23 Comments

  1. Noticed a couple of the RANGERS in SAVING PRIVATE RYAN had M-1 thumb. At first I thought, ” what a nice detail “. Then it occurred to me, soldiers with a couple
    years experience wouldn’t be making that mistake – but actors would. Someone has pointed out the reason war movies of the immediate post war period through the late 50s had such a good visual feel to them was most of the actors had seen service and KNEW how to handle their weapons & gear. Sam Fuller recounts in his autobio how he auditioned Gene Evans for THE STEEL HELMAT by tossing him an M-1 which Evens automatically racked then tossed back to Fuller. He got the part according to Fuller even though he’d only been a Combat Engineer rather than a dogface.

  2. I shoot my Garands in competition. I’ve never slammed my thumb with a full 8 round enbloc. On two of my Garands I actually have to give the op rod a bump forward. But during single or two round fire? Yow!! Nothing worse. Prone position, working against a clock and you’re bleeding like a stuck pig. I nailed my left thumb once too. A junior I was training got the enbloc fouled up. While working from the left side of him my left hand was holding top of the gun. My left thumb down inside covering the chamber (duh). I hit the clip latch with my right thumb catching the rounds as they popped up. Bolt slammed forward and…I bit my tongue to avoid swearing and asked the young man to slowly pull the bolt to the rear. 😉 What I see in the video is obviously self-inflicted. What happens during actual loading, in my experience, looks much different but the results are the same.

  3. Just an old coots nitpick, but that’s not really an example of the classic M1 thumb. Folks who have never drilled with an M1 have to be wondering “Who could be that stupid?”. The answer is almost nobody ever did the willfully stupid act shown on this video. In my experience and observation the M1 thumb was always the result of parade ground drill. After coming to Inspection Arms in three quick, snappy movements, the rifle is snatched from your hands by the Inspector who then asks one or more ritually stupid questions, “What is the max effective range of this rifle under arctic conditions at the equator? What is the Battalion XOs favorite color? What is the airspeed of an unladen swallow.” and so forth. The rifle is then tossed in the general direction of the inspectee, who, while standing at attention, staring at the far horizon, catches said rifle and automatically goes to order arms, with the left hand holding the rifle in midair while the right hand executes five quick, snappy movements. The starboard edge of the right hand retracts the bolt, the right thumb depresses the magazine follower, the bolt is advanced until it captures the follower, the thumb is withdrawn, the bolt is released, and all is right with the world. Unless of course one gets a little too quick and snappy and you mix up those last two movements. Then one encounters a true M1 thumb, which could be more accurately called an M1 thumbnail, a crescent shaped blood blister underneath the thumbnail, or a cracked nail complete with blood spatter. That is a true M1 thumb, which taught generations of GIs the value of Attention To Detail, and was Why We Won The War, at least according to generations of Drill Instructors.

    Well, that was a long answer to a question that wasn’t even asked wasn’t it?

    • WOW W. Fleetwood. I’ve never heard anyone so accurately describe the stupid things that go on in the military. I would have laughed but you reminded me of a lot of bad memories.

    • W? Got to agree, to a degree. Many the troop got bit in that manner. On that other hand, having fired 1000’s of rds through quite a few Garands, M1 thumb happens to the best and worst of shooters under all kinds of conditions. As I said in the thread at full30 for this video, you want painful, try getting snapped after being out in sub-freezing temps all day. Conversely, try NOT getting snapped after being out in sub-freezing temps all day, especially when firing from the prone.

  4. Brings back memories, none of which were enjoyable then or now. Slow learners also learned to endure both pain and ridicule in the same process. But usually after just one “experience” you suddenly developed an expertise that stuck with you the rest of your life. Sgt. DeLoach, our Senior DI at Parris Island at the time, nicknamed them as “The Fat Thumb Badge of Stupidity.” He finally taught us the wisdom of doing as we were told and greatly expanded our basic vocabulary in both number of phrases, re-arrangement of the basic components, colorful combinations and the importance of inflection and volume. I only THOUGHT that oilfield folk like my family were proficient at profanity until I joined the Marines. He brought it to the point of a fine art. especially when suffering self-inflicted pain … And the M-14 had no better manners than its cousin if you got to complacent with a stripper clip. {:>( Their little sister, the M-1 Carbine, has a pretty good set of “dentures” as well.

  5. I have a M-1 my father built back in the 1950’s from parts. He actually built 2. One with a standard barrel one with a Camp Perry National Match barrel. One Christmas I got for him the parts to make one an M-1D. The next year he gave me the one still standard with the Camp Perry barrel. It shoots very nice. I am carefull to hold the bolt back. Very instructive vidio.

  6. Ian, why do you say that only the follower is holding the bolt back when the gun is empty? The catch should be holding the op-rod back, which is in turn holding the bolt back.

    • On M1 the bolt stops against the rear of the follower. Since theres a fixed magazine, the catch would not made any sense. Note that bolt being held just by the follower is used even in some rifles with removable magazine (althrough it makes little sense), surprisingly even in some fairly recent chinese designs, i think QBZ-97 is one of those.

      • Hound is correct. A correctly functioning M1 should have the bolt caught by the op-rod catch. If it’s being held by the follower it’s undergassed or the catch has failed.

        @Hound – it’s not necessary to push the follower all the way down to release the bolt – just push it down a little and press back on the cocking handle at the same time with the side of your hand to release the op-rod catch. You’ll feel it click as it releases. Then let it go.

  7. I am referring to the catch that engages the notch in the op-rod that holds it back after the last round is ejected. I don’t actually have an M1 sitting right in front of me at the moment, so if I am mistaken then my apologies.

    To my recollection, it is necessary to shove the magazine follower all the way down to the bottom of the receiver, simulating a full clip of ammunition. This causes the follower arm to trip the “accelerator” (the little L-shaped lever that is hinged to the catch), which in turn multiplies the displacement of the catch and releases the op-rod, causes the bolt and op-rod to fly forward under action of the operating spring.

    Many people, including me, when cycling an empty gun will “help” release the op-rod prematurely by pushing it back with the heel of the right hand, perhaps giving the impression that the magazine follower is what is holding the bolt back – but that isn’t how the gun operates with live ammunition. Pulling back slightly on the op-rod and simultaneously pressing the magazine follower will prematurely release the catch.

    Although, I suppose one’s thumb does not care either way!

    • Because the Army didn’t want it. They wanted a simple, rugged, and effective way of getting cartridges into the gun and they didn’t want magazines being issued to a couple of million troops with all the attendant headaches. Fully auto guns mandated large capacity mags but not semi autos. Of course when they decided that full auto rifles were a good thing then you saw the 20 round mags.

  8. Yikes! Did this fare any worse than a Vickers knuckle? I must say that any injury due to wrongly performed loading is only slightly better than having one’s hand smashed by a wagon wheel…

  9. My Dad was in the infantry. 42nd Rainbow Division in France in WWII and he called the M1 a
    “thumbusting son of a bitch”.

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