1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Reloading for a M1 Garand- The National Match

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by ali9cg8, Dec 26, 2012.

  1. ali9cg8

    ali9cg8 Active Member

    Hello all,

    New member here and I'm so glad to have stumbled upon this forum. I don't have a "reloading mentor", but it seems like this is the place to come for great advice. So here goes; I'm toying with the idea of starting some handloading for my newest addition. I started the learning process reloading for my HK P30 9mm, and am now obsessed.

    Regarding my shooting background, I started shooting black powder and trap with my dad at around 15, moved up to the M1 Carbine (good), and then the 1903 (not so good). Since I'm a female lefty, the bolt action flow just wasn't happening. Took it up again recently and I've got the shooting bug back. I love to shoot service rifles and my first attempts at 30.06 reloads have been promising. The Garand load is obviously more complicated, but I'd love some advice or suggestions if anyone is willing to share. This is my dream rifle, and I would love to shoot it more. It was refitted in 1952 as a type II National Match and was rarely fired after that.

    I'm going to spend the rest of the night poring over the expertise in the threads, but would appreciate any tips or advice.

    Thank you!
  2. Centurian22

    Centurian22 Well-Known Member

    What reloading equipment (press tools etc.) do you have. The basics are covered in many many threads. Glad you're taking the 'leap'. Hope you get to shoot plenty more now that you 'roll your own'.
  3. Grumulkin

    Grumulkin Well-Known Member

    The M1 Garand...

    1. Don't use powders that are too slow or you can damage the op rod.

    2. Best not to use bullets over 168 grains.

    3. The Hornady manual has Garand specific loads. I think though that some of the powders they recommend may be a little too slow.

    4. Use mil spec primers to prevent slam fires.

    5. I'd recommend a small base die even if the regular ones seem to work to hopefully prevent slam fires.

    6. You don't need to crimp.

    7. Don't try to use the brass for too many reloadings as a Garand will beat it up. Check for incipient head separations when processing resized brass AFTER resizing.

    That's all I can think of for now.
  4. cfullgraf

    cfullgraf Well-Known Member

    Grumulkin has some good advice.

    To add, there is a limited range of powders suitable for the Garand. the risk, as said, is damage to the op rod.

    If you have not been to the CMP forum, check it out. Lots and lots of good information of all things M1, as well as other retired US service rifles and CMP activities.


    Welcome to the forum.
  5. ali9cg8

    ali9cg8 Active Member

    Thank you,

    I have been to the CMP forum, and eventually it got to be a little overwhelming. Kind off a "too many cooks in the kitchen" mentality and has a tendency to veer off into "my Garand is more special than yours" territory. Blah. I've just spend a few hours over here and you really appreciate the lack of competitiveness and just the general enjoyment of the exchange of advice between shooters.
  6. ali9cg8

    ali9cg8 Active Member

    Going back to the RCBS single stage. I'll be triple checking every step in the proper OCD fashion. I don't expect to see my family much, but when I do, I will require them to address me as "Bob Lee".
  7. dmazur

    dmazur Well-Known Member

    I got into reloading a few years back, and I accidentally started with one of the easiert rounds to reload, .45ACP. When I decided to reload .30-06, I encountered the requirement to lube and trim cases. (Something generally not part of pistol cartridge reloading.)

    Then I got a Garand, and I learned about the importance of setting up sizing dies and controlling what is sometimes called "cartridge headspace", Wilson gauges, RCBS Precision Mic, etc.

    Then I read that reloading difficulty can generally be ranked from easy to hard as pistol cartridges, bottleneck cartridges, and bottleneck cartridges for gas guns. After working through this process, I agree with this ranking.

    An awful lot of Garand information on this forum has been posted by Slamfire1, so you could start with that. As his name indicates, he has some firsthand information about slamfires and how to minimize their occurrence. Here is one to get started -


    Even though they don't happen often, I believe it is wise to understand what conditions set up a slamfire and do everything possible to make these conditions near impossible.

    Good luck. The Garand is a fun rifle.

    (Hopefully your family knows who Stephen Hunter is? :) )
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2012
  8. TooManyToys

    TooManyToys Well-Known Member

    Welcome to the forum!

    The LYMAN #48 Reloading book specifically recomends;
    IMR-4064 & IMR-4895 for powders, and 150gr-168 gr bullets for the M1 Garand.
  9. USSR

    USSR Well-Known Member

    Well, since you have a National Match rifle, you might as well shoot National Match loads. In 1965 the M72 Match load consisted of a 174gr FMJBT bullet with 46.5gr of IMR4895 powder. IMR4895 powder is readily available, and I would suggest you use either 46.5gr of it with a 175gr Sierra MatchKing bullet or 47.0gr with a 168gr Sierra MatchKing bullet. Good Luck.

  10. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Well-Known Member

    Post #3 supplies a lot of good advice.

    Several other posts recommend bullets no heavier than 168gr and recommend 4895 and 4064, also very good advice.

    I have been reloading for years and I tried a lot of different combinations.
    Here is my current M1 Garand load:
    Greek Surplus brass
    CCI #34 LR primer
    Surplus 150gr Spitzer bullets
    46.4gr H4895
    ~2700 fps

    I suggest keeping your loads at or around 2700 fps, no need to push them to the original military specs of ~2800 fps. I have found accuracy is better ~2700 fps.

    The 3 powders I think perform best in the M1 Garand are IMR4895, H4895 and IMR4064 but there are others. Varget seems to work well too but i have not used it because I'm happy with the results I get with H4895.

    As for primers, if you don't want to buy or you can't find CCI NATO primers there are others I've used without any slam-fires. I have used CCI-200 and Winchester LR primers without incident. Just as a side note, I have also used CCI-400 and CCI-450 primers in .223 ammo without incident with CCI #41 or Remington 7 1/2 primers were unavailable.

    I also recommend replacing all the springs in your M1. Wolff Gunsprings has a spring kit with all 4 replacement springs for a good price. I feel that will go a long way in protecting you from slam-fires and protect the op-rod too.

    Welcome to the forum...
  11. Flatbush Harry

    Flatbush Harry Well-Known Member

    +1 for USSR's comment.

    I've been using 168gr Sierra Match Kings over 47.0gr of IMR 4895 as my standard match load. It is wonderfully accurate in all my .30-06 hunting rifles for practice as well as my Garands.

  12. Kevin Rohrer

    Kevin Rohrer Well-Known Member

  13. Fatelvis

    Fatelvis Well-Known Member

    USSR hit the nail on the head. The loads listed are proven, no need to develop a load, it's already been done. Have fun shootin that thing!!
  14. Slamfire

    Slamfire Well-Known Member

    My advice for reloading for Garands/M1a’s is to

    1. Full length resize in a small base die

    2. Trim cases

    3. Clean primer pockets, ream to depth

    4. Prime all cases by hand, verify that all primers are below the case head, and use the least sensitive primers you can find.

    5. Use IMR4895/AA2495/H4895 powders.

    6. Seat the bullets to magazine depth, no longer than 3.3” inches for the 30-06, no longer than 2.8 for the 308, shorter is fine.

    The Garand has a free floating firing pin, like this M1 carbine. The M1 Carbine and the M1 Garand have a firing pin retraction cam. This cam pulls the firing pin back during extraction. It also has limited utility as a safety device, but is easily defeated by tight or long rounds. If you sized your round smaller than the chamber the odds would will be in your favor to have an in battery slamfire.

    Only at final cam down is the firing pin retracted. Up to then the firing pin is totally free floating and tapping the heck out of the primer.

    This is a M1 Carbine firing pin retraction cam.


    This is the M1 Garand firing pin retraction cam they are functionally identical, just the carbine is easier to visually understand.


    This is a M1 Garand receiver and the firing pin is fully forward and just touching the firing pin retraction cam. As you can see there is only thousand's of an inch of forward movement left in bolt cam down and yet the firing pin is out about 0.064" of the bolt face.



    This is the location where out of battery slamfires occur.

    If the bolt has to stop here to crunch fit a long case or a fat case that firing pin is rebounding off the back of the primer at its highest velocity and the lugs are not engaged.

    That is why it is important to small base size cases used in these rifles and to set up the dies with a case gage and size to gage minimum. (Assuming you don’t know the headspace of your chamber, if you do, always be 0.002 to 0.003” less) You want the bolt to close without resistance. This will reduce the risk of an out of battery slamfire.


    There are some who say small base dies are not needed in these rifles, the Gunwriter Mike Venturino has been one. For years he has been saying in print that only standard sizing dies are need. But in the July 2012 issue of Guns Magazine, he is testing an M1a and a AR10 and his reloads are too tight. I find it humorous to read of him beating the bolts open with scrap lumber. Ha, Ha.

    If you attempt to small base size with a spray on lube you will stick the case in the die. I recommend RCBS water soluble or Imperial Sizing wax. These are excellent lubes.

    For these rifles it is safety critical to ensure ream primer pockets are at depth, reaming them to depth is a good idea, seat the primers by hand, and verify that all of the primers are below the primer pocket. There is a chance that a cocked primer, with the anvil firmly seated on something, will cause a primer initiated slamfire. One poster swaged his primer pockets, which shaved brass donuts into the pocket. He left the donuts in the pocket, which resulted in high primers, and his AR10 slamfired in battery. Clean those pockets! A high primer can cause a slamfire but only if the anvil is firmly seated. High primers are one of the most common cause of misfires because the primer won't fire unless the anvil is seated and is pushed up into the primer cake. http://www.shootingtimes.com/2011/01/04/ammunition_st_mamotaip_200909/ However, given a shallow pocket it is theoretically possible that high primers could slamfire, given debris in the pocket, you can get a slamfire.

    Mr Faatz stuffed an extra anvil in his primers pocket as he was unable to get unsupported high primers to ignite. Reference A.

    Just examine the back of the ammunition you have and see if there are high or cocked primers.

    It is also safety critical to use the least sensitive primer around because these rifles will slamfire in battery or worse, out of battery, given a sensitive enough primer.

    Federal primers are the most sensitive primer on the market and the most "slamfiring" primer in Garands. I have lots of web accounts of slamfires with Federal primers. Don’t use them. I recommend CCI #34's and Tula7.62 primers as they considered "Mil Spec" primers. Which means they are less sensitive than commercial primers, federal being the most sensitive commercial primer on the market. Rifles do slamfire with “mil spec” primers, it is just the frequency is far less. I have accounts of slamfires in AK47’s, FAL’s, FN 49, SKS’s, AR15’s, AR10’s, MAS 49/56, M1 carbines, Tokerev SVT , commercial BAR, and probably more types which I did not keep a record. More slamfire accounts with Garands are currently being posted than any other type probably due to the high number acquired from the CMP and the long, heavy firing pin of the Garand.

    The only mechanism which I have not found a true “primer initiated” slamfire is the HK91 mechanisms. And that is probably due to the incredibly stiff firing spring to be found in roller bolts.


    When firing single shot, use a SLED. Do not put a round in the chamber and drop the bolt. Lots of inbattery slamfires, and a few out of battery, have happened because of this. You want to slow the bolt down. When rounds feed from the clip the friction between cartridges slows the bolt a bit. You want to use a SLED as that slows the bolt a bit.

    If loading a Garand without a SLED, lower the bolt about 1” over the follower and let go. Always get your hand out of the way so that if the mechanism slamfires the operating rod does not cut through the palm of your hand.


    This guy said he had been shooting M1a’s for 15 years and never had a slamfire. He put a tight case in the chamber, it had a CCI #34 primer, and dropped the bolt.

    His chances of an inbattery slamfire would have been much better without an interference fit case.


    Use powders that are close to IMR 4895 in burning rate or just use IMR 4895. High port pressures are the concern. High pressures will create excessive operating rod acceleration. Reference b. recommends choosing powders that have burning rates between IMR3031 and IMR4320. This includes powders such as IMR 4064, and Winchester 748. Accurate Arms stated that AA2520, AA2495 and 2700 are their best powders for the M1 Garands. Some have noticed that AA2700 is actually a slow burning powder, listed as even slower than IMR 4350. But Accurate Arms told me, that because it is a ball powder, the pressure curve has dropped enough that port pressures are not excessive for a Garand. I believe the first choice of powders are IMR 4985, H4895, AA2495. In the 30-06 I have used a load of 168 grain Sierra Match, 47.0 grains IMR4895, LC cases, and CCI #34 primers OAL 3.300” for years. This is a great target load, should be considered a maximum load, does not hurt a thing to cut it a grain or two, and it shoots great in my match Garands.

    Tried the Tula 7.62 primers this year and they shoot well:
    Other targets with the CCI #34 primer:


    Check cartridges for case head separation. Gas guns are hard on brass: the bolt unlocks while there is still significant chamber pressure. Because of this the case gets stretched on extraction. Carefully inspect cases for stretch ring marks. They occur about .4” of an inch ahead of the base. You can verify if the cases are internally necking by inserting a bent paperclip in the case, and feeling for an edge. A number of shooters I have asked claim various case lives in the M1 or M1A. Some have case head separations about the fifth reload, like the ones from a bud’s M1a below. Others have taken their cases up to ten reloads. The useful lifetime of a case is determined by case head separations, case neck splitting, or primer pocket enlargement. When any one of these failure mechanisms happens to a case, it has exceeded its operational lifetime. In my experience, US military brass holds up better than commercial cases. But this is a broad generalization. You want to use heavy cases over light cases.


    a. The Mysterious Slam-Fire, American Rifleman, Oct 1983
    b. Reloading for the M1 Rifle, American Rifleman, Mar 1986
  15. IROCZ

    IROCZ Well-Known Member

    Wow, you really can't add much to what Slamfire just wrote...I think he has done a bit of work with John C.'s masterpeice! And I agree small base dies are critical to safety!
  16. USSR

    USSR Well-Known Member

    Well, I will respectfully disagree with Slanfire's statement about the need to use small base dies with the M1 Garand. While I do use a SB die to initially resize any once-fired military .308 or .30-06 brass I buy just in case they have been fired in a machinegun (likely for .308, unlikely for .30-06), once I run them through my Garands I then resize with a standard FL sizing die. So why is it extremely unlikely that a SB die will add a measureable amount of deterence to an out of battery slamfire? Simply because, the only thing a SB die does that a standard FL doesn't do is to slightly reduce the diameter of the part of the case down near the web area. This part of the case is where the brass is it's thickest, and the amount of pressure necessary to "blow out" this part of the case is well beyond the pressure level that the Garand operates at. So, that leaves the possibility of a too long case (case base to case shoulder measurement), and this case headspace measurement is controlled with both types of dies by how far the die is screwed into your press. So, use a SB die if you want, but is it necessary? No. Just MHO.

  17. IROCZ

    IROCZ Well-Known Member

    Not argueing Don but the SB dies take the base down a bit as you described. The idea is to chamber the round with the least amount of resistance as an aid to preventing a slam fire occurennce.
  18. Grumulkin

    Grumulkin Well-Known Member

    There are various uncommon things that may have never happened to you but don't dismiss the possibility that it can happen. Back in the days when I used to be smart, I ran hundreds of reloads through an M1A using standard dies and Federal primers and had nary a slam fire. Does that mean I should use regular primers in an M1A? No, it just means I was lucky.

    I also never believed in the need for small base dies for the Garand until a recent reloading experience in which I had multiple, fortunatley in battery, slam fires even with mil spec primers. I know the Garand can double, but I'm pretty convinced I had slam fires as they never occured with CMP ammo. So, even though it may not be necessary with every gun, I'll use small base dies in reloading for my Garand forever.
  19. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Well-Known Member

    Speaking of in battery slam-fires and CMP ammo, the only slam-fires I ever personally experienced were 3 on the same day with Greek surplus CMP ammo. Right after that happened I ordered a set of springs from Wolff and changes all the springs in my M1 like i suggested in another post in this thread. It has not happened since. (thank goodness!)
  20. IROCZ

    IROCZ Well-Known Member

    I've never had one, but was on the line when others did.

Share This Page