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Buttstock Cleaning Kits

Marines, and others in our armed services, have since their inception been indoctrinated with the creed that the only thing that should be cleaner than your woman is your rifle. Many times this sage cleaning advice came with an ever so subtle warning that if your rifle wasn't spotless that the shiny boot of the Drill Instructor might find a home between some cheeks.

It is with good reason that the military puts such an emphasis on weapon cleaning. A dirty rifle won't function as well or as accurately as a clean one will and it is also much more susceptible to rust and corrosion. A dirty weapon also ages faster than a clean one. This was particularly true during the World War II years when corrosive ammunition was still being used.

In addition, cleaning breeds familiarity with, and confidence in, ones own personal weapon.

The M1 Garand is a robust firearm but it needs regular care and maintenance. To that end the military developed several types of cleaning kits which could be stored in the buttstock of the M1. We have often wondered why more rifles don't have this 'gimmicky' but very useful option built in.

Nickel Oilers. Note the leather pad at one end and pull-through thong.
During the war railroads played an important role. Note the SP handbill.

The first buttstock kit made available to troops was in many ways the best. The 1903 Springfield rifle had a butt-trap storage capacity and nickel oilers like those pictured above were originally produced for it.

These nickel oilers were tough, and did not crack as easily as the later plastic ones. Interestingly, the cleaning jag that came with these oilers was tied to a thong which allowed cleaning from the breach instead of the muzzle of the rifle. This reduce wear on the bore particularly at the muzzle (barrel-tip) which could adversely affect bullet flight.

Two types of plastic oilers. Note one comes with the pull-through thong.
Railroad passengers frequently got 'Victory Leaflets like this one during W.W.II.

Later, oilers made from plastic were developed. These were a bit lighter and certainly a lot easier to manufacture. The larger style of plastic oiler retained the draw through thong for cleaning, but the smaller one could be issued with sectional steel cleaning rods.

The bane of muzzles & bores. Steel cleaning rod cleaning kit.

The sectional cleaning rod kit that was issued could also be stored in the buttstock of the M1 Garand. Though it was convenient in many ways (no thong to break) improper use of this rod-set led to many bores being ruined because of the steel sliding against steel during cleaning.

The NEXT PAGE has several photographs of how these items slip into the buttstock.

This page was last updated on: March 14, 2002


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