Book Review: M-1 Garand Assembly Guide



Some people learn by reading; others learn by doing.

For the gun owners who lie in the latter category, a historic firearm becomes more than a relic to hang above their fireplaces while they sit under it and read of its exploits.

For those hands-on learners, historic guns become bygone battlefields for minds and fingers to explore–a way for you to connect with whatever past soldier first field-stripped that gun years ago.

Geared towards that hands-on historic gun collector, “The M-1 Garand Complete Assembly Guide” by Walt Kuleck aims to present a simple guide for someone with no Garand modification experience, according to its introduction.

Does the book meet that goal? The specific, detailed subject may frighten brand-new general gun enthusiasts into believing they will not understand Kuleck’s book: not so.

In fact, the book simplifies Garand assembly for the new owner almost to the point of the ludicrous. The author wasn’t satisfied just to write the caption “note the receiver” above an image of a receiver, for example; he also wrote it again two inches away on the image with a big dark arrow pointing to the indicated part, in case the reader, a consummate idiot, still does not note the receiver.

The clear, step-by-step images take the reader through disassembly from trigger guard to buttplate, and then back through assembly. The images makes the book: I only wish I had seen these pictures before interviewing Mr. Kuleck on Garand accuracy–it would have made researching the gun much easier.

Each set of basic directions includes safety features throughout that should also provide a solid aid to new Garand owners. “Always wear your safety goggles” brings back memories of high school robotics for me, but Kuleck’s story about a gun exploding on his hand reminds the young and reckless that this isn’t the science fair anymore.

Also for safety, Kuleck’s book recommends a full read-through before an owner makes any modifications, and a final check with a certified armorer before the owner fires the finished gun. He illustrates, with images, the unsafe way to remove a trigger assembly–with a cocked hammer–and what used or welded gun parts could prove disastrous additions to a rebuilt Garand.

Despite the simple language and safety instructions geared towards beginners, long-time Garand owners may benefit even more than newbies as Kuleck, a Garand Collector’s Associaton board member, builds on established knowledge with his experienced, trial-tested tips for the best techniques, the trickiest pitfalls big and small, and ideas for saving time.

These tricks of his long-time trade in Garand assembly range range from funny anecdotes on barrel tightening mishaps to more abstract suggestions on using reamer flutes to understand where to cut a chamber. He wrote of removing a receiver group from a stock: “I have found the simplest method is to hold the inverted receiver group by the sight knobs and rap the top of the buttstock–the comb–against the top of a padded table.”

Useful appendices include trigger alteration to improve two-stage action–and therefore inherent accuracy–and John Garand Match competition rifle preparedness ideas.

Stylistically, short choppy sentences elucidate directions written by a former Boeing engineer used to simplifying complex procedures. Yet Kuleck seems to understand that reading one short sentence after another can put the less-dedicated reader to sleep, and he rounds out his voice with cultural allusions and cliche’.

“Ain’t it pretty,” reads a caption of a completed rifle.

“Danger Will Robinson!” reads a bold safety tip.

These departures from cold description give the book a friendly atmosphere, and while the thrust of the book’s value lies in its content, not its writing style, the author’s comfortable teaching voice makes deep content more digestible.

In the end, both beginners and long-time owners should find “The M-1 Garand Complete Assembly Guide” a valuable starting resource. The book aims straight for its narrow target audience, but anyone even remotely interested in general firearms or rifle assembly may find himself flipping through just to understand what really goes on underneath the surface of the historic World War II rifle.