Meet the New Springfield Armory M1A Tanker Rifle

The new Springfield Armory M1A Tanker is a throwback to the “Tanker” Garand that surfaced but was not adopted in the latter days of WWII. (Photo: Springfield Armory)

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In a salute to the storied shortened “Tanker” M1 Garands of yesteryear, Illinois-based Springfield Armory this week unveiled their new M1A Tanker rifle.

Featuring a 16.25-inch parkerized barrel and a 37.25-inch overall length, the Tanker is a version of SA’s SOCOM 16 rifle series with a retro styling that includes an all-new walnut stock. When compared to the standard M1A, the Tanker is almost a foot shorter.

Springfield Armory M1A Tanker Rifle (5)

The Springfield Armory M1A Tanker features a 16.25-inch 1-in-11-inch RH 6-groove carbon steel barrel and has an enlarged aperture (ghost ring) rear sight with an XS front post. Note the muzzle device. (Photo: Springfield Armory)

Like the rest of the line, it is chambered in .308 Win./7.62 NATO. Set up for rapid target acquisition, the Tanker comes standard with an enlarged “ghost ring” aperture that is adjustable for windage and elevation, as well as an XS front sight post with a tritium insert.

Steve Kramer, Springfield Armory’s marketing VP, explained that since the M1A SOCOM 16 drew much acclaim in the past, the new Tanker model was a logical choice, saying, “Because of the enduring popularity of that model, we wanted to offer that same rifle with a new walnut stock for a variation we know our customers will love.”

While the Tanker ships with a single 10-round detachable magazine, it accepts all standard M1A mags. MSRP $1,987

Just what was a Tanker Garand, anyway?

Although it never went into regular military production, the so-called “Tanker” modified M1 Garand service rifle label was applied to shortened rifles in the latter days of World War II. While the Army’s Ordnance Bureau had prototyped an M1 with a folding stock for use by paratroopers — the M1E5 — it never entered production.

Later, armorers with the 6th Army, fighting at the time in the Pacific Theatre, converted 150 existing M1 rifles in their inventory by shortening the barrels. Some of these guns were trialed by troops stationed in New Guinea and a few sent stateside where the U.S. Army’s Springfield Armory (which existed long before today’s Springfield Armory, Inc., was founded) type classified the experimental guns as the T26.

T26 Rifle resembles standard M1 except for markedly shortened barrel and trigger guard T27 at bottom 119-64.A.1

The T26 rifle, shown here at the top compared to a more standard-length T27 Garand below it has a markedly shortened barrel and trigger guard. This photo was taken in 1964 (Photo: Springfield Armory Museum)

In the end, the abbreviated Garand was not adopted, and its development was terminated in October 1945, a month after WWII ended. Today, just one T26 is known to exist, a chopped 1943-production gun in the collection of the Springfield Armory Museum.

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