View Full Version : 1944 M1 issue- clip is hard to load

September 2, 2007, 12:22 PM

I took my new (well, new to me at least) M1 Garand to the range yesterday

It is from the CMP, re-barreled in 1946 by the US Army, built in 1944. Made by Springfield. Service grade

I had an unpleasant surprise, loading my very first clip- the en bloc clip would not easily seat all the way into the internal magazine, so the action had a very hard time stripping off the first round

We stripped the rifle and inspected it. It was clean before I went to the range; I cleaned the barrel and chamber, made sure the firing pin worked, etc. hard to check loading action without putting home a clip, so I saved that until yesterday

Anyway, nothing obvious was seen as the culprit. We looked at another M1, a 1943 Springfield built rifle, and the lever the clip of ammunition rides can physically go further into the internal magazine on this other (known to be working well) rifle. My rifle would, for some reason, only allow the lever to travel to within about 1/8" of "bottom", so the clip must be pushed hard into the magazine, much harder than is normal, and even then the bolt will not move sharply forward on it's own, the action needs to be pushed forward

We looked at the receiver out of the stock, with no firing pin. Nothing could be seen blocking the clip. Inside of the stock is as smooth as any other M1's stock, nothing is sticking out of the wood and hindering the action. We also used the trigger group out of the other M1 in my rifle, no difference in operation

After checking that a round would indeed be engaged into the extractor, I commenced firing after loading it, full clip, as described above. After the first round, the rifle behaves flawlessly, and it shoots very well.

I'm not sure what's going on here; many parts in the rifle are new or appear new. The follower lever seems straight, I did not check it with a proven straight edge but it shows no signs of being bent

The follower rides an "L" shaped lever, and it seems as if this part might need to wear in, or that it, or the follower arm needs to be taken down 5 thousandths of an inch or so, to allow the clip to be inserted normally. This would allow the lever to pivot further on the fulcrum, allowing the clip to go all the way into the magazine. I have not done any work to the rifle yet

By the end of the day (I fired close to 200 rounds), the action would...slowly....manage to strip off the round...eventually, but I smacked the lever forward with my palm to make sure the round was in the extractor. It was perhaps a 3 second process, if you watched the rifle do it by itself after the clip was loaded. I also single-shot the rifle a few times to check functionality. No issues single-shotting the rifle

I wonder if anyone has experienced this? My first impulse is to take it to a gunsmith. Does anyone know of one in the Norfolk County, Massachusetts area?

September 2, 2007, 02:38 PM
I've run into this before. I think maybe the accelerator is installed incorrectly? It's a small right angle piece pinned into operating rod catch (the forked piece the elbow of the follower rod rides in; the follower rod is the part the op-rod spring is skewered onto). See if you can borrow the working gun again an pull it out of the its stock alongside yours and look carefully at that part? You'll have to pull the op-rod spring off the follower assembly to get at it.

It's been so long since I ran into that, I would verify it by calling Anniston. The guys in the shop there will answer technical questions and they have the gun memorized inside and out. (256) 835-8455.

James K
September 2, 2007, 10:37 PM
Maybe there is another answer. The last M1 I got through CMP had the same problem; the bolt was hard to pull back and a clip could not be loaded. I disassembled the op rod and dumped out FOUR pieces of spring. The total length was more than the spring should have been, explaining the problem. I replaced the spring and everything worked fine.

How did that happen? I don't know, but it was weird.

So check the spring to see if it is too long or in pieces, or if something else is in the hole. If you keep trying to load the rifle the way it is, you could bend the follower arm and have to replace it.


September 3, 2007, 06:23 AM
Thanks for the replies


The bolt and operating rod work correctly. I have not checked spring length, but I have visually inspected it, as I stripped the rifle when I got the thing :) The spring shows no signs of elongation; the coils are all evenly spaced. The operating rod moves smoothly and the bolt is definitely all the way back when the rod is pulled rearward

The rod itself shows no bends or wear that a normal, properly functioning op rod would not show


I will check again, but I can't see how this could be installed incorrectly. The pin that holds all of those parts together is easily removed with a bullet. I attempted to install the parts so that the right angled piece do not have the arm inside the "L", but rather riding on top of it, to see what would happen. The pin is not able to be slid home in that case. I can see how if the follower was not inside the angled portion that this may happen, but I also cannot see how the rest of the clip would feed in this case

Perhaps I should take some photos of the rifle as it is assembled right now (which is the same way I was shooting it) so I can illustrate the issue more clearly

September 3, 2007, 10:36 AM
The accelerator is on a smaller pin through the op-rod catch, so this is a level of disassembly you probably did not do. Kind of like taking the sear off the trigger, most people never do that. Might not be the catch incorrectly installed, but just assembled with it dangling wrong or some such thing? I am just going by very vague memory of something along this line that I recall prevented the follower from bottoming out, but, man, I'm going back 20 years in memory here. You'll forgive me if I don't really want to disassemble one of my Garands and put it back together wrong to try to replicate this. Calling Anniston is a better bet.

If you get the other gun and neither are bedded, try swapping the stocks. If you have time, start swapping out the follower and op-rod components until you identify the culprit.

September 3, 2007, 11:15 AM

is this the pin you mean, circled in red? My manual specifically instructs to not dissemble that...


The red line shows where my follower stops. It is possible to make it go all the way with thumb pressure, but you need to force it

September 3, 2007, 12:07 PM
Yeah. That's the pin. I seem to recall finding the accelerator upside down or backward or something on one gun and having to remove that and orient it correctly. Long ago and fuzzy memory, though.

Another thought, look for peening or signs the follower arm is running into the narrowed part of the notch at the bottom of the bullet guide? You could bevel the inside edges of the notch with a diamond hone if necessary, but the arm has to go right down into it to get all the way to the bottom:


Are you able to hold the op-rod back and depress the follower all the way down into this notch when gun is out of the stock?

September 3, 2007, 02:50 PM
Well, it's fixed. You were getting close with the bullet guide, Nick

I played with it a lot, and when the follower arm pin was out, but the follower, follower arm, and op rod catch were lined up, the follower went down were it should go, no trouble. With the pin partly inserted it would still work. With the pin inserted all the way- no way

So, my Dad has a '43 M1. I looked it over. His follower arm pin almost falls out, mine had a definite 'catch' to it. So I inspected the pins. His had no rings worn on it. Mine has three, very very slightly- one from the bullet guide hole, and two from the follower arm holes. Something seemed mis-aligned

So, I pulled out the bullet guide and inspected it. Where the hole is in the bullet guide, into which the pin passes, the end was bent up. On my Dad's, the entire thing was flat, and sat flat against the receiver. Mine wouldn't. So I put his bullet guide in my rifle- worked fine

I took a file and removed about .005" from my bullet guide, on the part that rests against the accelerator. Since mine was bent, essentially the little tang on the bullet guide was up too high, limiting follower arm travel.

I tested with a clip of inert rounds. Clip inserts and locks normally. The rifle still strips off the first round a little sluggish but I'll address that if/when it's an issue. Removing a partially loaded clip is now oh so much easier, too. That should make the range officers happy. I am ordering a new bullet guide, and a few other parts, like the correct milled trigger guard, I have an H&R trigger group on my SA rifle. and I'll swap out the trigger guard- the stamped one jams my finger into the trigger when I unlock it, and I like the looks of the milled one anyway

Thanks for the help

Mach II Sailor
September 4, 2007, 08:30 AM
maybe the problem is you are using a "clip" rather than a magazine ;)

September 4, 2007, 10:02 AM
Mach II,
It is an En Bloc Clip. A magazine is inserted from the bottom of the weapon, a Clip goes in from the top.

James K
September 4, 2007, 01:28 PM
"A magazine is inserted from the bottom of the weapon..."

I guess someone forgot to tell the Bren gun guys or the folks with Stens, Johnson M41's, Jap Type 99's, etc., etc.

And with the M1, the magazine doesn't go in from any direction, it is an integral part of the rifle.


September 4, 2007, 05:42 PM

Jim is on the money here

MachII- here is the en bloc clip for the M1 .30 Garand rifle. They quite literally "clip" the rounds together:


The follower is inside the rifle, in the internal magazine. When the rifle was designed, it was considered that an external magazine would introduce dirt and foreign matter into the rifle, although if you look closely at an M1 Garand and an M14, you will see that it is perhaps possible that John Garand anticipated a time in the near future in which external magazines were the norm

Looking into the M1 internal magazine, showing the follower to good advantage:


Here is how the rifle is loaded:


As you can see, this was not a design that was perfect, and while the Garand was the first semi-auto rifle to have widespread adoption by a major armed force (1936, US Army), the en bloc clip was abandoned in favor of external magazines, in for example the M1 .30 Carbine, which also saw service in WWII along with the Garand

All in all though, I find the Garand a wonderfully clever and robust rifle; it's also a pleasure to shoot. I think that the basic idea of the rolling bolt in the M1 was adopted by Kalashnikov, if that is an indication of John Garand's legacy in the world of firearms

I hope the above pics clear up the confusion with clips and magazines in an M1 :)

Mach II Sailor
September 5, 2007, 08:07 AM

most humble apologies :o

i thought i saw the word "CARBINE"

September 5, 2007, 11:09 AM
You can spend a lot of time and $$ trying to get an M1 to strip the first round on it's own. I would say that only 25% of them out there will do it reliably. The other 75% need to be bumped to load that first round. Well broken in clips usually work best.


September 5, 2007, 04:37 PM
Even better news-

Talked to the CMP. They are shipping me a replacement bullet guide, and tossing in a milled trigger guard, all for free. They apparently take standing behind their sales seriously

September 6, 2007, 02:50 PM
Agreed! The CMP is a great organization. Anyone who wants an M1 rifle or an M1 carbine is foolish not to at least consider them. I have bought 5 guns through the CMP. I have had problems with one, a bent rear sight on a 1903 Springfield. They sent me a complete rear sight assembly, no questions asked. They also replaced a Springfield extractor some two years after I ordered the rifle.

Delivery to your door is kinda nifty, too.......


September 6, 2007, 07:04 PM
Yes, it is actually surprising that in 2007 you get "service" from real people who you can talk to on the telephone. I'm so used to the runaround that I take it for granted!

I installed the replacement bullet guide today, and swapped in the SA trigger guard they sent me. No issues, works as advertised

September 7, 2007, 06:13 PM
The boys at Anniston take what they do seriously. Good guys, and will do what it takes to ensure what you bought does what they said it would. Glad you found the fault in the bullet guide. Nothing like swapping parts to validate the cure to a problem, for sure.

Be aware that the stamped trigger guards are preferred by match shooter and those accurizing rifles. It sounds to me as if you not planning to alter yours, however, if getting it back to original configuration is your main concern. Perhaps you are planning to shoot it in the John C. Garand as-issued matches? Their popularity has exploded.

I recall Garand did indeed anticipate the use of the detachable magazine and offered it as an option. He may actually have constructed one, early on when he was exploring other chamberings in his earlier designs? Whether to use detachable magazines or not was a subject of debate and disagreement within the military. Read Hatcher's Book of the Garand for more details on dates and previous models. Concerns over dirt and that losing all one's magazines would leave the rifle a clumsy-to-load single-shot, and that multiple loaded magazines were heavier than bandoleers of pre-loaded en-block clips all were considered.

What was not considered was that, unlike either a detachable magazine or the older Mauser style magazine, the clip prevents the Garand from being topped up either manually or with stripper clips. As a result, during lulls in fighting or just before moving from cover, GI's routinely ejected whatever live rounds were in the gun to get a full clip in place. Thus, a lot of unfired ammunition lay all around battle grounds. Much more was wasted than would otherwise have been the case. The concerns about mud and dirt were mainly applicable to trench warfare, so, by the time the action was modified for the M14, this error in judgment was corrected.


September 7, 2007, 06:59 PM
Thanks, Nick. I'll have to become a much better shot before I can consider competing anywhere :)

I swapped out the trigger guard (kept the original H&R guard, of course) mostly for aesthetics. I was simply going to buy a Springfield trigger group, and sell off my H&R to someone who had an H&R rifle, but when it (the clip loading issue) was mentioned to the CMP, the trigger guard came up in conversation, and their response was to just send me an SA guard along with a replacement bullet guide- and a really nice one, at that. From what I've read the later construction trigger groups were superior, so perhaps I'm getting the best of both worlds here, allowing for my tastes, with the trigger group appearing to be an early unit externally, which is more visually agreeable to me, with the improved trigger group internally

It fascinates me to do a little work to old machines. It's probably why I fool with muscle cars, but given the rough life of a military rifle it interests me to no end when I disassemble things like the 50+ year old trigger group, and see that the parts are practically new in appearance and function

September 8, 2007, 03:41 PM
back in late 30s they were demonstrating garands and Johnsons at wakefield ma.I remember they gave the garands and Johnsons a boost to close.you seem to have the righ tecnic/ to load the gun.palm against gun fingers foreword,push clip in till it cliks rotate fingers up and away.join GOAL and they can give you a lot of help,not nessaraly gun repair but they do have m14s for the matches.there are gunsmiths around you but the best is in saugus.Kakarolus or some thing.tuned up my M1 carbine in 308[Garand].where in norfork are you I was in medway.:)--:)

September 8, 2007, 04:46 PM
Thanks Teddy

I'm not in Norfolk Ma, I meant Norfolk County, Ma, because I store the rifle currently in my hometown, which is in Norfolk County. I'm in Boston

I used to have a welder I used in Norfolk ma, though. Older gentleman who has passed on. It used to be quite a sight to see him lift my 1970 Buick by the rear frame until the back bumper was 8 feet off the ground, watch him do his thing, and then set the car back down. I don't get out that way very often these days, though