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Monday, June 4, 2018

The M1 Rifle and the M1 Thumb

     The standard issue rifle for US Army and Marine Corps Infantry from 1936 to 1957 was the M1 Garand. During World War II approximately 5.4 million M1s were made. They were used by every branch of the United States military and General George S. Patton called it "the greatest implement of battle ever devised. 

     The M14 rifle replaced the M1 as the US Army's standard service rifle in 1957, but the M1 continued to see usage through the 1970s. Additionally, the M1D was the official sniper rifle for the US Army until its replacement with the 7.62mm M21 Sniper Rifle in the mid 1960s and M1s saw service in Vietnam until the early to mid-1960s. The Army Reserve, Army National Guard, and Navy, continued to use Garands at least into the 1970s. The Fleet Marine Force finished a change from the M1 to the M14 in late 1962. 
     In 1968, that rat, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara closed the Springfield Armory, in a decision that was personal, political, and controversial. The former armory is now a National Historic Site run by the National Park Service. 
     That was the same year he ordered the destruction of the tooling used to manufacture the SR-71 Blackbird. The Springfield Armory had its beginnings in 1777 when Springfield was chosen as a site for an arsenal to manufacture cartridges and gun carriages for the American Revolution. Then, in 1794, George Washington chose Springfield as site for a permanent armory. Production of arms began in 1795, as 40 workers produced about 245 flintlock muskets each month. Over the next 174 years, the armory was a key to the city's economic health, and for much of the 20th century, it was the region's largest employer. During World War II, as many as 15,000 people made arms there for American troops. 
     In 1964, McNamara announced that the armory was "excess to the needs of the federal government," believing that private arms suppliers would be more efficient. Because of the growing war in Vietnam, the snide and arrogant McNamara was hated by those who opposed the war. He could not have cared less about other people's opinions, including Congressmen, as he began closing military bases and slashed over 81,000 jobs with more to follow. 
     With the original Springfield Armory shut down by McNamara's decision in 1968, a small company in Texas used the name for its manufacturing of its M1A rifle series, a line of civilian models of the M14. Six years later, in 1974, the company was sold to a family that expanded its product line to include custom M1911 pistols. The company is Springfield Armory, Incorporated. It's located in Illinois, with no connection to the original federal armory. They manufacture and import a number of firearms. 
     In my day it was referred to as the plain old “M1.” And, I well remember the smashed thumbs, aka “M1 thumb.”

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