The M1 Carbine

November 29, 2008


Inland (General Motors) M1 Carbine Made in 1944

Most shooters are very familiar with the M1 carbine from old war movies and the lucky ones from owning this great old rifle. It’s very lite, handy to carry and a joy to shoot with very little recoil. If you reload and have a press that only loads handgun rounds you can load this straight walled cartridge.
The history of this rifle is very interesting as well. Many folks credit a man named David(Carbine)Williams with it’s design but in fact Mr. Williams designed the gas system with Winchester designing the rifle itself. Many of us older guys remember the movie about Carbine Williams staring Jimmy Stewart as Williams and his designing the rifle while in prison. The movie came out in 1952 and is sometimes seen on stations like Turner classics. Even though a little creative license was taken with the movie it is interesting and worth watching if you ever catch it on TV.
The rifle itself was designed to replace the 1911 45acp for non-combat troops serving behind the lines but eventually found it’s way into the front lines where many officers used it as well as Marines during the island hopping campaigns in the Pacific. The design was done in 1938 but wasn’t issued until 1940. The original ball round was a 110 grain bullet at a bit over 1800 fps. Muzzle energy was twice that of the 45acp. Seeing service in WWII and the Korean war and even the Vietnam war the little carbine serviced on. Renamed the M2 after WWII when it was converted to select fire the 30 round magazine was also adopted replacing the 15 round mag of WWII. Later designations were the M3 which was the same rifle but had a special fitting for night vision device mounting. These were rather ungainly devices that had a large infra red light with the weight approaching that of the rifle itself. If you ever remember the old Man from Uncle TV series the bad guys always had these devices on the M3 Carbines. There were also some other models that had a folding stock which was widely used by Airborne troops in WWII when the troops jumped into France during the invasion of the continent.


Folding Stock M1 Carbine

The folding stock model is a very short carbine that is perfect for a troop jumping with a large load. Ammo is also much lighter than the Garand in 30-06. That and you can carry a lot more ammo. Many troops loved the fact you had more rounds to use without reloading but it’s obvious shortcoming is the lack of punch of this round. Any distance past 150 rounds and your bullet speed is about like a 38 +P revolver at the muzzle.


M2 Select Fire with 30 Round Magazine

One problem with the addition of the 30 round mag is feeding problems with the early mags. This problem was remedied with a new magazine lip design and follower. There are still old 30 rounders out there that have the old design which cause problems for shooters today.
My M1 is an Inland made manufactured for General Motors. It was made in 1944 and is in very good condition. It uses the standard peep sight standard on most WWII rifles.Somewhat rare in that it has a bayonet lug which many did not have. Generally I only use the 20 round mag because of the previously mentioned reliability issues. I’ve never had a problem of any type with reliability. No jams failures to eject no problems whatsoever. Even with reloaded rounds with a heavier bullet it has proved flawless even though it was designed strictly for 110 grain ball. Plenty of military ball is still available. It can be fairly expensive to buy Lake City ammo.If you reload the cost is about the same as reloading a 38 revolver.

The rifle is surprisingly accurate at distances of up to 200 yards in spite of the relatively low powered round. It is certainly an enjoyable rifle to shoot! Groups of about 4 inches at 150 yards are not uncommon with Lake City 110 ball. Loading your own rounds you can squeeze a bit more accuracy from it shooting groups of 3 inches at 150 yards from a sandbag rest.
A good clean example like this one will run about $500. Not bad for a nice military rifle. Mags are fairly inexpensive as well unless you buy the 30 round military mags which can run up to $40. 15 round mags are $10 to $15 if you search around a bit. At times you can get a pretty good deal on ammo at Midway USA when they have a sale on ammo.
If you get a chance to pickup one of these fine old rifles you won’t regret it.One other consideration is they don’t have that stigma of being an evil black rifle. They are just a blast to shoot!

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9 Responses to “The M1 Carbine”

  1. Rich Kerr Says:

    I had an M1 carbine built by Inland, sweet shooter and with a little modern modification would make a great CQB Carbine. I think it would be the cats @$$ chambered in .357cal, a nice hard hitting carbine with some ammo capacity. No matter how you slice it, it’s just one great, lightweight, easy handling shooter IMHO. (I wish I’d never sold mine :( ).

    If anyone has a spare or two PM me, it’s not too late to contact Santa! :)

    Rich

  2. Gunner Says:

    Hi Rich,

    I hope you had a great Thanksgiving! Yes sir that M1 is a blast to shoot. I know at one time Thompson was thinking about copying the old Ruger 10/22 they made in 44 mag back in the 1960’s and making an M1 in 44 magnum! Now that would be a fantastic all around rifle.
    Maybe Santa will hear you:-)

    Phil

  3. Jack Says:

    You use .38s in the M1 carbine? Mind if I ask how you get a .357 diameter bullet to go down a .308 bore? And how you get those rimmed cartridges into magazines designed for rimless rounds?

    Maybe I’m misunderstanding something here.

    Cheers, Jack

  4. Gunner Says:

    Hi Jack,

    Yep a misunderstanding here. I meant you can reload the straightwalled 30 cal brass with a 38 cal bullet like the 38 revolver uses. That would be lead mainly since the JHP accuracy is somewhat lacking. The M1 is a 30 cal not a 308 though like the M1 Garand or M1A1.

    Thanks,
    PHil

  5. lone-wolf Says:

    Weren’t you thinking 15rd magazines, not 20?

  6. Gunner Says:

    Hello,

    Actually they were updated with an aftermarket spring. It was a double twist spring. I can’t advise anyone get them though. They allowed more rounds but were to weak to be reliable. I can’t even find them anymore so there ya go:-)
    Thanks for noticing and I think I’ll go back and change it.

    Take care,
    Phil

  7. Bruce Forbes Says:

    I have an M-1 30 cal, with a select-fire switch installed. #0 years ago when I was given the rifle by a friend, he wasn’t sure what the switch was for, because nothing changes when it is engaged. I looked inside and realized theirs a place for a sear spring, which is missing, but with that, this rifle is fully automatic, I suppose. I want to trade or sell this rifle and need advice on how to do so legally and would like to know what it’s worth. It had 3 20 round and 1 30 round clip, all work well and the rifle is a sweet little gun. Anyone have any answers, please?

  8. elchucko Says:

    I remember carrying the carbine while on guard duty on a Nike missile site in 1961.

  9. Gunner Says:

    It sure served long and well. Was it an M-1 or M-2? I sure remember the Nike Zuess system.


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