International Harvester M1 Garand Rifle
After World War II, the
earned a reputation as one of the best service rifles of its time!
While there were many, many of these rifles left over in our inventories after the war was over, when
tensions in the Korean Peninsula boiled over into hostilities it was discovered that there were not
enough M1s in the U.S. stockpiles so the decision was made to start production of this rifle once again.
On June15, 1951 the U.S. Ordnance Department awarded a contract to International Harvester Co (IHC)
for 100,000 M1 rifles from their plant in Indiana. IHC had purchased the former aircraft plant and began
making implements, refrigerators and AC units. Upon being awarded the contract for 100,000 M1
Garands, IHC converted that plant to produce the rifles.
IHC had vast experience making products for the United States Government, but was limited mainly to
vehicles, trucks and tractors. With the introduction of the Cold War, and development of nuclear
weapons the U.S. Government was focused on spreading out production of vital defense products so if
there was nuclear strike it would not cripple the production of those products.
As IHC started making the M1 Garand, they ran into one challenge after another as they tried to ramp
up production. Initially they had planned on using the tools and equipment they already had to produce
the M1s, but soon learned that firearms needed completely different tools. These challenges for
production caused significant delays in IHC delivering rifles to the U.S. Government.
Eventually, to aid in getting completed riffles delivered quickly a number of the parts used were sourced
from outside suppliers with final assembly being completed by IHC in Indiana. This outsourcing created
an M1 Garand that is very unique in variations. This is one of the reasons the IHC M1 Garand is highly
sought after by collectors. Even with all these variations in production this IHC M1 was just as
serviceable as any other produced!
One of the major areas of variations found on the IHC M1 was with the stamping found on the receivers.
Because of this, IHC M1s are divided into 4 main groups:
SA/IHC “Arrowhead”. This variation had the markings done by Springfield Armory, and
the serial numbers done by IHC. Due to the layout of the markings by both Springfield
Armory and IHC resemble an “arrowhead” with a broken tip. SA/IHC “Postage Stamp”. These were stamped by IHC, who stamped them in 4 even
SA/IHC “Gap Letter”. There are two groups of the Gap Letter variation (4.6M and 5M
groups of serial numbers). These were stamped with a space between the center of the
first two lines.
Over 337,000 M1s were made by IHC between 1953 and 1956. IHC accepted additional production
contracts totaling 418,443 rifles. However, in 1955 IHCs parent company sold their Indiana facility
(where the M1s were assembled) to Whirlpool. With this sale, IHC had to negotiate an early buyout of
their contract as they would be short approximately 100,000 rifles.
Many of the rifles produced by IHC we shipped overseas under military foreign-aid programs. Initially
rifles shipped overseas were not allowed to return to the United States for sale on the civilian market.
However regulations were loosened up, and the Director of Civilian Marksmanship, and it’s successor
the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) we able to bring these rifles back, and sell to qualified buyers
in the united states.