Ians Customs: Tanker M1 Scout

Today we are looking at the Tanker M1 rig I put together about 15 years ago. This is an original WW2 production receiver rebuilt with an 18″ 7.62mm NATO barrel in the 1980s by Arlington Ordnance. In pursuit of a universal do-it-all practical rifle, I then added a forward scope mount with a Burris 2-7x pistol scope, and a muzzle brake from Smith Enterprises. To go along with the rifle, I have a really nice single-clip index holder from Comp-Tac (which I really wish someone would put back into production…) and a much less practical flashlight fitted to a cut-off M1 bayonet.

I really had forgotten just how enjoyable of a rifle this turned out to be, despite its weight…

38 Comments

  1. Ian, you know better that here’s no such thing as a “Tanker M1”. Call it a “M1 based carbine” or “Grand carbine” You run a site devoted to accurate weapons history – would you call a MP40 a “Schmeisser” or a MG42 a “Spandau”?

  2. I’m wondering if a BM-59 Op rod will work on it. The reason being is that the geometry of a shortened rod was never worked out by anyone other than the Italians. I’m unaware if the helix cut inside the op rod was changed by the Italians too so as to allow for more dwell time before unlocking. Anyway, unlocking time is going to be sooner than on a full length M-1, causing more pounding on the receiver. Given enough shots fire, the shortened Garand with original op rod can pound itself to pieces.

    • There was at least one other thinking about the operating rod.
      Don Crittenden in his article “The M1 Dons Civvies” (GUNS Magazine, August 1960, pages 28-29, 32 and 36-37) describes his sporterized Garand. He moved the gas port about the length of the gas cylinder assembly rearward on a new .25-06 barrel. Alas, the scan I have is not good enough to show the details of his dimensioned drawing of his operating rod modifications.

    • “…Given enough shots fire, the shortened Garand with original op rod can pound itself to pieces…”(С)

      This is only possible in the absence of an understanding of Garand’s work. 😉
      The meaning of the Garand automation is that the bolt is unlocked only after the pressure in the barrel has dropped to the operating level, when the force from the piston is sufficient to unlock.
      However, separate “geniuses” from machine-gun building have succeeded. LOL

    • I’ve always looked at the lop-sided operating rod on the Garand and M14 as being really questionable–It just does not feel right, to me, nor does it look “right” to my eye, when visualizing the flow of forces back along the operating system.

      I think they’d have been a lot better off if they’d done what various other designers did, and made that operating rod something that went along both sides of the magazine well, rather than just the one, in order to balance the forces out more evenly. That would have also reduced the criticality of that dogleg’s heat treatment and other features. As well, the piston should have been a separate and flexible part, not integral to the whole assembly–Just like the AK. I can’t remember if it was that Polish rifle Ian showed us once, or one of the various and sundry Czech efforts that had what looked to me like a better arrangement, but there is a better way to do that operating rod than what Garand and Winchester came up with. Hell, if he’d done what Kalashnikov wound up doing, and put the operating rod, piston, and gas system above the barrel, centered on it all? Even simpler–Because, if you look at it from that viewpoint, the AK is actually more a simplified Garand than anything else.

      I’ve never been able to look at the Garand without a certain amount of “WTF were they thinking…?” when it comes to this.

      • “…I’ve never been able to look at the Garand without a certain amount of “WTF were they thinking…?” when it comes to this…”(C)

        It is not known whether John Garand himself understood exactly what he did.
        I think he understood.
        And maybe he even grew a mustache to giggle quietly in them. When he watched all these unfortunate dummies from Springfield, Winchester, Ruger and others who are trying to make his system work in an unusual way.
        Exactly on the same rake they danced in the USSR, trying to use the Garand bolt for the AK. They don’t like to talk about it, but the AK47 stubbornly refused to work reliably, before the advent of the AKM in which a spiral fit of the bolt bearing surfaces was applied.
        You are making the same mistake when You try to look at the Garand gas piston as a rod.
        This is a spring.

        • I’m having difficulty grasping your point about “spiral fit” and the operating rod being a “spring”…

          How the hell would any “springiness” in that rod affect the bolt track? I’m really not seeing it, at all.

          Not to mention, the whole question of that Rube Goldberg-esque operating rod, in the first place. You look at an AK, and it makes sense–The gas flows into the piston, the pressure forces back the operating rod and the bolt carrier in a straight line, and it all works nicely, forces balanced and directly actuating. There’s even a nice little joint between carrier and piston, allowing a decent amount of fiddle-room for everything.

          Then, look at the Garand and other such-like weapons: The gas is tapped off at the barrel, hits the piston, drives it back… Then, where the force hits the “elbow” where it bends up and around to link it to the bit that serves as the bolt-carrier, you have this nutty little work-around with no flex whatsoever. Why didn’t they just do like the Czechs did, and have the piston drive straight back into a little tray-like affair under the bolt, all the energy going straight and simple…?

          For an example of a gas system/operating rod done right, in this sort of situation, I’d recommend the Holek Automat. That arrangement just looks right to me, although that’s not a rotating bolt system.

          https://www.forgottenweapons.com/holek-automat-at-james-d-julia/

          I think there were a couple of other examples like this, whose names escape me at the moment.

          • One significant Problem with “Tanker Garands” has always been how to shorten original op-rod, and spring, while maintaining full utility/reliability. Another significant part of this equation is also due to correct gas port diameter on the barrel.

            Some mfrs/gunsmiths have mastered this, but early failed examples abound.

            One thing to consider is that the “Tanker Garand” having its’ barrel shortened necessarily develops less bullet muzzle velocity, and so the OEM Iron sights [i]might[/i] not work well at long ranges, given reduced bullet velocity.

          • “…I’m having difficulty grasping your point about “spiral fit” and the operating rod being a “spring”…”(С)

            There is nothing strange about this. There is no need for such a deep understanding of the work of machine gun automation, for the head of the machine gun warehouse. What’s really strange is the lack of such understanding among seemingly serious designers from state arsenals. 😉
            Despite this, You (albeit intuitively but unmistakably) identified the Holek Automat as the closest analogue of the Garand’s gas engine. Thin stripes on the bolt carrier play the same role as Garand’s single zigzag bar. They contract and bend under the action of the piston, storing energy for the movement of the carrier. Which is released after a sufficient reduction in the friction force on the lugs.

            “Spiral fit” means the shape of the bearing surfaces of the bolt in the form of a helical surface, instead of the flat surface as in M16.

            For better understanding, the closest dynamic analogue of Garand is Farquhar.

  3. I’ll always believe that the standard M1 is the world’s best “MBR”. Melvin Johnson’s belief that small formations, armed with semi-automatic rifles and 60mm mortars, are the optimal way to arm and use infantry is still valid.

    • Maybe. Think you probably need a bunch of drones in there @ this point, or your enemy will.

      Neat rifle, Ian – you could probably hang a weaponlight off your Pic rail. Are you regulating the gas in anyway?

    • I’m going to have to disagree with you on that theory. Every time it’s gone up against even LMG-centric organizations, it’s resulted in high casualties. Going up against GPMG elements based on MG and mortar fire? They’ve resulted in even higher casualties.

      The idea that you’re going to win engagements with semi-auto “Battle Rifles”(which is a construction of exquisite moronicism in and of itself…) going up against concentrated firepower mass with diffuse firepower is a non-starter; we’ve seen it time and time again. It. Does. Not. Work.

      Not in isolation, that’s for sure. You need copious amounts of heavier support weapons to even begin to make it look like it works, and then you’re entirely screwed if you can’t bring those to bear.

      If there is any such thing as an “optimum way to arm and use infantry”, it ain’t the semi-auto rifle and some mortars. I honestly cannot think of a single scenario where that would be my choice of setup, going into combat. Unless, maybe, you’re talking taking on some primitives armed only with spears and a few single-shot firearms, that is.

      Melvin Johnson was a lot of things; prescient and an authority on infantry tactics he was not. Frankly, when I survey the mass of mid-20th Century tactics and theorists, none of them really strike me as being all that cognizant of what war had turned into by the end of WWI, especially here in the US. If they had been, we’d have been a lot better prepared for WWII, and that preparation would have had different focus than on the individual weapon monomania we had. You get right down to it, and the individual rifleman with his rifle is not the center of gravity in any firefight or other engagement–It’s the heavier firepower of the small unit, the MG and the mortar. Both of which the US mistakenly did not bring up to standard, and still does not, in all too many ways.

      • “(…) theorists, none of them really strike me as being all that cognizant of what war had turned into by the end of WWI(…)”
        In such situation I can only suggest reading Handy War Guide for My Company: Handy Company Commander’s Guide by Hanguillart who if I am not mistaken was practitioner with disclaimer that this book is aimed as names imply at company commander (in Great War understanding). For example regarding regarding machine guns and mortar interleaving it says:
        How to repulse an attack
        If the attack materializes, repeat volleys and trench mortar discharge and open fire with the machine guns. (On dark nights, in covered terrain, the machine guns should be fired with the first volley.)

          • That’s an interesting little work…

            I’m going to have to give it some attention; I think from my initial sweep through it that there’s a good deal of value there, just like with Laffargue’s work in the same vein. One does wonder, though… Why on earth weren’t these figures listened to?

            Alone of the combatants, Germany managed to “get it right”, or at least, righter than the rest of the mental deficients running things. I remain awed at the level of complacency and ignorance displayed by men like Rene Studler, who didn’t even bother to really inform themselves of what was going on out there in the real-world battlefields. It’s all of a piece with the rest of the “expert” culture we have–Come to a pre-conceived disposition of fact, arrive at a conclusion, ignore the actual result, and then rinse, wash, repeat…

            The actual conclusion should have been reached around 1925, at the latest, and instead? It took until we encountered the more open-eyed approach of the Soviets to the same small-unit tactics/weaponry in the early 1960s before we recognized that the behemoth “battle rifle” solution was a non-starter. We should have seen the light back in the 1930s, and spent the money accordingly. I wonder how many more Allied infantrymen would have come through the war with their lives and health intact, had we done so?

            Things may have changed, of late, what with the improvement in optics and drones, but I believe that the least-cost (in terms of lives, at least…) approach during the mid-20th Century was the one the Germans arrived at: GPMG in the squad, all tactics centered on that weapon. The diffuse and chaotic nature of the firepower generated by a semi-auto rifle-centric squad simply cannot cope with the firehose of projectiles rained upon the successive Schwerpunkt of minor tactics. The fact that we’re talking individual riflemen vice crew-served MG teams is not an insignificant difference, either. Two men are far less likely to shirk or break under fire, and once you factor in direct NCO supervision? The poor schmucks saddled with the semi-auto rifle “solution” are pretty much dead meat for the sausage-grinder.

          • “Why(…)weren’t these figures listened to?
            In such situation I can only suggest
            A PENGUIN SPECIAL
            NEW WAYS OF WAR
            BY
            TOM WINTRINGHAM
            written around 1940
            available here https://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-486115013
            with disclaimer that it pertains to British forces, example excerpt
            To refuse to adopt the tactics of infiltration and of clastic defence is as out of date as to build walled castles, or to put your air-raid shelters above the surface of the ground. The first essential thing about the Nazi blitzkrieg tactics is that they are tactics of infiltration, carried to much greater lengths than ever before, and speeded up by the use of the two new technical weapons of importance, the tank and the aeroplane. The word “ infiltration ” does not occur in the published documents of the British War Office that govern the training of troops and the policy of com manders ; it does not occur in Infantry Training or Field Service Regulations. And some dislike of the word “ infiltration ” is noticeable in some parts of the British Army. This may in part be due to reasons similar to those which led the French Army authorities, in 1918, to ban the word. When the Germans were boasting of their new tactic (and had by means of this tactic strained the French and British armies almost to the point where these armies must split off from each other), French war correspondents were strictly forbidden to, write of infiltration.

          • Good grief, Daweo… Where the heck do you keep finding this stuff?

            That Wintringham reference took me on a deep dive into the Spanish Civil War and his relationship with Kitty Bowler, which is seriously inside-baseball socialist soap-opera nuttiness. Dear God, but how did any of those people find the time to run their parties, with all the “free love” going on?

            Wintringham does seem to have his head on straight, with regards to the German infiltration tactics. Prescient man, in that regard.

  4. The Springfield SOCOM 16 is substantially the same thing, but a little lighter and with a 20 round mag. I have a couple, but the one with an old 2x Aimpoint red dot on the built-in scout mount is my favorite rifle. It’s short, handy, powerful, and with the excellent muzzle break the recoil is very manageable.

  5. Garands got so very expensive over the years. doubt I will ever get one myself. alas cause that “do it all”rifle? yep, that is a garand. or to a quite lesser degree a sks. one could say that is one garand that got bubba’d, but man that is one sweet rifle you’ve got there. totaly would want just that.

  6. People seem to forget the Combined Arms idea of warfare and get stuck in this semi-auto rifle versus riflemen supporting an MG42 and the like. The Marines in the Pacific a used late model idea of the Maneuver Squad with three riflemen with M-1s and a BAR man for a fireteam, with three fire teams per squad. They fought against the Japanese wedded to the Riflemen supporting a machinegun or two. And yes, the Japanese MGs were deadly and well dug in, yet the Marines inflicted heavy casualties. Post-war, assault weapons provided increased firepower, showing the idea that the MG should always be the basis for squad firepower is not true. Not to mention improved LAWS, mortars, and light artillery can easily suppress the firepower of a lone MG. I also notice several people here just use it as a means to pontificate and snipe at the U.S. Military. Sad.

    • Y’all can deny it all you like, but the fact remains… The US, along with most of the West, has gotten combat entirely wrong from about 1920 to the early 1960s. You speak of the Marines, as an example of efficacy, but the fact is, the Marines never went up against either well-armed or highly trained enemies. The Japanese Imperial Army did war on the cheap, having developed most of their vaunted reputation fighting Chinese warlords; anyone would have looked good, doing that. Notably, they were handled very roughly by the Soviets whenever they were foolish enough to engage them.

      I personally like the Marine structure of three fire teams per squad, with an automatic weapon in each team. The issue is that the BAR or any other magazine-fed weapon isn’t sufficient firepower, because you can’t sustain a high enough rate of fire with a box magazine. Going up against the Japanese, who mostly fielded LMG systems with similarly constrained ammunition feeding systems, the deficiency did not show up very well. I would suggest that if you wanted to find out just how well the Marine system of WWII vintage worked out, you’d have to put them up against German troops armed with their belt-fed GPMG systems, and their MG-centric set of tactics.

      The whole thing boils down to the amount of fire you can generate and accurately deliver upon carefully selected individual targets of opportunity during an engagement. You have ten men with rifles taking on 8 men with a GPMG and some assorted other individual weapons, you simply cannot generate the amount of concentrated fire that dominates and wins engagements without other arms taking part. The individual weapon-centric approach diffuses the fire, and puts it into the hands of too many individuals that are lone riflemen on the battlefield. The psychology simply doesn’t work; the crew-served weapon has multiple people working it, usually with direct supervision of the guy who is orchestrating the fight. He’s working the mass of the firepower available to him; his counterpart on the other side, with ten individual riflemen scattered about the terrain, has a lot more to worry about, and is less effective because of it.

      You may call it “pontificating and sniping” at the US military, but as someone who served in that military for the majority of my adult life, I am critiquing things that I lived, and pointing out where we could (and, SHOULD) have done better. You, on the other hand, are going all “Rah-Rah US, we de bes’ dere are…”. There are way too many young men in graves whose current position would tend to contradict that bit of chauvinism.

      I have always looked for the best way to bring the most of my guys through any engagement. Period. If a former enemy had a better way to do business, then I’ll steal whatever ideas they had, and put them to use in the service of doing that. I refuse to ignore reality, in order to maintain a false pride in what “we” were doing in the past. What we were doing was not anywhere near as effective or economic of human life, and so long as I was entrusted with the lives of my men, I did my best to keep them above ground.

      I get the feeling from some here that that isn’t their priority; they’d rather do what the “system” they grew up with told them, rather than examine the premises that that system was based on for any defects. Me? I’d rather not have to write letters home for casualties or confront wives and kids of men I led into combat with the fact that my blind adherence to stupidity got their beloved killed for no good purpose.

      Your choice. I would hope that anyone leading your or yours into combat would take my views, rather than yours.

  7. I have a CMP Special 7.62 with a Vortex 2-7 scout scope on an Ultimak mount. It is a long, heavy beast but tremendously fun to shoot. Picking it up will make you appreciate a 6# AR in a hurry, but sending 8 168g Matchkings down range one after the other makes the weight bearable.

  8. Consider sending plastic Garand clip pouch to an EXPERIENCED Kydex fabricator for duplication, or do some Kydex experimenting yourself. It’s not hard, and not expensive.
    Might be able to make similar items for some of your other firearms. IIRC, https://www.knifekits.com/vcom/holster-making-materials-kydex-c-41_54.html has what you need.

    Also, consider buying M1 threaded muzzle adaptor on ebay, and installing a DEDICATED, PURPOSE-MADE 7.62 Cal A-2 flash suppressor (no remanufactured 5.56 units!) in lieu of Smith item currently being used.

    Better flash suppression, and will also help keep the muzzle down/reduce prone dust signature. No recoil reduction, though. Save weight by finding a RamLine M1 Synthetic Stock, if you can find one.

    All the best, raf

  9. I’m little gratified since I built a very similar rifle years ago for myself, so similar in fact it’s a pretty close serial number on my S.A. receiver.
    For the folks who fret about the poor Garand action taking a beating because of the shorter gas system, remember this is a rifle built for 30-06 now being powered by .308 so there’s a lot less gas going on and it’s common to have a larger gas port needed to get those .308 rifles to cycle consistently.
    Something I think Ian undersells about the platform is by having it’s magazine wholly inside the stock, it removes some sharp corners and hard edges, making it a lot more comfortable to carry slung for extended periods. After all, in the scout role or on foot patrol one carries one’s rifle a lot and uses it not very often.
    For what it’s worth, I found that the Weaver 2.5-7 scope was quite a bit lighter and smaller than any other variable-power LER I could find and I still prefer it to the red dot since I don’t have to alternate between that and field-glasses for looking around. Obviously a red-dot would be better if you knew all your engagements were going to be fairly close and were willing to trade the awareness and precision for faster on-target speed closer in. Anyway, once I located the scope to fit properly, cutting the unused portion of the scope mount away and covered the back of the barrel with a short length of original handguard. Shortening the mount cut the weight by about 100 grams and the lighter scope with even shorter rings helped make for a pretty compact package weighing 10.5Lbs with sling and stock pouch. As for the stock pouch, Olongapo Outfitters makes a butstock pouch that holds a pair of clips on the stock in a similar manner to the carbine stock pouches. It provides handy ammo storage as well as shifting the balance of the rifle back a bit.
    Smith Enterprises and others show the brake as in-stock.
    Amega Ranges and UltiMak both still seem to sell the forward mount.
    Olongapo still sells the stock pouch (in right and left handed for Ian) but it’s now a velcro-only item where they used to offer a cool LTD style closure.

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