A US M1 Garand Rifle...
...a de-activated example
One of the best references for a modeller has to be an example of the real thing. In this case it is a de-activated example of the standard American infantry rifle of WW2 and beyond, the .30 cal M1 Garand. I had wanted to add one of these to my collection for several years and just recently I was able to find one.
The semi-automatic M1 Garand was designed in the 1930s by John Garand, a Canadian-American working at the Springfield Armory. It began deliveries to the US Army in 1937. It replaced the earlier M1903 Bolt Action Springfield rifle. Officially it was called 'US Rifle, Caliber 30, M1'. Some issues with it led to some modification which were introduced to production in 1940. A measure of its' success can be taken from the total production between 1934 and 1956 of almost 5.5 million rifles. It was fed with an eight-round 'en bloc' clip which automatically ejected when the last round was fired. It has long been said that you had to fire all eight rounds before you could reload, though in reality there is a clip latch button on the left hand side (seen in the photos) which would allow individual rounds to be added to a partially expended clip. In service, rather than potentially introduce dirt to the mechanism, it was easier to fire all the clip and just load a new one. The M1 could be fitted with a 10 inch bayonet, and can also be fitted with the M7 Grenade Launcher.
The M1 was withdrawn from US Army Combat Unit use in 1964 but still remains in use by drill demonstration and ceremonial squads. The first thing to strike me about it is the weight. It is a fine example of why combat troops must be very fit. The gun itself is heavy. Add ammunition, kit, steel helmet etc, a soldier will have quite a load to carry. Cleaning kit would be kept in the storage located within the butt of the weapon. Next job for me is to find a sling, bayonet and cleaning kit to go with mine. The M1 itself is not easy to find but I eventually found mine through D&B Militaria here in the UK.
Owning Deactivated Firearms
Here in the UK there are ever stricter rules about owning a deactivated firearm, though they do not require a firearms licence. As a note on de-activated weapons, they are quite readily available and do not require a Firearms license. The current specification for a de-activated weapon means that as well as the barrel being fixed so you cannot change it and it is welded blocked, and the bolt is welded in place as well so it is impossible to return it to firing condition. You must not carry them openly in public, they must be wrapped or carried in a gun bag. To do otherwise invites being reported to the police, clearly disturbing members of the public and hence may find yourself the target for a police firearms unit. You do get, and need to keep, the proof-house de-activation certificate for the weapon and they can only be purchased by persons over the age of 18. It is good advice to keep them secure in your home, and personally I use a proper gun cabinet. There are a number of dealers who sell these all perfectly legally. Prices vary enormously depending on the type of weapon you are interested in but it is worth shopping around to find the best price. Do note that these are sold within the UK and cannot be shipped overseas.