Garands were very rare and hard to get up till the CMP started selling US surplus Garands. You could buy a National Match Garand but you had to go to Camp Perry to buy one. The Gun Club president told me he got his first Garand in 1977, five years after he got his first M1a. Up till then civilians used M1903A3’s.
In 1989 Blue Sky Garands became available, but they were beat to heck. I was able to build a NM Garand around the receiver of one. The DCM still had its “one per lifetime Garand” in 1989 because that is when I got mine. In the early to middle 90’s the log jam broke with the creation of the CMP. Good Garands became available.
The fifth anniversary of WW2 with the subsequent movie coverage really boosted Garand sales out the roof. Everyone wanted a Garand, to shoot a Garand, because they saw it in a movie.
The 100th anniversary of WW1 is coming up, there are probably going to be some good movies, and I believe they will cause M1903 prices up. Unless it is a British movie, then it will be SMLE’s.
It took me a very darn long time to find an all military M1903. I had to build up rifles around receivers. Back then, you looked in print ads, such as ShotGun News, because the internet did not exist.
For numbers produced, there were about 1,500,000 M1903’s built at SA, about 400,000 RIA. Of those about 1,000,000 are single heat treat receivers and are suspect structurally. That leaves about 800,000 M1903’s (not counting Rem 03’s) and there are very few of them left. The US gave lots of 03’s out as foreign aid, you see pictures of Haitian troops with them, etc. There were 6 million Garands made, don’t know how many Clinton destroyed at Anniston, but the parts filled box cars, whole trains left Anniston full of demilled Garand parts, according to a bud of mine who worked there.
Anyway I think it is a tough call because both the Garand and M1903 are going to be more desirable as time goes on, and harder to find. I would get both while I could.
If I'm not shooting, I'm reloading.