National Match M1 Rifles

By Scott Duff

Perhaps the most refined version of the M1 is that known as the National Match (NM) rifle. In March 1953, Springfield Armory was directed by the Ordnance Department to furnish 800 M1 rifles for use at the High Power National Matches at Camp Perry, Ohio. These rifles were to be capable of a higher degree of accuracy than standard service grade rifles.

These first NM Garands consisted of only a NM marked barrel. The remainder of the rifle consisted of hand-selected components. The rifles were carefully assembled and the trigger pull adjusted by Springfield Armory’s most skilled armorers.

National Match conditioned M1 rifles were produced at Springfield Armory through 1963. Most rifles were sold to qualified civilians through the Director of Civilian Marksmanship (DCM) program (now named the CMP). The first National Match rifles were sold to civilians in late 1955, the last in 1973.

Two versions of the National Match M1 rifle exist, collectors referred to them as Type 1 and Type 2. The Type 2 is differentiated from the Type 1 by the addition of glass-bedding of the receiver and trigger housing (adopted in 1960).

The Armory ran out of new receivers in 1959, therefore no Type 2 National Match rifles were manufactured from new receivers after that date. This creates two sub-variations of the Type 2; the Type 1 rebuilt to Type 2 configuration and rebuild of a standard rifle to Type 2 standards.

All National Match M1 rifles feature receivers of Springfield Armory manufacture. The unmodified Type 1 and Type 1 rebuilt to Type 2 are in the 5 and 6 million serial number ranges. The standard rifle rebuilt to Type 2 configuration may be in any SA serial number range.

National Match M1 barrels were selected by meeting or exceeding specified air-gage requirements. National Match M1 barrels are usually of Springfield Armory manufacture. However, original rifles have been observed with LMR, HRA, and Marlin National Match marked barrels.

Development of the Type 2 National Match Garand was evolutionary: a NM front sight was optional in 1958, the NM gas cylinder was added in 1958, the ½-minute windage adjustment rear sight assembly added in 1959, glass bedding was adopted in 1960, the NM operating rod added in 1961, and hooded aperture with ½-minute elevation adjustment added in 1962.

The exact number of NM M1 rifles produced is unknown as some were rebuilt more than once. However, the generally accepted quantity of new production between 1953 and 1963 is 21,393. The government listed quantity of rebuilt National Match M1s is 23,457 rifles between 1954 and 1963. The combined total of 44,850 is certain to include multiple rebuilds of the same rifle and is therefore much higher than the actual number in existence.

It is my opinion that the Type 2 National Match M1 is the epitome of Garand rifle development; it is a work of art in wood and metal. This variation is one of my favorites!

By Scott A. Duff
©1998 Scott A. Duff Publications All Rights Reserved