Personal – The M1 is a solid rifle that is limited in choices in bullet weight and performance limited by design features. The M1 suffers from romanticized worship because of the emotional and patriotic cloth it tends to get wrapped within. The rifle is quite heavy by modern standards and has a unique, outdated, obsolete, en-bloc clip feeding system, and severely limited cartridge capacity. Romanticized worship will lend no extra points for me because that same limited view tends to add critical suspicion in my mind.
Function – Can be excellent when clean and properly maintained within a limited ammunition selection, outside of the narrow choices it tends to be problematic, and can be dammaged by excessive pressures and or heavy bullets.
Design flaws – Operating rod is prone to damage, en bloc clip is limited to 8 rounds, pressure outlet port too far forward for effective adjustment outside of limited design parameters. The action is open and will allow contaminates into the working mechanism. Cleaning from the muzzle? Was that necessary, was no alternative ever devised? Loading the 30-06 to its maximum capacity with more modern powders (and different burn ratios) will be dangerous in the standard off-the-rack M1. While the M1 was designed to close by itself when a loaded clip is inserted, many M1 rifles need a push on the op rod handle to get it to close on the first round. The rifle requires the en-bloc clip or a block filling device to feed function – no clip, no functioning…
Quality – Most produced are of good to excellent quality workmanship, some makers better than others. It would be rare to find examples of rifles produced US that were of POOR quality. Surplus examples can be in poor to dangerous condition not due to the original workmanship, construction, or materials but lack of maintenance, poor storage conditions, and heavy use.
Caliber/Ammunition – 30-06, while an accurate and effective cartridge it is large, heavy and obsolete in comparison to newer cartridges. The very shape of the cartridge has been proven to be outperformed in accuracy by the .308 and others with a more “squat” profile. The .30-06 is only marginally more powerful than other newer cartridges.
Use – The lack of a removable and replaceable higher capacity magazine is recognized as a flaw when placed in comparison to other MBRs. The ejection of the en-block clip makes a distinct traaangggggg noise, a result of the design and use of the en-block clip, this particular flaw is likely over-stated. The clips can be damaged and lost, in fact the clips were designed to be disposable. this is problematic as the M1 requires the clip to function this can be a problem. The M1 can produce reasonable to excellent accuracy when maintained regularly. The op rod design has a tendency to “beat itself” out of it’s own narrow range of higher performance and accuracy – in other words it takes a lot of continuous work, maintenance, and repair to keep the excellent or good part of the possible accuracy. The M1 is often given excessive and undeserved credit in the shooting community for “known accuracy and reliability” when that reputation was gained by meticulous care.
Current Production – I have not had the chance to evaluate the current reproductions or re-works as they tend to be far to expensive, the CMP re-works can be of good to poor condition. Most examples exist as surplus military products.
While there is some patriotism and romanticism attached to the M1 I personally would consider this rifle a secondary choice at best for a current MBR due to the design limitations. The saving grace for the M1 rifle is the popularity, availability of repair parts (now dwindling) and common familiarity. The weakest parts are the operating rod (limiting your ammunition range) and the en-bloc clip.
Rifle – U.S. Cal. .30 M1 – Principles of Operation (1943)
More information has popped up from the original article above.