During World War II with few exceptions, new Springfield Armory M1 rifles were assembled using Springfield Armory manufactured barrels and Winchester Repeating Arms M1 rifles were assembled using Winchester barrels. With the much lower production rate in the 1950s collectors would expect the same of Springfield Armory, International Harvester and Harrington & Richardson. However, this was not the case.
This is the first of a three-part series covering barrels used to assemble new M1 rifles produced from 1952 to 1957. This article is on Springfield Armory. The second will detail barrels used by International Harvester. The third will be on Harrington & Richardson production.
Early post World War II Springfield M1 rifles featured mostly 1952 date SA barrels. One would expect that, based upon Springfield’s vast experience during World War II, no major production problems would have occurred during this period. However, that was not the case. In fact Springfield Armory used both Springfield and Marlin barrels on new production M1 rifles in the 4-million serial number range. Historical SA reports seem to indicate that the reason was due to “A high percentage of rejections for seams, involving approximately 120,000 M1 barrel blanks, threatened to shut down operations on the M1 barrel line for lack of material.”
One solution, in addition to SA changing the heat treating process, was to install Marlin barrels on new production rifles. Marlin Firearms Company received a contract for manufacture of 50,000 M1 rifle barrels in January 1951 in support of Korean War era production.
There are two variations in the way in which Marlin barrels of this period were marked. Their earliest production barrels have only a large P proof stamped on the side under the operating rod handle. They are stamped on the top, under the rear hand guard, with the drawing number and manufacturer 6535448-MARLIN- and a large M. Later Marlin barrels are unmarked on the top under the rear hand guard. The side of the barrel was stamped with the manufacturer, drawing number, and date of manufacture MARLIN D6535448 month and 1953 P M and included the Ordnance Flaming Bomb stamp. Only 1953 dates have been observed as of this time. Both types were used on new rifle production. Marlin barrels have been observed on original rifles between 4201xxx through 430xxxx.
BY SCOTT DUFF