DAVISON TOWNSHIP, Mich. – As gifts go, Jim Richardson's choice for his father's 79th birthday was a long shot.
Virgil Richardson fondly remembered the .30-caliber M1 Garand rifle he carried during his time as a soldier during the Korean War.
He even still had the weapon's serial number.
Using that number, Jim Richardson went online and found the firearm at a Kentucky gun broker.
"I couldn't even talk when he gave it to me," Virgil Richardson told The Flint Journal. "It didn't even have to be the same gun to be important to me."
About 7 million of the sturdy rifles were produced during the Korean War period, making the odds of finding the right one so long that the broker didn't believe the serial number matched, said Jim Richardson, 54, of Saginaw County's Frankenmuth, about 70 miles northwest of Detroit.
"After the war, the soldiers couldn't bring the rifles back with them," Jim Richardson said. "They stayed in Korea (until the 1980s), when they were able to be imported back to the United States."
He won't say exactly how much he spent, but some collectors have paid as much as $3,000. He gave the Garand to his father last week, although the elder Richardson's birthday isn't until next month.
Virgil Richardson served from 1951-53 as an Army radio operator in the 25th Infantry Division. When he speaks of the war, the General Motors Corp. retiree often mentions the rifle's accuracy and dependability, as well as his own marksmanship.
"My sister lives in the country, and it came up that you could shoot a deer right from the deck of her home," Jim Richardson said. "Dad made a comment that he could hit a silhouette target at 500 yards without a scope. Most people can't see that far without a scope."
Virgil Richardson said he'll wait until his Oct. 26 birthday to shoot the weapon.
"What shocked me the most is how very heavy it is," he said. "I have trouble now holding it up and aiming it. I guess they were made for 20- and 21-year-olds."