There's a reverence and a sense of history that envelopes you the first time you hold an M1 Garand (or an M1903, M1903A3, or M1917 Enfield, for that matter). Battle-proven firearms utilized by amazing individuals...many times, in harm's way. In order to truly appreciate them, there's a need to obtain the ammunition that was originally intended for these rifles. This includes either military M2 (Ball) or M72 (Match). Whether purchased or home-fabricated, it's time to head to the range.
Once you've become familiar with your service rifle, you might as well try your hand at NRA High Power Rifle competition. The course is completed via four strings of fire as follows:
Slow Fire - Standing - 10 rounds at 200 yards in 10 minutes;
Rapid Fire - Sitting or Kneeling - 10 rounds at 200 yards in 60 seconds;
Rapid Fire - Prone - 10 rounds at 300 yards in 70 seconds; and
Slow Fire - Prone - 10 rounds at 500 or 600 yards in 10 minutes.
Sounds like a challenge? Sounds like fun? It is and you'll gain a new appreciation for those who went before us!
Note: All of the load data that follows will work wonderfully well in the rifles mentioned above. However, I'll be discussing distance specific loads in an upcoming blog article titled, .30-06 Springfield Part 3 - Long Distance Target Loads. Part 3 will make any match-prepped, heavy-barreled, bolt-action rifle dance and, the M1903, M1903A3 and M1917 Enfield sing. Part 3 does not pertain to the M1 Garand. With this in mind, when reading the following information, think M1 Garand. The other rifles will follow suit but, think M1 Garand!
Reloading for the M1 Garand
Fabricating ammo for the M1 is reloading, not handloading. What you're trying to accomplish is ammunition that matches or closely matches the original military specifications. In order to do so, you'll need to use bullets in a certain weight range and a powder with a very specific burn rate.
· Standard Military Ball, also known as M2, has a bullet weight of 147 to 152 grains.
· Military Match, also known as M72, has a bullet weight of 172 to 173 grains.
· The powder of choice is IMR4895.
· Other powders that closely match this burn rate are Hodgdon's H-4895, IMR4895's sister powder IMR4064 and Winchester's W748.
Over the years, our military arsenals and civilian contract manufacturers have utilized IMR4895 as their primary powder. In competitive rifle circles, it and H-4895 are still the "go-to" powders. Using lighter weight bullets is not an issue (more to follow); however, the use of overly heavy bullets and/or slower burn-rate powders can create a huge headache! Ignoring this bit of advice can cause pressures to spike (not good when you consider that the youngest of the rifles mentioned above is ~66 years old and the oldest is ~113 years old). Additionally, in the case of the M1, the rifle mechanism will operate with more force. More force equals bent operating rods and damage to other parts. Not good! Don't do it!
Let's Talk Brass
Unless you have access to prime surplus military ball or match ammo, you'll need to "roll your own." While it used to be very easy to obtain original surplus ball or match ammunition, it is not so today. You'll have to search high and low (or find someone with a hoard and see if you can talk them out of some). If you can't find this ammo, then keep a weathered eye out for once-fired military brass. Another option is to purchase Greek-manufactured M2 from the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) or custom-fabricated M72 equivalent ammunition from Creedmoor Sports. Check out the following websites:
M2 Ball brass will have a crimped-in primer and, depending on year of manufacture, a headstamp denoting a circle with cross centered and the arsenal ID plus year designation (i.e., TW54, SL53, LC60, etc.). When prepping this brass for reloading, use a separate decapping die to remove the crimped primer and, either swage the crimp out of the primer pocket or use a military crimp removal cutter. This makes future primer seating much easier!
M72 Match brass does not have a crimped-in primer, it's better annealed (heat treated) and, is more consistent in weight and wall thickness. M72 brass will have the arsenal ID plus year designation as well as the word "Match" or "NM" (National Match) on the case head (i.e., FA61 Match, LC63 NM, etc.).
Regardless of whether you're using ball or match, late-issue ammo or brass (1960 or later) is preferable. Do not purchase surplus military '06 ammo or brass that has a head stamp prior to 1953. The reason for this caution is due to the fact that primers utilized in military ammo, prior to that year, contained potassium chlorate, mercuric compounds or both. When fired, these primers deposit corrosive salts in your bore...a very fertile ground for rust and corrosion. The only way to clear your bore of these salts is by pouring a liberal amount of scalding hot water down your bore, running bore solvent through the bore and immediately following up with a patch or two gently lubricated with a top-end gun oil. The mercury released by some of these primers won't hurt your bore, but it will weaken the brass making it non-reloadable.
Military brass has thicker case walls and is less prone to dents and dings upon being ejected from an M1. If you can't acquire military brass, any civilian '06 version will work. Keep in mind, the rifle may beat this brass up a bit and it may not last as long through multiple resizings.
Speaking of resizing, I recommend the use of either "full-length" or "small-base" dies. Some military service rifle chambers will allow you to full-length resize, others won't. The ones that won't, do yourself a favor...grab a small-base die set and don't look back. Regardless of which die you use, make sure that your resized brass will cycle properly through the rifle action before completing the loading process. Confirmation tools, like the L.E. Wilson Case Length Headspace Gauge, can make this process a lot easier.
The key take-away(s) here would be:
· Use the appropriate sizing die for your chamber;
· Keep your service rifle brass and hunting brass separate due to the more generous chamber dimensions associated with service rifles (i.e., don't over-work your brass while sizing);
· If using military brass, sort it by arsenal and date; and
· Make sure that your "civilian" service rifle brass is of the same manufacture and, if possible, the same lot number (i.e., eliminate variations in internal powder capacity).
If you sit down with a group of competitive M1 service rifle shooters and mention the words "large rifle primer," the answer is always the same. Based on my own personal experience, I agree with them wholeheartedly. In order of preference:
· Federal 210M (Gold Medal Match);
· Federal 210; or
· Winchester Large Rifle (WLR).
Another primer to consider is the CCI No. 34 Military Rifle Primer. I've been very happy with the other three primers but there are a few folks out there that swear by the No. 34. Food for thought.
For manufacturer, weight and style of bullet, see load data below.
Time to make the lawyers happy.
Disclaimer: Since I have no control over variations in components, reloading tools or reloader's procedures, the individual is solely responsible for any changes in ballistics that may occur using this data. Users assume all risk, responsibility and liability whatsoever for any and all injuries (including death), losses or damages to persons or property (including consequential damages), arising from the use of any product or data. I do not assume any liability in conjunction with the use of any product or data.
Loading Note: When substituting civilian brass in the loads referenced below, an increase of 1 grain of powder will be required to meet spec. This is due to civilian brass having larger internal case capacity than military brass.
This ammunition utilizes a 147 to 152 grain Full Metal Jacket Boat-tailed (FMJBT) bullet at a muzzle velocity of ~2740 fps. Cartridge Overall Length (COL) = 3.185 to 3.240". You can match this spec as follows:
150 gr. FMJBT (Sierra or Hornady), 47.5 gr. of IMR4895, Military Brass, Fed 210/210M or WLR Primer
150 gr. FMJBT (Sierra or Hornady), 47.5 gr. of H-4895, Military Brass, Fed 210/210M or WLR Primer
150 gr. FMJBT (Sierra or Hornady), 50.0 gr. of IMR4064, Military Brass, Fed 210/210M or WLR Primer
150 gr. FMJBT (Sierra or Hornady), 50.0 gr. of W748, Military Brass, Fed 210/210M or WLR Primer
These M2 equivalent loads work great for the slow-fire offhand and rapid-fire sitting/kneeling portions of the NRA National Match Course. If you're looking for a little edge in accuracy, try Sierra's 150 gr. MatchKing, 155 gr. MatchKing or their 155 gr. PALMA MatchKing bullets. Another bullet that deserves a serious look is Nosler's 155 gr. Custom Competition.
Old School: If recoil is or becomes an issue in offhand and/or rapid fire, try substituting the Sierra 125 gr. Spitzer Flat-based Pro-Hunter bullet in the loads above. They are fun to shoot, light on the shoulder, less expensive and operate beautifully in the M1. You may be surprised at how accurate they are! If match bullets are an absolute must for you, try Sierra's 125 gr. Hollow Point (HP) or 135 gr. Hollow Point Boat-tail (HPBT) MatchKings.
This ammunition utilizes a 172 to 173 grain FMJBT bullet at a muzzle velocity of ~2640 fps. With 168 and 175 gr. match bullets, COL = 3.240 to 3.330".Here you can "tweak" the load a little (Yeah, I'm a handloader at heart...lol). You can match this spec as follows:
168 gr. Sierra HPBT MatchKing, 46.0 to 47.0 gr. of IMR4895, Military Brass, Fed 210/210M or WLR Primer
168 gr. Sierra HPBT MatchKing, 46.0 to 47.0 gr. of H-4895, Military Brass, Fed 210/210M or WLR Primer
168 gr. Sierra HPBT MatchKing, 48.0 to 49.0 gr. of IMR4064, Military Brass, Fed 210/210M or WLR Primer
168 gr. Sierra HPBT MatchKing, 48.0 to 49.0 gr. of W748, Military Brass, Fed 210/210M or WLR Primer
175 gr. Sierra HPBT MatchKing, 46.0 to 46.5 gr. of IMR4895, Military Brass, Fed 210/210M or WLR Primer
175 gr. Sierra HPBT MatchKing, 46.0 to 46.5 gr. of H-4895, Military Brass, Fed 210/210M or WLR Primer
175 gr. Sierra HPBT MatchKing, 47.0 to 47.5 gr. of IMR4064, Military Brass, Fed 210/210M or WLR Primer
175 gr. Sierra HPBT MatchKing, 47.0 to 47.5 gr. of W748, Military Brass, Fed 210/210M or WLR Primer
600 Yard Line
The heaviest bullet weight that can be utilized in the M1 Garand is Sierra's 180 gr. HPBT MatchKing. This is "the" bullet to use if you're shooting the 600 yard NRA target on a windy day! COL = 3.240 to 3.330". Try the following data:
180 gr. Sierra HPBT MatchKing, 45.0 gr. of IMR4895, Military Brass, Fed 210/210M or WLR Primer
180 gr. Sierra HPBT MatchKing, 45.0 gr. of H-4895, Military Brass, Fed 210/210M or WLR Primer
180 gr. Sierra HPBT MatchKing, 47.0 gr. of IMR4064, Military Brass, Fed 210/210M or WLR Primer
180 gr. Sierra HPBT MatchKing, 47.0 gr. of W748, Military Brass, Fed 210/210M or WLR Primer
What about other more modern bullets and powders? There are several "newer" bullets (of appropriate weight) and powders (of appropriate burn rate) out there and they'll work just fine. If you wish to try them, please feel free to do so but, remember...follow the bullet and/or powder manufacturer's recommendations! If you're not sure, call them. They will tell you what will or will not work in the M1 Garand.
Keep in mind that the parameters for M1 service rifle loads are very tight. Bottom line, please remember the title of this blog..."provenreloads-handloads." I wouldn't pass along this information if it didn't work, time and time again.
One or more of the loads referenced above will provide consistent, reliable and supremely accurate ammunition for your M1 Garand. Have fun and good shooting!
Hunting Loads for Semi-auto and Pump-action Rifles
Ah, hah...some of you thought that I had forgotten! In the previous blog article, ".30-06 Springfield Part 1 - Hunting Loads," I mentioned that I would discuss '06 hunting loads for our brethren that prefer semi-auto or pump-action "civilian-built" rifles. Bullet preference would be the standard "cup-and-core" type. Nosler Partitions also work very well in these loads. Bonded bullets are the rage these days but I'd leave them out of these loads. Bullet construction is a bit on the stout side and you may not get the results you want.
· Substitute 150 grain Spitzer Flat-based or Boat-tail bullets (i.e., Speer, Sierra or Hornady) in the M2 Ball load info referenced above.
· Substitute 165 grain Spitzer Flat-based or Boat-tail bullets (i.e., Speer, Sierra or Hornady) in the 168/175 grain M72 Match load info referenced above.
· Substitute 180 grain Spitzer Flat-based or Boat-tail bullets (i.e., Speer, Sierra or Hornady) in the 180 grain "600 yard" Match load info referenced above.
Note: COL should be set per bullet manufacturer's loading manual recommendation, not to exceed 3.340". Make sure that your cartridge length does not exceed your magazine length.
I've utilized the bullet substitution loads referenced above in the Remington 750 and its predecessors (i.e., the Remington 4, 74, 740, 742 and 7400) as well as the Browning BAR series and Benelli's R1. They work like a champ!
Needless to say, they also do beautifully well in pump-action rifles like the Remington 6, 76, 760 and 7600.
These loads will bring meat home to the freezer and a big smile to your face!
Go for it, my friend!