Garand Thumb - Facts and Myths


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PTMCCAIN
April 29, 2012, 11:41 AM
I made this little video after several conversations recently spreading the rumor/myth that you get Garand Thumb as a result of loading a full clip into a Garand. Have you heard that before? I used to believe it, until I read up on it and hear from old timers and read the original manuals and watched all the US Army training videos...just not so.

http://youtu.be/xeRjceFcAQg?hd=1

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briansmithwins
April 29, 2012, 12:10 PM
Oh, no, no one ever got their thumb smashed by a Garand, even a Garand with worn out parts.

Never happened. Never will.

I guess I should tell my friend who was in Korea (and who is totally left handed) that he never got his thumb popped.

BSW.

Bushpilot
April 29, 2012, 12:26 PM
The OP isn't claiming that it doesn't exist. But that point is more clear in the video than in the post.

Hacker15E
April 29, 2012, 12:29 PM
Until this post, I have never heard anything about "Garand thumb" being related to a full clip.

I have always heard it in relation to closing the locked-open bolt on an empty magazine.

rcmodel
April 29, 2012, 12:33 PM
No magazine in an M-1.

Closing the bolt without a loaded clip is where all the M1 thumbs I ever saw came from.

You got to stick your thumb down in it to depress the follower to release the bolt when it is empty. Then get it out of the way while the bolt is closing.

And yes, it is very very real!!

rc

Bushpilot
April 29, 2012, 12:34 PM
I had never heard it specifically related to a full clip either.

W L Johnson
April 29, 2012, 12:36 PM
Look up Hakim thumb, makes Garand thumb look like a hangnail.

jason41987
April 29, 2012, 12:36 PM
ive only heard of you getting it if you open the bolt, but not fully, using the magazine follower itself to hold it open.. then when you stick a mag in and press it down it bites you

Kevin5098
April 29, 2012, 12:44 PM
No magazine in an M-1.

Closing the bolt without a loaded clip is where all the M1 thumbs I ever saw came from.

You got to stick your thumb down in it to depress the follower to release the bolt when it is empty. Then get it out of the way while the bolt is closing.

And yes, it is very very real!!

rc
Not to nit-pick, but the Garand does have a magazine - an internal magazine fed by a clip.

FlyinBryan
April 29, 2012, 12:53 PM
your top round was on the left side?

FIVETWOSEVEN
April 29, 2012, 01:05 PM
It can happen. With good technique it won't happen but when I played around with some Garands I was repairing for fun I did find that you can easily get Garand thumb if you do it wrong.

PTMCCAIN
April 29, 2012, 01:56 PM
Doesn't matter which side the top round is.

And, as per the video and discussion, there may well be some doofus who somehow manages to get a finger or other appendage in the magazine while loading a full clip, but.....

The VAST majority of times it is always when the magazine has NO clip being loaded into it.

rcmodel
April 29, 2012, 02:16 PM
O.K. how about a 1911 pinky finger?

One of the most funny and also horrific things I ever saw involved a new 2nd. Lieutenant, an arms inspection, and a private E-nothing with a 1911.

The newly appointed officer stuck his pinky finger in the chamber of the 1911 to check for dirt, and Beetle Baily hit the slide release.

He screamed like a little girl, tried to shake the pistol off his little finger, and peed his starched khaki pants!

Right in front of the whole platoon.

rc

FlyinBryan
April 29, 2012, 02:17 PM
ya, i dont remember where i heard they should be on the right. read it somewhere i guess.

and ya, ive never considered m1 thumb to be a problem loading clips into the rifles i have.

working with an empty rifle is where you get bit. ive never had a problem with it.

WALKERs210
April 29, 2012, 02:30 PM
I read this post and had to pull out one of the Garands. Now its been since 1965 since I had to present arms for inspection, but at 64 I can still do it without loosing meat in the process. I do remember it happening to a couple, and as for the shells being loaded in clip left side or right side on top, the right side was prefered as to make it easier for right handed men(truth or bull ??) And RC I remember seeing that happen, I was laughing so hard I almost could not get that nasty gun off the guys hand.

hang fire
April 29, 2012, 03:32 PM
At one time to prevent muzzle wear, the proper cleaning procedure for the M-1 was thus.

Lock action open, insert cleaning rod down the bore, then either screw on a brush or insert patch into cleaning tip slot.

Lets just say inserting pinkies into open action while fiddling around, resulting pinky bashing curtailed that procedure rather quickly.

Float Pilot
April 29, 2012, 04:10 PM
I only experienced it while shooting a 600 yards NRA Match at Fort Richardson during the winter.
Since they were ten-shot strings, you had one fully loaded enbloc clip and one enbloc clip with two rounds criss-crossed into it so they would snap correctly into place when the magazine was inserted correctly.
A bunch of old guys showed me how to do it right since I had already shot one run through the match with an M-14.
Once my fingers were cold and I was halfway excited about trying to catch up with the old guys, I managed to bungle the two round clip loading and it smashed the crap out of my semi frozen thumb. Much to the pleasure of the old guys who proceeded to kick my butt.

Liberty1776
April 29, 2012, 04:42 PM
Am I the only guy that does this?? - I hold the bolt handle back with the outside edge of my right hand, depress the follower with my thumb, and close the bolt under control with pressure from the edge of my hand...

asia331
April 29, 2012, 04:53 PM
Logged my first M1 thumb on an amphib exercise along the Chowan River (NC) 1971...ouch; my fault..not the rifle's.

rcmodel
April 29, 2012, 04:55 PM
Am I the only guy that does this??Thats the way you are supposed to do it.

Sometimes, someone doesn't.

rc

PTMCCAIN
April 29, 2012, 06:41 PM
Certainly a good way to do it, to each his own. Doing it that way though was a bit difficult while making this video, trying to show the bolt.

PTMCCAIN
April 29, 2012, 06:43 PM
The 1911 "pinkie" story is priceless, thanks!!

Carl N. Brown
April 29, 2012, 06:48 PM
We have a lot of Garand shooters at the military matches at the local gun club.

Garand thumb from depressing the follower on an empty magazine to release the bolt, very very rarely. It been years since anyone got pinched closing the bolt on an empty Garand.

I see folks having to slap the bolt handle closed after loading a full 8-round clip in the magazine. Never seen anyone getting M1 thumb from loading a full clip.

Am I the only guy that does this?? - I hold the bolt handle back with the outside edge of my right hand, depress the follower with my thumb, and close the bolt under control with pressure from the edge of my hand...

That's what the users teach as proper technique with the M1 Garand.

PTMCCAIN
April 29, 2012, 06:53 PM
Bingo, precisely. You may, or may not, be surprised how often I run across people spreading the myth that Garand thumb results from loading a clip.

Art Eatman
April 29, 2012, 10:28 PM
In Elmer Keith's "Hell, I Was There", he comments about the problem in the earliest Garands as to which side the top cartridge should be loaded in the clip. The problem was fixed. Sorry, I don't recall the details.

Closing the bolt from "Inspection, Arms", you just slap the bolt handle with the side of your hand while very briefly pushing down on the follower. Do it quickly, no problem. Slow Is Bad.

ApacheCoTodd
April 29, 2012, 10:43 PM
Garand thumb,

which side the clip initiates loading from matters,

Garands won't work in the rain,

the enemy would get the drop on you because they heard your clip eject and strike the ground,

you can't top off the magazine.

Just some of the subjects I could go without ever hearing again yet do - EVERY DAMN TIME I take my Garand to a range or have one for sale.

As far as cleaning from the muzzle end. I always do and never have a problem because the op-rod and spring are out, bedded rifles not withstanding.

Carl N. Brown
April 29, 2012, 11:01 PM
Cannot blame you for being tired of hearing that old chestnut.
the enemy would get the drop on you because they heard your clip eject and strike the ground,

American Rifleman had an article mentioning a guy who went to Europe for a war memorial day and engaged some German veterans in to talking about the infamous Garand "ping" of an empty clip. They were vastly amused by the idea. In the heat of battle, small arms fire, mortars, artillery, grenades, none of those German veterans recalled hearing the ejected clip from a Garand rifle.

ApacheCoTodd
April 30, 2012, 12:08 AM
I think the general notion is assinine at best. You gotta consider relative shooters proximity, the ability to determine the direction of the sound if it were heard, the notion that noone else around the recently emptied shooter would be engaging the enemy, the ambient sounds of a battle, hell the list goes on.

Perhaps more to the point, I've had at least half a dozen vets from WWII and Korea tell me there were times when they didn't know THEIR OWN Garand was empty given the goings on, clips flying about not withstanding.

FIVETWOSEVEN
April 30, 2012, 12:21 AM
you can't top off the magazine.

Yeah you can? :confused: Just eject the partial clip and put a new one in. Not even sure why that would matter anyway.

MistWolf
April 30, 2012, 03:14 AM
ApacheCoTodd was stating that not being able to top off a partial clip is a myth. When I used My Garand for hunting Jackrabbits, I'd do it all the time while the clip was still in the magazine.

My father taught me how to avoid M1 Thumb. Press the charging handle back with the knife edge of the hand, press the clip/follower down firmly with the thumb and roll the hand upward and forward in a swift, smooth movement. Using this technique will ensure you won't get bit

theCan
April 30, 2012, 03:43 AM
No magazine in an M-1.

Oh really? Then where do you put the clip?

Art Eatman
April 30, 2012, 10:29 AM
theCan, I reckon the clip goes into the receiver. That's why they call it a receiver, 'cause it receives the clip. :D

PTMCCAIN
April 30, 2012, 02:24 PM
Apache, yup, I hear you bro.

Wait a minute...somebody used a Garand to hunt jackrabbits? Seriously?

Poor little bunnies, must not have been much left of bugs after taking a .30-06 to the body!

: )

PTMCCAIN
April 30, 2012, 02:28 PM
On the "ping" thing....

The ONLY time I've heard anything that remotely resembles this rumor was when I heard about troops during the Battle of the Bulge tying a string on empty clips and heaving them on to ice and rocks, in a situation where there was only one or two of them v. some Germans.

I've never heard any legitimate/true account of the "ping" noise made when the clip EJECTS as being something, in the midst of a firefight, *anyone* could hear, certainly not the shooters blasting away with no ear pro on and certainly not the guys on the receiving end of the incoming .30-06 bullet.

But, hey, this is going to keep going on, and on, and on on the Interweb.

Now, as for "topping off a Garand clip" while still in the Garand, that I would love to see in action. I am having a hard time picturing how anyone could do that ... but hey, send in a video and let us see how it is done.

rcmodel
April 30, 2012, 03:05 PM
See
DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY FIELD MANUAL
FM 23-5 for the U.S. Rifle, CALIBER .30, M1

Chapter 3
OPERATION AND FUNCTIONING
12. Loading the Rifle
(c.) Partially filled clip.

http://www.biggerhammer.net/manuals/garand/m1.htm

rc

Tempest 455
April 30, 2012, 03:14 PM
Am I the only guy that does this?? - I hold the bolt handle back with the outside edge of my right hand, depress the follower with my thumb, and close the bolt under control with pressure from the edge of my hand...

Same here.

Hangingrock
April 30, 2012, 03:40 PM
As I recall from ITR (AKA Infantry Training Regiment) 1964 Camp Geiger that this could and would happen to those not familiar with the manipulation of the M1 rifle. It occurred more so with left-handed Marines until they learned to roll their left hand over so that the trigger finger was against the operating rod handle during loading. At this point those young Marines had never seen an M1 as they had qualified on Parris Island with the M14 and would use the M14 in Viet-Nam until being replaced with the M16.

In 1968 I taught rifle marksmanship at GITMO for sailors attached to the defense battalion. At that point the Navy was still issuing M1 rifles but converted to 7.62mm NATO. Some apparently had chamber inserts while others had been rebarreled. We did have one incident of a chamber insert pulling out.

HoosierQ
April 30, 2012, 03:59 PM
My dad was a 17 year old medic at Parris Island in '44 and maybe into '45. On the the first day of rifle practice, he spend the whole day gauzing up M1 thumbs. It is real (although obviously I didn't see it). It is one of the oldest Parris Island stories that I remember...maybe one of the first he ever told me.

theCan
April 30, 2012, 07:03 PM
theCan, I reckon the clip goes into the receiver. That's why they call it a receiver, 'cause it receives the clip. :D

You'd be wrong. ;)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magazine_(firearms)

rcmodel
April 30, 2012, 07:31 PM
SO, are you saying Wackypeedia knows more about the M1 Garand then the Army field manual that was written for it??

Not hardly!

Here is a direct quote from FM-23-5:
3. Description of the Rifle

The U.S. rifle caliber .30, M1, (fig. 1) is an air-cooled, gas-operated, clip-fed, and semiautomatic shoulder weapon. This means that the air cools the barrel; that the power to cock the rifle and chamber the succeeding round comes from the expanding gas of the round fired previously; that it is loaded by inserting a metal clip (containing a maximum of eight rounds) into the receiver; and that the rifle fires one round each time the trigger is pulled.

I was issued my first M1 rifle in 1964, and used them until they were replaced by the M14, and later M16.

Never ever did anyone in the Army try to tell me the M1 Garand had a magazine, other then the en-bloc clip you stuffed in the receiver to load it.

rc

j. rap.
April 30, 2012, 08:22 PM
when i first got my garand it happened. I had just brought the gun home and was checking to make sure it was empty again. I locked the bolt to the rear and checked. I then pressed down on the follower to release the bolt but was holding onto the charging handle. The rest is self explanatory. It was a dumb ass move on my part and won't happen again. At least i was able to see it wasn't loaded:what:

theCan
April 30, 2012, 08:41 PM
A magazine is a general term for any enclosure for ammunition. It can be a room in a ship, a box mag, or a part of the receiver on a firearm. The same way your forehead is not your skull, but is rather part of your skull.

Just because that paragraph of the manual uses receiver in their vernacular does not mean that the word 'magazine' could not be substituted. The same way you can say, "ouch i hit my head" or "ouch i hit my forehead."

Hacker15E
May 1, 2012, 07:47 AM
No magazine in an M-1.

Then where do all those bullets in that clip go once they're inserted into the hole in the top of the receiver?

PTMCCAIN
May 1, 2012, 07:53 AM
The area where the bullets rest before chambering is known as the "magazine"

A "magazine" is simply where ammunition is stored before firing.

Go visit huge coastal arty emplacements at any historic fort and you can see the "magazines" where they stored the huge big boom things.

Same thing on the rifle only smaller boom things.

: )

USSR
May 1, 2012, 09:17 AM
Yes, the M1 Garand has an internal magazine and is loaded via enbloc clips. What typically happens regarding "M1 Thumb" is: with an empty magazine (no enbloc in place), the bolt instead of being fully back and locked in place, is being held back merely by the follower. Guy depresses the follower with thumb, bolt immediately releases and captures surprised operator's thumb and crushes it between bolt face and front of receiver, causing extreme pain to thumb and volumes of profanities to escape from mouth. It's an operator error situation, and if you understand the mechanics of it, it is easily avoidable.

Don

sugarmaker
May 1, 2012, 01:10 PM
I have personally experienced Garand thumb, let me assure you it is real. Here's one way to get it:

Have your 21 year old brother in law loan you his Garand for a few months. It is winter and you are 13 years old. You are dirt poor so shoot it with cast bullets. The action won't cycle so you shoot it single load and have to manually cycle the action, pushing the rounds into the magazine with your thumb. Being 13, you missed the part about holding your hand to catch the handle when it closes. It's 15 degrees out and you can't feel your fingers. The Garand seizes the opportunity and you stare at your thumb, which fortunately is numb from the cold. You think, "man this is going to hurt" as you wade back through the snow with the rifle. Yup, it's real alright.

PTMCCAIN
May 1, 2012, 01:26 PM
OK, totally understandable, but again, you did not get Garand thumb by loading a full clip of ammo, but by loading single rounds without a clip.

No doubt Garand thumb is really, but the myth comes when people try to claim it is easy to get, and common, when loading a full Enbloc into the magazine.

Welding Rod
May 1, 2012, 03:23 PM
A properly operating empty M1 will not send the bolt forward when the follower is depressed, unless the shooter did not retract the bolt fully and has it inadvertantly resting against the follower - which is not where it would be if the rifle were operated properly.

When loading a full clip the bolt can not over rided the top bullet, it can only bear against the back of the top bullet. Therefore it is impossible for the bolt to smash one's thumb when loading/pushing down on the top round in the clip, until the pressure is released.

All that said, I witnessed am improperly operating Garand last weekend with a horribly buggered up bullet guide (too tall on the nose, nose bent, and pin hole filed out in a kidney shape) that would release the bolt and random times and it did a great job on the owners finger.

The problem was the machined catch on the oprod was only being engaged by the catch by a few thousandths of an inch instead of the 1/16 or 3/32 inch it normally would. Any bump or jar and the bolt would slam forward. So would pressing on the follower at all. By the way, that is another reason to buy M1s from CMP. This horrible buggered part was in a gun sold by an online M1 "builder"... no I can't remember the name.

PTMCCAIN
May 2, 2012, 01:04 PM
Sounds like a real mess of an M1.

SlamFire1
May 2, 2012, 06:45 PM
The problem was the machined catch on the oprod was only being engaged by the catch by a few thousandths of an inch instead of the 1/16 or 3/32 inch it normally would. Any bump or jar and the bolt would slam forward. So would pressing on the follower at all.


Paul, I watched your video, and your conclusion that all Garands function as yours, is an invalid assumption.

When I volunteered at the CMP, they were testing Garands with metal blocks to determine catch release. I thought that interesting.

There are Garands that are not as stiff as yours. You can call them "worn out" or "a mess", it really does not matter, they are out there. Garand thumb would not be a warning if none of these rifles ever existed. I have a nice 308 Garand, all new parts, and the instant the clip latches, the bolt releases. Luckily I learned from wise old shooters about proper hand and thumb placement. Plus, I learned for real about Garand thumb when I had that rifle release on my thumb, I think I was cleaning it and pressed on the follower, and I lost a thumb nail.

I can well imagine a misaligned clip, the shooter pushing it front and back to get it to seat and the bolt releasing on a finger.

I recommend loading the clip so the top round is on the right. That way your thumb is not in the centerline of the magazine.

PTMCCAIN
May 2, 2012, 11:50 PM
Thanks for sharing your opinion.

theCan
May 3, 2012, 12:21 AM
If you watch this video, the bolt should release as the clip latches. You may have to push the bolt home if the bolt doesn't supply enough force to strip off the first round.

However, I would consider an M1 to be malfunctioning if you can shake or bump the operating rod off of it's catch. It should be the movement of the follow that does this.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lo0NLKAvmDM

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