bY joe roxby

It’s of a brave young highwayman a story we will tell
His name was Willie Brennan and in Ireland he did dwell
T’was on the Kilworth Mountains he commenced his wild career
And many a wealthy nobleman before him shook with fear.
                (From old Irish folk tune, Brennan on the Moor)

            Every so often I can detect my life drifting toward a certain color or pattern.  Lately that has taken a decided drift toward green.  No, I did not have a Road to Damascus experience caused by Al Gore’s latest movie, and you will not find me out hugging trees.  If you observe me doing that, please fill out the commitment papers.  The real fact of the matter is when I step into the woods I usually have a gun in hand and I am looking to shoot something.  Most often that firearm is a Garand and my prey is whitetail deer. That green direction comes from hanging around with the Irish.   The most notable of those characters are my good friends Pat and Diane Coughlin.  These folks play in a band called Gallowglass, who plays traditional Irish music.  One of my favorite tunes is about an Irish rake and highwayman named Willie Brennan.  My dark suspicions are that he was probably one of the many bandit-lover relatives of the editor who was hanged by the authorities or killed by outraged husbands before the rest of the clan escaped to America. 

An excellent example of the M1 rebuilder's art, this is the sample DGR rifle with very nicely figured wood.

Recently another of those Celtic types has wandered into my circle, one Dean Dillabaugh.  I first heard of this gent several years ago from Garand collectors guru Scott Duff.   While I was interviewing him, I casually asked whom he thought were the better M1 smiths.  He mentioned a couple of the better know names, hesitated, and added that there was a fellow down in Tennessee that was not real well known, but he did excellent work.  Scott added that since this guy was a relative unknown, his turnaround times for gun work were much faster.   At that moment I just kind of put that information away in my trivia vault.  I had no real need of it, as I did most of my competitive shooting with an AR-15. 

            Lately my whole perspective on rifle competition has changed. I still enjoy shooting my tricked out AR-15 at local matches but have pretty much given it up at Camp Perry. The last time I participated in them was in 2003.  We were on the range for roll call at 6:45 am, and I did not get out of the pits until 7:45 that evening. Afterward, my question to myself was “ What the hell am I doing here; this is no longer enjoyable.”  I have not been back since.  Too much time and lack of enjoyment has turned me away from the National Individual Trophy Matches.   Friends have related that in recent years things have not been quite that bad.  Lately my attitude has hardened on the subject to the point that, if I cannot finish a match in half a day, I am just not interested.  My suspicion is that unless the CMP finds a way to compress the time frames of that match, participation will dwindle. 

            Fortunately I do have a good reason for going back to Camp Perry, aside from spending money like a drunken sailor on Commercial Row.  Playing with a good wood and steel rifle has never lost its appeal to me. With the advent of Garand Match competition I have found another reason to shoot one.  Judging from what I observed at Camp Perry this year, there are a great many likeminded shooters who hear the same siren song.  For years the match that attracted the most competitors of any shooting discipline was the rifle National Individual Trophy Championship.  That is no more.  The Garand Match is the new king and my gut level instinct is that it has become so ferociously popular with shooters for two reasons, nostalgia and fun. I suspect that the nostalgia angle kicks in when we older shooters look up and down the line and see lots of other people shooting them too.  It briefly takes us back to the sunny slopes of youth.  Beyond that the Garand Match is the very essence of shooting fun. The competitive drive is still alive among match participants but the whole atmosphere is cordial and relaxed.  Just as importantly, shooting can be completed in a morning or afternoon.  

            This most enjoyable competition has once again boosted the popularity of the M1 rifle.  Initially, shooting a good vintage M1 is fun.  After a few matches, more skilled shooters will want a rifle that better reflects their abilities.   A rifle that will just hold the black bull may do for a beginner, but the advanced shooter wants something better.  At the very least they want a rifle that will shoot a ten if the trigger puller is doing his part.  For the first time in a decade and a half, shooters are once again wondering, who builds a good M1 that will give us a competitive edge in the match?  As the AR-15 came to dominate across-the-course competition, it seemed men who specialized in M1 work would go the way of the buffalo, and the very specialized knowledge of how to build a good one would disappear.  Fortunately the new demand for good shooting Garands has given new life to the few smiths who know that arcane science of how go build a good and accurate M1.  

            It was about this time I remembered what Scott Duff had told me about the fellow in Tennessee that did really good work.  The man I am speaking about is Dean Dillabaugh of Dean’s Gun Restorations.  I looked over his website a few times and found it most interesting.   Of particular interest was the wide variety of woods he offers for M1 stocks.  There is also a lot of other Garand-related information on the site. One morning I finally got around to calling Dean’s Gun Restorations and asking if they would like to have one of their rifles tested for an article in Precision Shooting.   The reception on the other end was a tad chilly and it puzzled me a bit.  The reaction was more akin to me telling them that I was from Al-Jazzera.  Of course there is a reason for all things.  It turns out the someone had scammed them for a rifle some years ago under similar circumstances and now they were a bit leery of some fool dropping in out of nowhere and asking them for another rifle.  When both my parole officer and the prison chaplain vouched for me, the good folks at Dean’s Gun Restorations decided that I was a legitimate member of the shooting press.  When we started serious discussion about the project, I was in something of a quandary.   I wanted to test the rifle with some sort of optics but the Garand is a real stinker for getting them mounted.  In a previous test I tried a WWII offset style mount and found it wanting.  I asked Dean about sending down a scout style mount for the test rifle and he would have none of it.  He said that he knew what it took to make an M1 shoot well and did not like to deviate from that formula.  Dillabaugh offered that he had more than enough confidence in his rifle sans a scope.  When I objected that I might be the weak link in the chain, with a confidence that seemingly bordered on foolhardy, he said to just take it and shoot it with iron sights.       

First Look- As promised, the rifle got to Wheeling in the first week of March.  New toys to play with always delight me, and this one was no exception.  When I first opened the box my eyes were drawn to the stock; it was a stunner.  The rifle had a mildly glossy finish and was stocked in a wood called Bastogne Hybrid Walnut.  That species is a cross of California English Walnut and California Claro Walnut and more dense than either parent. The wood featured very nice figuring to it and had a much more blond look than I usually associate with Walnut.  The metal parts appeared nicely done, but they were almost hard to examine as the stock really tended to arrest the eye. The effect was not unlike trying to describe the total look of a very pretty girl standing in front of you wearing a low cut dress.  Somehow you just seem to miss the eye color. I will mention at this point that Dean took pains to say that this rifle is typical of what goes out of his shop.  At his bench he says the hates to hear the comment, “That’s good enough.”  He said realizes perfection is the Almighty’s domain but he likes to strive for it on every rifle he rebuilds. 

Here is a closer look at the excellent wood-to-metal fit of this rifle. The DGR cartouche on the right side is a nice touch and reminiscent of a Defense Acceptance Stamp found on post-war GI Garand stocks.

New toys are always most fun when shared.  The usual suspects that inhabit my stories were ready to offer their thoughts on the new arrival.  As he lives but two doors away, George Strauss was quickly on hand for an educated second opinion.  George has an extensive background in wood working and finishing, and he too was greatly impressed with Dean Dillabaugh’s handiwork.   Once we got over our initial smiles we examined things more closely.  

            The receiver was an early Springfield Armory in the 77 thousand serial number range.  I am not overly superstitious, but I could not help but think the first two digits of the serial number a good omen.  To a Garand collector 77 means National Match!  The numbers and letters on the receiver and barrel were given a white highlight, a nice looking touch. The bolt, trigger group, and the majority of the other parts were of late WWII vintage.  The only exception to this was the op-rod.  It was an RA 77 but was not marked National Match.  The rifle also came with a new buttplate.  Given so fine looking a rifle, it would have bordered on sinful to send it along with one that looked like Gunny Ermey had been bouncing it off of Private Pyle’s helmet all through boot camp

A sampling of the ammunition used for this rifle test.

All the metal parts were very nicely finished to a uniform color.  Obvious care was taken during the Parkerizing process to see that none of the part numbers were washed out. After the stock the second most striking feature of the rifle was the wood-to-metal fit.  My friend Bill Monohan is a gun dealer who handles a lot of high-grade Beretta shotguns.  While looking at this rifle, he opined that the melding of wood to metal on this rifle was more in line with Dale Goens than Springfield Armory.   About the only contrarian in the crowd was my Camp Perry partner Mike Witt.  He groused that the wood was very nice but thought a small knot near the front detracted from it.  You just can’t please everyone.

            This rifle featured two upgrades that are not part of the standard Garand Match package the company offers. The first was a new gas cylinder, and the second was a Barnett-Douglas barrel.  We will address his thoughts about the choice of a barrel later.           

To the Range- Everyone who looked at the rifle was more than sufficiently impressed with its appearance.  The next unstated question on everyone’s mind was, “Would it shoot as good as it looked?”  Dillabaugh sent me an e-mail recommending that I fire at least 100 to 120 rounds from the rifle before I began testing it for accuracy.  The reason for this was to get the rifle properly seated into the stock.   About a week after I received the rifle the weather was just beginning to climb into the mid-40s after an unseasonably long cold snap.  At this time I gave the rifle a basic once over, first to see if everything was working properly and secondly to get it reasonably close to point of aim at 100 yards.  

            The initial break-in was done with Greek surplus ammunition.  An aside, I have a love-hate relationship with this ammunition.  Most of it that I have fired is of 70 and 72 vintage, and easily out shot its USGI counterpart.  The ’77 Greek surplus ammunition we were issued at the Garand Match last year was junk and many shooters complained about it.  From my own observation, it seemed particularly prone to vertical stringing.  While getting the parts to settle in on the test rifle, I fired a few groups and they were rather pedestrian.  At about the 60-75 round mark a transformation took place.  As predicted the groups started to shrink and the rifle acted as if someone had sprinkled Pixie Dust on it.  

            I came away from my initial shooting session thinking that the rifle showed great potential and I was not disappointed.   The following Saturday I caught the first 70 F day in our neck of the woods for several months and the wind was reasonably mild.  That same luck carried over to the shooting bench.  I started shooting groups with the Greek surplus ammunition.  The first group fired went into .90 of an inch and it was certainly an auspicious beginning.  Another was not far behind at 1.18. The last group fired really skewed the averages going 2.9 inches.  None of the rest of the groups were notable either way, but the final average of 1.69 was quite respectable for ball ammunition.  Later for my own curiosity I fired two more groups with this ammunition and they averaged 2.10.    

            After finishing with the common fodder I decided to move up a step in class. The rifle showed signs of wanting to shoot good groups so it seemed like the time to bring out some better ammunition.   

            The next item I tried was the everyman’s classic for the Garand, a handload with 46 grains of H-4895 and 168-grain Sierra match bullet.   The other major components were a Federal case and a Winchester primer.   The groups were good but not great, the smallest going 1.36, which it duplicated twice, and again one that burned the averages going 2.68.

            Feeling comfortable with the rifle, I felt it was time to break out the champagne. The pedigreed ammunition for this test was from Black Hills.  The high quality of that company’s products are well known to competitive shooters, and needs no introduction here.  This year Black Hills is offering two new 30-06 target rounds for the Garand lover in addition to their 168-grain match load.  One is loaded with the 155-grain Hornady A-Max bullet and the other is a 168-grain A-Max bullet.  To make sure that I was not using something incompatible with the Garand’s gas system I spoke with Terry Hehn, from Black Hills.  He assures me that the burning rates in the propellant used for all three rounds are within the proper range for the M1.

One of two eye-opening targets fired with this rifle. This one was fired with Black Hills ammunition loaded with 155-grain Harnady A-Max bullets. The bullet hole at three o'clock in the 8-ring was the called flyer. I needed to come over one more click to put it sqarely in the x-ring. All shooting was done with iron sights.

From the last two types of ammunition that I tested, indications were that this rifle might prefer lighter bullets.  With that thought in mind the next round I tested was the Black Hills brand loaded with the 155-grain A-Max bullet.  The first group I fired looked very good through the spotting scope and later measured .98.  The next one was four shots cutting a ragged hole with one flier opening it up to an eye-opening .85.   Now I was getting excited.   The third group went a very good 1.24.  About the only disappointment occurred in the last shot of my fourth string.  A called flier went out at 3 o’clock and opened the group up to a whole 1.5 inches.  I just chuckled and didn’t even bother to re-shoot it.  To this point I had been moving the groups around the target.  For the sake of a nice picture to accompany this article I meant to put the last five in the x-ring of the SR-1 target I was using.   Unfortunately I needed to come left one more click but the last group was impressive enough going .93. Properly centered, it would have easily kept every shot inside that x-ring.   When that string was over I just kind of sat there and shook my head.   When the groups were measured, the final average was an incredible 1.10 inches, including the flier in the averages!  This Dean’s Gun Restoration rifle and Black Hills 155-grain match round are the most accurate rifle-ammunition combo I have personally ever seen in an M1. That includes Garands that were bedded, ex-military match rifles, or even ones chambered in 7.62.  Over the years I have heard tales of Garands that would consistently shoot inch groups.  To date I have never seen one until now.    

Ammunition                 Avg. Velocity       Smallest     Largest     Average


Greek Ball HXP 70                    2691            .90              2.90          1.69


Greek Ball HXP 70
W/ Sierra 155 Match                 2717            .91              1.34          1.13

Black Hills 155 A-Max             2838            .85              1.50          1.10

Black Hills 168 A-Max             2721           1.19              2.19         1.56

Black Hills 168 Match              2684            1.12             2.20         1.58

Handload- 46 gr. H4895           2579            1.36             2.68         1.83
W/ 168 Sierra Match          

Ammunition was tested at 72 F with 33% humidity at approx. 638 feet above sea level.Group averages are measured in inches and taken from five, five shot groups, fired at 100 yards.  Velocity was measured with a Chrony model  F-1 chronograph 10 ft. from the muzzle.  All testing was done with iron sights.  

            The rest of the days shooting was certainly good but almost anticlimactic.  Both 168-grain loads certainly shot well enough but produced nothing near as dramatic as 155-A-Max loading.  A casual observation, the A-Max bullet in the heavier loading seemed a bit less prone to fliers in this rifle than did the regular match bullet.  I would recommend that anyone who has an M1 that seems fussy with 168-grain match ammunition might be well advised to try some of the Black Hills 155-grain loading.

            While at home, as I measured groups and calculated averages, I began to wonder a bit.  Was this rifle a one-hit wonder or might it produce more stunning groups with another load?  Though it necessitated taking the chronograph and all the other paraphernalia out to the range again, I was curious to see if other 155-grain bullets might do.  Taking the easy way out I got some Greek surplus ammunition, pulled the bullets, and replaced them with 155-grain Sierras.   While doing this I noticed that the sealant had an absolute death-grip on the bullets to the point that I could not pull about one in ten.  Perhaps in honor of its Greek heritage and the current Hollywood epic about the Spartans, I should call it “300” match.  My intuition proved to be spot-on.  The smallest group went .91 with another not far behind it at .96.  The worst of the lot went a very respectable 1.34.  The final average tallied at 1.13.  This rifle is simply outstanding with 155-grain bullets.   

            When the smoke cleared from two weeks of shooting, I left the range with the very distinct impression that Dean Dillabaugh builds one hell of fine shooting Garand.   Now that I got a good introduction to his rifle, I thought it about time to get to know something about the man who built it.  This fellow clearly knows how to build good M1s and I wanted to get a chance to pick his mind about barrels, stocks, and related subjects.

            Like most folks who do something really well, he downplayed his skills. When I interviewed him, he casually joked that he just assembles the parts and sends them out the door.  Don’t you ever believe it for a second.   From my own observations over the years, getting an M1 to shoot really well is part science and part voodoo.  Someone who builds one that good didn’t just fall off the turnip truck.

            Dean has been in the gun business for 18 years.  Prior to that he worked at the San Diego Yacht Club.  He got his start from playing around and restocking old military rifles.  He started gunsmithing as a hobby so he would have a little extra money for guns and ammunition.  Dean pointed out that he was not a former military armorer and had no real formal gunsmith training. As it took more and more of his time it turned into a full-time business.  He said that while he was learning, he tried to find those most knowledgeable about building accurate Garands, such as Don “Mac” McCoy, to learn from them.  He added that he is self-taught and has made some expensive mistakes along the way.  One unusual aspect of his business is that over the years his wife Kenya has been a true equal partner.  Dillabaugh pointed out that she devoted a great deal of time studying the Parkerizing process and for years did much of the work that came through the shop.  He laughed and said that sometimes she would be critical of his work.  All I would comment is that these folks must be true soul mates.  He also stated that when Garand collector questions pop up, it is his wife who fields the questions and provides the answers. 

            The Dillabaugh family’s quest has not been without cost.  Dean offered that for too many years they worked seven day a week and had no vacations.  The irony of the situation is that since they have been in the gun business, there has been little time for recreational shooting. 

            About six years ago, Dean’s Gun Restorations moved to their present location in Jacksboro, Tennessee.  They presently turn out about four complete rebuild packages a week with some smaller jobs sandwiched in between them.  The major parts of a Deans’s Gun Restoration complete rebuild package are a new stock, barrel, new springs throughout, metal refinished, timing reset and a complete technical inspection.  Dean noted that the work backlog for complete rebuilds is presently about 10-12 weeks, which is as long as he intends to let it get.  He offered that dealing with customer waiting times is something of a balancing act.  On the one hand he does not want customers having to wait too long for work.  The other side of that coin is that, as someone self-employed, he wants some backlog so that he knows he gets to eat for the next couple of weeks. They have recently added two new employees, one in the office and one in the shop to reduce waiting times.   

            While we were doing this interview we both had a good laugh about the legend of the grumpy gunsmith.  I told him that many years ago in the Ohio Valley we had a good gunsmith. This worthy had a reputation for two things; good work and a grumpy attitude, with the emphasis on the latter.  After 25 years of dealing with the true public in police work, I clearly understood why he was that way. Dean laughed aloud and chimed in that when they used to work the gun show circuit, it would sometimes wear upon them mightily as well.  One can observe the same phenomena on Commercial Row at Camp Perry.  After two weeks of high volume and constant exposure to their customers, take a look at the better smiths such as Derrick Martin, Frank White or Clint McKee.  They will all show a bit of a ragged edge. Commenting on this phenomena over a drink, my contrary amigo Mike Witt opined that when you are dropping $ 1500.00 a pop for a weapon those folks could be a bit nicer.  I offered back that these folks are more than glad to see those customers and would probably be happy to carry you to your car.  What sucks the soul out of them is the fellow, who comes up, buys nothing, and wants to play stump the professor with dumb questions, or his brother-in-law that wants to argue about a $3.00 part.  By his laugh, I could tell Dean had met plenty of their relatives. In fairness, what most people do not see is how hard those guys on Commercial Row go out of their way to help a shooting competitor in a fix with a broken weapon to get them back on the firing line the next day.  I know because I was one of them.
            After obtaining some general information from him, I got a chance to get Dillabaugh’s thoughts on what makes an M1 shoot well.   Given the kind of groups his rifle had just produced, I wanted to hear every word

On Stocks-One need only peruse Dean’s Gun Restorations website or observe his work to get the feeling that Dean is clearly a wood guy.  He offers a beautiful selection of stocks for the M1 in Bastogne Hybrid Walnut, Maple, Black Walnut, and Myrtle.  He states that it is firmly his belief that 40% of the accuracy of an M1 comes from a good stock fit.  He took great pains to point out that a drop-in type of stock will never offer the kind of performance that a fitted one will.  Dean stated that he tried unsuccessfully to get Boyds to change their dimensions, but his requests fell on deaf ears.  For that reason he uses only Wenig stocks.  Wenig stocks can be given a final fitting that produce what he calls a ‘squeeze-in” fit.   After observing the wood to metal fit on the sample rifle, I suppose that the secret ingredient here is that you get a bedding job that is not a bedding job, but stays within the written rules of the John C. Garand Match. The stellar accuracy I observed in his rifle speaks for itself. He noted that the Wenig stocks cost him twice what the Boyds’ stocks do and then he has a third more the initial cost in time fitting them to the gun.  When that process is finished, he has about three times as much money in his stocks as he would have had he used a Boyd drop-in stock.  Earlier I noted how beautiful the stock was on my sample rifle.  This is obtained by starting the finishing process with 120 grit paper and working up to 600. The wood is then hand rubbed and sealed, inside and out with Deft Oil, which contains Tongue Oil and a small amount of urethane. Dean noted that this finish does need to be maintained and can be done by applying a bit of the same finish should the rifle begin to dull. As to his preference of woods, he said that aesthetically he likes them all.  Regarding accuracy, Dean offered that in descending order he likes, Bastogne Hybrid Walnut, American Walnuts, Maple and Myrtle.  The Bastogne Walnut has the highest density, which meant less compression and the longest assurance of accuracy.   Dean added that all of them properly fitted should last as long as the barrel.  It has always been common practice for Garand owners to store their rifles long term with the trigger guard unlocked to keep stock wear to a minimum.  One new wrinkle Dean added was that, with a Garand that was well fitted to the wood such as this one, he recommended storing the rifle muzzle down with the trigger group removed if the rifle was not to be used for three months or longer.  The reason given for this was the weight of the action will compress the wood in the stock if stored muzzle up, and it may eventually affect accuracy.  This keeps the weight of the rifle from compressing the wood in the stock at the critical point where the receiver legs are fitted to it.   It also removes tension from the bottom of the stock from the trigger group and assures that any solvent left in the barrel won’t run back into the wood.   The trigger group should be stored hammer down.

 On Barrels-  Dillabaugh kind of surprised me on this one.  He said that his company offered four brands of barrels, Krieger, Barnett, Wilson and Criterion. Qualifying his remark he said that for the John C. Garand Match, where shooters would be using a military contoured barrel and standard grade ammunition, the Barnett/Douglas barrel offered the best accuracy.   For those not familiar with them, they are barrel blanks made by Douglas barrels and given their final cuts and chambering by Gene Barnett.  It was his opinion that a similar Krieger barrel produced no better accuracy with surplus ammunition, but was substantially more expensive.  On the subject of barrel life Dean was kind enough to make an inquiry on my behalf.  Barnett stated he estimated that his barrel should go at somewhere between 3000 and 4000 rounds before a master-class shooter would notice any sort of loss of accuracy.  Krieger gave their estimate at 3000 to 5000 rounds.   Let me again emphasize that that supposes master-class shooters and the same proper cleaning techniques.   The unwritten assumption here is that duffers and even expert-class shooters should get even better mileage.  That 3000 round figure also coincides nicely with Dean’s estimate of optimum stock life.

            Dillabaugh added that he always wants to speak with the customer to find out what is best for him or her. His final comment was that his profit margin was the same on all of the barrels, but he found the Barnett/Douglas produced excellent accuracy and long life.  An additional benefit, he also felt that brand made for an excellent fit to the very critical area around the gas cylinder.  While on the subject Dean emphasized that the only reason to take off the gas cylinder is because the front handguard needs to be removed, otherwise do not do it.  If memory serves me correctly, the ones on the military match Garands I examined were glued to the barrel. The Barnett barrel is offered in two chamberings, standard and match.  The John C. Garand set-up uses the standard SAAMI chamber. 

Receivers and Other Parts- When asked if he had a particular receiver he favored he answered no. The only exception he made was that he does not like to build a rifle on early Winchester receivers as he felt they were not properly dimensioned.  Dean is not a collector and to him parts are parts.  They either work or they do not.  One unique service that he offers to customers is an op-rod exchange program.  For $60.00 a customer may trade his op-rod for one that had been reworked on both ends and put into a jig and bent back to proper shape.  Dillabaugh said that a new gas cylinder is a nice addition to his higher end rifles, and they were getting harder to find.  All rifles getting the rebuild package get new springs throughout.  That even includes the rear sight cover.   All the internal parts that have been refinished are coated with a compound called Lube-Plus that act a lubricant and rust inhibitor.  

Final Thoughts- To say that I was impressed with this rifle is something of an understatement.   Quite frankly I would have never believed I would see a Garand ever shoot this well.  I have heard lots of old stories about M1s that would shoot and inch all day long. The problem is what I heard never matched what I saw. Of course, I’ve also heard stories of Hoop snakes and whores with hearts of gold too, and I have not seen any of them either. Yes, someone might fire one group that actually measured and inch but this was seldom repeated, and real, five, five-shot group averages were never anywhere close.  Over the years I have owned several Garands and shot and seen many more.  The most accurate ones I ever observed were a pair of ex- military match rifles in 308 caliber that were issued to me and to my good friend, the late Mike O’Shaughnessy, from the state rifle club.  With a favorite load mine would constantly shoot nice, round, inch-and- a-half groups.  I believe Mike’s gun would do just a shade better, but not much.  This test rifle was agonizingly close to that elusive mark not just once, but with two different loads.  If someone would have offered to bet me that a rifle that was not bedded to the stock would shoot as well as this one did, they could have taken a lot of money from me.  The fact that it was in 30-06 caliber and not 308 only compounds my amazement. 

Dean and Kenya Dillabaugh, the owners of Dean's Gun Restorations.

This rifle presents only one problem.  After discussing it with George and Mike, the consensus is that I would be a fool to let such a fine rifle slip from my grasp.  I agree.  I guess poor Dean is not going to get his rifle back again.  Fear not good reader, I will be sending money to him.  I just wish I could think of more bad comments to say about the piece to talk him down on the price.  About the only bad points I can think of are that the rifle is used and I know the fool that has been shooting it.  As I noted earlier, this Dean’s Gun Restoration rifle with Black Hills 155-grain match ammunition is the most accurate rifle/ammunition combination in a Garand that I have ever had in my hands.  I will now think of Tennessee as the land of good music, better sour mash whiskies, and great Garands.

Rebuilder- Dean’s Gun Restorations- (423) 562-2010   website

Product-  M1 Garand rifle specifically built for the John C. Garand Match

Action- Gas-operated, semi-automatic


Barrel-  Barnett/ Douglas, GI contour, four grove, 1-10 twist standard SAAMI chambering

Sights-  Windage and elevation adjustable in one minute increments


Trigger- Military two-stage


Price-   As tested on rifle supplied by DGR,  $1664.00

Comments-  Package rebuilding deals are offered on a customer’s gun.  Individual items can also be ordered a-la-carte. A basic rebuild package with metal refinished and a new stock start at $480.00 to $845.00 depending on the grade of wood selected.  Prices for a new, military contoured barrel installed are, Wilson or Criterion $295.00, Barnett- Douglas $395.00, Krieger $525.00.  DGR also has an op-rod exchange service for an additional $60.00.  If there are any problems with your rifle after rebuilding, Dean’s Gun Restoration offers a Dillon-like guarantee and pays shipping both ways.