John Garand on US Weapons Development (Video)

Thanks to a tip from Big Al last week, we found a couple minutes of video of John Garand talking about the development of US small arms. It was buried in an episode of “The Big Picture”; a syndicated TV program produced by the US Army from 1951 through 1964 (I’m not sure exactly when this particular clip was filmed). Of particular note is the rack of rifles to Garand’s right – they are the various early prototype version of his rifle. Unfortunately, he doesn’t discuss them at all (perhaps more of this lecture still exists on video somewhere?). Also, xenophobes beware: he has a surprisingly thick French-Canadian accent.

Yeah, he’s not saying anything we didn’t already know – but it’s pretty cool to actually see the man on video!



  1. Neat movie – why do all those old movies look like they were filmed in a prison? He seemed very uncomfortable talking to the camera.

  2. He looks to be no older than 65 in the video, which would put the date at 1953 or earlier. The prose of the narrator sounds 1940s-ish to me (I’m no expert on that though).

  3. I find it very interesting how very few Americans know anything about Mr. Garand, I am Canadian but have several friends in the USA, some of them will swear to me that the M1 rifle is god’s gift to soldiers, the day they moved away from Garand’s design, or .30-06 was the day the US army fell from grace, they then proceed to tell me about all the other great American inventors forcing me to respond; you do know that John Garand was born in Montreal right? me pointing it out to them is very rarely appreciated either. they also believe it was the first semi-auto accepted to army service, very strange

    • Joshua, you have my deepest empathy on this one. I’ve had to deal with the same sort of situation more than once. No criticism of your friends intended, but it does go to show that people will believe what they want to believe ( for a wide variety of reasons, but usually related to confirmation of one’s own belief system ) regardless of the truth. One of the great things about the Forgotten Weapons web site is that readers and contributors alike usually try very hard to seek and share the factual truth about a topic at hand, not what they might personally prefer to hear or read, and they are not afraid to admit to having made a mistake.

  4. Absolutely outstanding! I own 2 Garands, and this is the first time I have ever seen video of him. Hats off to the finder.

  5. I remember watching that TV show (The Big Picture) when I was a kid in the 50s and early 60s. It would come on right after Flash Gordon on Saturday morning, on local TV in Waco Tx. One way to figure out when it was filmed, is try to identify the two cars seen at the beginning of the film clip.

    • The one going down hill looks to me like a 52-53 2-door Ford (or Tudor, as Ford called these non-classics). Certainly around that period. In those days people only kept a car for a few years, and they were generally used up soon after that (especially in a place like Massachusetts with salty roads and long winters). The one going up the hill throws me. Possibly a Nash? Something defunct. Bear in mind that the Big Picture used fresh-shot film (no video tape in those days), but also archival footage, especially for stuff like exteriors.

      Most of that compound is now a kind of lousy community college. There is an armory museum on site. My last Guard unit was in the now very decayed city of Springfield (although our drill hall was on the east side, near the S&W plant and maybe four miles from the old armory). The clip does sound like the whole Big Picture was going to be on small arms development.

      A few years ago the guys on my regiment’s mailing list discovered the trove of Big Pictures at the Internet Archive, and there were probably three or four of them on the early years of our unit, and bedamned if some of the old-timers didn’t know a lot of the guys in the movies and what became of them. It was a great trip down memory lane for them, and a true “teachable moment” for us younger cats. I’d like to find the one on the SS-11 ATGM that the Army briefly fielded.

  6. That’s a French Canadian accent from the old days, it has evolved quite a bit. My grand parents sounded like him when they spoke English.

  7. The English would have made John C. Garand a member of the House of Lords. We gave Mr. Garand the same retirement as a postal clerk’s…the patron saint of the Infantry!

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