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Updated December 2020
One of the most well-known collector firearms is the M1 Garand. Besides being a rifle that has strong ties to the history of the United states, but its is also a cultural icon and has appeared in numerous popular films. The weapon is known as “the greatest battle implement ever devised” and appeals to many collectors who want to own a piece of military history. Even considering the M1911’s significantly longer service life, many consider the M1 Garand to be the quintessential U.S. military firearm. The power, the speed, the “ping,” and the history are all things that draw collectors like moths to a walnut-stocked flame.
Everybody is after an M1 Garand for sale, but some are more desirable than others. We’re not just talking about finding a Winchester-made version versus one produced by Springfield Armory. There are some very special M1 Garand rifles out there and Rock Island Auction Company has had the distinct pleasure of selling many of them, often at prices that induce hyperventilating in the average wallet. Let’s take a look at the 15 top M1 Garand rifles sold at Rock Island Auction Company to date.
Ever wonder what the prices and trends for M1 Garands were in the past? If so, this is the perfect blog for you! Discover the beauty of firearm economics!
Only the earliest of M1 Garands utilize a “gas trap” system instead of the standard gas port drilled into the barrel, and with the low serial number of 2838, this rifle readily qualifies. Developed in 1936-38, they were the first attempts by the US Army to produce and field a semi-automatic rifle prior to WWII.
Gas traps are well documented elsewhere (most notably in Billy Pile’s The Gas Trap M1 Garand), so I’ll not go into detail here, but these collector firearms are not only extremely early, but also remarkably rare since most rifles using the problematic gas trap systems were later converted to usable gas port versions.
Only 18,000 were completed, with parts made for another 33,000. In 1947, the Army destroyed all remaining M1 Garand gas trap rifles. With such rarity and historical significance, it is no wonder this M1 Garand sold for $28,750 in December of 2012 at Rock Island Auction Company.
As alluded to earlier, the M1 Garand rifle was being fiddled with quite a bit behind the scenes in attempts to improve the existing rifle or modify it into something more efficient–either economically or on the battlefield. One of those experiments was the salvo project, an idea that banked on hyper-velocity, multiple projectile cartridges to improve hit probability.
This particular rifle is a late 1957 production prototype chambered in the .22-06 cartridge. Essentially a necked down .30-06, the .22-06 had two 50-grain .22 caliber bullets stacked on top of another in an elongated neck. Note the red tape on the buttstock and the fore end, likely to indicate the non-standard chambering. Besides the rarity of being a prototype M1 Garand, this rifle was still in excellent shape and an amazing addition for one lucky collector when it sold for $31,625 in April 2015 at Rock Island Auction Company.
The M1 Garand shown here can boast an all original, unaltered configuration. This is not a parts gun, or one that was assembled with reproduction parts–this is the real deal. Manufactured in November or December of 1939, this gas trap only features one addition, but it is an extremely desirable one. It is one of three known to be fitted with what is known as an “Alaskan blast deflector.”
This extremely rare early production Springfield Armory Gas Trap M1 Garand rifle with a rare theater made blast deflector sold for $37,375 in the winter of 2013 at Rock Island Auction Company's December Premier Firearms Auction.
These deflectors were made in the field during World War II by soldiers serving in the Alaskan Rangers of the Alaskan National Guard. If a soldier were firing while laying prone in the snow, the blast from the rifle would inevitably result in a cloud of snow, giving away the shooter’s position. The blast deflector, directed the muzzle blast up and away from the snow, helping to conceal the location of the shot.
A truly rare, fully documented early production U.S. Springfield M1 Garand rifle, this lot sold for $37,375 at the December 2013 Premier Firearms Auction at Rock Island Auction Company.
M1 Garands were initially made with a “gas trap” at the end of the barrel, which would later switch to a gas port. While these “Gas Trap Garands” were made early in production, they are not the earliest subset. That honor goes to the first 80 examples of the M1 Garand produced, known as “Model Shop” Garand rifles. These 80 prototypes, known then as T1E2, were made by hand at Springfield Armory. Eight months prior to being ready for testing, on August 3, 1933, the T1E2 was adopted as the “U.S. Semiautomatic Rifle Caliber .30, M1.”
This T1E2 Model Shop rifle, serial number 25, is an incredibly historic piece of U.S. firearms history, and despite being professionally restored, its significance justified its enviable auction day price tag. It sold during the September Premier Auction in 2019 for $37,375.
Manufactured circa June of 1938, this is a very rare, early production "Gas Trap" M1 Garand rifle. Developed beginning in 1936, the Gas Trap Garand was a critical step in the acceptance of a semi-automatic battle rifle for American use and an important phase in the refinement of John Garand's famous rifle.
A strong front runner in automatic arms development during the 1930s and 1940s, the gas trap system had the virtue of not needing to tap directly into the barrel, instead using a muzzle device (the "trap") to catch surplus gas to cycle the action. While this system saw some success, and was adopted for field use by the Germans, the virtues of the gas port system led to its adoption, not just for the Garand; while the gas trap lives as a historical curiosity, porting has become the de-facto standard for gas-operated firearms clear to the current day.
This Springfield gas trap Garand rifle sold for $40,250 during Rock Island Auction Company's June Premier Auction in 2020.
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and the Japanese Type 5 semi-automatic rifle is a perfect example. After attempting a semi-automatic rifle in the 1930s with several different copied designs, the Japanese tried again in 1943/44 but this time focusing solely on copying the M1 Garand.
This rifle is one of those rare copies and was produced by the Yokosuna Naval Arsenal for 7.7mm cartridges. Some parts are exact copies of Garand parts, others are modified slightly, such as the receiver, and others maintain their Japanese roots, such as the front sights which are identical to those found on a Type 99.
Certainly a beautiful rifle, this lot sold for $43,125 during Rock Island Auction Company's September 2018 Premier Firearms Auction.
This is a very rare example of a late WWII Japanese Type 5 semi-automatic rifle. In July of 1932, an order was given to the Nippon Special Steel Company and the Tokyo Gas and Electric company to submit designs for a Japan's semi-automatic rifle project. At that time two were submitted; one based on the British Pedersen design submitted by the Nippon Special Steel company and the other based on the Czech ZH-29 semi-auto rifle, submitted by the Tokyo Gas and Electric Company (TGE).
Shortly after completing the military test, Japan invaded Mainland China in 1935/36, and all testing was halted. Later in 1943/44 Japan decided to resurrect the search for a successful semi-automatic rifle, however they chose to just copy the US M1 Garand design, only chambered in the Japanese 7.7 mm cartridge. This example is one of the Japanese copied U.S. M1 Garand type rifles produced at the Yokosuka Naval Arsenal.
It is estimated that approximately 200 sets of parts were actually manufactured, with only 125 rifles actually assembled due to the end of WWII, and very few examples actually returning back to the U.S. Certainly a very rare and highly desirable Japanese copy of the M1 Garand rifle, it sold in 2018 for $46,000 during the April Premier Firearms Auction at Rock Island Auction Company.
This exceptional example of a M1 Garand is unique from many others since it is still equipped with its original unmodified gas trap receiver. Many Springfield Armory Garand rifle gas traps were altered to prevent the common 7th round stopping issue.
Having belonged for years in the well-curated Allan Cors collection, this rifle is in excellent condition and was a prime example for any military memorabilia enthusiast to add to their collections. It sold for $54,625 during the December 2018 Premier Firearms Auction.
When collectors are looking for something in all original condition, guns like this Gas Trap Garand are exactly what they have in mind. An important, but ultimately flawed stage of the M1 Garand development was the gas trap. Eventually abandoned in favor of the gas ported barrels, most gas traps were converted to the improved system and remaining parts were destroyed.
Also, early M1 Garands had an issue of stoppages on the 7th round, but a quick fix to the rear lever of the operating catch fixed that. This collector firearm never had that modification either. It remains in ALL original condition and sold for $57,500 during the September 2018 Premier Firearms Auction.
This is a rare late WWII Japanese Type 5 semi-automatic rifle. This rifle is all original and certainly have an all matching Japanese blackened finish on all the parts. The bolt, operating rod and gas cylinder are all direct copies of the original U.S. M1 Rifle with a slightly different configuration of receiver, close but not exact. The rear bridge of the receiver has a standard Japanese tangent rear sight that is graduated from 100-1200 meters and the front sight is an inverted "v" with protective wing on the sides; both almost identical to the sights on the Japanese Type 99 rifles.
The stock is also very similar to the M1 Garand in that it has two handguard with a short (M1 Garand length type) stock with finger grooves on the sides. This is a very rare and interesting rifle that would certainly fit in any M1 Garand rifle collection as well as any WWII Japanese rifle collection. It sold during the April Premier Auction in 2016 for $63,250.
This is a historic extremely early production U.S. Springfield Armory "Shop Model" M1 Garand rifle serial number "7" that was one of only "80" shop model rifles ever manufactured! This rifle is an early Gas Trap configuration rifle. These rifle are extremely rare and are considered as a "significant" model in any US Martial rifle collection. These shop model rifles were the very "first" true M1 Garand rifles ever manufactured.
Note this extremely early production single digit M1 Garand rifle retains nearly of it original parts, with only a few minor replacements unquestionably done in the tool room at Springfield Armory. A number of original early gas trap parts paired with an extremely early serial number "7" shop model receiver all make this a truly rare and historic beginning of undoubtedly the most significant rifle of World War II, that would be an excellent addition to any advance martial arms collection. It sold in April 2015 at Rock Island Auction Company for $97,750.
One might be a bit surprised to find an “off the rack” M1 Garand from the CMP this high on the list. Just looking at it, the rifle has clearly had some modifications, but in this case, it’s not the rifle itself that is so unusual, but who owned it.
This National Match M1 Garand was the documented personal property of a young Massachusetts Senator named John Fitzgerald Kennedy. RIAC wrote an in-depth article on JFK’s M1 Garand back when it was sold in September 2015, detailing how Kennedy came to possess it and what special modifications were made to it by the CMP.
When it sold during the September Premier Firearms Auction in 2015 for $149,500, it was arguably the most historically significant M1 Garand offered at auction. Even today it would be an immediate cornerstone in any firearms collection.
This Garand held the world record price for almost two and a half years. Truth be told, it’s not a true M1 Garand. It is simply known as T3E2, a test model rifle designed by John Cantius Garand for the U.S. rifle trials, seven years since they began. In 1931, twenty T3E2 rifles were built each chambered in .276 and shown here is number 15.
After only a slight revision, involving a redesign of the bolt, the T1E2 was designated. When finally chambered in the abundant .30-06 at the behest of General Douglas MacArthur, it became formally known as the “semi-automatic rifle, caliber 30, M1” which could then begin field trials. This collector firearm would take numerous tweaks before it was battle ready and standardized, but by 1937 deliveries to the Army had begun and a legend was born.
This 1931 M1 Garand prototype rifle sold for $172,500 during the April Premier Firearms Auction in 2016 at Rock Island Auction Company.
Like the T3E2, the Model 1924 Garand Autoloading Rifle isn’t a true M1 Garand, but its place on this list needs no explanation.
Typically called the Type 2 since it is the second of Garand’s designs to use primer actuated ammunition, it bears little in common with the M1 we know and love today. The design was halted with only 25 ever made after the Army changed the powder type in the .30-06 cartridges, rendering the Type 2 all but useless.
Accompanying this collector firearm were a small group of irreplaceable accoutrements: a package of primer actuated ammunition, a custom tool crudely hand stamped “FRONT SIGHT EXTRACTOR FOR GARAND RIFLE,” a can of PlastiLube shipped to “Springfield, Mass, ATTN: J.C. Garand, Research & Development,” a “U.S.” marked multi-tool, and a little black book that contained not phone numbers, but instead the hand-written notes of John Garand regarding the testing trials of this particular rifle.
This rifle is certainly not something that is encountered everyday. Rock Island Auction Company was honored to host such a spectacular item, especially when it amazed and sold for $172,500 during the September Premier Firearms Auction in 2018 at Rock Island Auction Company.
Finally, we’ve arrived at number one and it truly is a collector firearm deserving of the honor. This is M1 Garand serial number one million, presented to John Garand upon his retirement from Springfield in 1953.
By design, it’s no different than those used by millions of servicemen. By aesthetics, it has a gorgeous stock, highly polished blue parts, and a unique serial number. But it’s provenance and accompanying archive of first-hand, original John Garand history make it one-of-a-kind investment for only the most advanced of U.S. military collections.
It might be a long time before another M1 Garand with such beauty, rarity, and historical significance will be available at Rock Island Auction Company, however its impact will surly last indefinitely. It sold for a jaw-dropping $287,500 during the September Premier Firearms Auction at Rock Island Auction Company in 2018.
As much as I enjoy the meme shown below stating “Polymer is for sissies,” at one point the U.S. Government was considering a synthetic stock for the M1 Garand. This experimental M1 Garand is found wrapped not in the usual walnut, but with a fiberglass stock.
While the M1 Garand has been lauded both in its heyday and today, that doesn’t mean the U.S. government was going to leave good enough alone. There were numerous experiments and variations to improve the battle rifle, even well after the hostilities of World War II.
In true government fashion, one of the ways they tried to do this was to find a stock that was lighter and cheaper to produce. Enter the fiberglass stock. The prototype shown here also wears an experimental multi-aperture rear sight, likely for duplex and triplex “salvo” ammunition. This interesting M1 variant sold in 2015 April Premier Auction at Rock Island Auction Company.
While this has been a look at the top of the mountain, so to speak, Rock Island Auction also regularly hosts dozens of “normal” M1 Garands in any given auction. Pickings at the CMP are getting pretty sparse, so if you’re still looking for one of these American classics, RIA is a reliable source. Take a closer look at the collector firearms like these impressive Garand M1 rifles at Rock Island Auction. We have a wide range of firearms for every collector.
Want to learn more about these amazing rifles? Learn about the price and trends of M1 Garand rifles in our blog. Rifles like the M1 Garand are highly valued by collectors, discover what makes them so unique.
As always, if there are any questions regarding consignment, registration, and future auctions, please contact Rock Island Auction Company. New and exciting items are constantly being sold here at Rock Island Auction Company, so this list is bound to change. Make sure to check back here for an update to this list after every auction.
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