Which has a longer service life, Garand or M1A?

Assume unfired condition. The Garand has a definite limit to the load it can fire. The M1A, while firing a nominally weaker round in the 7.62 NATO, can nevertheless take hotter loads than standard ball ammo…just assume standard military.ball rounds.

Oh yes. Always wanted to ask, why do they call them ball rounds?

Both will last as long as they are maintained, and consumables are replaced. Barrels are consumables for a target shooter, albeit it takes awhile for rifles/cartridges like the Garand/7.62mm x 63 and M1A/7.62mm x 51. Versus something like .300 RUM or another magnum cartridge, where barrel lives in the mere 1,000 to 2,000 rounds are not uncommon.

From sources such as these, http://forums.thecmp.org/archive/index.php/t-52662 and https://m14forum.com/modern-m14/106150-barrel-life.html , depending on the metallurgy and coating of the barrel, and non-abusive treatment, a target shooter should expect 5-10,000 rounds through the barrel before noticing a degradation in accuracy.

Ball ammunition is called that because it is essentially a shaped, coated ball. I.e., non-expanding. It may resemble a spherical ball about as much as a coffee mug resembles a donut, but that’s the idea. In practice, much of the effectiveness of modern military rifle ammunition stems from its ability to fragment within a body.

Both the M1A and the M1 Garand have a reputation for being rugged and reliable weapons. I’m not aware of any major difference between the two with respect to long term reliability. I wasn’t able to find anything poking around on google either. Most of the comments are that they are both reliable, and long-term reliability isn’t generally a factor in choosing one over the other.

As for ball rounds, that dates back to the musket days. The standard round was the round ball, and it was very much round, spherical, and shaped like a ball. The name stuck, even when rounds were no longer ball-shaped, like the Civil War era Minie Ball, which is more conical than spherical. Calling it a “round” also stuck, just as the phrase “lock, stock, and barrel” still refers to the whole thing even though rifles don’t have locks (flintlock or caplock) any more.

Once you had conical rounds being called ball ammo, there’s no clear dividing line where you should stop calling them balls and start calling them something else.

A quote from Hatcher’s notebook. "In trying to determine the ultimate strength of the gun, Mr. Garand built up progressively higher proof loads in increments of 5,000 lbs. pressure, from the regular proof load of 70,000 lbs. to the extreme figure of 120,000 lbs. per square inch. At this later figure, cracked left lugs on the bolt began to be encountered. A gun in which the bolt had the left lug cracked by one of these excessive high pressure overloads was then fired an endurance test of 5,000 rounds of service ammunition, using the cracked bolt, which showed no further deterioration.”

So a .300 Win mag barrel might have a lifetime of only a few thousand rounds?

Sure, if you’re shooting near max loads and shooting a bunch at a sitting. An example of free internet anecdotes can be found among: http://forum.snipershide.com/threads/300-wm-barrel-life.104346/

Hot gas is erosive stuff.

“Lifetime” is another term we’ll have to define. You can certainly shoot a rifle with a degraded barrel, but your accuracy may degrade from, e.g., 1 MOA to 1.5 MOA. Or more. Enough to turn a 97-3x into a 92-1x. Elk’ll be just as dead, but you won’t win that F-class competition (not that you probably are with a 300 Win Mag, but bear with me.)

Thanks. A .300 Win Mag is still on my shopping list.

I’ll try to dig out a publicly available report or contract proposal from something like Crane Naval Special Warfare on barrel life studies for the 300 Win Mag. IIRC, they were one of the movers behind adopting it as a LR rifle cartridge before the appearance of the .338 Norma and Lapua magnums. They probably have a RFP for nitriding or carburizing the chamber and/or barrel, along with literature cites to justify the existence of a problem.

That’d be good, thanks.

Just for barrel wear, shooters consider the .308 and 30-06 to be modest rounds. The most notorious, just from memory reading guns and ammo, are the 220 swift, the 264 winchester, and the 7mm remington mag.

Thanks for the answers to the OP, which is to say it’s inconclusive.

You mentioned in the OP that there was a definite limit to the load the Garand can fire. As I recall from my shooting days, the concern was in regards to the operating mechanism, not the receiver strength. The Garand uses a very long, complex shaped operating rod.


Loads which produce higher pressure could bend it, causing malfunctions. But that could possibly be prevented with a different gas port diameter. Some rifles had an adjustable gas port, like the FAL.


Ball = full metal jacket, these days.

Some calibers have a reputation for “barrel burners” Win Mag is not typically one of these. It uses the exact same bullet as .30-06 and .308 (.308, usually Spitzer) but the case and powder content are different. Some of the shorter variants might be harder on the barrel.

The Garand operating rod can be bent through repeated firings of modern loads not intended for a Garand. But there is a solution: an adjustable gas plug that can allow it to handle modern powder.