From time to time, I still try to pop in and visit some of the Internet firearm/collector-related forums to see what is going on. Not surprisingly, interest in U.S. martial arms continues to be strong. As we have discussed here before, the M1 Garand is among the most popular collecting genres as well as being a favorite among many shooters (casual and serious). The availability of M1s via the CMP is a prime catalyst for the continued popularity of the weapon and I see no sign of this abating anytime soon. Back in “the good old days,” the CMP did not hold their really premium rifles to be auctioned. Initially, the CMP didn’t grade their offerings and a buyer got the “luck of the draw.” Naturally, some were luckier than others. I recall seeing brand-new Winchester WIN-13s, unaltered WWII Springfields and a number of new post-war IHC, HRA and Springfield M1s sold at the same price as the typical post-1945 arsenal rebuilds. The CMP eventually wised up and started the “Collector Grade” program with prices raised to a level well beyond the typical overhauled example. There are supposedly only a few collector grade rifles to be had, and the handful that would qualify as such are now auctioned off to the highest bidder. This would certainly seem to make sense as it is the CMP’s goal to raise as much money as possible for the litany of programs the entity sponsors.
I have noticed with a mixture of amusement and consternation some of the comments posted on several of the more popular military firearm-related internet forums. The common thread seems to be that the CMP is screwing the average Joe who can’t afford the prices that the really primo M1s are bringing at auction. I can understand the desire to want something we can’t afford. More often, however, it is a matter of priorities. A lot of these guys who complain about the CMP’s “flagrant disregard” for capitalism and the free market could probably afford one of these gems if they cut back on their discretionary spending on other things. No, they would rather keep all their other goodies yet get their panties in a wad when somebody throws a lot of money at a rifle that the CMP is auctioning off. Maybe the guy who spends that much on one of the auctioned rifles is Daddy Warbucks but, in a number of cases, he is simply an average working guy who cuts back spending money on stuff he doesn’t really need in order to buy something he really wants.
Some of these same guys who decry the CMP’s “greediness” (I’ve actually seen that term used in this context) denigrate pristine collector Garands as “closet queens,” often with the subtle suggestion that the guy who owns one is somehow less masculine than the guy who buys and regularly shoots an average CMP rebuild. This is akin to the famed Aesop fable about sour grapes. As I’ve mentioned here before, there is sometimes a running feud between collectors and shooters, but I see no reason it should be an “either-or” situation. If a guy wants to buy a nice Garand and keep it in a bank vault, whose business is that but the owner’s? On the other hand, if a guy wants to buy a Garand (pristine, well-worn or somewhere in the middle) and shoots it every day until the barrel melts, who cares? It is his gun and if he enjoys blasting away, fine and dandy. I fall somewhere in the middle ground but do not fault guys on either side of my position. As I get older, I become more and more of a “live and let live” person. If someone wants to do something and it doesn’t negatively affect me or harm others, I really don’t care. Life is way too precious and short to worry about what other people do or don’t do. Both “Safe Queens” and “Range Sluts” (I just made that term up!) have their place in the grand scheme things. I own and enjoy both types and don’t really care if someone doesn’t like one type or the other. People are free to spend their money however they wish.