William J. Ricca Surplus Sales
PO Box 25
New Tripoli, Pennsylvania 18066-0025
Bidding on Government Surplus since 1971
610-298-2748 Phone         
Hours:  Monday through Thursday 9:00 am - 4:00 pm Eastern Time Zone
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M10 Cleaning Rods - Identification of Fakes

In the Summer of 2009 I wrote an article for the Garand Collectors Association Journal identifying each maker and time period of the M10 Cleaning Rod. The article contained more information about production than will be discussed here. If you want access to that information, I invite you to join the Garand Collectors Association and purchase the Summer of 2009 edition (see bottom of page). The article was far more inclusive than this page and went into the history of how the M10 Rod evolved into the M14 Cleaning System.

This purpose of this page is to educate the public about the fakes that are being mis-represented as US GI. The internet is loaded with reproductions of everything imaginable. The M10 Cleaning Rod is no exception. Reproductions have been produced since the late 1980's in Taiwan, and most likely other versions are coming in from Red China. The purpose of this page is to help you identify the fakes, despite the claims of the sellers.

Each M10 Cleaning Rod, as originally manufactured, contained the contract number, date of packing, and the contractor's name. All contracts contained just the Handle Assembly (also known as combination tool), 4 sections, and Holder (also known as Swab Section, Tip, or Patch holder). The buffer, fabric case, and spacer were developed separately and produced at later times.

 

Here is a short review of who made them:

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The earliest known contract is Novelty Tool. The earliest found production is Feb of 1953. This is one from June, 1953.

 
By April of 1954 Worden Specialty and Machine had a contract.

 

 
In July of 1954 Novelty was awarded another contract, this time packed for long term storage in heavy cardboard tubes with metal caps on each end.

 
In 1958 the first contract for buffers was released. An Ordnance Modification Work Order was written, ordering all levels of support to permanently attach a buffer to one section of each cleaning rod in supply. Springfield Armory's compliance is shown above, with a date of August of 1959.

 

Above lable was on a 1954 contract M10 Rod. The markings show Repacked in May of 1958
with the Modification Work Order Ordnance B21 W-5 being Applied. The majority of M10 Rods
were never modified with the Plastic Buffer.


Plastic Buffer was changed to Direct Issue to troops in 1959.  This article is
from PS Magazine announcing that troops will no longer depend upon Direct Support
to apply the buffers. They will be issued directly to all soldiers who were issued an
M10 Cleaning Rod.


The M14 is Produced

 
With the recent adoption of the M10 Cleaning Rod for the newly manufactured M14 Rifle, Ordnance started a second series of contracts to support the supply system. Worden Specialty and Machine Company had a contract from 1959 thru 1960.

 
Farmers Tool and Supply, the only maker of the M14 bipod, was the last company to get a contract for the production of M10 Cleaning Rods. The year was 1960.

1962 Changes Everything

By March of 1961, Springfield Armory had developed a separate cleaning system for the M14. The system used the same rod sections and patch holder (tip) as the M10. In 1962 a decision was made that no more M10 Cleaning Rods would be produced. Each M10 and M14 component (handles, rod sections, cases, tips) would be procured separately, which would allow each support unit to produced or repair either cleaning system, as needed.

Another change was the basic design of the M10 Handle Assembly as shown below.


In 1962 the design of the Handle Assembly was changed. On the left is the early version, which was produced with each cleaning rod.  On the right is the improved version, produced separately, in 1962 and later. The earlier version would often twist when loosening a stuck Gas Cylinder Lock Screw. The answer was to make the screwdriver shorter and the base larger.

 
Worden was the first contractor to make the improved version of the Handle Assembly. This 1962 contract was bulk packed, thus the contract number was on the outside shipping container, not on each item. In 1966 thru 1968 several hundred thousand more were produced by two different companies.

Fakes


How do you identify a fake?

All early type handles were produced as complete rods and were never made after 1960.  Currently the CMP has lots of those complete rod sets for sale and notice that all are "New in Wrap".  So when somebody has none of the early rods or handles in the wrap, here is the giveaway:

Once the later type was adopted, both were in the system as replacements. The government never differentiated between the two types because both were approved for issue and use.  All lots of surplus handle assemblies will consist of both early and late types. The early types consist of about only 15% of each lot. Therefore anybody who claims to be selling originals should have some late versions available, not just the early ones which are flooding the internet (unless he has new in wrap complete rods). Ask the seller about his inventory and find out if he can provide you with a late version. So far ALL FAKES are strictly early versions. 

From the GCA Journal article, "You can expect this to change when somebody reads this article and starts making the later version.  However, I have news for them: There is one characteristic that originals have which I have not shown nor described. To add this characteristic will cost a small fortune.  I have examples of all contractors, with the production dates, contract numbers, and wrappers. Some originals were precision cast, others were machined. The fakers will have to know how to match the production style with the characteristics of the six different makers. I doubt they will be successful.

 
This is one example of the current imports from China. The case with the B098 marking is a dead giveaway. Only about 2% of all cases produced had this marking. So far all imports have this marked case. The brush is not US GI due to the aluminum body, the oiler applicator is straight and has no flat edge, and the buffer is larger than the issued buffer. Remember when you see the markings B098 on a fabric case, there is a very high probability everything is fake.

 
One of the funniest fakes on eBay. The cleaning kit has the part number for the rod, the contractor got its own name wrong, the contract number applies to the Cleaning Rod contract from 1954, yet is repacked by a CSS, whoever that is, and the grease inside the kit did not yet exist. This is not the first time somebody used a legitimate contract number to fake an item. Those individuals doing this are totally ignorant of Ordnance History and Procurement. Whoever produced this kit, I thank you for your stupidity!

Current Commercial Production - Stateside

From the GCA article,
"The last contract date for the M10 Handle Assembly was 1985.  Circa 1989/90, the government had planned to issue another contract.  A government contractor tooled up and was awarded the contract.  However, this contract was immediately cancelled and production never occurred.  Up stepped this market for reproductions.  By then, originals were in scarce supply, and Taiwan rods were here to stay. The producer that never got the government contract makes the handles for a few of us today. They are of much better quality than the imports and considerably more expensive to make.  For the price of one high quality handle, the importers can bring in a few complete rods, with cases. This is a great example of getting what you pay for. The only ones I know that handle this high quality M10 Handle Assembly are Scott Duff , Fulton Armory, Orion 7, and Ricca Surplus Sales."

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