Accurizing An M-1 Garand
Part VI

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

Part VI. Reloading for the Garand

This is not to be a long section on reloading and the writer assumes you are familiar with the various reloading techniques and apply them safely. There are a couple of quirks about reloading for the Garand based on two principal issues. The first is the problem of slam fires, which was noted earlier. To recap, the firing pin on the Garand is free floating. As such, it has the possibility of advancing and hitting the primer with sufficient force to cause ignition, even if the bolt is not yet in battery. The result is a very dangerous situation that can severely injure, if not kill, the shooter or bystanders. This is one area where excess caution is warranted. Much of the slam fire problem has been caused by improperly seated primers that protrude above the case head, or by using the wrong primer. The only primers that the writer suggests you use to minimize the possibility of slam fires are the CCI Mil-spec primers (CCI # 34). These have a thicker cup and it takes more force to cause ignition than regular primers. The slight increase in accuracy that may be obtained by using Match grade primers is not worth the risk. Most shooters will not notice the difference anyway and if you simply decide to only use mil-spec primers from the outset, you will work up your loads using those. Use of the correct mil-spec primer plus seating them at the bottom of the primer hole so they don't protrude above the case head, are the best things you can do in reloading to minimize the possibility of a slam fire. The other thing you must do to minimize the possibility of slam fires is to always load from a clip. While single fire will require you to use a single fire adaptor or "SLED", it is worth the few bucks to maximize safety.

The second issue involves the burning rate of the powder. Because the operating rod is extremely long, slow burning powders will generate excessive gas pressure that may bend the operating rod, ruining all your careful accuracy work. Generally, do not use any powder slower than IMR 4350 for anything in your Garand. The best results are obtained with burn rates between IMR 3031 and IMR 4064. Personally, I like IMR 4895 as the all around choice for projectiles of 147 grains through the 173-grain match bullet. There is a good article on loads for the Garand in the Fulton Armory technical information page, which should give you a good start at working up loads from 147 grain through the 173-grain projectiles. Good supplies of pulled military bullets, including the ball M-2 152 grain bullets and the Match M-73 173-grain bullets, can be ordered from Jeff Bartlett at 1309 W. 9th St., Owensboro, KY 42301 Tel: (270) 685-2432 or (800) 714-6348 FAX: (270) 684-6249. I have dealt with Mr. Bartlett for some time and have found him extremely reliable and helpful.

Finally, a word about brass. Garands tend to chew up brass in enormous quantities. Because of the large diameter of the chamber, you will not need to have a small base die to size the brass, but at the same time, you should not reload your brass more than twice unless you have a special tight match chamber on a replacement barrel. If you reload more than twice, you will experience brass failures and case splitting and you should get yourself a broken case extractor (Brownells # 769-100-306 ($17.95). I do NOT recommend loading more than twice. As usual, make certain your brass is trimmed to length (even more critical in a semi-automatic firearm, particularly one that has a slam fire issue), and are properly sized. As with most of the other items, you are well-advised to use a good grade of military brass, such as Lake City. Jeff Bartlett often carries Lake City match brass that does not have the crimped primer. You can use crimped primers as well, and Jeff will remove the crimp for a small additional fee. Avoid most of the foreign brass, particularly that from lesser-developed nations. Not only do you risk getting corrosive primers when you first shoot it (if you buy loaded ammo), you will also find the brass is more brittle and splits even on one loading. Likewise, some of the US commercial brass does not have the wall thickness to withstand repeated stretching in the Garand chamber. Mil-spec brass with mil-spec primers is the right way to go. As always, start with a reduced load and work up slowly.

It is now time to go shoot. Have fun, and join us at the State Association high power matches this summer!

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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