When we last visited this topic, about eight of us were piling into a van and heading to Clairton Sportsmen’s Club to shoot in our first DCM service rifle matches. My part began about six months prior to that, in March 1984 with the purchase of a Springfield Armory Inc. M1A rifle with NM barrel and stock. I befriended my local gun club’s High Power Rifle competitor, former Marine Bill Thomas. Bill had been competing and Camp Perry for many years and was an accomplished rifleman. He began training me in the ways of high power rifle shooting. We shot nearly every Saturday morning.
Not knowing what to expect at the DCM Match, many of us took our service rifles and ammo with us, just in case. It was well that we did as turn out for that August match was much greater than the number of club M1s and ammo they had available. Through the summer and fall we all shot the requisite three matches, were finger printed, and submitted our documentation to purchase a government surplus M1 rifle. And the wait began. Back then the number of M1 rifles that were to be sold each year was established by Congress. In many years there were more buyers than rifles. Sometimes the wait was measured in years, not months. I was fortunate in that my rifle was delivered by the mailman in July 1985. I excitedly opened the box and was immediately disappointed! I wanted an M1 built by the Springfield Armory where John Garand had been employed; instead I had received a Winchester. But why was I so set on owning a Springfield?
In April 1983, I was on a business trip to Holyoke, MA, located just north of Springfield. My meeting had ended early and I had time to kill before my flight back to Pittsburgh. By then I was a serious handgun guy and called S&W to see if they offered tours. Nope; only tours for to law enforcement. I then remembered that Springfield Army was located in Springfield. Duh! So I called and they told me that they did indeed have a large firearms museum that was open to the public. And it was on my route to Hartford, CT airport. As I drove through the iron gates I was struck by the buildings and the grounds. You could feel the history!
The Springfield Armory National Historic Site Museum (SANHS) is housed in Building 13, the Main Arsenal. As I entered the doors I was overwhelmed by the size and scope of the collection. The collection began with flintlock muskets and ran up through the M14 rifle. As I wondered through the museum I came upon the M1 Garand rifle section and there it was, the holy grail of Garand collecting, serial number 1. Also displayed were serial numbers 100,000, 2 million, 3 million, and ‘the last service grade M1 to come off of the production line. I was hooked, not only on Garand collecting, but all things Springfield Armory. And that was the reason for my disappointment in receiving a substantially correct Winchester M1 from the DCM.
BY SCOTT DUFF
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