Tanker Garands. Ever Issued to Troops?


March 27, 2003, 09:12 PM
Lately I've been seeing quite a few "Tanker" Garands in my area. At one dealer I asked who manufactured the rifle and he stated "Springfield Armory". I checked the rifle and it indeed had a Springfield Armory reciever. I also noticed a second stamp on the rifle although I don't quite remember the exact name, but it was not SA. I suspect that whoever did the tanker mods also stamped their name on the reciever.

Am I correct in assuming that these were an aftermarket modification, or were these rifles actually issued to troops?

Good Shooting

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Jim K
March 27, 2003, 09:25 PM
You are correct. No such rifles were ever made in quantity or issued. Two or three experimental ones were made at Springfield Armory (the government factory in MA) for potential use by paratroopers, not tankers, and yes, they are still there.

Around the 1960's some scrap M1 receivers were sold after having been saw cut in half, and some rusty clunkers came in from Korea. Folks welded the scrapped receivers back together, cleaned up the junkers and turned many of them into "Tanker Garands". Some were converted to 7.62 NATO using M14 magazines; others were just short barrel M1 rifles.

Some were OK, or as OK as they could be considering the origin, but there were several companies and the converted parts don't interchange. Some of the "cut-and-weld" rifles might be unsafe, depending on the reason the original rifle was scrapped, and how well the work was done. Plus, many of the "tankers" simply don't work.

Springfield Armory, Inc., the commercial company, made a few in the 1990's; those were OK.

The best option, when offered a "tanker", especially with a fancy POS story ("made for Patton" is a favorite), is to run away, trying not to laugh too loud and frighten the horses.


March 27, 2003, 09:27 PM
I would have to dig way back into some very dim recesses of my mind [and that's a SCARY place], but I don't think the so-called "Tanker" models were ever issued. Good question to ask THR member 'eclancy'

March 27, 2003, 09:33 PM
Ahhh...thank you dear Sir!

Another thing that prevented me from purchasing the rifle was the $980 price tag! I'm thinking in my mind...a little more and I'll have a nice Springfield Armory M1A.

Or better yet, order a CMP Garand for a lot less. It's just the waiting that would kill me. I've seen some nice CMP rifles on the market, but the $200 or more extra they want for the rifle just so I won't have to wait really isn't worth it to me.

Good Shooting

Art Eatman
March 27, 2003, 11:30 PM
These things started showing up in the 1950s. I vaguely remember some articles about them; what bubbles up from "way back when" is supportive of Jim Keenan's view.

Wuz it the Italians who came up with the BM59? A shorty Garand, but with a box magazine? Maybeso .308? Don't really remember. Late 1940s, early 1950s...


March 28, 2003, 12:48 AM

Part of the "Tanker" problem is that there were perhaps TOO MANY makers.

The first civilian Tankers were made in the mid 1950's by (I think) Golden State Arms in California.
The owner had a quantity of M1's that weren't selling due to the high cost compared to cheaper import surplus rifles. He had seen the T26 at Springfield, and thought a "Carbine Garand" might help sell his stock.
He started the fictitious story about the T26 being requested by General MacArthur for his tank crews, and named it the "Tanker".

In fact, the T26 was in response to the European Paratrooper Generals who didn't like the M1 Carbine, and wanted a Garand that could be jumped assembled.
To or three were built at Springfield, and only one survives.

Since then, any number of companies have made them, from better quality companies like Springfield, to strictly "fly-by-night" outfits.

There was one maker, named something like "American Ordnance" or a similar name, who was actually one man working in a dark basement.

The problem is many, if not most Tankers weren't labeled as to who made them, and there is no way to determine who did.

There in is the problem: Quality on Tankers runs from good, to unsafe to fire. In many cases, only a qualified gunsmith can tell the difference.

The Tanker must be properly built or the rifle is NOT reliable, and usually the only way to tell, is by shooting several hundred rounds.

Unfortunately, it seems that the majority of Tankers are of poor quality and reliability, and some are out and out dangerous.

If you really want one, get it built by a better custom M1 'smith. That way, you will be assured of getting a good shooting SAFE Tanker. Otherwise, it's a crap shoot with "suspect" dice.

March 28, 2003, 01:08 AM

You are correct. Beretta BM 59


Good Shooting

March 28, 2003, 06:54 AM
The US Army Ordnance Museum at Aberdeen Proving, MD had several original "Tankers" on display when I was stationed there in 1964. There were certainly more than one that survived. I don't know if these guns are currently on display in the new (and less interesting) Ordnance Museum.

March 28, 2003, 08:29 AM

Don't remember seeing them there, but I'll check after work. :)

Mike Irwin
March 28, 2003, 11:22 AM
I was going to say I know more than one "Tanker" survived.

Aberdeen has at least 2, the Smithsonian supposedly has 1, and Springfield has at least 1.

It still slays me, and pisses me off, to go to a gun show and see someone with one of these on his table with an ENORMOUS price tag.

"It's the real bean, 100% authentic!"

Only problem is, the serial number is usually well outside of the proper range...

Badger Arms
March 28, 2003, 11:45 AM
I assume you're going to the museum itself. Could you ask the people there if they have it 'in the back' or 'in storage' and if so, make an archival request to examine and photograph it. If you'd like, you could probably use this board or maybe contact a legitemate researcher like Ed Clancy if he can sponsor you in. I'd like to see photograps of the gun and the operating rod.

Secondly, I'm surprised nobody has pointed these things out, but I'll try to get it as close as I can:

The M1E5 was a carbine version of the standard Garand. It also included a folding wire stock and, eventually, a pistol grip.

"In July of 1945 Col William Alexander, President of the Pacific Warfare Board requested 15,000 short M1 rifles. To help speed things up, the Pacific War Board had the Ordnance unit of the 6th Army in the Philippines make up 150 short rifles. They sent one by courier to the Ordnance Dept. They in turn put the M1E5 on a shortened stock and called the gun the T26. 15,000 were scheduled for production but VJ day ended the need." (emphasis added) Quoted from the paperback, "Know Your M1 Garand Rifles" by E.J. Hoffschmidt.

So, there are at least 151 'legitemate' short Garands out there... the 150 made for the Pacific and the one M1E5 (if not more) that Springfield Armory made up. They were also standardized as teh T26.

Jim Watson
March 28, 2003, 01:20 PM
I have read that when the war ended before the T26 could be deployed, those on hand - either the 150 prototypes, or in one account, a good start on the 15,000 or 25,000 order - were converted to standard M1 configuration. Because they were still unissued in house, they got all of them, to the point that when the museums wanted examples, they had to fabricate them.

Makes a good story at least, and does account for there being NO confirmed authentic T26s on the market.

March 28, 2003, 01:37 PM
III. Firearm Information by Type
D. Rifles
2. Models and Manufacturers
b. Self-Loading Rifles
132. M-1 Garand
5. T26 "Tanker" Garand
by Robert Gibson (RGIBSON@ua1vm.ua.edu)
Most of the following taken from Scott A. Duff's book _THE M1 GARAND: WORLD WAR II_....all facts are his, some of the conclusions my own, in any case here's my 2-cents on the subject. You can believe whatever you wish, but anyone telling you the stubby little Garand they're trying to sell you was made for use by treadheads is full of it....trust me.

Sorry fellas, there were many interesting variations of the M1 Garand experimented with during World War II....MOST never saw active duty.

The T26 (so-called "Tanker Garand") is a very good example, along with others like the U.S. Carbine, Cal. .30, M1E5 - a short barreled Garand with a metal pantagraph-type folding stock that some thought might see paratrooper service....it didn't. Another good example was the U.S. Rifle, Caliber .30, T20E2 - an M1 modified to take the 20-round BAR magazine and capable of firing either semi- or full-automatic. Some 100,000 were ordered from Springfield Armory in 1945, however the two A-Bombs made the point moot and program was cancelled after only 19 pre-production rifles were made...most of these remain at the Springfield Armory National Historic Site to this day.

SA's efforts to make 18" barreled T26 Garand version had nothing at all to do with tanks or any other tracked vehicle...the name "Tanker Garand" came about many years after the end of WWII when commercial concerns discovered it was an excellent gimmick to use when selling their own made-up Dwarf Garand version....it's still working today.

Per Duff....

"The fighting in the Pacific Theater of Operations demonstrated the inability of the .30 caliber carbine ammunition to penetrate dense jungle foliage. Similarly the length and weight of the M1 [Garand] rifle also fell under criticism. The obvious solution seemed to be a short barreled M1 rifle.
In the fall of 1944 the Pacific Warfare Board ordered an ordnance unit of the 6th Army in the Philippines to make up 150 shortened M1 rifles for testing. Colonel William Alexander, head of the Pacific Warfare Board, requested that the Ordnance Department manufacture 15,000 shortened rifles for the arming of airborne troops. He dispatched a special courier to deliver at least two of these shortened rifles to the Ordnance Department in Washington, D.C."

Scott goes on detailing how these two rifles made their way to Springfield Armory for testing. There it was recognized as almost the same M1E5 variant SA developed in early 1944, 'cept it retained the wooden USGI stock instead of using a folding metal stock.

The end of the war in the Pacific also ended the project, but not before a military evaluation of the T26 Garand variant was made....in part is concluded..."We all loved the little gun, but it had a defect which we all felt made it totally unsuitable for a combat weapon with standard M1 ammunition. The muzzle blast was terrific, in the darker forest it was like a flashbulb going off. Even in the sunlight is was obvious." The recommendation was to cancel the project...it was.

What happened to the original 150 rifles (more or less) built by the 6th Army for testing? They were *supposed* to be converted back to the original M1 Garand configuration....were all re-converted? This is one of those little mysteries that no one will ever know for sure, however it is well known that none of the T26 Garand variants were ever accepted into the government's inventory for combat usage.

Bottom line....any T26 "Tanker" Garand you see for sale in the commercial market is as good as any other, regardless of the caliber it may come in - .30-'06 or .308Win/7.62NATO. It has no historical value of its own and has been modified from an original M1 Garand by a private civilian gunsmith or a commercial firearms company. I own one myself, a SA USGI M1 Garand built in April, 1943 that I had converted to T26 specs by gunsmith Bruce Dow of A & B Dow, Inc. located in Florida. It has a .308Win barrel and is a hoot to shoot; a real fun gun....muzzle blast and all.

Hope this helps shed some light and corrects some of the sales hype.

Badger Arms
March 28, 2003, 02:14 PM
At any rate, the T26 rifles that were made up were simply modifications of in-service Garands. Therefore, there would probably not be any serial number 'range' or any 'factory original' guns available. What's to say that something that looks like a garage-gunsmith T26 would be essentially identical to an Army gunsmith T26.

I'd like to comment on the contradictory conclusions of Duff and other Garand researchers on the subject of the T26 and the T20 variants. First, there were 15,000 to 25,000 of the T26 rifles ordered depending on the source and at least 150 made. Then there were at least 19 T20's made up but the source I quoted above states that 10 were completed and the ballance of 100 rifles that had been ordered were made into future test models.

The T20E2 was more than just a Garand modified to take BAR Magazines. In fact, a new magazine was devleoped as the BAR magazine was found to be too weak. Notice how there are AR-15 magazine style ridges to allow extra room and strength in the magazine. Further, the Receiver of these rifles was longer for a longer bolt and carrier travel. It incorporated M-14 style mounting rails on the left side and was capable of selctive-fire. It had a unique bolt hold-open device. It also incorporated a muzzle brake. Many of these features (notably the receiver and selector, were incorporated into the M-14. If anything, the T20E2 was an evolutionary step on the road to the M-14 whereas the T26 was a slight modification and essentially a dead-end.

Where the contradictions are is in the Muzzle Blast and Flash area. Why did they order thousands of T26's if the blast and flash were too high? Why did they order the T20E2 if it had a muzzle brake... this must have been loud? Strange. Enjoy the picture.


March 28, 2003, 06:09 PM
Ok stopped by the Ordnance Museum on my way home. Only had a few minutes though else I would have been locked in for the weekend.

I found one Garand short rifle there. It is marked by the Museum as a M1 airborne carbine. Didn't look much like the pictures here though. It did not have a detachable box magazine for instance.

I'll try to get pictures soon, but unfortunately I don't usually carry my camera on base because it makes my life more complicated. I try to do something about it Monday.

March 28, 2003, 06:27 PM

March 29, 2003, 02:46 AM
I have one of the silly things I payed 350 for some years ago. Its a bit odd as it has a BM-59 type barrel and BM-59 type end cap but in 30-06. 1941 Win. receiver thats not welded and a 1944 SA barrel. It works pretty well jsut like any other M-1 but the muzzle blast is pretty nasty. Wish I had a picture I could post of the silly thing.

Jim K
March 29, 2003, 10:55 AM
No matter if SA made up 2 or 3 or 6, they were NOT issued, NOT used in combat, and NOT given to troops by General Patton personally. Also they were NOT used in North Africa by tankers, NOT used in street fighting in Germany, and NOT brought back by returning veterans.

No matter who issued what order, they were never produced in quantity by SA or any other factory for the government.

They WERE made up by a bunch of people in this country for one purpose - to make money. These are just like the current crop of phoney "jungle carbines" made from cut down British and Indian rifles. The only difference is that there are real "jungle carbines" (Rifle No. 5) which were issued and used.


March 29, 2003, 12:23 PM
Hi guys,
Ordnance had received some cut-down M1 Garands from the field units. SA built only two (2) for testing. They were called the T 26. During testing one of them was destroyed. SA was ordered to build 150,000 of them. However, we drop the bomb and the war was over. SA put one of the field cut-down's on display and the other real one is on display at APG. Dr. Atwater the Director of the Museum at APG and I went over some of my Ordnance files when I was down there. I have the Ordnance files as well as a letter from him in which he states that one two were built. The field cutdown's don't count as Ordnance issue.
I hope this data helps
Thanks again
ps any questions on this just email me

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