The M1 Garand owned by John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States, is historically significant for many reasons making a review like no other. There is a lot of author bias or author skill that may be built into gun reviews and testing. If the author is good with a handgun, he may compensate for flaws in the design. For example, if he or she is not good with a long gun, the MOA accuracy may not be accurately reflected. However, in the case of the M1 Garand, the author’s abilities do not mean squat. The rifle was battle tested ’round the world and proved its mettle.
During World War II, the M1 gave U.S. forces a distinct advantage in firefights against their Axis enemies, as their standard-issue rifles were more effective than the enemy’s slower-firing bolt-action rifles. The M1 Garand also saw action and bested America’s enemies in Korea and Vietnam although to a much lesser extent in Vietnam. Need more proof? General George S. Patton once called the M1 Garand, “The greatest battle implement ever devised.” However, even among rifles as great as the M1 there are exceptional models. Some just seem to group a little tighter; others mark a place in history. Right now, there is such a rifle for sale. This M1 may well be the most significant M1 ever produced. It was not the first, I have never seen a group printed from it, and it did not win any famous battle or fire the final shot of the war. The Director of Marksmanship however originally issued it to then Senator John F. Kennedy in October 1959.
So, what is John F. Kennedy’s personal M1 Garand worth? Estimates currently value this piece of history at $100,000, which if you have the coin, it can be yours, as it is headed for sale at Rock Island Auction Company.
Kennedy’s Garand also holds a few other noteworthy surprises. To the untrained eye and perhaps even a few Garand aficionados, JFK’s M1 looks like a basic rack grade M1. Such was the case when Master Sergeant Parkinson (who performed the work on this weapon) reported his finding in American Rifleman magazine. However, and to no one’s surprise, upon closer examination of this rifle, it is actually a very early 6 million serial number range Type 1 NM M1 Garand. The rear of the receiver is marked “U.S. RIFLE/CAL 30. M1/SPRINGFIELD/ARMORY” above the serial number and the barrel is correctly marked “SA F6535448 3 56 A2263” with the correct “P” and “M” proof marks with a partial DOD acceptance proof.
The front left side of the exposed section of the barrel is correctly stamped with the “NM” and Star proof indicating that the barrel was star gauged. The right side of the barrel behind the operating rod has also been correctly stamped with the “T” proof indicating it was targeted. The stock and hand guard set are all correctly walnut with a DOD and circled P proof cartouches. The front hand guard has been unitized and the stock has also been glass bedded. It is fitted with a complete NM rear sight set and we assume that the operating rod is also an early NM version that is probably marked SA 6528287-S without the NM markings on top of the cocking handle.
The top of the bolt is also marked “6528287-SA” over “YO1,” which would also lend credence that this was a new Type 1 NM rifle. All the metal surfaces of the rifle have been hand polished and nicely blued by MSG Parkinson, and the stock and handguard have also been hand sanded with a high luster sealer applied—typical of presentation rifles issued during this time frame. This rifle is fully documented coming with a copy of the original DD1149-6 noting that it was shipped to Senator Kennedy in Oct 1959, a copy of a Memorandum of Record that was provided to Senator Kennedy by the Dept. of the Army detailing the additional upgraded work that was performed on the rifle, a copy of a Letter of Appreciation signed by Senator Kennedy that was sent to MSG Raymond Parkinson, thanking him for the additional time and care that he took in accurizing and test firing this rifle, along with the actual 200 yard test target shot by MSG Parkinson—10 shots at 200 yards, approximately 2-inch OAL.
Also accompanying this rifle is a letter from the NRA Museum dated Sept 1970, indicating their desire to obtain and put on a permanent display this very rifle (by serial number), along with a hand receipt dated Oct 1970 taking title to this rifle and an unmarked, hand-made shipping case, reportedly fabricated personally by MSG Parkinson. The May 1967 American Rifleman featured a brief write up of the rifle featuring the letter of appreciation noted above. It is complete with an original Boyt 44 marked leather sling, the 1959 NM handbook, and the original wooden shipping/storage box that was hand built by MSG Parkinson.
If you are not interested, but have the money, please feel free to contact me regarding a loan. I will have a great piece of collateral… [dave]