Chances are, if a French Canadian born gun builder offered you a semi-automatic .30-06 Springfield he designed in 1924 to hunt with, you’d oblige. After all, there’s some awfully good hunting up north, and let’s be honest, a semi-automatic .30-06 has been used in the woods a time or two.
Still, if you hesitated, he might coax you with the fact that the rifle holds eight rounds, comes with iron sights that are easily good out to 500 yards, and is chambered in the most popular hunting cartridge of all time. If you were stubborn and wouldn’t whip out your credit card for a new hunting rifle, then he might close the deal by telling you that more than five million people have used this rifle, with its most famous admirer being America’s own General George S. Patton, who endorsed this rifle by calling it “the greatest battle implement ever devised.”
That gun builder is John Garand, and as I am sure most of you have figured out by now, that rifle is the legendary M1 Garand. Garand designed the rifle while working as a designer at the Springfield Armory in Springfield, Mass. Still, just because the M1 Garand is considered by most Americans (especially those who have used it) to be one of the greatest combat rifles ever built, doesn’t mean it’s worth a box of C-Rations as a hunting rifle. So, can you hunt with it? Let’s take a look.
The M1 Garand is a .30 caliber gas-operated eight-shot clip-fed, semi-automatic rifle. It is 43.6 inches long and weighs 9.5 pounds. It has a safety, can be field stripped easier than a Snicker’s bar, and has iron sights that can be adjusted to shoot from 100 yards all the way out to 1,200 yards. The sights can also be adjusted for wind drift, and all adjustments are done in MOA measurements. I know the mil-radian fans will stop reading here…
For those of you still reading, this rifle gets even better. As I mentioned above, it’s chambered in the wildly successful .30-06 Springfield; a military-designed, hunting-adopted cartridge loved by just about everyone except gun writer Richard Mann, my neighbor down the street who has “.308 Forever” tattooed on her arm and a blind guy named Bill I met once in a bar in Croatia. They all have their reasons. Bottom line, if we need to validate the use of the .30-06 Springfield as a hunting cartridge, then we’ve got bigger problems than General Patton did at the Battle of the Bulge. The .30-06 Springfield is used for hunting all over the world, has moderate recoil and can be loaded with a multitude of bullet weights.
The M1 Garand helped America’s Greatest Generation defeat Nazi Germany and stop the Japanese in the Pacific. It fought in Korea, Vietnam and is used today. Why? It’s as accurate as anyone needs a rifle to be when their lives depended on it, and can be sighted in with iron sights, fitted with a riflescope, or both.
It’s only drawback is that it’s a bit beefy at nearly ten pounds. Still, its stellar reputation shows that the gun is reliable and accurate, and even better, is chambered in the do-it-all cartridge. What’s a few extra pounds amongst friends?
Would I hunt with an M1 Garand? Absolutely, but it probably wouldn’t go up a mountain with me after elk, sheep or bears. Be ready if you do choose to use the M1 Garand in the woods; all of the critters you pass on your way to your stand may snap to attention and salute this metal war horse. It’s that kind of rifle.