Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Accurizing A CMP M1 Garand - Stock Prep

Stock Prep

The second part of accurizing your rifle is stock preparation. Your CMP stock will be filled with years of dirt, grease and cosmoline. The critical areas of the stock will probably be compressed due to the recoil of the action, so when we remove this inbedded stuff, your wood will change.

Now, I'll admit I can't give every single detail of the M1 Garand...but I do know wood working. Wood, even though it has been shaped and used, will change over time. So the object here is to start from as close to ground zero as we can, then reseal the wood and remove the areas that rub against the barreled action.

There are many differing methods of removing the old finish from a Garand. Some guys will use oven cleaner and some will use furniture paint remover, and some will use the dishwasher.

I used the dishwasher method, and it worked perfectly for me.

I had some photos of that process which I did soon after I got my Garand, and some how I've lost them. However here is a site where they show exactly how that process works.

Remove your metal from the stock. The tricky piece is the band from the upper hand guard. I took a narrow pointed nail punch and secured it into my bench vise then put one of the holes onto it. I was able to remove my band that way. Thinking back on it I don't think I removed the metal from my lower hand guard, I just put that in complete.

Keep in mind that you'll use a regular dishwasher cycle and have it set to 'air dry' not heat dry.

My stock wasn't a historical piece by any stretch of the imagination. It was gouged, dented, dinged and had only one set of numbers beneath the hand grip.

After the cycle was complete, most all of the dents and dings were gone. The cartouche numbers remained, so I was a happy camper.

The wood itself looked totally different after it had been striped this way. A shocking pale gray chunk of lumber. I would have never thought that walnut would have taken on this color.

When you have done this the second thing that you'll notice is that your wood feels really rough. This is normal as the walnut fibers themselves are releasing. This is normal.

Now you'll take some 320 grit wet-dry sandpaper and smooth over the stock and hand guards. After you smooth over with the 320 grit, take some 0000 steel wool and go over it again.

This next part is very important. We will now need to seal the wood...all surfaces, inside the stock and outside. I use Tung Oil. Specifically I use Formby's Traditional Tun Oil Finish, Low Gloss.

Take some 320 grit wet-dry sandpaper, a small bowl to hold some Tung Oil and begin to "wet sand" your stock set. Wet sanding your stock set will create ultra fine particles which will combine with the Tung Oil and help seal better. Your first two coats will probably absorb quickly. Two coats are only needed at this point, we'll do a final finish last.

Now hang your stock set to dry for a day or two.

Here is what I started with:

Here is what I finished with:

Now that your stock is dry, put everything back together and check for ANY areas where the wood rubs against the barrel with a strip of paper. Sand those areas off and then reseal those areas with Tung Oil.

Let dry and then take her to the range to check for accuracy.

This process alone gave me this comparative set of groups.

Next up...we'll get the stock ready for glass bedding.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Accurizing A CMP Garand #1

Why Have A Garand?

I love that photo and statement from the GI. Too bad that today's media doesn't have the cojones to write something like that.

This project has been a long time in the making.

I bought my CMP Garand a few years ago. My gal is a Springfield Service Grade, which was built between August-September 1944. If you would like to see the build date of your Garand, click here.

This is how she looked when I received her.

When I first got my Garand, I figured that because this was a Service Grade, which meant that the rifle was fit for military service in regards to condition and accuracy, that I would just be able to go out to the range and presto-bingo shoot 1-2" groups all day long.

So I bought some military surplus Korean ammo (more on that later) and headed out to the range.

My first time to the range I was lucky to have two or three rounds in a 5" group. THEN after the rifle heated up, THOSE groups got even larger.

So it was time to work on this rifle.

There are a few things that you should do before starting an accurizing project of this size. First of all I would highly suggest that you go to the CMP website and print off the entire instructions on How To Detail Strip and Re-Assemble your Garand. This will be a fairly large print job, so make sure you have a 3 ring binder and hole punch to keep this in order.

Now, a word about this project. There are two ways you can go about accurizing your Garand. First is to take some (re:a bunch) money and send it off to a 'Garand Smith.' You can get as much accuracy as you can afford. Please don't get me wrong there are things that a 'Smith' can do that you and I cannot. It's a matter of skill, experience and equipment.

Secondly, you can use your God given skills to do some modifications to your own rifle, thereby saving money and in return getting a deeper appreciation for the inner workings and engineering of this marvelous battle rifle. She might not be as pretty as a reparked, restocked WW2 work of art, but she'll go bang every time you pull the trigger and will be much more accurate than what you have now.

What I am posting here is minor cost mods. The tools necessary are your normal gunsmithing screwdrivers, Dremel tool, files, chisels, sandpaper and elbow grease (plenty of that).

First Steps

First things first ok?

I will assume that you have taken your rifle to the range and discovered how she shoots.

So, take some time to break down your rifle, and clean it. If you have a rifle like mine, the barrel spec'd out fairly decent, but never was able to really get a clean patch when cleaning.

I'll explain why the crud keeps on coming.

Back in the 'day.' The Garand was designed for one purpose, and that was to fight and to be maintained by the average GI Joe. Now if you've served in the military you'll know that not every guy was neat, tidy or detail oriented.

The average M1 was used and abused. When the rifle became SNAFU'd it would go to an armorer for repair. The ammo used during WW2 and Korea was primed with corrosive primers and sealed with a substance called 'asphaltum.' Asphaltum is exactly as it sounds...liquid and thin tar like stuff. The ammo was sealed with this stuff to prevent water damage. In the Pacific theater, the Japanese didn't seal their ammo, and many of their soldiers lost their lives from water damaged rounds.

Now, what happens when you have tar sealed rounds fired through a barrel? It tends to accumulate and harden. Now, combine that with corrosive primer residue, improper cleaning and battlefield conditions....you get the picture.

I still am working on getting clean patches out of my rifle. I use Kroils and a brush, and will alternate that with Hoppes and a product called Blue Wonder.
To be candid, I have tried almost everything out there and these three seem to get the lion's share of use and success.

Schematics for reference

Let's start by doing some simple tests to determine issues.

First of all make sure your rifle is UNLOADED.

With the rifle held securely, try to move the receiver in the wood stock with your hand. The receiver 'lock up' is one of the most critical issues that you'll have. What 'lock up' means is how your trigger group locks up to the receiver and to the wood stock. When you have the trigger group unlocked and in a position to either remove or to re-insert, is there pressure during that last 1/4" before your trigger guard clicks into the trigger housing? Is the wood stock beat up and filled with oils or cosmoline? We'll work on that.

Now take your barreled receiver off of the stock. Remove the Op Rod Spring and the Bullet Guide components. Leave the Bolt and Op Rod on. You should be able to move the Op Rod back and forth without the pressure of the spring.

Tilt your Barreled action downward and see if the Op Rod slides easily into the Gas Cylinder. Tilt it back and see if it returns freely. Your Op Rod/Bolt should slide easily into and out of battery. If it doesn't then you'll have accuracy issues.

The first thing to do is to make sure your Op Rod is CORRECTLY bent. Now, this is the only thing that you'll need to send off to have it done properly. Please don't hammer your Op Rod. There is a fellow who does a marvelous and FAST job of correctly working your Op Rod. Jim Schwartz is well respected in the Garand community and has the equipment to correctly spec your Op Rod. Jim's rates are very, very reasonable (in the $20 range)and the turn around time is just a few days. Contact him via email at JSwartz280@aol.com

Now if your Op Rod slides in perfectly, do you feel ANY friction between the Rod and the metal plate in your Front Hand Grip. A quick way to check this is to use a THIN line of Lubriplate on the metal strip and see if any gets on your Op Rod. If it does, then we'll work on that.

Next grab your barreled action by the gas cylinder and see if it twists in your hand. The Gas Cylinder should be rock solid on your barrel. We'll work on that later.

Now remove the Op Rod, take out the bolt, remove the Gas Plug, unscrew the Gas Cylinder Lock and remove the Gas Cylinder. Take off the Front Hand Grip. you should have the Lower Band attached to the barrel. Is it loose at all? If so, we'll work on that one too.

Now take a 1" strip of thin paper and slide it between the Upper Grip and the Barrel. Slide this back and forth to see if the wood rubs on the barrel at any point. This Guard should only touch the barrel at the metal clip. If there is any wood that is making contact, then you'll need to remove that.

As I'm sure you've noticed, the Garand isn't a simple system. The power of the cartridges and the age of your equipment makes this proje3ct not only challenging but very fulfilling to accomplish.

Our plan of action is as follows:

1. Remove the oils/cosmoline from the stock and then seal up the bare wood.

2. Remove any wood that is touching the barrel.

3. Glass Bed the barreled action to create a perfect lock up.

4. Secure both the Gas Cylinder and the Lower Band

Unlike the project I did with the Ruger 10/22, this one will have alot of photos...and will take longer to publish. So please bear with me as I write this over the next week or so.

In the mean time, check your Op Rod, send it to Jim Schwartz if needed and order some Acra Glas Gel.

This isn't a job that will take a couple of hours, it will take some time. So get ready.