Submitted by Eric Daniel
Again, this is a little bit outside the realm of Kit-Up, but a number of folk have referenced this in previous comments and I figured I'd throw this out not only to showcase the rifle, but also to put the spotlight on the CMP program and how you might secure a piece of history on the cheap.
The M1 Garand (United States Rifle, Caliber .30, M1) was the first semi-automatic rifle to see issued service with the US military. The rifle was gas operated, and fired the same Springfield .30-06 (7.62mm x 63mm) cartridge from an internal 8-round clip that the bolt action Springfield 1903 rifle it replaced did. Issued in 1936, the Garand was so successful in combat during the Second World War (the Garand was the only semi-automatic service rifle to see near universal service with any army during the war) that General George S. Patton declared it "the greatest implement of battle ever devised."
Over 5.4 million Garands were produced and the rifle was not completely withdrawn from service until 1965.
This is where CMP comes in. The Civilian marksmanship Program is a program initiated by Congress in 1996 to instruct civilians in proper weapon handling, safety, and marksmanship. Through CMP qualified individuals are eligible to purchase M1 rifles and parts. Quality and availability are sporadic at times (CPM refurbishes existing surplus rifles, it does not manufacture or distribute new weapons) but the prices are unbeatable; a "Field Grade" M1 will run you $495 through CMP as opposed to over $1,000 from a commercial manufacturer.
CMP does have some eligibility requirements, however, so check out their website before you submit your order. Also, don't hold your breath when you do submit an order. Given the nature of how CMP operates, it could take as long as 6 months to a year to get your order filled. CMP refurbished rifles as they become available, and sells the rifles after that. Since there is no dedicated production line, sales are a feast or famine kind of thing.