A "light load" in the garand


December 10, 2009, 11:44 AM
Have successfully reloaded " light loads" as critiqued by Hodgon on their site for a bolt '06. was "intrigued" to learn that some of you here have also carried this philosophy over by stating that you have also successfully done it with the garand using a 125gr bullet/ load. knowing the garand likes to have spoecific bullets/powder, was wondering what you guys who do this feel about it. what's your experiences? functionability ? accurate? loads ? as of yet, have been unable to locate any data on it.

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December 10, 2009, 12:56 PM
I believe that with an adjustable gas plug you can load almost anything (within SAAMI specs) in a Garand. You need to start by opening the port up completely, changing the semi-auto rifle into a straight-pull bolt action. Then if you need semi-auto performance, you slowly close the adjustable gas plug until you get reliable functioning. This gas plug setting would only work for that powder, primer, case, and bullet combination, anything different could well damage the rifle.

December 10, 2009, 05:39 PM
WOH...WOH....WOH.... as to the above....are you saying that this is ONE of the ways or the ONLY way that this is being done to fire the 125 that has been talked about on this site. as a "purist", i wouldn't want to go about adjusting/modifying something like the gas ops just sos i could shoot a different bullet. if that was my main intention i would have been a dope to use a garand in the first place for this application. it would have made more sense to confine these loads where i've been using them with success, in the bolt action.
its just that, like i said, i read others did this but they were not specific as to whether or not they were playing with the gas system or found a way to use it with these loads. again, is that the way using a 125 would have to be done, even using the preferred powders ? if that's the case, i'll stick to the regular fodder, 150s-170s. anybody else ???

December 10, 2009, 05:59 PM
I have not loaded 125gr bullets in the Garand, but I have used light loads with 168gr bullets in a .308 Garand. Full charge loads in a .308 Garand with 168gr bullets is 41.5gr of IMR4895, and I worked it down to 36.5gr of IMR4895. I still had 100% functioning there, and could have gone lower, but did not.


December 10, 2009, 10:54 PM
In re using adjustable gas plugs -

The adjustable gas plug is a nonpermanent modification to the Garand that permits reliable and safe action cycling with other than mil-spec loads. The shooter usually wants to use something like commercial hunting ammo that tends to have slower burning powder, thus creating a longer pressure curve and more force on the op-rod than it was designed for. By "venting" some of the gas, the available force is reduced to a safe level.

If you do this and change your mind, you can swap the original part back at any time.

As to 125gr bullets, this is one way to determine if the load you're trying out requires venting to be "safe". If you have to screw the adjustment screw completely shut (or use the smallest orifice screw for the McCann), you probably can use that load with the original gas plug. On the other hand, if you get reliable cycling with a much larger orifice, running that load with an unvented plug might not be wise.

I haven't seen load data for 125gr bullets in a Garand, but that doesn't mean it isn't possible. As long as the pressure at the gas port is around the same as design pressure, and the duration is similar, it should work. The velocity for the 125gr will probably be a little higher than 2700fps...

lost river rat
December 11, 2009, 01:13 AM
Do not use .311 diameter bullets made for SKS rifles!!

It should work fine (0.308 bullets). The key is to not exceed 8000psi at the gas port. This is done with 150-175 bullets by sellecting a power with a burn rate appropriate to meet this criteria and stay in peak chamber pressure requirements.

I have not done this with my Garand, but I have done it with other autos. I used slow powders like 450 and 4831 and the ejection was noteably increased. (distance in travel and even rim bending from the extractor). I switched to Garand powders (like 4064) and ejection dropped back to normal. I have also loaded light loads until the gun just pooped them out on the bench. I have also found factory 180s that are far to vigous for for my tastes. Just to slow of a powder. Throwing cases 2X as far and rim bending. I use ejection as part of my gas auto loading gun load development evaluation.

I would not have any reservations to use Garand 150-155 powders and start with light loads. A short cut is to start is use a faster Garand powder like 4064 and just put your 125 on top of your 150 load (CHECK BOOK MINIMUMS to make sure you are not under them, but I doubt you would be). Check ejection characteristics. May be able to increase a little over 150 loads to match normal ejection (it is port pressure, not peak pressure, so the expected increase in charge may not be attainable). When ejection increases to that of std Garand loads, you are in the sweet spot. Accuracy should come at this point as well. I know this is subjective, but I am comfortable doing it. Light loads land on you and the bench. Good loads land exactly (or just short) of where your reference loads land. A good observer is necessary. If you load chucks the brass higher and farther, a bent operating rod is coming. A really fast powder may not give a vigous ejection as the load cannot be increased far enought to attain the 8000 psi at the gas port before exceeding peak pressure. That is why I would stay with the std Garand powders.

As far as accuracy goes, shorter bullets are generally less accurate, but this is very chamber dependent. Your gun may work very well with a varmit grade 120-130 bullet . The twist rate will work well and you may like the loads. For competition, they will be more influenced by wind. Good loads for practice or just enjoying your Garand.

I was wondering why? But then again, lighter bullets are a little cheaper and have a little less recoil. FMJs are the cheapest, but accuracy is usually poor.

On the other hand, why not? If I start shooting my Garand much again, I will be working up a light bullet load.

you can PM if you wish.

December 11, 2009, 10:26 AM
thanks so far to guys above, thought it would be an interesting discussion. usually some are going the other way( bent rods, cracked stocks etc) and i'm talking about going the other way. why ? it just intrigued me .i've shot off ALOT of standard '06, thought about lights for a change, did it, liked it in the bolt, and saw some talk about it here and was wondering if anyone followed it up in the garand.

December 11, 2009, 01:25 PM
As the Garand is a gas-operated rifle, it has to have a certain amount of energy (in the form of gas pressure, as a pressure "pulse") to run its mechanism.

"Light loads" can be a confusing term. You may not be able to get the action to cycle reliably with too light a load, whether you use an adjustable gas plug or not. The adjustable plug can vent excess pressure, but it can't make up a pressure deficiency.

"Lighter bullet" is a different question. You can probably get around the same pressure pulse with a lighter than typical bullet weight (like 125 gr), but the MV is going to be slightly higher than M2 ball.

Recoil will be a little milder, but probably not .243 levels. Trajectory will be different, so you'll have to work up new drop charts.

125's just don't have the BC of the heavier bullets in .308 diameter, so they may not be very good at long range. This may or may not be a concern.

If you're not shooting JC Garand matches, you can add a Smith muzzle brake. (This is another reversible mod, like the adjustable gas plug.) This dramatically cuts recoil. I can shoot all afternoon with 150's or 168's with this and still have a functioning shoulder. :)

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