Gus Norcross, originally trained on National Match rifles and pistols by the National Guard Marksmanship Training Unit specializes in Garands, M14s and 1911s at his small shop on the coast of Maine. His website is www.angusarms.com. He will be offering gunsmithing tips and tricks on Fridays.
When fitting a new rear handguard to a Garand, we want to make sure it doesn't contact the stock and disturb the barrel harmonics. New handguards tend to be a bit oversized and may require sanding to prevent hard contact with the stock.
Begin test fitting by installing the handguard clip. Installation of this thin piece of spring steel is tricky and can result in broken wood. Using the Badger Ordnance handguard clip pliers (Brownell's 093-200-050) is recommended.
Install the clip and snap the handguard onto the barrel. If the rifle has a medium weight match barrel, the inside of the handguard may have to be hogged out quite a bit before it can be attached.
Slide the lower band into place and drop the rifle into the stock, checking for contact along the edges and rear of the handguard. If contact is found, disassemble everything again, lay a piece of coarse sandpaper on a flat surface and work the handguard back and forth across it, reducing the edges.
You may have to sand the tab of wood that fits into the lower band before it will slide into place. Some bands are tighter than others. Make sure there is some clearance between the front of the receiver and the rear of the handguard. We don't want our new piece of wood to add tension to the barrel.
If possible, try to select a lower band that closely fits the barrel and pin it in place with a new 1/8" x 1/2" roll pin. If the stock is properly fitted to the barreled action with tension between the lower band and stock ferrule, the lower band will center itself on the stock ferrule tab, reducing or eliminating rotational movement of the front hanguard.
Once you have your new wood installed, take your Garand to the range and exercise it!
Installation of the handguard clip
Installation of the handguard clip is easy when using a pair of Badger Ordnance handguard clip pliers. The right tool for the job is always good.
Reduce the edges
Reduce the edges of the handguard with sandpaper or a sanding block. There should be no contact between the stock and the handguard.
Note the even gap between the guard and the stock when the handguard is fitted correctly. Careful sanding makes it look right.
Easy on the sanding
Don't get carried away with the sanding; the gap should be visible, but narrow and even. The M1 is not sporting gun, but the job should look professional.
Proper gap for accuracy
There should be no contact between the rear of the handguard and the front of the receiver. Keeping a proper gap is essential for best accuracy.