Marines, and others in our armed
services, have since their inception been indoctrinated
with the creed that the only thing that should be
cleaner than your woman is your rifle. Many times
this sage cleaning advice came with an ever so subtle
warning that if your rifle wasn't spotless that
the shiny boot of the Drill Instructor might find
a home between some cheeks.
It is with good reason that the
military puts such an emphasis on weapon cleaning.
A dirty rifle won't function as well or as accurately
as a clean one will and it is also much more susceptible
to rust and corrosion. A dirty weapon also ages
faster than a clean one. This was particularly true
during the World War II years when corrosive ammunition
was still being used.
In addition, cleaning
breeds familiarity with, and confidence in, ones
own personal weapon.
The M1 Garand is a
robust firearm but it needs regular care and maintenance.
To that end the military developed several types
of cleaning kits which could be stored in the buttstock
of the M1. We have often wondered why more rifles
don't have this 'gimmicky' but very useful option
Nickel Oilers. Note the leather
pad at one end and pull-through thong.
During the war railroads played an important role.
Note the SP handbill.
The first buttstock
kit made available to troops was in many ways the
best. The 1903 Springfield rifle had a butt-trap
storage capacity and nickel oilers like those pictured
above were originally produced for it.
These nickel oilers
were tough, and did not crack as easily as the later
plastic ones. Interestingly, the cleaning jag that
came with these oilers was tied to a thong which
allowed cleaning from the breach instead of the
muzzle of the rifle. This reduce wear on the bore
particularly at the muzzle (barrel-tip) which could
adversely affect bullet flight.
Two types of plastic oilers.
Note one comes with the pull-through thong.
Railroad passengers frequently got 'Victory Leaflets
like this one during W.W.II.
Later, oilers made
from plastic were developed. These were a bit lighter
and certainly a lot easier to manufacture. The larger
style of plastic oiler retained the draw through
thong for cleaning, but the smaller one could be
issued with sectional steel cleaning rods.
The bane of muzzles & bores.
Steel cleaning rod cleaning kit.
The sectional cleaning
rod kit that was issued could also be stored in
the buttstock of the M1 Garand. Though it was convenient
in many ways (no thong to break) improper use of
this rod-set led to many bores being ruined because
of the steel sliding against steel during cleaning.
The NEXT PAGE has several
photographs of how these items slip into the buttstock.
page was last updated on: March 14, 2002