Military Review

Automatic rifle T31. The latest development by J.K. Garanda


American Army soldier with M1 Garand self-loading rifle

Much of the work biography of J.K. Garanda was associated with the creation, debugging, modernization, etc. self-loading rifle M1. However, shortly after the end of World War II, the designer with employees of the Springfield Arsenal took on a fundamentally new project. The experimental T31 rifle was created for a promising cartridge and had to have a completely new architecture.

New program

At the end of 1945, the American military department launched a competition to create a promising automatic rifle chambered for the new T65 cartridge (7,62x51 mm). Over the next few months, three design teams joined the work, one of which was headed by J. Garand. In the near future, it was planned to compare the resulting rifles and choose the most successful one.

The new rifle was supposed to replace the existing M1 Garand as the main weapons army, which determined the basic requirements for it. In addition to using a new cartridge, it required reduced dimensions and weight. The authors of the three projects solved similar problems in different ways, and the most interesting were the ideas of J. Garand. They were carried out in a project with a working index T31.

"The cart is ahead of the horse"

The T31 project used a number of unusual solutions, completely new or tested during the development of the M1 rifle. So, to obtain the maximum barrel length with the minimum dimensions of the weapon, a bullpup scheme was proposed. Due to the specifics of the new cartridge, the automation was built according to the "gas trap" system. Also, new designs of various parts and assemblies were used.

G. Garand himself described the unusual layout with the magazine behind the handle and other innovations with the proverb about placing the cart in front of the horse. However, contrary to folklore, such decisions should have yielded the desired result.

The T31 rifle had a specific appearance. The longest element was the barrel with a flame arrester and a massive outer casing. Under the breech of the barrel was a control handle with a trigger and a safety-translator flag. Behind them was a receiver with a larger section with a magazine receiving window at the bottom and a window for ejecting cartridges on the right. A wooden stock was attached to the back of the box.

Automatic rifle T31. The latest development by J.K. Garanda

General view of the product T31 of the first version

With a total length of 33,4 inches (less than 850 mm), the T31 carried a 24-inch (610 mm) barrel with a muzzle. The mass of the rifle without cartridges reached 8,7 pounds (almost 4 kg), although the customer demanded that it be 7 pounds (3,2 kg).

Most of the barrel was protected by a complex casing. Since its inception, he managed to change his purpose. According to the memoirs of the project participants, the casing was initially considered as a means of air cooling the barrel. When firing, the powder gases coming out of the muzzle device had to pump atmospheric air through the casing.

However, then the casing was used in the automation as a gas chamber. The final version of the T31 had an automatic venting of gases from the muzzle of the barrel, in front of the flame arrester, inside the casing. In the rear of the casing there was a movable cylindrical piston with a short stroke, put on the barrel. With the help of an external pusher, it was connected to the shutter and provided its rollback. There was a return spring inside the casing.

Some sources mention that it was possible to integrate some air cooling means into the gas engine based on the barrel casing. However, the reliability of such information is questionable; the technical features of such a solution are also unclear.

The bolt of the rifle, which locks the barrel by turning, was based on the part of the M1 rifle, but had some differences, mainly related to the features of the T65 cartridge. The rollback was carried out into the cavity inside the butt. The side window for the ejection of the sleeves was closed by a shutter and a movable cover.

The firing mechanism was located inside the pistol grip and in the receiver with the connection of parts by means of a longitudinal thrust. USM had single and automatic fire modes. Switching was carried out using a flag on the back of the handle. In automatic mode, the technical rate of fire was 600 rds / min.

Description of the rifle

An original 31-round box magazine was developed for the T20. Subsequently, this product was used with some new experimental designs.

The linear arrangement of the weapon led to the need to use specific sighting devices, probably borrowed from the German FG-42 rifle. At the muzzle device and above the chamber, the folding bases of the front sight and diopter were attached.

Practical results

Already in 1946-47. Springfield Arsenal manufactured at least one T31 prototype rifle. According to some sources, several more rifles were assembled for testing. The product of an unusual appearance was sent to the shooting range, where it was quickly possible to establish its strengths and weaknesses.

Gas-operated automation with a volumetric chamber in the form of a barrel casing showed mixed results. The exhaust of gases near the muzzle reduced the spread in pressure and reduced the effect of the quality of cartridges on the results of firing. In addition, with this scheme, the bolt began unlocking after the bullet left the barrel. At the same time, the pressure in the bore fell to safe values, which practically excluded negative phenomena in the process of removing the sleeve.

A big drawback of the proposed scheme was the tendency to pollution, however, it did not interfere with long-term shooting. During endurance tests, the experienced T31 fired 2000 rounds with breaks for reloading and cooling. After this inspection, more than a pound (454 g) of powder carbon was removed from the barrel shroud during cleaning. Despite this contamination, the rifle fired all the shots required.

Continuation and end

In its current form, the T31 rifle did not have decisive advantages over competitors and could not immediately win the competition. The team of J. Garanda continued to work with the aim of improving the rifle. In the future, the improved weapon was planned to be submitted again for testing.

J. Garand demonstrates the second version of the T31 rifle

The updated version of the T31 was supposed to receive a completely new automation. Instead of diverting gas from the muzzle into the casing, it was proposed to use a more familiar and well-tested scheme with a gas chamber and a piston of a smaller section. Perhaps it was this innovation that made it possible to free up space inside the barrel casing and combine gas-operated automation with forced air cooling of the barrel.

The new rifle differed from the first T31 in a new casing with a narrowed front part and an oval rear section that contained a gas unit. In addition, a new extended buttstock was developed that covered the receiver and protruding chamber. Sights were still mounted on high bases.

The rebuilding of the rifle proved to be a difficult process and took several years. Then the project came to a halt, for both technical and organizational reasons. In 1953, after many years of fruitful work, J. Garand left the Springfield Arsenal. The T31 project ended up without a leader and without a main supporter. By that time, other gunsmiths had become disillusioned with the project; the military also showed no interest. By this time, at least one prototype of the updated configuration was made, but its tests were not carried out.

Under these conditions, the continuation of the development turned out to be impossible, and the project was closed as unnecessary. Two prototypes, including a test sample, were deposited. In 1961, the first T31 went to the armory museum at the arsenal. The exact fate of other items is unknown.

Some of the ideas of the T31 projects were subsequently used in the development of new promising weapons. For example, the magazine for the T31 moved into new projects and, with some modifications, was included in the kit for the serial M14 rifle. At the same time, basic project solutions, such as layout or automation with a volumetric gas chamber, remained unclaimed. As a result, the last project of J.K. Garanda, having given some useful developments, in general did not solve the tasks set. It was interesting from a technical point of view, but turned out to be useless in practice.
Photos used:
US Army,

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  1. mark1
    mark1 8 May 2021 06: 27
    You can, of course, guess for what reasons the project disappointed, but I would like these reasons to be specifically indicated in the article (perhaps a sleeve outlet, gas breakthrough from the face, failure to remove carbon deposits, maybe something else, again, stability when firing, complexity ...)
  2. The leader of the Redskins
    The leader of the Redskins 8 May 2021 07: 56
    Thanks to the author for the article. Only the feeling that this rifle has already been mentioned. Maybe not in the "lead roles".
    But all the same, I read it with interest.
  3. Operator
    Operator 8 May 2021 08: 15
    nzhe byj jnx fhfufyg fvvfhujkbrkjG
    1. Vovk
      Vovk 8 May 2021 09: 16

      The design was clearly influenced by the FG-42 (Fallschirmjägergewehr 42)
      1. Constanty
        Constanty 8 May 2021 09: 53
        Looking at the effects of the updated version of the FG-42 - BD42 / SG11 / 12 (chambered for 7,62x51) from Sport-Systeme Dittrich, it would be better to just copy the German weapon.

      2. Catfish
        Catfish 8 May 2021 09: 59
        The FG-42 served as the prototype for the American M60 machine gun.
        With the same success, it can be argued that the prototype was the PzB M.SS.41 / PzB-41 (t) anti-tank gun

        And if you dig deeper, then the Thorneikrofn Rifles (above) and Godsala (below)
      3. Incvizitor
        Incvizitor 8 May 2021 15: 03
        It always seemed to me that this fg 42 wundervafrya did not make much sense for them then and the machine guns were what they needed mg 34 42 the same and carbines gever 43 and stg 44 what for, she don’t understand.
        1. mat-vey
          mat-vey 8 May 2021 16: 37
          Quote: Incvizitor
          what for she do not understand.

          For the landing ..
          1. Incvizitor
            Incvizitor 8 May 2021 20: 02
            What's wrong with STG? Or FG as "light machine guns" for a machine gun, the magazine is still small, the rifles are self-loading and so it is.
            1. mat-vey
              mat-vey 9 May 2021 03: 31
              Quote: Incvizitor
              What's wrong with STG?

              And how is 1940 better (worse) than 1943?
              When you ask questions, first try to find out something yourself ...
              1. Incvizitor
                Incvizitor 9 May 2021 10: 32
                Stg from 43 were, accepted in 42m, fg was used from 43rd.
                1. mat-vey
                  mat-vey 9 May 2021 10: 36
                  Hmmm ... do you know how the Germans labeled small arms in service? There are numbers ...
        2. psiho117
          psiho117 8 May 2021 22: 22
          Quote: Incvizitor
          what for she do not understand.

          The then ilita (landing) wanted to be "not like everyone else" - so they ordered the same weapon. Allegedly, they needed weapons capable, if necessary, of creating the density of fire from a light machine gun. As a result, we got a capricious heavy bandura.
          carbines gever 43

          They were nevertheless developed later, a year after fg-42.
          1. mat-vey
            mat-vey 9 May 2021 10: 54
            Quote: psiho117
            They were nevertheless developed later, a year after fg-42.

            Yes, they even began to develop earlier ... But there were different requirements and the story with the change of developer, and for FG there was no competition either - the customer accepted and decided. Well, the logistics played a role - the "Kurz" cartridge was not such a common thing ...
        3. SIT
          SIT 9 May 2021 11: 44
          It was only possible to shoot in bursts with a rifle cartridge from the FG42. It was also equipped with an optical sight and could be used as a marksman weapon. In this case, the cartridges were the same for everyone, starting with a simple shooter and ending with a machine gunner. For parachute landing units, where, in addition to a wearable supply, containers with ammunition must still be found, this is important. Compare with the Americans, who in the 101st had 3 types of ammunition.
          1. Eule
            Eule 10 January 2022 18: 29
            The version, which has not yet been confirmed in the internet, only from the words of the comrade who finished Ferlach:
            "In the 1930s, at the request of German colonists in Cameroon, at the Krieghof hunting weapons firm, an attempt was made to create a weapon suitable for hunting" into the cauldron "for antelope, self-defense against lions and blacks (in bursts), short, and under an army cartridge, since it is cheap. But the resulting rifle turned out to be difficult and expensive to manufacture, and a dozen copies did not sell. And when a competition was announced for FG, Goering was shown a prototype, he said "let's go!" and the drawings were, then the rifle began to be mass-produced. That is, it was originally a civilian automatic rifle of a white colonist in Africa. Hence all the features - a side magazine, the main sight - optics, a bayonet of the "needle" type, aka a skewer for cooking on a fire, and other features.
    2. Alf
      Alf 8 May 2021 20: 04
      Quote: Operator
      nzhe byj jnx fhfufyg fvvfhujkbrkjG

      Do you understand what you said?
  4. Undecim
    Undecim 8 May 2021 10: 16
    Most of the barrel was protected by a complex casing. Since its inception, he managed to change his purpose. According to the memoirs of the project participants, the casing was initially considered as a means of air cooling the barrel. When firing, the powder gases coming out of the muzzle device had to pump atmospheric air through the casing.

    The author, in an attempt to rewrite from a foreign language, writes nonsense, misleading the audience.

    According to several descriptions, the handguard of the rifle also incorporated an open jacket much like a Lewis gun jacket. A slight vacuum caused by the muzzle blast would pull cool air through this sleeve from the rear of the rifle, thus preventing the handguard and gas cylinder from overheating. Exactly how this open sleeve and the gas cylinder were built into the front end of the rifle is not particularly clear from the photos available.

    Translation According to some descriptions, the forend of one of the rifle variants (the thicker part of the casing in the figure) had a device very similar to the casing of a Lewis machine gun. The slight vacuum caused by the propellant gases will draw in cold from the rear of the rifle, thereby preventing overheating of the forend and shroud.
    True, the available images raise doubts about the presence of such a device.

    Perhaps there is no photo of this option.
  5. Undecim
    Undecim 8 May 2021 10: 50
    Already in 1946-47. Springfield Arsenal manufactured at least one T31 experimental rifle

    At least two.

    1. Operator
      Operator 8 May 2021 11: 36
      The Anglo-Saxons in the second half of the 1940s fought with automatic rifles in the bullpup form factor - the British serial Enfield EM-2 in 7 × 49 mm caliber, put into service in 1951

      Civil servant John Garand once again flunked the assigned task - he pulled the cat by the tail with the development of an automatic rifle until his retirement in 1953 and did not bring his device to a working state (congenital jambs prevented).
      1. Toucan
        Toucan 9 May 2021 04: 06
        British serial Enfield EM-2 in 7 × 49 mm caliber, put into service in 1951

        Formally, this rifle was adopted, but serially it was not released. No.
  6. voyaka uh
    voyaka uh 8 May 2021 11: 30
    Continuation of Garand - M-14.
    I even fired it in the form of a sniper rifle.
    After the M-16, the recoil was stunned.
    1. demiurg
      demiurg 8 May 2021 13: 21
      Rifle cartridge, however.
      I was shooting with our Marksman rifle, SVD. At first, the bruises were on the shoulder. I liked to shoot from the IED. The shot seems quieter and the recoil is on par with the AK-74.
      1. Saxahorse
        Saxahorse 8 May 2021 20: 01
        Quote: demiurg
        I liked to shoot from the IED. The shot seems quieter and the recoil is on par with the AK-74.

        Well, the weight of the SVU is under 6 kg and the muffler is always included. Although, in general, the IED is a thing of course .. Did you say it has a slide delay?
        1. demiurg
          demiurg 10 May 2021 14: 12
          The rubber butt plate is definitely there. But the delay? It was twenty years ago, I don't remember.
    2. Catfish
      Catfish 8 May 2021 20: 04
      Continuation of Garand - M-14.

      Alexey hi You are right, the M1 got a second life in the form of the M14 at the Garand Arsenal.

      Above is M1, below is M14, in the center is one of the prototypes.
  7. Aleksandr97
    Aleksandr97 8 May 2021 20: 40
    Ugly planes don't fly !!!
    J.K. Grant is undoubtedly a great designer. But, the T31 rifle, which looks more like a symbiosis of agricultural technology, is difficult to imagine in a version that was pleasant to pick up and, in principle, predictable, that it had little chance of the customer's favor.
  8. bbss
    bbss 16 June 2021 23: 45
    Quote: demiurg
    with our Marksman rifle, SVD fired

    She puts funny bruises under the eyes of simpletons ...