Some things just won’t go away. I’ve written numerous times on the ridiculous urban legend and baseless conjecture regarding the distinctive metallic “ping” sound when an empty M1 rifle clip is ejected. I previously covered this subject in this column, in an American Rifleman Q&A and, rather extensively, in my new M1 book.
At the risk of beating a long-dead horse even more, I’ll very briefly recap the issue for those who may have been living in a cave for the past six or seven decades. Some people are firmly convinced that the ping sound was a "deadly defect" in the M1 as it alerted the enemy that the rifle was empty which rendered said soldier helpless. This bit of fantasy has been repeated ad nauseam in books, articles and some faux-history television programs. I won’t repeat the variations on the tale nor the very valid reasons why this concern is absurd in the extreme.
Just when I thought I’d heard it all, I recently read on one of the popular Internet Garand-related discussion forums that someone postulated that Ordnance actually wanted the ping sound to “remind” the shooter that the rifle was empty. It is very seldom that I post on the forums but I just couldn’t help myself and made an exception in this case. I stated that if a clip ejected several inches in front of the shooter’s face didn’t alert him that the rifle was empty, he shouldn’t be turned loose with a M1 rifle in this first place. The initial poster then responded by saying that if the firing was done at night, perhaps the soldier couldn’t see the clip being ejected and needed the ping sound to alert him that the rifle was empty. Hmmm...I hadn’t thought of that. Maybe I’m not the brightest porch light on the block, but if it was so dark that someone couldn’t see a clip being ejected about six inches in front of his face, wouldn’t it be a tad too dark to be shooting at someone several dozen or several hundred yards away? Other posters weighed in and repeated various theories about the negative aspects of the ping sound. At this point, I realized that I had erred in making a post in the first place and stayed silent on the sidelines.
As cited below, there are some interesting subjects that are worthy of debate and conjecture such as the risks of shooting a “low number” M1903 rifle or whether Alvin York was armed with a M1917 or M1903 rifle, among others. On the other hand, there are other subjects that are so silly as to not be worthy of serious discussion. It is clear that the “deadly ping sound” of the M1 Garand is in the latter category. It is firmly ensconced as one of the bulwarks in the pantheon of U.S. martial arms absurd myths along with such classics as the previously-mentioned Mattel M16 rifles and American Can Company M3 submachine guns. But maybe I’m being too closed-minded. After all, everyone knows that if it is in a book, on television or on the Internet, it has to be true.