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John Cantius Garand

Birthplace: St. Remi, Canada
Death: February 16, 1974 (86)
Springfield, Connecticut
Place of Burial: Hampden County , Massachusetts
Immediate Family:

Son of Jean Baptiste Garand and Marie Elizabeth Hedwige Oligny
Husband of Nellie Celia Shepard

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About John C. Garand

John Cantius Garand (/ˈɡærənd/; January 1, 1888 – February 16, 1974) was a Canadian-American designer of firearms best known for creating the first successful semi-automatic rifle to be widely used in active military service, the M1 Garand.

Garand was born in St. Rémi, Quebec in a French Canadian family, and moved as a child to Jewett City, Connecticut. He attended school until he was 11 years old, and then became employed in a textile mill, where he was later promoted to machinist. After gaining the necessary experience, he was hired by a tool factory in Providence, Rhode Island.

His fondness for machinery and target shooting blended naturally into a hobby of designing guns, which however took a more vocational turn in 1917. That year the United States Army took bids on designs for a light machine gun, and Garand's design was eventually selected by the War Department. Garand was appointed to a position with the United States Bureau of Standards with the task of perfecting the weapon. The first model was not built until 1919, too late for use in World War I, but the government kept Garand on in a position as consulting engineer with the Springfield Armory.

In this position he was tasked with designing a semi-automatic infantry rifle and carbine. Designing the rifle took several preliminary designs and quite a bit of detail work stretching over fifteen years to perfect the model to Army specifications. The resulting M1 Garand was patented by Garand in 1934 and began mass production in 1936.

In the late 1940s and early 1950s, Garand had designed and built a prototype bullpup rifle. It fired the same cartridge as the M1 rifle, but the magazine, action and shape were completely different. It was a select-fire design, and had a firing rate of about 600rpm. When Garand retired in 1953, the second version of the T31 was incomplete, and remained so. The project was scrapped, and the gun was retired to the Springfield Armory museum in 1961.

For his work with the Springfield Armory, Garand was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal in 1941, and the first Medal for Merit (together with Albert Hoyt Taylor) on March 28, 1944. Garand never received any royalties from his design. A bill was introduced in Congress to award him $100,000 in appreciation, but did not pass. Garand remained in his consulting position until his retirement in 1953, and died in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1974.

Garand married French Canadian widow Nellie Bruce Shepard (3 Aug 1900 - 25 Feb 1986) on 6 Sep 1930 in Albany, NY. She had two daughters by her previous marriage, and they had a daughter and a son of their own.


Pronunciation of the name Garand is often disputed, being pronounced variably as /ɡəˈrænd/ or /ˈɡærənd/. Descendants of John Garand and his close friend Julian Hatcher generally agree that it is the latter, rhyming approximately 'errand.'

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John C. Garand's Timeline

January 1, 1888
St. Remi, Canada
February 16, 1974
Age 86
Springfield, Connecticut
Section D- Grave 457, Hillcrest Park Cemetery, Hampden County , Massachusetts