John Garand

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For other uses, see Garand (disambiguation).
Jean (John) Cantius Garand
Garand points out features of his M1 Rifle to Army generals
Born (1888-01-01)January 1, 1888
St. Rémi, Quebec
Died February 16, 1974(1974-02-16) (aged 86)
Springfield, Massachusetts, USA
Nationality Canadian-American
Occupation Designer, Engineer
Years active 1917-1953
Employer Springfield Armory
Known for First successful semi-automatic rifle put into active military service
Notable work(s) M1 Garand
Awards Meritorious Civilian Service Award in 1941
Medal for Merit in 1944

Jean Cantius Garand (/ˈɡærənd/; January 1, 1888 – February 16, 1974) was a Canadian-American designer of firearms best known for creating the first successful semi-automatic rifle to be widely used in 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 Jewett City, 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 and carbine. 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. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, Garand had designed and built a prototype bullpup rifle. It fired the same cartridge as the M1 rifle, but the magazine, action and shape were completely different. It was a select-fire design, and had a firing rate of about 600rpm. When Garand retired in 1953, the second version of the T31 was incomplete, and remained so. The project was scrapped, and the gun was retired to the Springfield Armory museum in 1961.

For his work with the Springfield Armory, Garand was awarded the Meritorious Civilian Service Award in 1941, and the first Medal for Merit (together with Albert Hoyt Taylor) on March 28, 1944.[2] 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.

Garand married French Canadian widow Nellie Bruce Shepard (3 Aug 1900 - 25 Feb 1986) on 6 Sep 1930 in Albany, NY. She had two daughters by her previous marriage, and they had a daughter and a son of their own.[3][4][5][6]


Pronunciation of the name Garand is often disputed, being pronounced variably as /ɡəˈrænd/ or /ˈɡærənd/. Descendants of John Garand and his close friend Julian Hatcher generally agree that it is the latter, rhyming approximately 'errand.'[7]


  1. ^ All the Garand in North America have Pierre Garand (~1643 - 1700) from Rouen France, as common ancestor. See also Pierre Garand, Canadian modern singer.
  2. ^ "Scientific Notes and News". Science (American Association for the Advancement of Science) 99 (2571): p.276. April 7, 1944. doi:10.1126/science.99.2571.276. Retrieved November 6, 2011. 
  3. ^ 1930 US Census; 7 Apr 1930; Springfield, MA; Sheet 5B; line 98
  4. ^ 1940 US Census; 16 Apr 1940; Springfield, MA; Sheet 13B; line 72
  5. ^ Wedding announcement; The Springfield Republican; 5 Oct 1930; page 6
  6. ^ John C. Garand obituary: The Springfield Republican; 17 Feb 1974; page 62
  7. ^ Keefe, Mark A., IV "Garand Pronunciation" American Rifleman July 2012 p.36

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