Surplus Ammo for the M1 Garand

Let’s start off by saying I have no problems shooting new, modern ammo.  Its just that when I shoot the M1 Garand, I like to shoot the stuff that was made specifically for it.  That means shooting old surplus .30-06 M2 or 7.62x 63mm ammo.

After World War 2 and the Korean War the United States supplied several countries with hundreds of thousands of Surplus M1 Garand rifles.  Countries like Greece, South Korea and several others used these Garands to equip their entire armies.  As you can imagine, these countries manufactured their own ammo to supply the armies for target practice and to store for possible future armed conflicts.  Once the Garand became obsolete as a battle rifle and was replaced by by more modern weapons, millions of rounds of stock-piled .30-06 M2 became available on the civilian market.

Surplus M1 Garand ammo

.30-06 M2 surplus ammo from around the world. Greece, the US and Korea

While in a military surplus store in Flagstaff Arizona, I came across several hundred rounds of .30 cal. linked machine gun ammo.  I have pulled hundreds of these rounds from their links and pressed them into surplus en-bloc clips.  They shoot well but are corrosive.  Anytime you shoot older military ammo you have to be prepared for dealing with corrosive ammo.

GI Rifle Bore Cleaner

GI surplus rifle bore cleaner in cans that are that are roughly the same size as a loaded en-bloc clip.

The best thing to use for cleaning the rifle after shooting corrosive ammo is GI bore cleaner.  It was designed to clean up corrosive fouling and comes in cute little cans.  The cans were designed to fit into the same ammo pouches that held and 8 round en-bloc clip.  (Yes, its called a clip and not a magazine.  The 8 round clips are fed into the magazine.)

color coded M2 ammo

Clips of different ammo. L to R: dummy/practice rounds, silver incendiary rounds, black armor piercing, red tracer, and plain ball ammo.

Different ammo for the M1 are color coded for quick recognition.  The red tipped rounds are tracer rounds; they leave a red trail so the bullet’s path becomes visible.  The black tipped rounds contain armor piercing bullets capable of penetrating lightly armored targets.  Silver tipped bullets are incendiary rounds.  ( I thought these were incendiary rounds but they turned out to be Winchester Silver Tip ammo)  The plain copper jacketed bullets are the most common M2 ball rounds.

Surplus ammo was canned for long-term storage.  You will find ammo in ‘Spam’ cans that require a key to open or in the more common .30 cal. ammo can.  The rounds inside can be either boxed in 20 round boxes or already loaded in 8-round clips and on bandoleers.

30cal. ammo cans

Flip-top 30 cal. ammo cans can contain rounds linked, in clips or packed in boxes.

Greek 'Spam' cans

Greek ‘Spam’ cans with both boxed ammo and loaded clips.

Bandoleers of 8 round clips

Bandoleers of 8 round clips packed in .30 cal. ammo can.

30-06 surplus ammo also comes in Match Target rounds.  They were made specifically for target shooting and were packaged in specially sealed 20 round boxes.  They are becoming very difficult to find.  I don’t have any.

Collecting and shooting old surplus rifles naturally leads to collecting and shooting old surplus ammo.  At some point I think my stash of ammo may become more of a collection and less of a shootable stock pile.  Then I just might turn to modern rifles and modern ammo.  Time will tell.


About krasinsk1 Big John Tutorials

I've been an active shooter, reloader and gunsmith for 30+ years. I hold a Bachelor's degree from Montana State University and a Master's degree from the University of Oregon. I enjoy studying, collecting and shooting just about every type and kind of firearm.
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