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Old 05-16-2018, 12:35 AM
Savage22410 Savage22410 is offline
Join Date: Feb 2018
Posts: 9
Default First CMP visit recap; South store

Man, what an adventure. I'll try and share some highlights and personal observations from the trip on Saturday. First of all, I've got to recognize and thank all of the folks on here that provided info and answers. I can't thank you, enough!

Even after a hiccup with directions, I arrived about 30 minutes early before the South store opening and got to talk with two other guys (Eric and Rich) for some more pointers. This was Eric's first trip, too, and Rich is a seasoned veteran that stopped by on the way to the Talladega store. Rich prepped us for what to look for and what the layout of the store would be. They opened the doors and I got swept into the morning "rush" still overwhelmed but armed with great tips. Anticipation on high.

First of all, some reality on first impressions. As I've had to explain to friends and family members, the CMP is NOT a gun store. My visions of walls and racks of Garands as far as the eye can see.... well, not quite. There was only one wall with a single long rack of rifles. Rich advised that they pretty much went left to right from lowest to highest price/best condition. I was finally inside the inner sanctum, but overwhelmed.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, a hush fell over the room and whispers of "Tom's here." were heard. It was Tom, the legendary PH68 from this forum who had arrived. My look of newbie must have been completely obvious, because Tom approached, introduced himself and asked if he could help. I responded that we had communicated via the forum and really didn't know where to start.

Now mind you, by this point there were probably 7 guys in the small shop pouring through the one, long rack. I'll admit a little nervous panic that all the rifles were about to be adopted and I would leave empty handed. Tom asked what I was looking for. I responded that my priority was a good shooter, collector features were second. He immediately said, well there was a great Special grade he had seen at the end of the rack. The couple Specials on the rack were beautiful! And practically rebuilt as new rifles. Tom walked down to the far right end of the rack and picked up a rifle that looked absolutely new. He pointed out some numbering on the gas tube and made a fair deal of it. Following Tom's advice and my instinct to do what he recommended, I picked it up; 1955 SA throughout with serialized gas tube, new barrel and CMP wood.

Now, I will agree the new parkerizing on the Specials doesn't have the sweetness of a good worn USGI finish. I may try buffing it down and oil rub the stock. But I am well pleased with my new rifle.

Mike and Melissa and the rest of the CMP staff were very friendly and eagerly waiting at the counter to start the paperwork. I can't say enough good things about the CMP staff. I made sure to bring a couple extra docs, just in case (passport, birth certificate, concealed carry, GCA membership card). Even learned that a GA license with a star on it also qualifies as proof of citizenship. The whole process was faster than a normal purchase from Academy Sports, etc. Not going home empty handed. Pressure relieved, a little...

I went back to the rack and was looking hard at an H&R Rack grade with a cool tiger maple stock. Set it down and began talking with Rich. Again, I had no idea on what collector features to look for. He looked down and picked it up commenting on the cool stock. He took it apart at the counter and got really excited about some of the parts inside. Not sure of the specifics, but I was glad someone with collector hopes found something cool. Rich's trip was worth it for him. He was obviously happy. This is one of the rifles Tom mentioned in his report for Saturday.

Other rifles were one National Match labeled in what I call rough shape for $2G. One 6 million SA for $1200. Pretty nice, and thinking back, I should have checked it for matching parts. Also a couple rack grade drilled/tapped snipers starting at $1G. There were $650 WRA Field grades and $950 IHC Field grades being the most common.

Just for coolness sake, I wanted to pick up a lower priced International Harvester, but they started at $950. Now, there was a mix of WRA, SA and HR rack grades with the hackberry wood stocks. Man, that wood is just hard to fall in love with. I guess the point would be to find the best metal and replace it with USGI wood. The hackberry has an almost plastic feel to it and the stain looks painted on. The hackberry stocks I saw weren't drilled for the cleaning kits.

Also went to the Talladega store. Man, that place is a country club. Unreal facilities. Great for those that live close by, for sure. Their store was actually very nice. Full pro shop and had probably 100+ rifles. Some nice Service Grade Winchesters with new CMP wood. Rest were hackberry stocked SA with a couple LMR barrels and 2/2 scores.

I still feel overwhelmed with all of the intricacies, but MUCH better prepared and a little better sense of what to look for. In summary, it was an incredibly cool experience. My advice for folks new to the CMP program:
- There are two roads of search to take on the Garands:
1) Best shooter/condition
2) Most historically complete/correct
- If the best shooter is desired, look to the Service (scores average 2/2) and Special grades with new barrels (0/0).
- If original/correct is desired, get a copy of the blue book for $10 and find a rifle with a barrel date within a few months of the receiver date and learn the appropriate combinations of inner components (manufacturers).
- Honestly, almost everything I saw was an obvious rebuild at one time or another.
- There seems to be an acceptable practice of exchanging parts to approach period correctness. To me, personally, a rifle assembled from period correct, but not original parts is still not an original rifle, but does reunite parts of a common time. Others may disagree, but again, I'm focused more towards shooters than considering the minute details for originality.
- The Talladega facility is flat out incredible and a sight to see. Well worth the additional 30 minute drive; beautiful drive. Their pro shop had a good selection of Garands and an incredibly knowledgeable and friendly staff; mostly hackberry stocked Field grades and CMP wood Service grades.
- You get a range pass with each rifle.
- 30-06 ammo is expensive!
- Garands are worse than potato chips. You can't seem to have just one.

I'm already craving my next visit. Gives me new enthusiasm to visit family in Newnan, GA (1 hour, away!). Thank you again to Tom (PH68), Rich, Eric, Mike, Melissa, Amanda and everyone else I had the pleasure of meeting on Saturday. Fantastic experience.

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Old 05-16-2018, 05:25 AM
Scubatwo Scubatwo is offline
Join Date: Feb 2018
Location: Virginia
Posts: 13


Great recap of your experience at the CMP South store. I hope to make it down there in the next year and your tips and insights were very helpful.


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Old 05-16-2018, 10:26 PM
Savage22410 Savage22410 is offline
Join Date: Feb 2018
Posts: 9

Giving pic posting a try. Here's the SA Special I took home.

[IMG]CMP SA Special photo be5e0f3f-ebce-43d9-badf-bfeae873aca3_zpstdou7o0w.jpg[/IMG]

Numbered SA gas tube:
[IMG]CMP SA Special numbered SA gas tube photo cac28e1d-27cf-4951-a094-888cbb0410b8_zpsvlnnvxiw.jpg[/IMG]

[IMG] photo SA Special 4_zpssf6fx00e.jpg[/IMG]

[IMG] photo SA Special 3_zpsamcpdfdj.jpg[/IMG]

[IMG] photo 20180512_143008 1_zpsqnt9jdjw.jpg[/IMG]

[IMG] photo TMP entrance_zpshw32g0wz.jpg[/IMG]

[IMG] photo TMP lobby_zpslshunmyd.jpg[/IMG]

[IMG] photo TMP pro shop_zpsfwz4zngt.jpg[/IMG]

[IMG] photo 20180512_131324_zpseyugirms.jpg[/IMG]

[IMG] photo 20180512_132123_zpsvijtbnb5.jpg[/IMG]

Last edited by Big_Red; 05-17-2018 at 12:33 AM. Reason: Merge consecutive posts
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Old 05-17-2018, 05:13 AM
littlehoot littlehoot is offline
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Chalybeate springs, Al
Posts: 88

Too bad you never saw the old store.

At one time there were HUNDREDS of rifles on display there, ahh it was beautiful.
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Old 05-17-2018, 08:38 AM
T38Carbine T38Carbine is offline
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: WV
Posts: 4,704

Great pictures!! Good shooting with you new Garand!! And you’re right...30.06 is expensive!!
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Old 05-17-2018, 05:09 PM
corpsman5 corpsman5 is offline
Join Date: May 2018
Location: Nashville, TN
Posts: 97

Great recap of your visit. It was a real pleasure to meet you last Saturday and share such a unique experience. I would have loved to talk more, but we were on a mission to find ourselves some good rifles. Speaking of which, it looks like you found a great one, and I'm glad that you did. I was a little concerned at first, because I wasn't sure you were going to find what you were looking for. I don't know about you, but I'm already looking forward to going back! I'm also looking forward to setting some extra time aside to shoot at that awesome range they've got down there. It is impressive, to say the least. Anyway, like you, I was very impressed with the helpful staff, as well as some of the knowledgeable regulars. Rich and Tom were definitely great to have on hand. Talk about 2 nice guys that have a huge passion for the M1! Tom, in particular, really helped me out a lot when I was choosing my M1's. I consider myself very lucky that he was there and willing to help a rookie like me. I also cannot forget to mention Mike and Melissa. Like you said, both very nice, and ready and willing to help any way they could. I mostly dealt with Melissa, and she was great. She was very patient and accommodating with a first timer like me. I'm looking forward to getting to know them better. Anyway, like I said... I'm looking forward to going back. Hopefully, our paths will cross again. Maybe we can even do some shooting after we buy a rifle or 2!
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Old 05-18-2018, 12:50 PM
newageroman newageroman is offline
Join Date: Mar 2016
Posts: 49

Man, this post takes me back to my first visit a few years ago at the old store. Glad you had a great trip and received some good advice and got a cool rifle. The CMP range/park is just amazing. I was able to get a pic with my Garand beside the statue of Mr. John C.

I can't wait to shoot the D-Day match a few weeks from now. It's going to be setup like a run and gun/carbine match - a little different than the previous years.

First time I went to that park I just couldn't believe this place was in Alabama, it really wows folks and you just won't believe how nice of a facility it is until you are there.
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