of the amount of oil in these stocks, I have found that first using a good solvent or paint thinner is helpful, followed by adding some TSP to the hot water scrub. It should remove most of the finish (you will refinish the stock later) and form a suitable prep for the bedding job. Thoroughly rinse the stock (especially the inside) when you are finished to remove all of the soap solution. Pat down all water and set the stock aside for a couple of days to dry. Do the same with the front handguard and rear handguard. Now would be a good time to steam out any dents, if you are so inclined. The end product is a stock that looks "washed out". Don't worry. It will quickly restore when you are done bedding.

Finally, you should turn back to the barreled receiver and drive out the pin holding the lower band on the barrel. This is a roll pin, which should drive out fairly easily with a small pin punch, driving it from the right side of the barrel out the left with the barreled receiver upside down. Then, gently tap the lower band off the barrel and set it aside. You should also clean and degrease it at this time as well.

Your prep work is now completed and you are ready to start the bedding process.

Part I. Getting Ready
Part II. Prepping the Stock and Metal
Part III. Glass Bedding the Garand
Part IV. Working the Handguards -- Rear Handguard Work and Bedding the Front Handguard
Part V. Gas Cylinder Work and Peening Front Sights
Part VI. Reloading for the Garand

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