Author and fellow blogger Michael Z. Williamson has penned a wonderful article about the M1 Garand rifle, recognizing its quality in the context of its times, but debunking many of the myths that have grown up around it. His commentary is frequently profane, but also very funny. Here's a sample.
Let me start by saying I have nothing against the Garand for what it was — a forward-looking design for the 1920s. John C. did a fine job with the technology of the time, and it's not his fault what happened after.
Mr Garand designed a stripper fed, gas operated self-loading rifle in a mid-sized caliber. It was very advanced, and the only advantage it lacked was a detachable magazine, which was still a subject of discussion at the time — the SMLE had it. The Mausers and Mosin Nagants did not. As designed, it had moderate recoil, and could be topped off by shoving extra rounds into the top of the action, as with every other battle rifle of the time.
Then the Army took a crap in it. I can't blame Garand for this, because the Army crapped in almost every weapon it got given in the 20th Century, then complained about the taste.
. . .
Google the term "M1 Thumb." Then google "Garand Thumb," just to make sure you've got the full report. You'll find about THREE MILLION hits. Now google, "thumb jammed in M16." I'll wait. Google "thumb jammed in FAL."
If I have to stick my hands into a heavily sprung action that is capable of smashing my fingers, and risk smashing my fingers, to load the weapon, IT IS DEFECTIVE. There is no argument you can make to the contrary. If a car required reaching under the fan belt to fuel it, and might spontaneously start, smash your fingers and set you on fire, IT WOULD BE DEFECTIVE. If a gun might smash your fingers to paste on the off chance you might happen to want to put ammo in it, it is defective. Don't tell me you can avoid it with the proper dance card and samba lessons — I'm in the middle of a firefight. It's not a "Design feature." It's not a "Beta improvement." It is a CRITICAL F****** DEFECT.
There's more at the link. Go read.