Re: when and where was your !st encounter with the m1 garand
I was in Navy boot camp back in the 80's. We had deactivated M-1's that we were not allowed to call rifles or guns. We were told to call them pieces.
My next experience with one was at the local Big-5 store a few years ago. They had them on sale for $600 (back when CMP had them for about $500). I bought one knowing it was likely a mish-mash of parts, but it was a Garand and that is all I cared about.
I took it to the range not really thinking about much other then avoiding the dreaded M-1 thumb. I had lots of time shooting my M-1a, but this one was different. I fumbled a bit with loading the en bloc clip, then very cautiously pushed it into the rifle afraid that the bolt would jump forward and squish my thumb. It didn't. I then pulled back on the charging handle to load the first round. Nothing happened. I turned to my right and as luck would have it, there was another guy shooting his Garand and I asked "how do I load this thing". He told me to just hit the handle; I did and it chambered a round. Eight rounds later I got the ching sound and reloaded again. Lots of fun.
I bought an 8 pound keg of 4895 and loaded all of the brass I had been collecting for the last year. The Garand is the only 30-06 I own, so it all gets 150 grain bullets and feed into this rifle. I just need to get a 1903 now.