So I met this interesting exhibitor at the NRA convention. His booth was on the lower level, towards the left as you walked in. It was Karl Maunz of Maunz Match Rifles.
Mr. Maunz was an armorer for the Army during his stint, and had a couple pictures of him with his unit, including his work with the US Army Shooting Team in a photo dated 1960. He lives in Ohio and has shot competitively at Camp Perry since 1954, when he was 15. He still lives near Camp Perry).
You all know my fondness for older rifles, particularly stuff with a John Garand provenance. And especially my fondness for the M1A. Note the year Mr. Maunz was in the Army? The thing that caught my eye as I strode past his booth was an M1A/M14... only it wasn't...
What I was looking at had a non standard flash hider and a big box magazine, so an M1A at first look. But it also had a Garand style walnut forend, the front hand guard. This detail stopped me in my tracks. Could this be an example of Garand's T20 prototype? A Garand adapted to fire with BAR magazines? The floorplate had a steeper angle than what I was used to with the M1A/M14... And maybe the bolt was a bit longer than .308, though I wasn't sure... And I certainly wasn't going to snatch it off the rack and start field stripping it right there.
It was at this point that Mr. Maunz engaged me in conversation. It turns out he MAKES them. And made them. He was involved with the original M14 development as a young man. One of the many gunsmithing services he had done over the years was convert Garands to fire with a M14 magazine. Now here is a man that speaks my language. Somehow the chat drifted over to bolts, and I lamented that M1A bolts were as rare as hens teeth and the guy I bought my M1A from said if I ever see one I can expect to pay $350 or more for em, and I had given up my cursory search for them. Maunz scoffed and told me I can still get one for around $150, and that I was misinformed. Wonderful! Now I have a chance to get spare, somewhere. Pretty much the only thing I don't have a spare of, now, is the receiver and barrel. And that's just fine.
He had a sample of a scope rail for the M1A, made of stainless steel that he makes himself. Yes, that is serious foundry work. He casts his own receivers, too, and has done forged receivers in the past.
I noticed he had old boxes of .276 Pedersen, and that way found that he too wished MacArthur had switched to it as military standard back in the Depression, too. He, as a SHOOTER, loved what the .276 could do. All the "what might have beens" involved with that round. Aside from getting us a 10 round Garand. It's nice to find someone that thinks like I do a bit. And it confirms my suspicions that the .276 is a sound round ballistically. (That poor Pedersen. He came up with some ingenious innovations but they so rarely took off to stratospheric popularity.)
He makes rifles that shoot that caliber. In fact he is working on some new developments even now, and I can’t wait to see what’s up his sleeve in that regard.
The receivers he displayed didn't say Springfield, and then a big long serial number. They said "Maunz". His name. This guy is the real deal. He makes these things, too, and that is the coolest thing ever. Walking talking history of my favorite rifle.
He shoots left handed not because he is left handed but he is left eye dominant, and he is thus sensitive to the needs of lefty shooters. He was aware of the tendency of a Garand to eject brass toward 4:30 and hit a lefty in the temple. so he’s adjusted many of them to shoot forward to the 2:00 position. Just like my own M1A does. He says if you hold your rifle right you can set a hat out in front of your prone shooting position and all the brass can end up in the hat. If you’re good.
Archie, the WWII veteran up the street from me, is a great old neighbor, but his thing is cars and boats and archery. I love chatting with him, and I always learn new old things from him. But. Imagine if Archie had been more like THIS guy, Maunz. All the things I could have absorbed. Instead of getting my car fixed in Archie's garage (valuable enough, certainly) I'd have learned how to make my own rifle by now.
And, at 70 some years old, Karl Maunz is still innovating, with plans for rifles and ammunition on the boards, soon to be released. It was a pleasure the time I have to meet up and speak with him on the convention floor.