Ask The Experts: GARAND THUMB

Gun World Expert

The edge of the palm is positioned against the cocking handle to keep it to the rear while the thumb is pushing the eight-round clip into the magazine of the Garand. Once the thumb is pulled clear of the bolt’s path, the hand may be pulled away from the bolt allowing it to go forward chambering the first round.

Question: I’ve always been very interested in World War II and want to get a Garand rifle. I’ve read, however, that you have to be careful when using the Garand not to get “Garand Thumb.” What is that?

—Steve F., Branson, Missouri

Leroy Thompson Answers: The term “Garand Thumb” refers to the crushed thumb a shooter can get when loading the eight-round clip into the rifle’s magazine, as the bolt is designed to run forward as soon as the clip is thrust all the way down into the magazine.    I can attest that the bolt smashing against the thumb can be quite painful, as the first time I fired a Garand I did not know the “trick.” Now I do and will tell you. When the bolt is locked back to load a clip, the edge of the palm should be pressed against the cocking handle to keep it back during loading. The clip may then be thrust into the magazine with the thumb, but the bolt will not release. Once the thumb is clear the palm may be removed, allowing the bolt to run forward chambering a round.

Leroy Thompson is an internationally recognized authority on weapons and tactics, and is the author of 50 books. 


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