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Want to Own the ‘Most Historically Significant’ M1 Garand in History?

To the untrained eye and perhaps even a few Garand aficionados, JFK’s M1 looks like a basic rack grade M1. Right side

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.

John F. Kennedy's M1 Garand
General George S. Patton once called the M1 Garand, “The greatest battle implement ever devised.”
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.

To the untrained eye and perhaps even a few Garand aficionados, JFK’s M1 looks like a basic rack grade M1. Right side
To the untrained eye and perhaps even a few Garand aficionados, JFK’s M1 looks like a basic rack grade M1.
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.

JFK letter of appreciation.
The May 1967 American Rifleman featured a brief write up of the rifle featuring the letter of appreciation
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]

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (53)

  1. 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

    I still want to know how it’s gone from the NRA museum to the auction block. NRA executive offices need another remodel? (If you all saw how much money they waste on their creature comforts you’d never give them another penny again.)

  2. Is this an advertizement to hype sale of this weapon?
    The most historicly significant M1 Garand, what hyprbole bulls…t.
    The historical legacy of the Garand rifle has not one fn thing to do with Kennedy; It is one built by those who carried into mortal combat, they are the real meaning of “Historicly Significant ”
    Kennedy was a true hero, PT 109, but he and his naval cree never had a Garand on board as the dtandard wespons for crews were Springfields, 1911 45’s and maybe a Thompson or Grease Gun.
    Kennedy mythos aside was a fn failure as a president excrpt in Camelot fantacy of cilt worshippers. He failed to complete Bay of Pigs and hyped the plight of catholics running from North Vietnam that led tp millions of deaths and tens of thousands american lives ended and hundreds of thousands left with scarred minds and bodys.
    Please do mot demean ehat my relatives gave to the mythos of the M1Garand.
    THe Garand after Korea and WwIi was not a popular civilian rifle and I never heard a Korea or WwIi vet wax holy over a Garand, but do know of mant that hunkrred aftrr Pre WWII Springfields and Germanys mausers.
    Remember it was a Winchester 12 pump and Springield enfields and oyher bolts that won WWI.
    Oh ifbI had the cash I would loan it to a buyer at 20% componded daily interest.
    History was made by how people reacted to the chaos of daily living, the tools they used are just that tools.

  3. The m1 grand is not only one of the best riffles of its time . My father carried an M1 when he was in the army in the late 1850’s and early 1960’s. . We the U.S should never turn down a chance to bring these beauty’s home. Not only that U.S tax dollars paid for every one of theses arms their for they belong to the American own these 1m and have the right to own one at a very low cost. Give these back to the American people with out delay. And thanks to the democrats that think the same way.

  4. Ah, the U.S. Rifle Caliber .30 M-1, the finest old soldier, records abound, without question one of the greatest battle rifles ever. The M-14 as well, the follow on of John Garand’s excellent design, still serving today, reaching out to insurgents at great distances. But do not discard Mr.Stoner’s efforts either, the functionally & ergonomically sound design of his automatic rifle, the ubiquitous M-16/M-4. If his original design parameters were adhered to, (chrome chamber/barrel/bolt carrier) , none of these early “issues” would have surfaced. The original bullet/twist rate was combat tested as the most lethal combination. 55gr. @ 1-12 , so much so, that the Russians studied this intensively, I.E. 5.45x39mm. The Stoner design too is a fine one in and of itself, and has proven itself for the last fifty two years. Give the designer his credit due, read your history thoroughly, read Stoner’s memoirs, his design was compromised initially and then corrected. The current M-16/M-4 weapons system is a fine battle rifle. The wound ballistics have been again compromised with the 62gr bullet and the 1-7 twist rate. yet again the military trying to compromise a 150/200 meter weapon into a long distance weapon. (I.E. M-249 SAW) At ranges beyond 150 meters, this is the realm of the M-14/M-240 platforms. If the comparison of apples to apples must apply , I will take an M-16/M-4 platform over any Kalashnikov platform in any engagement where these weapons would be employed.

  5. Entering the USMC in 1969, I was issued a M-14. Then in 1970 I was issued a new M-16. The difference was apparent after the first shot. A ,22 cal. bullet doesn’t stand a chance to even compare to the 7.62. At that time the M-1 Garand was the most accurate military rifle I had ever shot, followed by the M-14. I quickly lost my M-16 and went back to my M-14. The whole concept of the M-16 was the cost, the ability to carry three times the ammo by the troops, and close range fighting with the enemy. But what they didn’t realize was the you had to shoot your target 3 or 4 time to stop them. The 7.62 normally stopped them with the first shot. While talking about the early effect of weapons over time, in the late 70’s I was stationed at Whidbey Island Washington an checked out a 1917 Springfield 30.06 from the recreation department to hunt elk with, and found out why the early long range shooters and snipers loved it. It was one of the most accurate rifle that I ever fired. Preference changes from one person to the next, or as time goes on. But to me the big mistakes in our military over the years was going to smaller bullets. just because you can carry more ammo doesn’t make it better. One shot, one stop really meant it no matter if it was the change to the .223 or the 9 MM.

  6. Served in ‘Nam with the 199th LIB, 1968. In numerous firefights, I experienced no problems with the M-16. The problems had been corrected by then. Those who claim otherwise, weren’t there, or had older issued weapons.

  7. I was fortunate to get my M-1 Garand, from a local gun store. It belonged to a guy who was out of work and needed cash in a hurry. I paid $795.00 for my 1943 Springfield Armory Garand which is in excellent condition, It is my guess that it never saw combat, as it is so clean I have been told by other retailers that I stole it at that price.

    1. Read the story a little closer. It does not say it was issued to him as a junior officer. It was issued by the Director of Marksmanship to then Senator John F. Kennedy in October 1959.It also has all paperwork and documentation. American Rifleman also covered this years ago.~Dave Dolbee

  8. LAST YEAR I PURCHASED MY M1 GARAND FROM THE CMP AND I AM VERY PLEASED WITH IT OTHER THAN IT DOES NOT EJECT THE CLIP AFTER THE LAST ROUND. WHILE IN HAWAII ON RIFLE TEAM MY ISSUED M1 GAVE ME 20 OUT OF 20 BULLS AT 1000 YARDS..

    1. Fred, you may want to have a gunsmith look at your rifle – sounds like the lifter in the magazine section may have some metal to metal interference that can cause the lifter not to achieve full upward travel. It would be simple to repair, or you could purchase another fire control/trigger group and install it.

      You are justifiably proud to own the world’s best bullet launcher.

  9. I was Ammunition Chief for our Batalion in the Virginia Army National Guard during the ’60s and was issued a M-1 Garand which was the sweetest rifle ever made. Then I was issued a M-14. Almost as accurate as the Garand ,but after the cam follower on the bolt flew apart during full auto firing, all faith in this as a fighting weapon was lost. Then came the M-16 :- ( Wow you can tell it’s Matel, It’s swell. I’m so glad I never had to depend on it in combat. The line about the powder is true, I guess the 7.62mm & 30:06 used something other than powder. The LSA lubricant seemed to help a bit but jamming still happened enough to get a lot on our side killed. Then the final insult…the “H-Bar” (Heavy Bbl.) The main reason for this is almost unbelievable….When the M-16 was carried at sling arms the original skinny barrel would actually bend. I’m very sure that there will be those who don’t believe this. But I know this actually happened as I helped our Armorer replace bent barrels.
    General Patton was right….

    1. Those bent barrels are not caused by carrying the weapon slung, they were the result of excessive full auto fire and can happen to any full auto weapon that is fired by not firing in bursts. While it may seem to be a problem as you described it, many US machine guns will exhibit barrel droop when fired continuously instead of allowing the barrel to cool between bursts. The only weapons that don’t have this problem are water cooled, and because of weight these have been retired from service long ago.

    2. I remember an article about one of our paratroopers during the invasion of Grenada, landing on his M16 and bending the barrel. He discovered it when he tried to engage Cuban soldiers in a guardhouse and found the rifle shooting to one side. If memory serves he solved the problem by picking up an AK-47. I also remember reports that excessive sling pressure when shooting prone could change the point of impact.

  10. I’m a Vietnam vet and loved my M-14 and M-1. They issued first issued me an M-14 then the pea green M-15 (M-16) Nothing but a Mattel toy that was real junk! Got more GI’s killed. After the re-issue of the M-16a1 I purchased an M-1 from a South Vietnamese supply officer with all the ammo I would ever need. Great rifle! Put my M-16 in my wall locker and never fired the second M-16 issued. If I had to choose well, it would be a hard choice the M-1 or M-14 both great rifles in their own. Understand the 16 still has issues you never really hear about.

    1. Actually, subsequent research and investigation revealed that the problems troops encountered with their M16s weren’t a result of problems with the rifle itself, but with the chemical composition of the powder in the ammunition. Certain ingredients had been added without taking the humidity of Viet Nam into consideration causing a failure to ignite of the ammo. Once the ammo issue was corrected, it was a reliable weapon and still is.

    2. Say what you will gun, ammo, and etc. I have heard them all. The bottom line is it just didn’t work. I’ll take my Grand or M-14 anytime!

    3. @Bill,

      No argument on the Garand or M14. Both beautiful pieces of machinery that have a soul of their own.

    4. The problem was not the ammo at all. The ammo would fire however it would not eject. It had to be punched out by a cleaning rod. With a brass round in the chamber for a few days it would start to corrode. It would fire but not eject. They then chrome plated the bore and chamber which is what fixed the problem.

    5. There was a compounded cluster Foxx that caused the m-16 to be so disdained by the combat troops who first used them in Vietnam .Stoner was ignored about hard chromed barrels,Colt said it was self cleaning so No cleaning rods ,McNamara decided gun powder was gun powder ,etc……And The Soldiers Died!

    6. You have it absolutely correct. I am still amazed by the persistence of myths regarding the M-16 and subsequent variations. The fact is the Garand was trouble free only after nearly ten years of development prior to it’s acceptance by the Ordnance Board. The M-16 was modified from the original Armalite/Stoner design by change in caliber, (done by DoD), and production cost shortcuts such as not chrome lining the chamber and bore, again a DoD and Colt decision. Then to top it off the cheapskates changed the powder in the ammo to the old stuff that caused more fouling to build up in the direct impingement system of the M-16. The reports of jamming were never attributed to the powder change until the findings of the board of inquiry were published.

      Some people prefer to believe in myths. I prefer to look at the situation as a result of human error and efforts by those on the Ordnance Board to derail the new rifle. My beliefs are based on historical evidence and facts.

      It would be great if people would stop maligning the AR design, but the fact is it is battle proven and has been in service for 50 years.

      Some people prefer to blame the weapon, but it is the people who made bad decisions deploying it that really are to blame.

    7. I fell in love with the M-1 the first time I fired it. I was 18 when I went into the service. When it came time to qualify, it was with the M-1. Being left handed, I wasn’t sure I wanted to shoot it as a lefty as I didn’t want the powder burns on my arm. So I shot it right handed and easily qualified. I was surprised how well it handled. I never did have one, but always thought I would like to have one in my collection. One great rifle!

  11. Any chance I could pair JFK’s M1 with Ozwald’s Carcano

    The gun of Kennedy and the gun that killed Kennedy, be a nice pairing

    1. Add Jack Ruby’s Colt Cobra .38 to the collection and you’d have a Hat trick for sure! Better have your checkbook ready. 😉

  12. Can’t think of a single Kennedy who wasn’t D-E-F-E-C-T-I-V-E and/or a crook!

    Why would I want to own ANYTHING associated with them?

    1. @Festus,

      You’re right about the Kennedys, not much argument there. Links to the Mafia and organized crime, womanizers, and raging Liberals. I was 12 when JFK was shot and I actually met Bobby Kennedy when he was running for NY Senator and my parents took me to a rally. They were elitists and criminals on the same scale as Clinton.

      But to own any gun a US President had owned would be quite the collector’s item, although i have to admit, i would want to own anything that had belonged to Obama, not that he would ever own a gun. At least not openly. I’m sure he has them, but being a Liberal, he figures he’s entitled and we’re not.

      Now to own a gun that TR, Reagan, or either bush had owned . . THAT I would be proud of.

      Okay, let the flaming begin because i liked Bush.

    2. “You’re right about the Kennedys, not much argument there. Links to the Mafia and organized crime, womanizers, and raging Liberals. ”

      I think anyone would have to be hard-pressed to call JFK a “raging Liberal.” Fiscal conservative, balanced budget, strong on defense. Not what I’d call a liberal, certainly not by today’s definition. Teddy, sure.

      “Okay, let the flaming begin because i liked Bush”

      As long as you’re talking about George H.W,, an honorable and decent man, unlike his moron son who totally raped the Constitution.

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  14. Early Model Beretta BM-59 were 7.62×63.3mm or (.30-06Sprnfld) with a 20-round box magazine. There’s also a Magazine Conversion for Existing Garand Rifle.

    There’s even a .458WM (11.6×63.5mm) Garand manufactured by McCann Armaments, but maximum range is only about 500-meters. Firing a 510-grain Bullet, “A Real Show Stopper”…

    1. Truthfully, I love the 30-06 round.

      Yeah, there’s other more modern rounds with better technical performance, but the 30-06 Springfield has earned its place in history and modern times and is still going strong.

  15. Don’t get me wrong, the M-1 Garand was a great weapon, but the M-14 that I carried in Vietnam was better, at least in my opinion. You couldn’t ‘top off’ the Garand, using a stripper clip, you could the 14, thus eliminating the need to reload magazines during a fire fight. The M-1 gave you 10 shots, the M-14, 20. Then there was that awful ‘CLANG’, telling all that you weapon was empty. It was lighter by several pounds, which was a plus, ‘humping the boonies’. While Kennedy’s M-1 may well historically significant, at $100,000, it would be a wall hanger. I have never owned a weapon that I didn’t fire, that included a 100 year old Moisen-Ganant, after I had it thoroughly inspected for metal fatigue and such things.

    1. @Roy

      Of course the M14 was a more advanced rifle, having been designed well after the Garand. But the point here is that the Garand was well ahead of the game compared to the bolt action rifles all other armies issued to their regular troops. The Garand’s amazing accuracy and high rate of fire is what enabled our troops to stop Japanese charges on Guadalcanal and many actions in the ETO and PTO throughout the war that would have overrun troops armed with bolt action rifles.

      I have both an M1A and a 1943 Garand, and they are both great rifles from different eras. Personally, I have to admit, that I prefer the 30-06 to the 7.62 and I shoot my 1943 model frequently and with great accuracy. Yes, the Garand would be outmoded in today’s battlefield, but that doesn’t diminish the fact that it was a rifle well ahead of it’s time and help the USA win WWII.

    2. @ Mikial.

      Couple or So years ago on a TV Show called “Trigger’s”. Either the Military Channel or History Channel. They had a Competition between the AK-47 and the M1 Garand, Ten Shooting Categories. The Garand BESTED the AK-47 in 9 of the 10 Categories, the Category it Lost was Ammunition Capacity (30 vs. 8). It might still be on YouTube…

    3. “The Garand BESTED the AK-47 in 9 of the 10 Categories, the Category it Lost was Ammunition Capacity (30 vs. 8)”

      Well that makes perfect sense since they’re comparing a rifle with high quality and close tolerances vs one that doesn’t have either (which, of course, is what made the AK such an indestructible success).

    4. @ Rick

      Indestructible Maybe, 100% accurate at 50-meters and 4% accurate at 250-meters. All Soviet/Russian Design’s come in one Category JUNK…

    5. “The Garand’s amazing accuracy and high rate of fire is what enabled our troops to stop Japanese charges on Guadalcanal and many actions in the ETO and PTO throughout the war that would have overrun troops armed with bolt action rifles.”

      Analogous to the Krag vs. the 7mm Mauser in the Spanish-American war.

  16. Still got mine. produced in 1956, Springfield Armory. Given to me in Middle Camp Fugi Japan for breaking the North Camp firing record. 45 clicks elevation at 500 yrds. Semper Fi

  17. IMHO, the M1 Garand is the most significant battle rifle ever built. My father was a tanker in North Africa and Italy, and he told me that his tank crews always made sure they had Garands available if they had to un-ass the tank, which he did twice in Italy.

    I had a “modern” Garand, which I sod to a LEO friend of mine. I immediately regretted it. But my totally amazing wife bought me another one for last Christmas. A certified 1943 Garand. Yes, I checked the serial number through the national registry, and it is genuine. You can see the discoloration on the stock from sweaty hands carrying this rifle. And it still shoots effortless groups at any range.

    I was 12 when JFK was killed. He had his faults and he had his strong points, but he was a bona fide hero, which is something most modern presidents cannot say, and Obama can’t even come close to. so his Garand should be a collector’s item.

  18. “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.”

    So who actually owns this rifle now?

  19. I have two Post-WW2 M1 Garand’s. One M1E5 Tanker/Airborne/Garand and one M1E6 Sniper/Garand. Both shoot GREAT, though Now a Wheelchair Driver, I tend to use the M1E5 more often…

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