Today we have the headliner, an M1 Garand made for George S. Patton. Patton thought very highly of the M1, famously writing in a letter to the Springfield Armory that the M1 was “In my opinion, the greatest battle implement ever devised.” Between them, Springfield Armory and Winchester made over 5 million of the semiauto .30/06 Garands during World War II.
Winchester made this presentation rifle for Patton in 1944, giving it a walnut stock and chromed steel parts. As military governor of Bavaria, Patton was actually on his way to a pheasant hunt when the jeep he was riding in collided with an army truck, leaving him paralyzed. He died two weeks later, and the rifle was never presented to him, making this sort of the Tsar’s Parker of M1s. (Tsar Nicholas II of Russia ordered a Parker shotgun just prior to the Russian revolution, and it never left the United States).
Winchester kept it in their private collection until 1975, when they donated it to the Cody Firearms Museum. The people at Cody let me use this photo, as my editors told me the one I took of the rifle in its display case at the Winchester booth at SHOT, um, sucked.
A word about the Cody Firearms Museum is in order here. The museum, in Cody, Wyo., houses a huge collection of American firearms. It’s about to undergo a $12 million renovation, made possible by numerous donations, and notably a $500,000 gift from Timney Triggers. The work begins August 4 of this year, and should be completed by June 2019, with a grand opening set for July 4. A sizable portion of the collection will be on display throughout the renovation. Once the renovation is completed, the space will display about 4,500 historically significant American firearms.
Speaking of which, please keep sending me pictures of your old guns, whether American and/or historically significant or not. Every old gun has a story, and it’s a pleasure to share reader’s stories.