Stenciling on M1 Garand and Carbine stocks


Full Member
Since aqcuiring my first M1 Garand, I am already looking to buy a M1 Carbine. I have been doing a fair bit of research on these rifles and one thing that I see from time to time puzzles me, Why do some of these rifles have stencil marks on the buttstocks? It's usually numerical in yellow or white, sometimes big print, sometimes small. Anybody know?

Anchor Zero Six

Problem Solver
Full Member
Nov 11, 2007
Corona Komifornia
Re: Stenciling on M1 Garand and Carbine stocks

Many (esp from CMP) were/are surplus. Some may have been in inventory at ROTC units, Clubs and yes many at one point were in armories.

Dont be afraid to try your hand at refinishing a stock its actualy sort of fun.


Full Member
Oct 15, 2008
Baltimore County
Re: Stenciling on M1 Garand and Carbine stocks

Most likely those are rack numbers from being stored in an armory somewhere. Makes doing inventory much easier.

Shouldn't devalue the rifle to refinish the stock...depending on how you do it. CMP's forum has a lot of good info on techniques to restore an original stock without damaging it. Comes down to personal taste...I sorta like them. I think it adds to the history of the weapon.

For preserving the rifle's value, what you want to avoid is damaging the cartouches (inspector's stamps).


Greg Langelius *

Resident Elder Fart
Full Member
Aug 10, 2001
Re: Stenciling on M1 Garand and Carbine stocks

The important/valuable markings on the stock are called cartouches, and resemble miniature cattle brandings or embossed characters and numbers. Anything in paint is very likely some goofy old noncom lifer's idea of efficiency and order, and has no place in the valuation of Garands. I remove old finishes using a quality chemical paint stripper according to labeled directions, and finish up with soaks in paint thinner and light steel wool rubbing. Try not to round off the sharp edges or deface the cartouches. Any permanently mounted metal should be double taped with masking tape during the finish removal process. If the paint pigment has penetrated the grain and left stains, try using some deck stripper on it.



Gunny Sergeant
Full Member
Mar 15, 2005
WAY off base (COS CO)
Re: Stenciling on M1 Garand and Carbine stocks

They are called rack numbers. You'll see them on the side of the butt as well as on the bottom of the pistol grip. Sometimes they are stamped in with punch-type stamps, sometimes stenciled and painted, sometimes both, sometimes overstamped and over painted on previous ones.

The important thing about an M1 stock's finish and whether or not to mess with it is this - someone that really knows M1s needs to look the stock over and assess its value. Depending on its maker, condition, and finish status, it may be worth a buttload as-is with the stencils left on or it could be just better than firewood and refinishing CORRECTLY will actually help its value.

Rare M1 stocks can fetch north of $1000 depending on what it is and its condition. For example, IHC stocks are some of the fewest produced and highly sought. That said, I have an IHC stock that is in such sad shape now that a thorough resto of its finish with lots of steaming to raise dents will increase its value. It has been so abused and finished over that it is just barely above firewood at this point. Conversely, if it were in the same original condition as some of my post-war SA and HRA stocks, that is basically new all original perfect finish no dents all cartouches intact, it would be worth close to $1k. When I get done with it, it WILL BE an IHC restored stock with the julian date in the barrel channel and correct lines of the pistol grip, so will go well on an IHC resto I'm working on, but it will never be worth what an original condition stock is. No I won't fake a new cartouche (small DAS on the right side upside down) on it.

If by chance you have a somewhat sought after stock in good condition with original finish and original cartouches intact, refinishing it could devalue it by in excess of 75%.

Until it has been evaluated we cannot tell you what to do with yours.

oneshot onekill

Gunny Sergeant
Full Member
Jul 29, 2008
DeBary, Florida
Re: Stenciling on M1 Garand and Carbine stocks

I would NEVER refinish the stock on an old war Gun! To me, that's a bad as re-blueing! Granted, the stocks on old U.S. War Guns are rarely original to the barreled action but they're soaked with the Blood, Sweat and Tears of Soldiers past! Keep the stock the way it is and buy yourself a new set of wood for it if you want it to be pretty. Just store the old wood.