By Scott Duff
If you have followed my writings, you know that I advocate a theme to collecting. As an example, my theme for collecting World War II era Springfield Armory M1 rifles is to have one of each year from 1939 through 1945. I also have a theme with my entire US martial arms collection. I collect by war usage: French and Indian War, American Revolution, Seminole Wars, Mexican War, Civil War, Indian Wars, Spanish American War, World War I, World War II, and Korean War. I prefer firearms that were most typical of those used by the average soldier, cavalry man, or paratrooper. Nothing terribly exotic, just what the average American would have carried into combat. It is my way of remembering and honoring those who have fought for our freedoms.
As a researcher and serious student of American history I like comparative technological study. Therefore, my theme for World War II focuses on the year 1943. By 1943 the primary US arms were well developed and production was at or nearing its peak. Americans were engaged in combat against the Axis powers around the world. My World War II collection includes 1943 manufactured arms: an SA and WRA M1 rifle, an Inland M1 and M1A1 carbine, Colt M1911A1, and so on. I like this approach as it shows a comparative study of where US arms making was at a specific point in time throughout the major weapons designs.
Mint condition firearms provide an invaluable view of what the arms looked like when they left the manufacturer, and the study of them is essential to the researcher and Garand collector. I have several such examples in my collection, and they are a wonderful learning opportunity. But my collecting passion is firearms with a provenance or those that show indications of having been in combat and used for their intended purposes. Because of my interest in comparative study and combat-used weapons, my Favorite Garand is actually two rifles, SA s/n 1571899 most likely made in May 1943 and WRA s/n 1344184 most likely made in June 1943. I like the comparison between rifles of these two manufacturers that were most likely assembled within a few weeks of each other. Both appear to have seen combat use.
Visit our Blog next week for Part 2 of My Favorite Garand