Part I The M1 Garand: Recent Developments in Auto Loaders by Major Julian S. Hatcher From Arms and The Man, December 15, 1921 In spite of the excellent performance of the Springfield Rifle in establishing new records at the recent National Matches, the history of firearms plainly indicates that this arm which we now think so perfect must in a few years bow to the mark of progress and be superseded by a weapon of even greater effectiveness. Many military experts believe that the next advance will be the adoption of a semi-automatic, or self-loading, shoulder rifle. The advocates of this view state in support of it that in the past few years several successful semi-automatic hunting rifles have been produced; that self-loading shotguns have become popular; that the revolver has gradually given way to the automatic pistol; and finally, that, after exhaustive tests and mature consideration, the Government has adopted the automatic as the service sidearm and confirmed its choice by the test of battle. The critics of the self-loading rifle state that with our present Springfields we can get enough rapidity of fire to heat up the gun and to quickly use up the ammunition, and that greater rapidity is unnecessary. In reply, the advocates of the semi-automatic say that battle accuracy, and not rapidity of fire, is the main advantage of the proposed weapon. The big difference between the bolt action gun and the self-loader is that when you fire the bolt gun you must then lift up the handle, draw back the bolt, push the bolt forward, and turn down the handle, before the arm is again ready to fire; while with the self-loader all you have to do after firing one shot is to pull the trigger to fire again, as the arm has reloaded itself in the meantime. To visualize the advantages of such a weapon, suppose yourself in a war, occupying an advanced post. Over the top of the enemy's trenches, 400 yards away, a gray helmet is dimly visible. You take careful aim, and then fire. To your disgust the shot strikes low. Hoping that your intended victim has not noticed your attentions, you quickly pump the bolt of your Springfield, thinking to get in another shot. Of course if you are one of the fortunate few who have benefited by Camp Perry's grind of rapid fire, you will perform this operation smoothly and quickly, but if you are of the mass of untrained citizens who make up the bulk of our national defense, you will yank wildly at the bolt of your rifle, at the same time taking your eye from your objective and making a movement that may well betray your presence. Then you look back for your target. He has seen your motion and has gone; or, perhaps, he quickly makes you his target. With a self-loading rifle this is quite a different story. You aim at the enemy and fire; the shot strikes low; without taking your eye from your sights, or your sights from your target, you alter your aim and again press the trigger, with every probability of success. That our own high officials attach great importance to the future of such a weapon is shown by the fact that the War Department has officially invited the inventors of the country to submit guns of this type. The Government circular states in part: "The rifle must be of a self-loading type, adapted to function with cartridges not less than .25 caliber or greater than .30 caliber, of good military characteristics and preferably to fire the U.S. cartridge, caliber .30, model 1906. It must be simple and rugged in construction, and easy of manufacture. It should require but little more attention than the regular service rifle when placed in the hands of the average soldier." A test of rifles submitted in response to the circular has just been completed by a board of officers which met at Springfield Armory on November 28th. For many years the attempt to design a self-loading military rifle has received a large amount of attention from European gun designers. Both Mauser and Von Mannlicher worked for years on this problem. Many experimental models were produced and tested, but most of them were either too heavy and clumsy, or too delicate and complicated. In the earlier models, the power to operate the bolt action was obtained either by allowing the barrel to recoil relative to the rest of the mechanism, or by drilling a hole in the barrel and allowing part of the powder gas from each shot to escape through this hole and act on a piston, which in turn operates the gun. Both of these systems have the disadvantage of adding parts which increase the weight of the already heavy military rifle.