If you spend much time on the internet or hanging around in firearms circles, you might’ve heard this urban legend before. During World War II, the iconic “ping” of the M1 Garand would notify German soldiers the GI was out of ammo. The German would pop up, wait for the GI to reload, and shoot the GI when he re-engages. To combat this, US Soldiers would throw a spent Garand clip on the rocks to simulate the sound, and shoot the German when he hears it and pops up.
I will admit, during my (much) younger days, I believed this myth. It was a fun idea, and made World War II GIs more badass. However, this myth is not true, and here’s why.
Gunfights are loud
During World War II, soldiers didn’t have hearing protection, at least not modern day hearing protection. Have you ever fired a large caliber rifle without hearing protection? Remember that ringing and the subdued hearing that follows? Now imagine dumping 8 rounds down range, while buddies next to you are blasting away, while grenades are thrown back and forth, and who knows what else.
The only way a soldier is able to talk to someone next to them is by shouting, and now these soldiers are expected to hear a soft ping on the other side of the battle field?
Remember, there’s more than one soldier on the battlefield. World War II squad tactics involved alternating fire. Under ideal circumstances, there’s never a time where all soldiers have stopped firing. The GIs were trained to stagger their fire, so while someone is reloading, another is firing.
Bloke on the Range puts it to the test
Bloke on the Range is an excellent YouTube channel from a Swiss firearms enthusiast. He sets up a little controlled experiment with a single rifle, testing the Legend of the M1 Garand Ping.
Even within a short distance, only one rifle going off, and the “German” not firing any rounds, he was not able to consistently hear when the M1 Garand went empty.
Hearing the M1 Garand ping would have been even more difficult at a greater distance, and with rounds being exchanged between the German and US soldiers.
The legend of the M1 Garand ping getting US soldiers killed, is effectively busted.