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View Full Version : Avoiding the M1 Thumb, great advice


rpark
06-22-2013, 05:07 PM
I've read a ton on avoiding M1 Thumb, almost all of it advising how to properly insert a clip. Useful, but honestly I have come a lot closer to having this happen while performing maintenance with no clip involved than I have doing anything else. What is certain to me is that the bolt not locking fully back (hanging on the follower) is the most usual culprit.

While reading some information on lubrication here: Lubrication Info at Garand Gear (http://www.garandgear.com/how-to-grease-your-m1-garand) I found what is some of the best info on avoiding the issue altogether: While M1 Thumb most often happens when the bolt doesn't lock completely back and hangs on the follower, this is much harder to do when the bolt and follower are properly greased. After following their greasing advice closely, including their suggested grease, I found this to be very true. I really have to work to make the action stay open on the follower, whereas it was very easy to do before lubricating as instructed.

Who knew? Proper maintenance wins again, and can help avoid nasty accidents like M1 Thumb. It makes sense, and I have proven it to myself to be true. As I have never read anyone mentioning this as a measure to avoid this painful situation, I thought I'd pass this great info from Garand Gear on! Thank you to them for great information on the history of the mil spec, and current superior alternatives.

Orlando
06-22-2013, 05:12 PM
Best advice to avoiding the so called Garand thumb is to keep your digets out of where they dont belong
I have been messing with Garands for many years and have never once even had a close call.

rpark
06-22-2013, 05:20 PM
Best advice to avoiding the so called Garand thumb is to keep your digets out of where they dont belong
I have been messing with Garands for many years and have never once even had a close call.
Agreed, but your thumb is going in front of the bolt if you are loading! Your record is more likely a testament to your properly handling the bolt (and a touch of decent luck) than anything else. I commend your good rifle handling skills.

Being a long time shooter and police officer, but someone new to Garand shooting, I hope I can match your many year run!

9th Inf. Div.
06-22-2013, 05:45 PM
You can also use one of these to keep your digits safe when the bolt is open for cleaning, also keeps junk out of your mag well when cleaning the barrel.
http://m1buddy.com/index.php

Rondog
06-22-2013, 05:48 PM
AFAIK, it shouldn't bite you when you're loading a full clip. It should only happen when depressing the follower to close the bolt on an EMPTY rifle. Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but if they bit GI's every time they reloaded their rifles, they wouldn't be so beloved now would they?

jaguar88xj6
06-22-2013, 06:47 PM
You are correct. Only happens when no clip is loaded. It's an internet myth that just won't away. Just like the deadly ping.

musketjon
06-22-2013, 06:47 PM
+1 with Orlando. Keep your thumb out of the empty action. I've been collecting/shooting the M1 rifle for over 30 years and NEVER had M1 thumb. My [late] father was a WWII vet and he warned me about it. I guess I'm a quick-study.
Jon

lapriester
06-22-2013, 06:55 PM
The most common reason people get digits smashed is because they have the bolt hung on the follower instead of properly locked back. One touch by anything and it releases and closes...ouch! If you think you can't hang it on the follower with everything all greased up nice and pretty you're wrong. Always look before sticking any delicate personal object inside the action. Some rifles will hang no matter how much you grease them and some won't hang when they are dry. You can play with the follower all you want when the bolt is locked back. Just don't play with the follower and touch the op rod handle at the same time. Don't stick your fingers in there with the rifle sitting on the op rod handle. To release the bolt by fiddling with the follower you'd have to push it almost all the way to the bottom to release the op rod catch. If you are prone to do stupid things like that there's no hope for you anyway. Buy some Band-aids and warn your Doctor that you'll likely need his help eventually.

Larry

TheBeak
06-22-2013, 08:05 PM
so - to evaluate the possibility of a stray bolt catching my fingers during cleaning, I actually attempted to duplicate the occurrence of an unwanted bolt release (with my other hand waiting to stop the op rod.) I wanted to know what I could and couldn't do to avoid injury.

other than a "hung on the follower" condition, I had to work fairly hard to get the bolt to release.

I'm getting on board with the "its an internet rumor" camp. I think this one is a non issue, and you would have to do something almost on purpose to get it to bite you. YMMV, of course.

Mississippi Kid
06-22-2013, 09:19 PM
Proper lube is important .One must remember when M 1 thumb occurs .

As earlier said,when the bolt hangs/sits on the follower instead of locked all the way open it can jump forward slightest pressure from your thumb on the follower ,taking your thumb on a ride to the breech where the pain is found.

Usually the bolt hangs on the follower when the operator of the rifle fails to pull the op rod all the way back to properly lock the bolt open and operator attempts to close the bolt without the heel of his right hand holding the op rod back until the thumb is clear of the action.

When loading a full clip or just closing the action should use the heel of your right hand ( for right handed operators ) to hold the op rod open until clip is loaded and the operators thumb is clear .Works for me.

And my Uncle that came home from WW II said the M1 thumb was real .Can't help but think of him every time I pick an Garand up.

Rondog
06-22-2013, 09:40 PM
Oh it's real all right! It'll smash an unsuspecting thumb like The Hammer of Thor! You just have to know what causes it and how to avoid it. Fortunately, I was told about this before I ever saw a Garand in person.

Roadkingtrax
06-22-2013, 09:52 PM
You can push the follower all the way to the bottom, and it will not go forward. NOW, it you tap the op-rod at the same time...you will get bit.

lapriester
06-22-2013, 11:05 PM
You can push the follower all the way to the bottom, and it will not go forward. NOW, it you tap the op-rod at the same time...you will get bit.

What? You don't really think that, do you? BTW, that's simply not true. If it were, the op rod catch would never release when you load a full enbloc and shove it in. If you really think that's true, tell you what.:2T: Stick your thumb in there without having your hand in the way to stop the op rod handle and go ahead and shove that follower all the way to the bottom. Make sure your thumb is as close to the chamber as you can get it on the follower when you do. No fair wearing a glove and have a band-aid ready. Make sure the wife and kids are not home. I'd hate for them to hear you when the bolt slams on your thumb.:eek: I'll bet you won't do it twice:doh:

L

Roadkingtrax
06-22-2013, 11:14 PM
What? You don't really think that, do you? BTW, that's simply not true. If it were, the op rod catch would never release when you load a full enbloc and shove it in. If you really think that's true, tell you what.:2T: Stick your thumb in there without having your hand in the way to stop the op rod handle and go ahead and shove that follower all the way to the bottom. Make sure your thumb is as close to the chamber as you can get it on the follower when you do. No fair wearing a glove and have a band-aid ready. Make sure the wife and kids are not home. I'd hate for them to hear you when the bolt slams on your thumb.:eek: I'll bet you won't do it twice:doh:

L

You first..:D

Some people shouldn't be allowed to own an M1...M1 Thumb is a litmus test.

Rondog
06-22-2013, 11:51 PM
Let's see....lock your bolt back and then push the follower down sharply with a stick, a stick you don't really care about, and then report back to us.

lapriester
06-23-2013, 12:44 AM
You first..:D

Some people shouldn't be allowed to own an M1...M1 Thumb is a litmus test.

Oh no, you won't get me to bite on that one. I agree with rondog. If you just have to see whether that bolt will release push down that follower with a stick...one you really don't care about:GS:

L

M1919A4
06-23-2013, 08:28 AM
I've read a ton on avoiding M1 Thumb, almost all of it advising how to properly insert a clip. Useful, but honestly I have come a lot closer to having this happen while performing maintenance with no clip involved than I have doing anything else. What is certain to me is that the bolt not locking fully back (hanging on the follower) is the most usual culprit.

While reading some information on lubrication here: Lubrication Info at Garand Gear (http://www.garandgear.com/how-to-grease-your-m1-garand) I found what is some of the best info on avoiding the issue altogether: While M1 Thumb most often happens when the bolt doesn't lock completely back and hangs on the follower, this is much harder to do when the bolt and follower are properly greased. After following their greasing advice closely, including their suggested grease, I found this to be very true. I really have to work to make the action stay open on the follower, whereas it was very easy to do before lubricating as instructed. [/B]

Who knew? Proper maintenance wins again, and can help avoid nasty accidents like M1 Thumb. It makes sense, and I have proven it to myself to be true. As I have never read anyone mentioning this as a measure to avoid this painful situation, I thought I'd pass this great info from Garand Gear on! Thank you to them for great information on the history of the mil spec, and current superior alternatives.

I don't mean to be disputatious but what is the authority for the grease on the underside of the bolt and follower? All the issues of TM23-5 that I have show the grease points as: Underside of the barrel in front of the receiver, operating rod channel on receiver, camming surfaces of the operating rod, the bolt locking recesses in the receiver, the lip of the receiver, and the bolt camming surface (the 'beak' that engages the bolt) on the hammer.

ISTR reading a specific prohibition on putting grease somewhere that could transfer to the cartridge, a reference that I can't find now.

As a community we do a lot of things because someone "said" and posted it on the internet, sometimes with pictures.

I have to say that from ROTC on I never had the bolt hang on the follower slide probably because of terror over M1 Thumb which I also have never had. I tried to shove that bolt through the back of the rifle! I have hurt my LEFT thumb shoving the operating rod to the rear, but never my right thumb.

lapriester
06-23-2013, 11:53 AM
The top of follower is not a grease point. The bottom of the bolt is not a grease point. The cocking portion of the hammer is a grease point but the grease ends up on the bottom of the bolt anyway the first time the hammer is cocked by the bolt. So, it makes very little difference whether you grease the bolt or the friction surface of the hammer. It all ends up in the same place. Pick your poison.

"M1 thumb" is virtually impossible to achieve if you load your rifle with proper technique and use reasonable caution when maintaining the rifle. Of course there is no way for anyone stop something caused by stupidity or operator error. S$&t happens.

Larry

M1919A4
06-23-2013, 04:05 PM
The top of follower is not a grease point. The bottom of the bolt is not a grease point. The cocking portion of the hammer is a grease point but the grease ends up on the bottom of the bolt anyway the first time the hammer is cocked by the bolt. So, it makes very little difference whether you grease the bolt or the friction surface of the hammer. It all ends up in the same place. Pick your poison.

"M1 thumb" is virtually impossible to achieve if you load your rifle with proper technique and use reasonable caution when maintaining the rifle. Of course there is no way for anyone stop something caused by stupidity or operator error. S$&t happens.

Larry

As I read FM 23-5, regarding grease and the bolt; in addition to the locking lugs it specifies grease on the "bolt camming lug" which is the 'beak' on the hammer that drives the bolt into full rotation on hammer fall.

Page 68 Paragraph d. FM 23-5 (1961)

"Should the hammer fall before the bolt is fully locked, the bolt camming lug on the hammer will strike the locking cam on the bolt causing the bolt to
rotate to its locked position."

So as I read it the hammer should NOT have grease on anything but the "bolt camming lug" which won't transfer to anything but the "locking cam on the bolt".

I can and have been wrong but that is what I understand from the manual. Your practice may vary.

I have one other heretical thought about our fetish about grease.

Reading FM23-5 it says about grease, "Rifle grease possesses high resistance to the action of water. Use it sparingly on those parts subject to heavy wear in wet climates or during amphibious operations. Figure 49 shows the critical parts where this grease should be applied. It is issued in a small plastic container which can be carried in the rifle butt recess along with the combination tool and oiler.

Further along in the section entitled
CARE AND CLEANING BEFORE AND DURING FIRING ON THE RANGE

d. Clean thoroughly and put a light coat of oil on all metal parts which do not come in contact with the ammunition. Use special preservative lubricating oil. Be sure that the following parts have a light coat or oil:
Figure 49 1 2 3
(1) Locking lugs of the bolt, operating lug, and recesses.
(2) Bolt guides.
(3) Cocking cam on bolt.
(4) Contact surface of barrel and operating rod.
(5) Operating rod guide groove on side of the receiver.
(6) Operating rod spring.
(7) Camming surfaces in the hump of the operating rod.

e. Use rifle grease if the rifle is exposed to severe conditions of rain or to spray from sea water, because the bolt may occasionally fail to open. This is caused by the friction resulting from the effect of the water and the fact that any ordinary lubricant is likely to be washed away from certain bearing surfaces. Under these conditions, it is essential that such surfaces be coated with rifle grease which resists the action of the water. Rifle grease is applied to the parts shown in figure 490оо after wiping them clean
and dry with a cloth."

Just sayin' that the Army didn't seem to "as a regular practice" grease the M1 Garand as recently as 1961. Not saying that it is a bad thing, just being a heretic I suppose.

Greg H. in Virginia
06-23-2013, 04:16 PM
You can also use one of these to keep your digits safe when the bolt is open for cleaning, also keeps junk out of your mag well when cleaning the barrel.
http://m1buddy.com/index.php
===========================
I got one of those sometime back. It's the greatest thing since sliced bread!

jthurman
06-23-2013, 04:55 PM
I haven't been bitten by the Garand yet. If you are going to cycle the op rod, do it like a man and get it fully open and locked. Then don't mess around in there unless your palm or other hand is waiting to stop the op rod, thereby being the hero and saving said thumb that's in distress.

lapriester
06-23-2013, 05:43 PM
For the record, a dry bolt bottom has no logical purpose other than creating excess wear and restricting the ease that a high tension contact area should slide while it cocks the hammer after each shot. Regardless of what a 60 year old TM says. I'll wager that 90% of present and past Garand shooters have always applied grease to that surface since there's no negative impact for doing it and definate positive ones. Grease where it slides, oil where it rotates. You probably don't grease your op spring either I'll bet. I doubt the TM says to do that either but, all you gain from failing to do that is excess spring wear and flattening/weakening of the spring, premature failure...and, then there's that irritating "zing!" on every shot.

Larry

Roadkingtrax
06-23-2013, 06:03 PM
Don't be using that 50 year old TM on a 70 year old rifle design....:confused:

M1919a4, I stick to processes and procedures myself. Consequently, over greasing the op-rod spring can lead to function problems if you fill it up with ounces of grease in a combat environment...which is what the rifle TM was designed to address.

What people do and get away with now is a little different. Too much grease will increase wear as a FOD trap, the same or worse as having none at all.

rpark
06-23-2013, 09:06 PM
Wow, a lot of replies!

I'm glad most have not had the experience. Claiming M1 thumb an internet myth is kind of silly... I heard about this long before the internet from relatives talking about their war experience, and have seen too many pictures of the results since the 'net made searching so easy. That loading a clip is unlikely the normal cause, I am already in hearty agreement (as stated in the original post).

Having tested the bolt hung on the follower thing on two M1s from different manufacturers, I am absolutely sure it can and will happen if you're not careful about the bolt being properly locked back. Most here seem to agree with that, and I'll just agree to politely disagree with others based on my personal observations.

The grease points listed in the article also come with an explanation of how thin the layer of grease should be (and how to tell if it is thin enough). If you'll read thoroughly, there are several cautions on over-greasing. It may not line up word for word with the original military documentation, but it makes perfect mechanical sense, and that little lubrication is extremely unlikely to foul the action or ammunition, especially with its resistance to migration. I am sure the military docs give sufficient information to maintain the weapon, but am equally sure methods and materials can be improved over time.

Thanks to all for all the insight, and even the disagreement. I'm no novice to maintaining weapons, but love learning new things even if they are about weapons made before I was! Most of all, I hope M1 thumb never bites any of YOU!

M1919A4
06-23-2013, 09:38 PM
For the record, a dry bolt bottom has no logical purpose other than creating excess wear and restricting the ease that a high tension contact area should slide while it cocks the hammer after each shot. Regardless of what a 60 year old TM says. I'll wager that 90% of present and past Garand shooters have always applied grease to that surface since there's no negative impact for doing it and definate positive ones. Grease where it slides, oil where it rotates. You probably don't grease your op spring either I'll bet. I doubt the TM says to do that either but, all you gain from failing to do that is excess spring wear and flattening/weakening of the spring, premature failure...and, then there's that irritating "zing!" on every shot.

Larry

Larry you don't really know what maintenance regime I follow. I didn't say I didn't use grease. I 'said' perhaps it wasn't really necessary to be so rigid.

Good shooting.

lapriester
06-24-2013, 01:46 AM
Don't be using that 50 year old TM on a 70 year old rifle design....:confused:

M1919a4, I stick to processes and procedures myself. Consequently, over greasing the op-rod spring can lead to function problems if you fill it up with ounces of grease in a combat environment...which is what the rifle TM was designed to address.

What people do and get away with now is a little different. Too much grease will increase wear as a FOD trap, the same or worse as having none at all.

"over greasing the op-rod spring can lead to function problems if you fill it up with ounces of grease " Well, duh, yeah it will. Just like filling any spring with grease will. Just ask anyone who didn't follow CMP's recomendations about tearing down your rifle and cleaning out all the cosmoline whether it causes malfunctions or even slam fires. Hydraulic lock is no laughing matter.

L

rpark
06-27-2013, 03:57 PM
I appreciate everyone's input, even those in disagreement! There's a lot of great experience here and I am grateful for this resource.

Good, and safe, shooting to you all.