The best way I have found to avoid the "M1 Thumb", is to work the bolt the way I was taught in Marine Corps Boot Camp.
DO NOT PUT YOUR THUMB (either one), OR FINGERS INTO THE RECEIVER, UNLESS YOU HAVE GOOD CONTROL OF THE OPERATING ROD HANDLE!!! IF THE TOP OF THE BOLT IS VISIBLE, WHEN YOU LOOK DOWN AT THE TOP OF THE RECEIVER, DO NOT PUT YOUR FINGERS OR THUMB IN HARMS WAY!!! THE BOLT HAS TO BE UNDER THE REAR OF THE RECEIVER TO BE LOCKED OPEN!!! IF IT IS NOT LOCKED OPEN, PUSH THE OPERATING ROD HANDLE TO THE REAR UNTIL YOU FEEL IT LOCK OPEN!!! MOST "M1 THUMBS" OCCUR BECAUSE THE BOLT IS NOT LOCKED OPEN!!!
FOR RIGHT HANDED PEOPLE (OR LEFT HANDED PEOPLE SHOOTING RIGHT HANDED)!
We were taught to place the heel of the hand (what you judo chop with), or the little finger (depending upon your hand size) firmly against the operating rod handle. Press it rearward (your hand or little finger may hurt, but you will toughen up) until you feel the release from the operating rod catch (inside, just in front of the receiver [you can't see it unless you have the rifle stock removed] under the barrel). After you have control of the operating rod handle, then AND ONLY THEN, press the follower downward, with your thumb or a loaded en-bloc clip. Continue pressing down (with your thumb, and allow the bolt to move slightly forward until you see it covering the rearmost part of the follower (with a loaded en-bloc clip you will feel a click and the en-bloc clip will latch in place). Lift your thumb until you can see the follower is under the bolt, then release the operating rod handle by rotating your hand up and forward, so that your fingers end up pointing at the front sight, and there is no way your thumb can be in the way of the bolt as it slams closed. (with a loaded en-block clip, the bolt may close stripping off the top round; if it doesn't close, strike the operating rod handle with the heel of your hand to drive it forward).
DO NOT BABY THE BOLT AND OPERATING ROD, THEY ARE A PART OF A MACHINE THAT SLAMS TO THE REAR AND SLAMS CLOSED WHEN THE RIFLE IS WORKING!!! THAT IS THE WAY THE RIFLE OPERATES!!!
FOR LEFT HANDED PEOPLE SHOOTING LEFT HANDED!!!
I learned this on my own when I had to qualify left handed in Marine Corps Boot Camp, (my right lens fell out of my glasses and shattered the day before qualification, and I had to get special permission to shoot left handed) NOBODY was allowed to shoot left handed in Marine Corps Boot Camp when I went through! I qualified "High Expert"!
Left handed people (or right handed people shooting the M1 Garand Left Handed) will use their right hand. Place the index finger against the operating rod handle, and pull it to the rear (it can hurt, but you can get used to it), using the other fingers press down on the follower, until you feel the release click of the operating rod catch. Allow the bolt to ride up and over the follower, and then open your hand by extending your fingers at the same time pulling your index finger away to the side from the operating rod handle, and the bolt should slam home!
Loading an en-bloc clip is a bit different. Grip the en-bloc clip with your fingers, other than the index finger, holding it against your right palm. Place it in the receiver guide, then press against the operating rod handle with your index finger (it still hurts)and while holding the operating rod (and bolt) to the rear, press down on the top of the en-bloc clip with your fingers (not the index finger, it is already busy), until you feel it latch in place. Extend your fingers straight up, and release the operating rod handle with your index finger. The bolt should slam home, and if it doesn't, strike the operating rod handle with the heel of your hand, and it will slam home!
I hope that this will keep at least one person from getting bit by that big tooth. It will most often cause the thumbnail to come off, and there is more pain than you want to contemplate. I have been fortunate, because I followed the directions I was given, and have never suffered the "M1 Thumb"!!!
Nope, never did. I wanted to see what it would look like, so I used a pen to push the follower down all the way. When that bolt slammed home, it disintegrated the pen and sprayed red ink all inside. I had no idea it would be that serious. I had quite a time cleaning out its inerts. The bolt still has a mild hue of red.
BattleRifleG3 - I think your test was something that will keep your fingers or thumbs out of harms way. I have seen some that were really bad "M1 Thumbs", they are sickening to think about. The return spring is the shock absorbing spring, and the .30-06 really kicks it back, DO NOT GET IN THE WAY OF THE OPERATING ROD, GOING IN EITHER DIRECTION!!!
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