The M1 Garand has been touted as “the greatest battle implement ever devised”, and since its introduction in the 1930s, it has seen combat in nearly every corner of the globe. Unfortunately, this fantastic battle rifle has been sorely underrepresented in the airsoft scene but that all was about to change when ICS announced they were working on one back at SHOT Show 2012. ICS is one of the oldest and most trusted names in airsoft and they have a reputation for manufacturing unique and gorgeous replicas. The M1 Garand is one of their newest guns, and it certainly lives up to the aforementioned unique and gorgeous qualifications! It is one of the first factory-made M1 Garand AEGs and, priced at $400, it comes in at a much lower price than the other airsoft Garands on the market, which range from $600 to $800 or more.
The ICS M1 Garand is a full metal replica of the famous World War II era rifle, and it features CNC machined construction, a stock made of beautifully stained wood, and a rock solid gearbox fitted with sturdy components. Capable of firing semi-auto only, it utilizes an electronic MOSFET both to enable semi-automatic firing and to protect your trigger contacts from arcing and carbon buildup. This rifle is ready for the field, using a removable magazine system that holds 42 rounds, and ICS is nice enough to include a spare magazine with the gun. This isn’t a compact rifle, coming in at over three and a half feet long and weighing right around eight pounds, but it has a great weight balance and feels great in your hands. Keep reading for the nitty-gritty details on this thing!
AT A GLANCE
WHO MAKES IT: ICS
GUN NAME: M1 Garand
WHO IT’S FOR: Mid-high level player
HOW MUCH: Around $400
FPS: 400 w.20
The second I pulled it out of the box, the gun drew me in with the way it felt in my hands, the fantastic sound of the bolt being cocked, the gorgeous wood-grain on the stock, and even the smell of the oiled wood. This thing appeals to all of your senses, well, except for taste. It doesn’t taste very good. All things considered, this gun is pretty damn near perfect, at least externally, in that it is a simply gorgeous replica of a beautiful firearm. Don’t sully this refined piece of kit by slapping on rails or other nonsense like that.
Star rating (1-5) = 4
PROS & CONS
+ Fantastic build quality and finish
+ CNC machined construction
+ Real wood stock with a beautiful stained finish
+ Detachable magazine allows for easy reloading
+ Very satisfying metallic clink when manipulating the charging handle
+ MOSFET allows for semi-automatic firing while protecting the trigger contacts
+ Great performance out of the box – 400 FPS/160-foot range
+ Roughly half the price of the other M1 Garands on the market
– Magazines required some breaking in before they would hold the advertised 42 BBs
– Occasionally double feeds the first few magazine loads until settled in
– Some external differences compared to the real M1 Garand
– Bolt catch didn’t work consistently on our test sample
– The stained finish on the stock is a little bit sticky
The stock has a traditional rifle type layout which points very well for tactical shooting. It has a metal butt pad with a diamond texture and a plastic door to access the battery compartment. Your battery space is generous, but you’re still limited to small cell batteries due to the space occupied by the automotive style fuse and MOSFET.
As I mentioned before, the Garand is largely constructed out of metal and wood with a few plastic parts thrown in. The rifle has a very sturdy feel to it, with a slightly front-heavy weight balance. The stained wood finish on the furniture is dark and satin with very little reflectivity that could give away your position on the field.
The ICS Garand comes with Springfield Armory trademarks at the top of the receiver as well as a unique serial number for each gun. The serial number is laser engraved, while the Springfield trademarks are molded into the receiver itself. The metal components are satin black, meshing very well with the furniture and adding to the Garand’s realistic look.
The receiver is metal and helps act as a sturdy backbone for the whole gun, adding to its stout overall feel. The charging handle can be pulled back to expose the hop-up adjustment dial. You can lock the bolt and charging handle by pulling it back and pressing the bolt catch which doubles as the magazine release and is located on the left side of the receiver. I can only get mine to lock this way every now and then, as it seems like the button doesn’t go far enough to catch on the bolt.
The outer barrel is made of metal and has an unthreaded muzzle, so you can’t mount accessories without modifications. The orange tip is a plastic sleeve fitted over the end of the muzzle and glued in place. Due to the robust mounting system, there is zero wobble in the barrel where it meets the receiver. The gas tube, located under the barrel, has a bayonet mount but I discovered that you can’t mount up a real or reproduction bayonet on the ICS.
You will find three sling mounts on the Garand: one on the stock, one where the three sections of the hand guard meet, and one at the very front of the hand guard. They are slightly wider than the ones on the real steel Garand but this won’t prevent you from running a real steel sling.
The hand guard is wide and comfortable to hold, albeit very plain with no texturing or anything to quickly reference when bringing the gun up to fire. It’s an almost 80-year old design, so it’s understandable that it’s not the most tactical design. There is a very slight wobble in the front of the hand guard where it meets the upper heat shield but this is not terribly noticeable.
Aiming the Garand is accomplished easily using the adjustable iron sights. Although the sights are very easy to use, they aren’t the best for snap shooting situations. The rear is adjustable for windage and elevation using the two dials located on either side of the unit. The front is adjustable for windage by loosening the hex screw and sliding it from side to side as needed. The sight radius is long, over two feet, helping you make precise adjustments when aiming.MAGAZINES
The included magazine is a plastic, spring fed unit that fits in front of the trigger assembly. The gun includes two magazines and spares are currently available for around $14. The magazine locks into the gun from the bottom, unlike the real M1 which is fed by stripper clips that pop out with the trademark “ping” when empty. There’s no ping with the ICS Garand, but the magazine system makes the gun extremely skirmishable. It fits very securely into the gun and after breaking it in by fully loading and unloading it a few times, it feeds very well. Before breaking the magazines in, they wouldn’t fit all 42 rounds and I got occasional double feeds when firing, but that was fixed after the first few magazine-loads of BBs. The small size allows the magazine to be easily stored in period-correct stripper clip pouches.
The magazine is released from the gun by pushing on the bolt catch on the left side of the receiver. When you push it, the magazine will pop out slightly, allowing you to pull it out of the gun and swap it out for a fresh one.
Inside this gun, you’ll find a custom-designed gearbox which is similar to the V7 found in M14 AEGs, but with a special design to fit the Garand body. Accessing it is a relatively simple affair, requiring you to remove the trigger unit by pulling down on the trigger guard, as well as removing the front assembly by taking off the front sight and loosening the grub screw underneath. You can then separate the receiver and stock, which allows you to access the gearbox, hop-up, and inner barrel.
If you open the gearbox, you’ll find 8mm solid bushings, CNC machined steel gears, a decent shim job, and an acceptable amount of lube. The piston is one of ICS’ new nylon fiber reinforced units with a shaved second tooth and half steel tooth rack. The air seal components are quite good and the air nozzle has an inner O-ring for minimizing air leaks. The gearbox shell itself is incredibly bulky so it is very unlikely that you will crack this shell even with a heavy spring.
Electrically, the Garand is equipped with a Turbo 3000 short type motor, 16 gauge wiring and an automotive style fuse for easy replacement. A MOSFET is installed to allow for the semi-auto firing and help preserve your trigger contacts. The wiring is terminated in a mini Tamiya connector, so your battery options are pretty vast.
Moving forward from the stock, you’ll hit the trigger unit which is detachable, like the real gun. Unfortunately, it’s an M14-type trigger guard instead of the proper M1 type unit, but that’s a minor foible. The trigger pull is light and smooth and the safety switch located at the front of the trigger guard physically prevents the trigger from being pulled.
The hop-up is a unique design that uses a large rotary dial for adjustment. It is a one piece unit so your risk of air leaks is very low. It holds its selected setting very well and has the ability to provide enough backspin for heavy weight BBs. The inner barrel is 610mm long, one of the longest that I’ve ever seen in a stock gun. The hop-up bucking was very greasy and a good cleaning helped with my consistency.
There aren’t many accessories for the Garand; however, you can add a period correct sling to help you carry this thing on the field. There are no mounting points for optics, so if you want to build your own M1C/M1D sniper variant, you will need to do some custom work. Internally, the Garand uses standard gearbox components so you can tweak it to your liking to hit your performance goals.
RIS (Rail Integrated System): N/A
STOCK: Wood Grain 1 piece
BARREL LENGTH: 24”
TRIGGER GUARD: Metal quick-detach M14 type unit
MAG RELEASE: Same as bolt catch, Left side push button
OPTIC SPACE: None
MAGAZINE: 42 spring fed
WIDTH: 2″ (at stock, 3″ at charging handle)
HEIGHT: 7.5″ (sight to stock)
SIGHT RADIUS: 27.6″
LENGTH OF PULL: 13.5″
GEARBOX VERSION- Modified Ver 7
MOTOR- Short Turbo 3000
BUSHINGS/ BEARINGS- Metal bushings
CUT-OFF LEVER – Standard metal unit
SELECTOR PLATE- None
WIRING HARNESS – 16 gauge with MOSFET
CYLINDER & HEAD – Type 0 non-ported
PISTON & HEAD – Nylon fiber with ported head
NOZZLE – O-ring equipped
SPRING – M110/120 strength
ANTI-REVERSAL LATCH – Standard unit
SPRING GUIDE – Metal with washer
HOP-UP UNIT- Custom 1 piece unit
WEIGHT- 7.9 lbs
CONTROL OPERATION- 3 position selector- Safety, Semi, Auto
BATTERY STORAGE- Fore Grip
ROF- No Full auto
.20g- 409.6 FPS Average
.25g- 367.2 FPS Average
– Battery- 9.6V 1100mAh Mini NiMh
– Charger – Kong Power KP50W3A
– BB’s- .20 Matrix BB’s
Before testing my guns, I like to do a quick break-in procedure to ensure that everything is settled in. Prior to this, I like to strip down the gun to the inner barrel, wash the bucking in mild soap and water, dry it thoroughly, run a few swabs down the barrel, and reassemble everything, ensuring that everything is properly seated and lined up. My break-in procedure consists of running a few hundred rounds through the gun; in this case, ten mag loads. After this break-in, using Matrix .20g ammo, my FPS results are as follows: High FPS: 411.3 FPS; Low FPS: 407.2 FPS for an average FPS: 409.6 FPS.
Rate of fire is as fast as you can pull the trigger, due to the semi-auto firing mode. Using a 9.6V NiMh battery, the gun kept up just fine with my fast trigger pulls. I credit much of the fast trigger response to the MOSFET system combined with the ICS Turbo 3000 short motor.
Range and accuracy will depend on your ammo choice and I had great results using Echo 1 .28g BBs. After adjusting the hop-up (which has plenty of force to spin heavyweight ammo) to a flat trajectory, I set torso sized targets out to 100, 140, 160, and 180 feet, took a sandbag-supported prone shooting position and started sending rounds downrange. The 100 foot target was easy prey to the Garand, with all 10 shots landing on target. At the 140 foot target, I had one BB fly just right of the target, but nine out of 10 shots hit their mark. I felt confident enough to engage the 160-foot target and still had a majority of my shots, seven out of 10, hit the target easily. At the 180-foot range, I had to lob my shots a fair bit and because of that, my accuracy suffered, only getting four hits on the target out of 10 shots. The shot deviation was from side to side at that range and it wasn’t consistently breaking to either side, so it wasn’t something that I could compensate for. A different hop-up bucking/nub combination will most likely improve the consistency and a velocity increase will most likely help stretch the range out a bit.
THE LAST WORD
Whether you are a WWII re-enactor, a collector, or just a fan of the design, the ICS M1 Garand is a fantastic option. From the beautiful wood furniture to the excellent build quality and performance, there’s really something for everyone with this gun. You really feel like you could storm the beaches of Normandy with this thing in your hands. Few gun designs have such a storied history and instant recognition as the Garand, and the ICS upholds that reputation incredibly well. The gun will only get better with age, as use and time weather the wood and metal components. Overall, I fell in love with this thing and I fell hard. I’m thrilled to add it to my collection!
Words: Jeremy Hendricks Photos: Walter Sidas