The Order Of The Purple Thumb


May 22, 2006, 12:21 AM
im just curious as to how many people on here have had their thumb mashed in the bolt of an M1 Garand. I lost a bit of skin off my thumb to a Garand bolt.

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May 22, 2006, 12:59 AM
Funny you asked this one.

Just last week I finally took my M1 out, and I got my M1 thumb while cleaning. (Not at the range mind you.) I don't care, it is still one of my favorite guns.

Commissar Gribb
May 22, 2006, 01:02 AM
never happened to me

I've got a pretty nasty blood blister from a slide pinch (handgun) before

May 22, 2006, 02:25 AM
I got a little Mini-thumb action once. It didn't give my bruises or blood blisters or anything, but I did totally crunch up my thumb 'neath the bolt of my Mini-14 once.


May 22, 2006, 02:37 AM
Two injuries, one of which qualifies for the Purple Thumb award, me thinks. I've slammed the bolt of my SKS on my wee thumb. :scrutiny: I've caught the web of my hand in the bolt of my M48A Yugo. :uhoh:

May 22, 2006, 02:40 AM
Ah! I almost M48'd myself, too! I had my right hand wrapped around the grip (I'm left handed) while I was in the process of figuring out how I'd be reaching over the gun to handle the bolt (what with being left-handed and all), and I lift and yank the bolt straight back over top of the web of my right thumb. I didn't tear it but GEEEEE-YAWD that hurt.


May 22, 2006, 02:41 AM
I have yet to suffer an M1 thumb.
Being a Garand owner, the operative word here is "yet".

May 22, 2006, 03:10 AM
One of our forum members let me shoot his M1 at the range and he instructed me on how to NOT get M1 thumb. Fingolfin, thanks for letting me shoot your rifle. And :cuss: you for making me realize how much I need one.

10 Ring Tao
May 22, 2006, 03:48 AM
<---- M1 Thumb Club member #9834759834759837

May 22, 2006, 06:11 AM
I haven't gotten one yet...don't even have an M1.
Can't wait though!

May 22, 2006, 08:00 AM
I seemed that all the guys that I knew that were in ROTC had the problem !! I knew someone who did it with a Browning Auto shotgun. The extractor went through the thumb, bone and all .Talk about pain !!

May 22, 2006, 12:27 PM
Yep. If you are always paying very close attention when closing the bolt, it won't bite you. Just don't let your attention slip.

May 22, 2006, 12:30 PM
TWICE, slow learner?

May 22, 2006, 12:38 PM
Two days after I got my first M1. I didn't lose any skin but it was a nice purple for about a week.

Ky Larry
May 22, 2006, 01:26 PM
I was trained in the use Of the M1 Garand in Air Force basic training. IIRC, the instructor told us if he saw any of us using our thumb to insert a magazine, he was gong to insert our private parts into the rifle and close the bolt. Don't remember much abut that training but I didn't mash my thumb.

May 22, 2006, 01:34 PM
Haven't done that with my M1, but I did manage to slam the bolt home on my brother's new Rem 1100 shotgun.....

"hmmmm...I wonder what that little shiny thing way back in the reciever does? Guess I'll push it and see what happens...

:what: :eek: :what: :eek: :what: :eek:

May 22, 2006, 01:35 PM
Haven't done that with my M1, but I did manage to slam the bolt closed on my brother's new Rem 1100 shotgun, right on the web between thumb & first finger.......

"hmmmm...I wonder what that little shiny thing way back in the reciever does? Guess I'll push it and see what happens..."

:what: :eek: :what: :eek: :what: :eek:

May 22, 2006, 01:56 PM
Guilty as charged on my Remington 11-87. Getting an M1 in 2 months so lets hope I learned what not too do when I get the M1.

May 22, 2006, 01:57 PM

Keep the edge of your palm agains the op-rod handle while loading and you won't have this problem.

May 22, 2006, 02:04 PM
I got snapped by my buddies dad's M1,

Mike: Now be carefull when you're loading it, it can snap and get you.

Me: I know, I know, I've heard all about M1 Thumb.


Me: Yeowwwwwwch

Mike: Ha ha ha, here let me show you how to do it


Mike: Yeowwwwwwch

Me: Ha ha ha

May 22, 2006, 02:30 PM
There are 2 types of Garand shooters,

1. Those that have their M-1 thumb

2. Those who are going to get one.

I'm in group #1

May 22, 2006, 02:43 PM
Not with an M-1, as I don't have one, but my buddy does...But more than once with an SKS (which is bad, too) and even once with my Marlin Model 60 (little finger, but it didn't hurt much, not much spring there). And now that I think about it, I did it once with my Hi-Point carbine, while cleaning, again not that bad.

May 22, 2006, 03:00 PM
The whole M1 thumb thing is a myth unless someone is totally clueless on how to load a Garand.

You are supposed to use the flat of your right hand with the pinky area contacting the op rod handle while inserting a clip with your thumb. Once the clip is bottomed out and you feel the op rod release a bit against your pinky, remove your hand from the op rod and if necessary give the op rod a tap with the palm of your hand to send the bolt home.

The only time I got my thumb mashed was during cleaning when I accidentally hit the follower. That was my own fault for being careless.

May 22, 2006, 03:06 PM
I was trying my hand (pun intended) at lefty with the M-14 on my last ship.
I was using a close hold and supporting the rifle with the front of the magazine. I left my right thumb a little too high, and stopped the action with my thumb knuckle. Looked like I got it with a cheese grater.
Much more careful now.

May 22, 2006, 04:12 PM
Yeah, I got Garand Index Fingered myself while cleaning. Was rubbing a CLP Q-tip on the follower when I noticed that it wasn't moving side to side. Hmm, too much gunk? So I pressed on it with my index finger, not realizing that the bolt wasn't fully cocked rearward and was pressing up against the follower.

SNAP!! :what:

I actually heard and saw the bolt flying forward in slow motion, and I remember commanding my index finger to "MOVE!" To no avail, however, as the bolt won that race. Painful, to say the least. :o

May 22, 2006, 04:18 PM
Remington 11-87 Sportsman = $550
Benelli M-2 = $900
Browning Gold Sporting Clays = $1,100
M-1 Garand = $500
M-1A1 Springfield = $1,200
Wearing gloves when you drop a bolt on you thumb = priceless!
Richard (

May 22, 2006, 06:34 PM
I haven't been bit....yet.

Bwana John
May 22, 2006, 07:07 PM
For some reason both M-1 Garands I have owned would not close the bolt when your thumb was inside, they kind of hang up after the en-block latches in, and then need to be assisted forward by pushing on the op rod handle.
Someone told me this was a modification done to help prevent M-1 thumbs, has anybody else noticed their M-1 functions in this way?

May 22, 2006, 07:45 PM
This is true.
If you apply constant downard pressure on the magazine with your thumb, the bolt should not close. It's only when you let up on the pressure that the bolt slams home.

With practice, you can keep your thumb in the path of the bolt and swing the rifle around one-handed without getting bit. Just be careful when yuo try to get your thumb out though. :D

May 22, 2006, 09:12 PM
been M48'ed twice and it sucked hard both times.

May 22, 2006, 10:14 PM
I'd had a few minor "M-1 thumbs" before where the bolt skinned me a tad, but about a year ago my thumb took a direct hit that took several months to heal. I was shooting high power matches and wanted my brass to last longer than if I full lengrh resized it. My plan was to partially resize the brass and I was trying a resized case by seating it directly into the chamber with my thumb. I must have not fully locked the bolt back and as my thumb was forcing the last bit of the case into the chamber...SNAPPPPPPPPP....Lots of pain...lost all of the nail . If you mess with a Garand long enough it's going to bite you...usually when you're doing something out of the ordinary with it. I've never come close to being bitten just by loading clips into the rifle.

fal 4 me
May 22, 2006, 10:21 PM
I experienced M-1 thumb when I got my first M-1 at the age of 14. Unfortunately I sold that rifle a few years later. Hoping to get a replacement soon.

May 22, 2006, 11:16 PM
never got the M1 thumb, but a week ago with my new mini glock 27 I did get the snake bite on the back of my thumb from holding it a little too high on the back strap... I guess I'm just used to shooting guns with a little more of a flare out at the top of the back strap like a 1911 or a sig.... *BANG* oww... two little drops of blood on the top of my hand.... oh well...:rolleyes:

May 22, 2006, 11:57 PM
I have 3 M1 and haven'y got my thumb yet. But how many have the Hakim thumb? When i first got mine, i barely missed my thumb. I guess i needed to read up the operation a little better before working the operation. I guess the Hakim can bit good too.


May 23, 2006, 08:53 AM
Even right after crushing my thumb I never had any thought of selling that Garand. My squashed thumb was too sore to load the Garand in the proper way for weeks, yet I still shot matches with it. I shot one just days after my "M-1 thumb". I had to hold the op rod back with my cupped right hand and reach over and load the round or the clip with my left hand. The rapid fire reload was quite a challenge. That just shows how much I like to shoot my Garand. I'll never be without a good one for the rest of my life.

May 23, 2006, 09:24 AM
not realizing that the bolt wasn't fully cocked rearward and was pressing up against the follower

That is how I got mine!

May 23, 2006, 10:33 AM
Ironically, it was during a USAF Honor Guard practice session. The gloves minimized damage, but it didn't take me long to learn the "heel of the hand" technique of holding the oprod handle back during loading. Never been bit by an M1 since.

However, I do have an AG-42B Ljungman. It makes the M1 Garand's thumb-chomping look pale in comparison. :eek:

Wes Janson
May 23, 2006, 06:25 PM
Patrick Sweeney talks about the Ljungman chomp in his new Book of the AR. How badly did it hurt? :eek:

May 23, 2006, 08:27 PM
Leaves a perfectly round indentation on the offending body part that takes some time to disappear. The bolt and bolt carrier run forwards with a goodly amount of velocity and energy. ;)

May 24, 2006, 01:58 AM
Between the two(M1 and Hakim), I would think the Hakim would have more bite.


May 24, 2006, 02:25 AM
I have not once gotten "M1 thumb" from actually loading the gun, but I guess to make up for that got a bad smash cleaning it once.

I was toying with something and ended up deciding to take the gun apart, but was out of sequence. The bolt was locked into the back of the receiver and jammed with the op rod. I had my thumb in the receiver over the chamber when it finally decided to release, at which time the bolt slammed home under full force right into my perfectly placed thumb. Bled for awhile and hurt like heck.

I would like to know how WWII veterans loaded their M1s during combat, seems like it requires a bit of finesse to do correctly and rapidly.

September 7, 2006, 05:29 PM
As an update to this thread, i just recently bought a yugo sks with the 10 rnd mag that is loaded by stripper clip. we'll see how long it takes before that one gets me too...

September 7, 2006, 06:50 PM
Never my thumb, but twice on other fingers while cleaning the rifle. It really doesn't hurt at first. It's only after the numbness wears off.:cuss:

My father-in-law showed me how to load the clip with the side of my thumb so if the bolt does slide forward, it pushes the tumb out of the way. Works good that way.

Sleeping Dog
September 7, 2006, 06:56 PM
Yeah, in basic training. Only it was called "M14 thumb". Pretty much the same rifle. Same bloody thumb.


wayne in boca
September 7, 2006, 07:15 PM
M1 thumb is kind of misunderstood,even by people that have it.(You can't blame them for not thinking clearly,they are jumping up and down and shreiking curses or crying.) You don't get it while loading,hell you have to BUMP the oprod forward when loading.You get it while you're messing with an empty rifle,and you didn't lock the bolt all the way to the rear,and just think you did.The bolt sits on top of the follower,requiring about one ounce of thumb to snap home.Recruits used to do it during inspections a lot.And I'll probably do it the next time I handle my M1,after writing this know-it-all I NEVER DID IT message.:) Me and my big mouth.

Wes Janson
September 7, 2006, 08:18 PM
That's why I've been very, very cautious about making sure it's a "true" locked position, and not that damned pesky "false" lock up. So far, so good.

Dr. Dickie
September 8, 2006, 08:04 AM
Haven't had a M1 bite me yet.
Had a 1911A1 chew the webbing out of my hand (still have the scar several years later). Course my Combat Commander just give little love nips:D

September 8, 2006, 08:52 AM
That's why I've been very, very cautious about making sure it's a "true" locked position, and not that damned pesky "false" lock up.

Same here. I made it a habit to give the oprod a good strong pull rearward when I want it to lock open. It lessens the chances of a "false" lock.

So far I haven't been bitten by an M1, but I did get nailed by a Mini-14 while trying to clear a jam caused by a cheap mag.

September 8, 2006, 09:48 AM
Don't have an M1 but I found out this weekend that the space between the bolt and the stock of an M38 is just enough to get your thumb stuck between them if you don't remove your hand from the grip as you cycle the bolt...OUCH.:eek:

September 8, 2006, 10:48 AM
Not yet, but a well respected moderator on the TFL site did and that was all the experience with that experiance I ever need.

The Grand Inquisitor
September 8, 2006, 11:03 AM
I've never had a Garand bite, but while cleaning my Hakim, I did get a bit of my finger caught in...F'ing OUCH!

The Hakim bolt makes the Garand look downright gentle. It is absolutely the most violent acgtion I've ever seen on a firearm.

I'm assuming the 42 Ljungmann is the same (Hakim is based on the Ljungmann).

September 8, 2006, 11:50 AM
You get it while you're messing with an empty rifle,and you didn't lock the bolt all the way to the rear,and just think you did.

Yep. Got that t-shirt.

I'm looking at a nice blood blister and a purple fingernail bed on my left index finger resulting from the bolt slamming home recently while cleaning one of my M1's at the range last week.

I hate it when I don't lock the bolt properly. Sigh...


Plain Old Bill
September 8, 2006, 01:27 PM
I must be stupid or something.

I've had Garand thumb, SVT finger and - the worst- Hakim hand. Of the three, Hakim hand is the most painful, by far. :o

September 9, 2006, 08:46 AM
Been there, done that. Crazy thing is that it was on my off (left) hand, while I was being careful.:mad: Finally after about a day and a half, I had to drill a hole in my nail to release the pressure.

September 9, 2006, 02:52 PM
that's a bolt action gun!!

although i should deserve a price for the best injury:

firing my m24/47 mauser. put my face waaay too close to the bolt, AR15-style.


world explodes in pain**

rub imprint of thumb, stock, bolt safety lever on that quite sensitive part between upper lip and bottom of nose.

boy it swells up real quick.

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