This Day in History: M1 Garand Becomes Greatest Battle Implement

M1 Garand The en-block clips feed directly into the top of the receiver.
M1 Garand The en-block clips feed directly into the top of the receiver.

WASHINGTON, D. C. — -(AmmoLand.com)-  On January 26, 1945, Lieutenant General George S. Patton, Jr. uttered the famous phrase, “In my opinion, the M-1 Rifle is the greatest battle implement ever devised.” Well, actually, he didn’t say it – he wrote it.

Patton's letter from January 26, 1945, with the famous “battle implement” quote.

We’ve all heard Patton’s praise of the M1 Garand rifle, but few know the context in which it was made. It is the first line in a letter from Patton on his official Third Army “OFFICE OF THE COMMANDING GENERAL” letterhead to Major General Levin H. Campbell, Jr., who was the War Department’s Chief of Ordnance.

John Garand’s rifle was officially designated as the M1, and was adopted as the standard US infantry rifle in 1936. The first production M1 rifle was successfully proofed, function-checked, and accurized on July 21, 1937. The Army accepted the first run of guns in 1938. By January 1940, Springfield Armory was producing 100 rifles per day. Production peaked in January 1944 with 122,001 M1s produced in 31 days. That’s 3,936 rifles per day or 164 rifles per hour!

General George 'Troublemaker' Patton
General George Patton

The Garand semi-automatic rifle wasn’t Patton’s only object of adoration in the letter. He went on to say that his “admiration for Ordnance products does not stop with the M-1 Rifle.” He goes on to say that the United States’ “machine guns, mortars, artillery, and tanks are without equal.”

High praise from Patton was not to be taken lightly. He was just as feared and revered during his lifetime as his legacy is today. Perhaps that’s why this letter, which was no doubt considered by many to be just another piece of official daily correspondence, was preserved. Had it been discarded, military historians and gun collectors the world over would have been denied one of the most famous quotes of the 20th century.

Of course, Patton knew that high quality weaponry was useless if not used properly by well-trained soldiers, or, as Patton referred to them in his letter, “unconquerable veterans.” It was in their hands that the M1 Garand and the other Ordnance tools of their trade would ensure the “utter destruction of the armed forces of our enemies.”

The recipient of Patton’s letter, Major General Campbell, knew his way around ordnance. He had served in many capacities at ordnance facilities throughout the country since 1918. Before becoming the Chief of Ordnance, he spent time at the Office of the Chief of Ordnance, Washington, D.C.; Stockton Ordnance Depot, California; Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland; and Rock Island Arsenal, Illinois. Clearly, the War Department had the right man for the job.

Campbell retired in 1946, but he didn’t sit idle. He took a job as the Executive Vice President for International Harvester, a well-known producer of farm equipment. Interestingly enough, International Harvester went on to produce 337,623 M1 Garand rifles between 1952 and 1956. Campbell had retired from the company by the time production began, but the connection there is still quite interesting.

Garand Rifles Being Packed : LC-USE6-D-000140
Garand Rifles Being Packed

By the time World War II ended just months after Patton’s praise, Springfield Armory’s total production numbered 3,526,922 M1 rifles from 1932 through 1945. Records indicate Winchester produced a total of 513,880 M1 rifles between December 1940 and June 1945.

Between the two of them, their combined WWII production totaled 4,040,802 rifles. With numbers like that (and military results to back them up), it’s easy to see why Patton – and untold scores of WWII veterans – all heaped the same kind of praise on John Garand’s rifle.


About Logan MeteshLogan Metesh

Logan Metesh is a historian with a focus on firearms history and development. He runs High Caliber History LLC and has more than a decade of experience working for the Smithsonian Institution, the National Park Service, and the NRA Museums. His ability to present history and research in an engaging manner has made him a sought after consultant, writer, and museum professional. The ease with which he can recall obscure historical facts and figures makes him very good at Jeopardy!, but exceptionally bad at geometry.

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VernWild BillMikialEj harbetCircle8 Recent comment authors
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Mikial
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Mikial

The Garand is a magnificent rifle and was way ahead of the battle rifles of its time. My father fought in North Africa and Italy from 1943 to the end of WWII. He was a tanker who was issued an M1 Carbine in case they had to abandon their tank. His crew had to bail out of disabled Shermans twice and each time they were glad they had ditched their carbines in favor of Garands. I’ve owned two; the first one one of the new run of Springfields and the second a 1943 manufacture veteran. Both have passed on to… Read more »

Ej harbet
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Ej harbet

Was my dads favorite rifle and it got him home from korea in 1953. A argument could be made that i owe my existence to the m1 that my dad used to make many good communists.

Circle8
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Circle8

I loved mine. The weight was heavy but the ease of using it was great and it worked. I did not like McNamara’s Mattel toy when it came out but finally after decades they have been improved.

Ryben Flynn
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Ryben Flynn

When I had my FFL03, The M1 was one rifle I wanted to own as my Father carried both the M1 and M1 Carbine (not at the same time and he said he preferred the shorter one) while in the Army in South Korea with the Occupational Forces. I bought one in 2017 from Collectors Firearms and got a Veteran Discount and free shipping. It is a 1955 Springfield Armory in almost perfect condition, except for the usual handling dings and the darkened stock. It could possibly be an unissued rifle. 1955 production was almost 91,000 a month so my… Read more »

Capn Dad
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Capn Dad

My Garand is one of my most prized possessions. Mine manufactured in May 1944. Still shoots and still makes me smile as much as the first day I acquired it.

tetejaun
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tetejaun

Over the decades, I have owned many M1 Garands. Over time, I sold them off but I kept one…the one that looks as if it is brand new, made in May 1942. I was born May 1952. An interesting coincidence. This particular Garand is a most accurate, and dear to me, rifle and piece of history. When at the range, I will set out my Garand and M1 Carbine. Soon, the admirers are plenty and we have a ‘blast’ shooting them. Both the Garand and Carbine look like they were made 20 minutes ago. I have oiled and rubbed, for… Read more »

Terry
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Terry

I have a 1954 (I was born in November 1952) that looks like it just came out of the crate. I shot one in weapons familiarization when I was in the Army (1971 through 1974). It was love at first sight. If I want to go to the range and just smile all day I take the M1.

tetejaun
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tetejaun

Yes, I saw M1 Garands and M! Carbines in Viet Nam. I was taught the M-16 A1. When I arrived in Viet Nam, I was given an M-14! Talk about a shock.

Yup. A Garand does make you smile. It always amazes me how many people want to see it. When I let them shoot it, they are delighted beyond measure.

By the way, I only shoot Prvi Partizan 30-06 ammo made especially for the M1 Garand. Get the Orion 7 operating spring.
Enjoy your Garand…a rifle and piece of history.

tetejaun
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tetejaun

The Garand had excellent sights that were accurate past 1000 yards.

Wild Bill
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Wild Bill

@ttj, No, they are not. I have several. I used to shoot them a lot. The Garand clamps together and has no action screw. They are horribly inaccurate. The government’s inspection standard was four inches from center at one hundred yards.
Some of you will think that this is blasphemy, but it is true.

Vern
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Vern

I used the M-1 in ITR at Camp Pendleton and liked it but my favorite is still the M-14. I was carrying one in Nam until they issued us the M-16, they were not as good as what they have evolved into today.