So, for an 'M1 Garand' noob,
Is there a value or performance difference between an M1 Garand made by Winchester, Springfield, or Harrington & Richardson?
I saw that there was a category for S/Ns over 6 million. Does the S/N matter, except for probable wear?
If looking to purchase a Service Grade rifle which one is best to buy, the Springfield or the H&R? I understand there are no more Winchesters.
The S/N will indicate when the receiver was manufactured. Some folks want WW2 serials, some want Korean War. For CMP rifles, the grades are determined by condition
, not serial numbers. Since most rifles were arsenaled (and often refurbished or rebarreled) at some point in their history, the serial will not be an indicator of condition or wear. The CMP rifles will, at a minumum, match the description of their respective grades, though many will look much better.
There is no real value difference between a Service Grade Springfield and H&R - it's really up to personal preference. If you mail-order a Springfield, there is a possibility to get a WWII serial number (mine is), which many folks find more desirable.
All H&R's were manufactured post-war, but there were also far fewer H&R rifles made than Springfields, so that makes them more desirable to some folks. There is also the possibility of getting an H&R (or late-production Springfield) rifle in near-unissued condition, since many were little-used before replacement with M14s.
Also some folks desire late-production Springfield and H&R rifles (especially as shooters) because they are likely to include many of the minor product-improvements that came during Garand production.
All Winchester rifles were manufactured during the WW2 era. They are no longer available for mail-order, but are often available in the CMP North and South stores.