US Marines issued inferior M1903 rifles for use at Guadalcanal. Forced to use

Why were M1 Garand rifles not available for front line Marines at Guadalcanal.

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The USMC only officially adopted the M1 Garand six weeks before the battle began. There is a big difference between date of official adoption and date of initial operational capability. US industry was neck deep in production for the Army’s needs and at any rate six weeks isn’t enough time to get the rifles a half a world away along with sufficient ammo. While the M1 and M1903 both fired the same .30-06 round, the ammo needed to be in an en-bloc clip in order to feed into the M1, so you can’t just use the ammo that the Marine units already had.

Don’t forget that you need train these units on how to operate their new semi-automatic rifles. When handing a jarhead something mechanically complex great care and consideration needs to be taken lest you end up with an expensive pile of USMC-stamped scrap metal and wood splinters. This takes lots of time and even more ammo.

So it’s not so much that the USMC handed their marines M1903s in lieu of the M1 as it is that they already had plenty of M1903s along with plenty of ammo, plenty of doctrine, and plenty of training for the rifle and the only thing they had with the M1 was a signed letter of instruction from the Commandant.

At any rate it isn’t like the bolt-action Type 99 Arisaka overmatched the M1903 in any real capacity. Semi-automatic infantry rifles weren’t exactly a battle proven concept at that point.


Thank you for the reply. I am not arguing only discussing. My info says the Army was Garand equipped by December 1941. Guadalcanal began as a battle August 1942. The series “The Pacific” portrays Marines as jealous that Army had Garands shipped to them on Guadalcanal.
Please understand I am discussing with you. I am not trolling. It’s sort of like the Sherman Tank “Tommy Cooker” fiasco, in that certain decisions get made by powers that be and the repercussions are forgotten by History. At any rate I really appreciate your answers as this has been bugging me for two years and I have enjoyed searching for answers and understanding. Sincerely . Greg

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No problem. I didn’t think you were trolling or anything and I didn’t intend to be confrontational. I apologize if it seemed like that.

I don’t have any knowledge of what the Marines thought of having to take a bolt action into battle in Guadalcanal, but I can guarantee you that despite all jokes to the contrary the Marine Corps is not a hive mind. Most militaries are conservative about adopting new equipment, The USMC even more so. As an example, it took over a century for the Marines to finally replace their last M1911 pistols in certain roles with more modern Glock 17s.

While some younger Marines may have been jealous of M1’s volume of fire I would be willing to wager a rather large sum of money that there were a bunch of old grey-haired Sergeants Major who thought that the Army surrendering in the Philippines was entirely due to the ammo-wasting jamtastic M1, despite all evidence to the contrary.

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The USMC was skeptical about the new M1, like all armies with new equipment, an issued it first to rearline units. Also, the real firepower in the WWII squad (of all countries) was really the LMG that they carried, in this case the BAR. Later in the war the USMC squad was increased to 12 men divided up into 4 man fire teams each with BAR.