John Cantius Garand (January 1, 1888 – February 16,
1974) was a designer of firearms best known for creating
the first successful semi-automatic rifle to be put into
active military service, the M1 Garand.

Garand was born in St. Rémi, Quebec in a French
Canadian family[1], and moved as a child to rural
Connecticut. He attended school until he was 11 years
old, and then became employed in a textile mill, where he
was later promoted to machinist. After gaining the
necessary experience, he was hired by a tool factory in
Providence, Rhode Island.

His fondness for machinery and target shooting blended
naturally into a hobby of designing guns, which however
took a more vocational turn in 1917. That year the United
States Army took bids on designs for a light machine gun,
and Garand's design was eventually selected by the War
Department. Garand was appointed to a position with the
United States Bureau of Standards with the task of
perfecting the weapon. The first model was not built until
1919, too late for use in World War I, but the government
kept Garand on in a position as consulting engineer with
the Springfield Armory.

In this position he was tasked with designing a semi-
automatic infantry rifle. Designing the rifle took several
preliminary designs and quite a bit of detail work
stretching over fifteen years to perfect the model to Army
specifications. The resulting M1 Garand was patented by
Garand in 1934 and began mass production in 1936.

For his work with the Springfield Armory, Garand was
awarded the Medal for Meritorious Service in 1941, and
the Medal for Merit in 1944. Garand never received any
royalties from his design. A bill was introduced in
Congress to award him $100,000 in appreciation, but did
not pass. Garand remained in his consulting position until
his retirement in 1953, and died in Springfield,
Massachusetts in 1974.

Pronunciation of the name Garand is often disputed. It is
pronounced variably as '[gəˈrænd] or [ˈgærənd].' While
many would disagree, descendants of John Garand along
with close friend Julian Hatcher generally agree it should
indeed rhyme with 'errand.' The former pronunciation,
however, is the more common though technically incorrect
[citation needed] pronunciation. Nevertheless, the real
pronunciation of the French patronymic is [garɑ~] (final
nasal a).

CLICK HERE for M1 drawings and photos

Bio courtesy, Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.
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