John Garand: The Forgotten History of the Man Who Invented the Iconic M1 Garand Rifle

history of John GarandAny gun nut – er, “firearms enthusiast” – worth their salt has heard of the M1 Garand (it rhymes with “errand,” by the way). This .30-06 semi-automatic rifle is one of the most iconic American firearms of all time, and was the standard-issue weapon for American infantry troops during World War II and the Korean War. Drill teams and honor guards continue to use this in the present day, such is its role as a symbol of the American military.

Fewer, however, know about the life story of the man behind the weapon – John Garand, a Canadian-American engineer and weapons designer. Born one of a whopping 12 children on a Quebec farm, Garand’s father relocated the entire family to Connecticut following the untimely death of the clan’s mother in 1899. All six boys in the family had the official first name St. Jean le Baptiste, however, John Garand was the only one of them who used “Jean” as his first name. The other five used their middle names.

The invention bug ran in the family, with several of his brothers sharing his penchant for innovation. Garand learned how to speak English while working in a textile mill sweeping floors. He later worked in a shooting gallery where he developed an interest in firearms, which, when combined with his naturally innovative nature and machining skills picked up in the textile mill, got him a job at a Providence, RI, tool-making company in 1909. In 1916, he relocated to New York City, where he continued working as a toolmaker, and practiced his rifle skills at shooting galleries on Broadway.

New York was still part of America in 1916.

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