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Rebarreling Two M1 Garands
by Roy Seifert

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Disclaimer:  This article is for entertainment only and is not to be used in lieu of a qualified gunsmith.  Please defer all firearms work to a qualified gunsmith.  Any loads mentioned in this article are my loads for my guns and have been carefully worked up using established guidelines and special tools.  The author assumes no responsibility or liability for use of these loads, or use or misuse of this article.  Please note that I am not a professional gunsmith, just a shooting enthusiast and hobbyist, as well as a tinkerer.  This article explains work that I performed to my guns without the assistance of a qualified gunsmith.  Some procedures described in this article require special tools and cannot/should not be performed without them.

Warning:  Disassembling and tinkering with your firearm may void the warranty.  I claim no responsibility for use or misuse of this article.  Again, this article is for entertainment purposes only!

Tools and firearms are the trademark/service mark or registered trademark of their respective manufacturers.


Please note that this article is fairly long but is written in three parts.  In Part 1 I replaced a damaged barrel with a used barrel.  Part 2 is much longer where I installed a new production barrel on a 1942 receiver and had to ream the chamber and polish the chamber throat.  In Part 3 I replaced the multiple cracked and repaired stock with a new one.

I have always been fascinated with military rifles.  I have two M1 Garands in my collection; an arsenal rebuild with a Springfield receiver dated from 1942; the other is a new receiver by Century Arms International (CAI) built with military surplus parts.  The CAI was a gift to my son who really likes to shoot this rifle.  He especially enjoys hearing the well-known “ping” sound when the empty clip is ejected. 

The M1 Garand was developed by Canadian-born firearms designer John C. Garand.  It was the first semi-automatic rifle to be generally used by soldiers of any nation.  During WWII the M1's gas-operated, semiautomatic action gave United States forces a significant advantage in firepower and shot-to-shot recovery time over standard bolt-action rifles in use by enemy soldiers.  The Garand also provided increased shot capacity of 8 rounds compared to most bolt-action rifles of the time that typically held only 5 rounds.  One of the disadvantages of the Garand was that enemy soldiers learned to listen for the “ping” and knew that the rifle was empty.  Even so, General George S. Patten called it "The greatest battle implement ever devised."  The Garand officially replaced the bolt-action M1903 Springfield as the standard service rifle in 1936 and was heavily used by U.S. forces in WWII and the Korean War.  It continued in service to a limited extent until 1966 during the Vietnam War.  Many thousands were also lent or provided as foreign aid to America's allies.

There were approximately 5.4 million M1 Garands produced for military use, and some recent manufacturers have produced new receivers with military surplus parts.  It’s no wonder that Garands are available to civilian shooters and collectors and can be found at gun stores and gun shows across the country.  The Civilian Marksmanship Program continues to sell Garands to U.S. citizens through the mail.

At the same gun show where I purchased the CAI rifle I also purchased some remanufactured ammunition for it.  The vendor selling the ammo ridiculed me for purchasing the CAI “wall hanger”, but told me I couldn’t go wrong with his ammo.  There are a number of articles, both pro and con about shooting reloads in the Garand, but it is possible for the reloader to manufacture hand loads to military specification, i.e. 2700 feet per second using powder in the IMR 4895 burn rate range.  I wanted my son to have something to shoot for his birthday, and I didn’t have enough components at the time to reload my own, and so, against my better judgment, I purchased some of this reloaded ammo.  I’ve had problems with other people’s reloads before so I have a policy to never shoot reloads… unless I’ve done the reloading myself!  Sure enough, with these gun show reloads, we had a squib!  Although the CAI rifles have had some negative press, we never had a problem with this rifle, until we had the squib load and fired another round behind it; now the CAI had a bulged barrel! 

The M1 Garand is a rugged, reliable battle rifle that has stood the test of decades of time.  It was designed to take the punishment of the battlefield.  Unfortunately, many of these Garands come with less than suitable barrels.  This is understandable since they may have had thousands, sometimes hundreds of thousands of rounds fired through their 70 year old barrels causing those barrels to be “shot out”.  Even one that has been through an arsenal rebuild may come with a worn barrel. 

Another factor that caused accelerated barrel wear was improper cleaning.  Due to the design of the Garand, the barrel is normally cleaned from the muzzle end; and you can bet that field troops didn’t use a bore guide for their steel cleaning rods!  I have seen many Garand barrels that looked like they had a good bore, but the last inch or so at the muzzle was worn smooth because of poor cleaning technique. 

So how can I tell if it’s time to replace a Garand barrel?  I could purchase a throat erosion gauge to measure chamber throat wear, and a muzzle gauge to measure muzzle wear, but these are expensive tools.  Throat erosion creates an additional free bore area through which the bullet must travel before encountering any rifling.  A minimum free bore is important to bench rest and target rifle accuracy, but not overly critical to accuracy in a battle rifle.  On the other hand, the condition of the muzzle and crown has a very critical effect on accuracy.  Damage to the muzzle and/or muzzle crown can allow gas to escape around the bullet unevenly and literally push the bullet off target causing a significant drop in accuracy.  The bullet must maintain even, continuous contact with the lands and grooves until it leaves the barrel, at which time gas must escape evenly around the bullet so accuracy is not affected.

Any nicks or burrs in the crown must be removed.  Dressing a muzzle crown can be accomplished with a brass muzzle lap.  I have had very good results from lapping a muzzle; which I always perform whenever I purchase a new gun.  Lapping the muzzle makes the ends of the lands and grooves sharp and even which enhances accuracy.  Refer to my article Restoring a Ted Williams Model 100 .30-30 for details on lapping a muzzle.

An easy way to test muzzle wear is to insert a bullet into the muzzle.  If the bullet can be inserted up to the case neck, or crimping groove on the bullet, the barrel flunks the “bullet test”, meaning the barrel is excessively worn and needs to be replaced.  Because my Springfield Garand had a fairly good barrel which passed the bullet test I was confident this barrel would be fine for casual shooting.  So my plan was to replace the bulged CAI barrel with the barrel from the Springfield , and purchase a new barrel for the Springfield.

My father taught me that to do any job right you need the right tools.  My philosophy about tools is that usually a tool costs much less than the cost of labor to have someone else do the job, and I have the tool if I need to do the job again!  And, if someone else does the job and needs to purchase the tool, they usually add the cost of the tool to the labor!  The tools I used are listed in the table below:


Part Number




Barrel vise



Action wrench, M1 Garand






.30-06 Go gauge



.30-06 Field gauge



.30-06 pull through chamber reamer



Receiver and Barrel Timing Gauge, M1 Garand



.30 caliber bore mops



USP Bore Paste



J-B® Bore Bright

Purchasing tools can get expensive, and although I never balk at purchasing a new tool, I was able to save some money and still have the right tools for the job.  The pull through chamber reamer is a tool that I will probably only use once for this project.  So rather than purchase the tool, I found Elk Ridge Reamer Rentals online where I could rent the reamer for a little over 30% of the cost of purchasing one. 

Another required tool was the barrel and receiver timing gauge which attaches to the rear sight base of the receiver and the gas cylinder on the barrel and allows me to properly index the barrel with the receiver.  However, I didn’t really want to spend the $70 for this tool.  So instead, I made my own.

I went to my local home improvement store and purchased 3/4“ x 12” and 1 1/2“ x 12” aluminum bars.  I cut two 1/4“ notches 1 1/4“ apart in the 1 1/2“ bar and I cut a 5/8” notch out of the 3/4“ bar.  The wide bar will set between the rear sight ears on the receiver, and the narrow bar will set over the dovetail on the sight flat on the gas cylinder.  When these bars are parallel I know the barrel is indexed properly to the receiver.

Part 1:  Replacing the CAI Barrel

I replaced the barrel of the CAI first since this didn’t require any parts, only tools.  First I removed the barrel from the CAI Garand.  To do this I completely disassembled the receiver, but I left the clip latch and rear sight assembly in place.  There are many fine books available for sale, and sources on the Internet that explain how to completely disassemble the M1 Garand.  I left the rear sight assembly on the receiver until I installed the Springfield barrel, then I removed it to accommodate my barrel/receiver timing gauge. 

Barrel Removal

I wrapped tape around the front of the receiver and attached the receiver wrench.  Then I applied rosin to the barrel bushing, slipped it over the barrel and attached the barrel vise.  The barrel vise and action wrench in the photo above are different than the ones that MidwayUSA sells because I had purchased these many years ago from Brownells.  The process, however, is the same.  I set the barrel vise in my bench vise and pushed down on the receiver wrench.  The CAI receiver came loose with a minimum of pressure on the wrench.

Once the barrel was removed I took a closer look at it.  I could clearly see a line inside the barrel where the bulge was located just behind the gas port.  This was now a throwaway barrel.

I removed the barrel from the Springfield receiver in the same manner.  Before attaching the vise and wrench I wrapped 5 or 6 layers of masking tape on the gas cylinder lock threads to protect them.  This barrel was not as easy to remove from the Springfield receiver.  It took quite a bit of effort to loosen the barrel; in fact I finally had to purchase an 18” piece of steel pipe to provide some extra leverage to get the barrel to loosen.  Obviously the barrel to receiver fit was much tighter on the surplus rifle than on the newly manufactured one.  Based on everything I’ve read, a barrel does not have to be that tight and can even cause the receiver and/or barrel to warp causing loss of accuracy.

Installing the Springfield Barrel on the CAI Receiver
I decided I didn’t want the Springfield barrel to be so tight on the CAI receiver.  Since I don’t have a lathe to cut back the barrel shoulder, I used 400-grit lapping compound and lapped the barrel shoulder to the receiver.  This technique comes from Accurizing the Factory Rifle by M. L. McPherson.  Refer to my article Building the V-10 Hog Hammer for details.  This procedure not only squares the receiver with the barrel shoulder, but also reduces the “interference fit” of the barrel to the receiver so the barrel requires less torque to tighten it.  This combination of squared shoulder and less tight barrel should provide an increase in accuracy.  The lapping process removes metal from both the barrel shoulder and receiver face so I needed to be sure that I didn’t lap too much; otherwise I wouldn’t be able to tighten the barrel.  This technique also reduces the headspace a fraction, but I wasn’t worried about that with this barrel.

I lapped just until I could see a gray ring around the front of the receiver as shown in the above photo.  This indicated that I had a square, even mating surface between the barrel and receiver.  After lapping I cleaned off the lapping compound with brake parts cleaner, then cleaned the barrel threads, barrel shoulder, receiver threads and receiver face with acetone.  I applied purple Loctite® 222 to the barrel threads, and green Loctite® 609 to the barrel shoulder and installed the barrel onto the receiver.  Since I have reduced the interference fit of the barrel to the receiver it required much less torque to tighten it, so the Loctite® helps to keep it tight.  Apparently CAI used this process on some of its Garands which received some negative comments from another commercial Garand builder.  Personally, I would rather use the Loctite® for improved accuracy, than risk a warped receiver or barrel.

I removed the rear sight assembly from the receiver, and installed the gas cylinder, gas cylinder lock and gas cylinder screw onto the barrel.  Then I removed the front sight so I could use my barrel/receiver timing gauge.  I tightened the barrel until the two bars of the gauge were parallel indicating the barrel was properly indexed, then I removed the receiver wrench and barrel vise.  I removed the tape from the receiver and gas cylinder lock threads, then reassembled the rifle.  I did not install the bolt, operating rod spring, and operating rod because I wanted to check the headspace first.

Checking Headspace
A very important procedure when replacing a barrel is to check the headspace.  There are a number of methods to check headspace, but the most accurate is to use headspace gauges.  There are three lengths of headspace gauges:

  • Go – This is the shortest of the three gauges and is used to set the headspace for a new barrel.  It ensures that the rifle chamber will accept cartridges made to maximum SAAMI specifications.
  • No-Go – This is the middle length of the three gauges.  A bolt should not close on this gauge in a new barrel.  If the bolt closes on this gauge on an existing or surplus barrel, the barrel may still be within acceptable SAAMI tolerances.
  • Field – This is the longest of the three gauges.  Technically, a bolt should never close on a field gauge; however, if it does the headspace could still be within SAAMI specifications.

To check the headspace on any rifle I completely disassemble the bolt.  There should be no extractor or ejector contact on the gauge; just the bolt face.  Although special tools are available, the Garand bolt can be disassembled without them thereby saving a little more money. 

I slipped a small flat-blade screwdriver between the extractor and extractor plunger so the plunger was depressed.  While holding my thumb over the bolt face I used a punch to drive out the extractor from the bolt body.  My thumb prevented the ejector from flying out.  After the extractor was removed I carefully relieved ejector spring tension by allowing the ejector to move out of the bolt face.  I removed the ejector and ejector spring, then removed the firing pin from the rear of the bolt.  Finally I used a pair of needle-nose pliers to remove the extractor spring and plunger.  While the bolt was disassembled I cleaned and lubricated all parts, then set them aside in a small plastic container so I wouldn’t lose them.  I am always amazed how dirty a semiautomatic can get, especially all the little nooks and crannies where powder residue can accumulate.

With the rifle and bolt disassembled, I inserted the .30-06 Field headspace gauge into the chamber and gently tried to close the bolt using just light finger pressure.  I never try to force a bolt closed on a gauge; light finger pressure is all that is needed.  I used the Field gauge because this was an existing barrel with a precut chamber.  The above photo shows that the bolt would not close all the way.  There was a gap between the bottom of the right locking lug and the receiver.  This is the point where I just started to feel some friction.  Because the bolt would not close on the Field gauge meant that the chamber was not too long.  I then used the Go headspace gauge and the bolt closed completely.  Using these two gauges told me the chamber was within proper specifications.

I reassembled the bolt by first inserting the firing pin through the rear of the bolt.  I inserted the extractor spring and plunger into the recess in the bolt body, then inserted the ejector and spring so the notch in the ejector was facing the hole for the extractor pin.  I pressed down on the ejector with a punch until I could press the extractor past the notch in the ejector, then finished seating the extractor with my thumb.

Tightening the Gas Cylinder

The gas cylinder was very loose on this barrel, which would cause the front sight to be unstable and affect accuracy.  I set the end of the barrel onto a piece of wood and took a 1/8” punch and peened the edges of the gas cylinder splines as shown above.  I started peening about 1/8” back from the front edge of the splines so the gas cylinder would start onto the splines correctly.  After peening I had to use a block of wood and a mallet to install the gas cylinder.  Now the gas cylinder is nice and tight so the front sight will not wander.

I finished reassembling the rifle and tested it with dummy rounds.  The rounds chambered and everything seemed to function as it should.  All that’s required now is to take it to the range, test fire it and get it sighted in.

Part 2:  Installing a New Production Barrel

Obtaining a New Barrel
The Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) sells a new Garand barrel for about $70 less than other sources.  However, I couldn’t just send in the money and have them send me a barrel.  I had to meet specific requirements before I could order:

  • Show proof of U.S. citizenship – I sent a copy of my passport.
  • Show proof of current membership in a CMP affiliated organization – for $25 I joined the Garand Collectors Association; an organization devoted to the study of the M1 Garand rifle.  I printed out the application form, filled it out, and sent it in with a check for $25.  After about two weeks I received a nice package in the mail with my membership card, of which I sent a copy to the CMP.
  • Show proof of participation in a marksmanship or other firearm related activity – I sent a copy of my state concealed carry permit.
  • Fill out the three forms and have the Certification notarized.  This is good for 3 years.
  • Fill out the order form and send it in along with all of the above paperwork.

This is the same process for ordering a rifle from the CMP.  At the time I ordered the barrel in March of 2010 the CMP had a very large back-log of orders.  Three weeks after I sent in my order I received an email that my order would be processed and shipped in 60 to 90 days.  This was not a problem for me since I was in no hurry to complete this project.  I could have paid $70 more and gotten the new barrel much quicker, but hey, I’m on a budget here!

After another three weeks I received a call from a nice lady at the CMP regarding my order.  Apparently my 8’s look like 6’s so they couldn’t run my credit card.  I gave her the correct number over the phone and she said the barrel would be shipped in about two weeks.  Finally my new barrel arrived about 7 weeks after I sent in the order.

Installing the New Barrel
The first thing I did was to slug the new barrel.  I thoroughly oiled the bore and drove a .30 caliber soft lead bullet through the barrel.  The slug measured .308” at the grooves, and .300” at the lands.  This not only gave me the proper internal measurements of the barrel, but it also let me check for tight or rough spots in the bore.  It was actually very easy to push the bullet through the bore indicating there were no rough or tight spots. 

I installed the new barrel onto my Springfield receiver in the same manner that I installed the barrel on the CAI receiver.  I removed the rear sight assembly from the receiver, and installed the gas cylinder, gas cylinder lock, and gas cylinder lock screw on to the barrel.  Wow, I had to drive the gas cylinder onto the new barrel with a piece of wood and a mallet because the splines were very tight!  This is great for accuracy because it keeps the front sight from moving around.  I removed the front sight and tightened the barrel until the bars of my homemade barrel/receiver timing gauge were parallel.  I reinstalled the front sight, then removed the gas cylinder lock screw and gas cylinder lock, then used a block of wood and a mallet to remove the gas cylinder.  I then removed the action wrench from the receiver and the barrel vise from the barrel.  I wrapped the gas cylinder splines and gas cylinder lock threads with tape to protect them before proceeding.

Finish Reaming
The chamber of the new barrel came about 0.010” short which I verified with the Go headspace gauge; the bolt would not close.  This meant I would have to finish cutting the chamber to the proper headspace. 

As mentioned before, I rented a pull-through .30-06 finish reamer from Elk Ridge Reamer Rentals.  I called them before ordering the reamer and we had a nice discussion on whether or not a chrome-molybdenum barrel needed a carbide chamber reamer, or if a high-speed steel reamer would work.  The gentleman I spoke with really didn’t know, so I called Krieger Barrels Inc. which is the actual manufacturer of the Criterion barrel.  Neal, at Krieger, informed me that a high-speed steel reamer would work fine with a chrome-moly barrel.  So, I called Elk Ridge Reamer Rentals back again and ordered the high-speed steel pull- through reamer.  I ordered it for 2 weeks which cost me an extra $7.00, and I also purchased the $5.00 insurance just in case something went wrong.

I placed a bore guide on the front of the barrel and ran the pull-through rod through the bore until it was visible in the receiver.  I attached the reamer to the rod and liberally lubricated it with cutting oil.  I pulled the rod until I felt the reamer contact the chamber, then gave it about 10 turns.  I could feel the reamer cutting into the new barrel as it cut a longer chamber and new throat.

I pushed the reamer back into the action.  As shown in the above photo the flutes had steel dust from the reaming process.  I unscrewed the reamer from the rod and removed the rod and bore guide from the barrel.  I thoroughly flushed the reamer and chamber with brake parts cleaner to remove all chips and cutting oil, then ran a clean dry patch through the bore from the chamber to the muzzle.  I used the Go headspace gauge to measure headspace as described before.  The bolt would not close on the Go gauge indicating I had to do more cutting.

I repeated the cut 10 turns, clean and measure process until the bolt would completely drop into battery with the Go gauge in place.  The chamber and throat were now cut to the proper length.  Just to make sure I measured headspace with the Field gauge and the bolt would not close.

Barrel Break In
As mentioned before, the barrel I purchased was a chrome-moly barrel manufactured by Criterion which is actually a subsidiary of Krieger Barrels Inc.  Their web site contains plenty of information regarding how to break in a new barrel.  When Criterion manufactures a new barrel they state that they hone (not lap) the barrel twice; once after reaming, and again after rifling.  However, because I cut the final chamber dimensions by turning the reamer 90-degrees to the direction of bullet travel, this left reamer marks in the throat across (at right angles to) the lands.  The following comes from the Krieger web site:

“In a new barrel they [reamer marks] are very distinct; much like the teeth on a very fine file.  When the bullet is forced into the throat, copper dust is released into the gas which at this temperature and pressure is actually a plasma.  The copper dust is vaporized in this gas and is carried down the barrel.  As the gas expands and cools, the copper comes out of suspension and is deposited in the bore.  This makes it appear as if the source of the fouling is the bore when it is actually for the most part the new throat.  If this copper is allowed to stay in the bore, and subsequent bullets and deposits are fired over it; copper which adheres well to itself, will build up quickly and may be difficult to remove later.  So when we break in a barrel, our goal is to get the throat polished without allowing copper to build up in the bore.”

For chrome-moly barrels Krieger recommends 25 cycles of shooting one round, then thoroughly cleaning the barrel, followed by 2 cycles of shooting 3 rounds, then thoroughly cleaning the barrel, then firing 5 rounds and thoroughly cleaning the barrel.  Throughout this process I would need to closely monitor the amount of copper fouling that is being removed to gauge how smooth the barrel throat is becoming.

Shoot and clean takes a minimum of 20 minutes between each shot to allow time for the solvent to remove the copper fouling.  Since the purpose of breaking-in a new barrel is to polish the throat, I thought I could accelerate the polishing process by lapping the barrel, either by hand or by fire-lapping.

Hand lapping is the process of driving a lead lap, or tight patch impregnated with lapping compound back and forth through the bore.  However, hand-lapping doesn’t always ensure good results, and if not done properly, can alter the shape of the barrel causing it to become egg-shaped, or producing enlarged areas where the lap reversed direction.  I have hand lapped barrels before using a soft lead lap.  The problem with using a lead lap is that it works only with the bore, not the throat.  This is because the lands in the throat are larger in diameter than in the barrel, and since a lead lap does not expand, it would not polish the lands in the throat.  I found an interesting article online at the Twin City Rod and Gun web site that provided a process for hand-lapping a barrel using three different grits of cleaning compound and tight patches.

Fire-lapping involves shooting a bullet impregnated with lapping compound down the bore at a much reduced velocity and pressure.  This has the effect of both polishing and tapering the bore for maximum accuracy, but it can also open and lengthen the throat.  I found an article on the Los Angeles Silhouette Club web site written by Ken Mollohan that has a little different method for fire-lapping.  Ken first ran a bore mop impregnated with J-B® Bore Cleaning Compound through the bore being careful not to get any compound in the chamber, then fired a low velocity, low pressure jacketed round through the bore.  He repeated this process 5 or 6 times, then thoroughly cleaned the barrel.  This process not only provided all the benefits of fire-lapping, but it prevented damage to the throat, and since the bullet itself was not impregnated with the lapping compound, the cartridge cases did not have to be thrown away.

I decided to try a combination of both methods.  First I loaded 10 rounds of .30-06 with 5.0 grains of Red Dot behind a 150 grain FMJ boat tail .308 bullet and a large rifle magnum primer.  I put an empty case in the chamber and closed the bolt to prevent compound from getting into the chamber, impregnated a bore mop with USP Bore Paste, then ran the mop back and forth through the entire length of the bore 20 times.  This left a small amount of compound in the bore.  I fired one low velocity round through the barrel, inserted the same empty case into the chamber that I had used before, then again ran the impregnated bore mop back and forth through the bore several times.  This cleaned any powder residue and fouling from the bore and prepared it for a second shot.  After performing this for 5 shots, I thoroughly cleaned the barrel using solvent and dry patches.

I threw away the first empty case I used and put a new empty case in the chamber and closed the bolt.  I impregnated a clean bore mop with J-B® Bore Bright which has a finer grit and ran the mop back and forth through the entire length of the bore 20 times.  I fired one low velocity round through the barrel, inserted the same empty case into the chamber, then again ran the impregnated bore mop back and forth through the bore several times.  This again cleaned any powder residue and fouling from the bore and prepared it for a second shot.  After performing this for 5 shots, I thoroughly cleaned the barrel using solvent and dry patches.  The bore was mirror bright and smooth and was now ready for full pressure loads, and in theory the new throat was polished which should help to prevent excessive fouling.

The last thing I did just to make sure I hadn’t picked up any nicks or burrs on the muzzle crown was to lap the muzzle using a brass muzzle lap and 400-grit lapping compound.  This removes those nicks and burrs and, as mentioned before, makes the ends of the lands and grooves sharp and even.

My son lived with me from 1999 through 2000.  I purchased the CAI Garand for his birthday in 2000.  After firing maybe 50 rounds through it we had the squib and bulged the barrel.  At the end of 2000 he moved to California but did not take his rifle with him.  So I’ve had his damaged rifle in my gun safe for almost 10 years.  During that time I’ve slowly acquired the necessary tools, parts, and knowledge to repair his rifle.

His rifle is now repaired, albeit with a used barrel, and is now restored to shooting condition.  I installed a brand new barrel on my rifle, and needless to say, it shoots very well.  The key to successful completion of this project was having the correct tools.


May 14, 2010
Ok, so how does my rifle shoot?  The above target shows the results of eight shots from a sandbag rest at 50 yards.  Darn, I had one flyer!  Also, I had no fouling, and the bore was very easy to clean.  I fired maybe 60 rounds through it, and it cleaned up with 3 patches!

Part 3:  Replacing the Stock
MidwayUSA had Boyds’ replacement M1 Garand stock and hand guard sets on sale so I purchased one to finish the improvements to my Garand.  Although this wasn’t really part of my original plan, the timing and price were right since I had a couple of MidwayUSA gift certificates burning a hole in my pocket!  The original stock that came with my rifle was cracked and repaired in many places.  The Boyds’ stock came stained and finished with an oil finish.  I found an article on on how to replace the stock and stock hardware.  Following their instructions I was able to install my new stock.  I was pleased to see that all the hardware fit perfectly and tightly, but I was disappointed to find the butt was larger than the butt plate. 

As you can see from the above photo, the stock was about 1/16” larger than the butt plate.  If this edge ever caught on anything small chips of wood could flake off leaving unsightly nicks and gouges in the wood.  This happened to a Ted Williams model 100 .30-30 that I restored because someone had replaced the butt stock and the butt plate was too small leaving an edge.  Refer to my article Restoring a Ted Williams Model 100 .30-30.  You can also see in the photo rough tooling marks left from the manufacturing process.

Looking at other Garands with original military stocks it seems that the rear of the butt was rounded so the edge of the wood would mate with the butt plate.  So even though the Boyd’s stock was manufactured to proper specifications, I wanted the butt to be straight instead of rounded. 

I decided to sand the butt down so the butt plate would fit flush.  I tried using sandpaper but this took too long and the paper would fill up with finish too quickly.  I didn’t want to use any power tools because I did not want to create any ripples or uneven areas.  I discovered that using large files and draw-filing performed the work.

To draw-file I place each end of the file in each hand then lay the file on the work surface.  I push and pull the file in a back and forth motion.  This removed wood fairly quickly but left the surface of the stock smooth.  When the teeth of the file became full I used a brass brush to clean them.

I installed the butt plate onto the stock and put a piece of blue painters tape around the edge.  I first used an 8” half-round bastard file to remove wood almost down to the tape, then used a 10” mill bastard file to draw-file the wood.  I finished with 150-grit sand paper to get the edge of the butt even with the tape.

Ok, so now I had a stock that was 3/4 finished and 1/4 in the white.  I removed all the original stain using a stripper called Bix Stripper that I purchased from my local home improvement store.  It comes as a semi-paste that I applied with a brush.  I let it set for about 30 minutes, then wiped it off with a paper towel.  I applied a second coat of stripper, again let it set for 30 minutes, then again wiped it off with a paper towel.  I then washed the stock with water and brushed with steel wool.  This last step was important to remove all of the stripper and get finish out of the grain.  Wetting the wood also raised the grain in preparation for final sanding.  Most of the stain came off and left just the bare wood.  The wood appeared to be a dark walnut with beautiful grain.

To make sure all of the wood pieces matched I also removed the finish from the hand guards.  I first removed all of the hardware, then removed the surface finish by lightly draw filing with the 10” bastard file.  I used the Bix Stripper as I did on the stock, then used water and steel wool to remove the stripper.  I was very careful when working with the hand guards because they could crack or split.

I wanted to duplicate the same finish that came on the stock so I fired off a quick e-mail to Boyds’ and they recommended that I use Minwax® Gunstock stain #231 to match their color and finish.  I sanded all of the wood with 150-grit, then 400-grit and finally with 600-grit sandpaper.  I was careful not to sand the stock where the receiver and trigger group mated with the stock; this would have altered the fit.  I applied the Minwax® Gunstock stain which goes on a brick-red color.  I let the stain set then wiped it off with a paper towel.  The result was a deep reddish-brown color.

After the stock and hand guards dried I applied five coats of Birchwood Casey® Tru-Oil®.  I have always liked the smooth, semi-glossy finish Tru-Oil imparts to the wood.  I realize this is not a military finish, but my Garand is no longer going to be used for warfare so I don’t care if the stock shines.  To ensure no water would get into the stock and damage any of the rifle’s metal, I coated the inside of the stock and hand guards with polyurethane.  I have a 1924 Yugoslavian Mauser where a part of the stock absorbed water and the wet stock sat against the metal of the barrel and caused corrosion and deep pitting.  Refer to my article Restoring a Yugo 24 Mauser.

Refinishing the Lower Band
The original lower band that had come with my rifle was damaged.  One end of the hole for the lower band pin had cracked and separated from the lower band itself.  I ordered a new lower band from Numrich Gun Parts Corp. but it was pitted on the outside.  I took the 10” mill bastard file and draw filed the outside ring of the band until most of the pits were removed.  One pit was so deep I couldn’t remove all of it; otherwise the metal would be too thin.  I polished the band with 400-grit wet/dry paper, then removed the rest of the old Parkerizing with my bead blaster.  Finally I re-Parkerized the band using a kit I purchased from Shooter Solutions™.  I purchased the heavy-duty manganese kit which gives a black finish and have used this kit to finish a number of 1911’s.

The above photo shows the result of my work, but the photo really doesn’t due it justice.  My M1 Garand now looks and shoots great and will last for generations to come.  I am proud to own this wonderful piece of American war history, and I enjoy shooting it regularly.


   © Copyright 2010 Roy Seifert.