If you want a rifle that has a great history, low recoil and good accuracy, the M1 .30 caliber carbine is an excellent choice. This carbine was issued in 1942 as an alternative to the larger M1 Garand. The military wanted a weapon that was not cumbersome yet had better long-range accuracy than a pistol.
The .30 caliber cartridge (developed by Winchester) has been criticized for lacking stopping power, however, it was not designed for sniping or long distance kills. This was a great weapon to be used if you were stuck riding in a jeep and were ambushed, or if you were a typist and your position was overrun in the field. Many were carried by junior officers and NCO’s. The complaints about the carbines lethality came from war fighters that had to fight in dense jungles or in areas that the enemy wore thick clothing in extremely cold environments. The .30 caliber cartridge was not intended to have the penetrating power of the .30-06 round used in the Garand and Springfield 1903 rifles. These complaints did NOT come from the many thousands of our enemies who died in front of it.
The M1 was designed by a man named David “Carbine” Williams while he was in prison. David was incarcerated for second-degree murder of a Deputy Sheriff during a raid on his illegal distillery in 1921. David would devote much of his time in prison to drawing firearms designs. He was transferred to the prison machine shop to repair the prison’s weapons when a guard noticed his talents. There was even a movie made in 1952 about Carbine Williams that starred James Stewart.
David went to work for Winchester after serving his time and further design work followed, taking out over 50 different patents. His use of the short stroke piston gas system and rotating bolt made the carbine a reliable and sturdy weapon. General MacArthur noted its use in the Pacific Theater when he said that it was “one of the strongest contributing factors in our victory in the Pacific”.
The M1 was used in WWII and in the Korean War. The M2 and M3 were the fully automatic versions of the M1, which was a s e m i – a u t o weapon. A version with a folding stock was popular with the airborne troops. The carbine also saw use in the Vietnam War until the M16 was manufactured in sufficient quantity. Tens of thousands were issued to the Vietnamese, who appreciated its small size.
Over 6 million M1 carbines were manufactured for military use in different factories over the many years of its usage. These military carbines are now being sold for a high price and are very collectable, though different companies such as Auto Ordinance and the Fulton Armory are manufacturing excellent working replicas today.
The M1 carbine has a bayonet lug on it to accept the M4 bayonet. These knives can still be found at gun shows and on the Internet fairly easily and it makes an excellent addition to the weapon. Original parts for this firearm are readily available, and because of the carbine’s popularity, new parts are also available.
The magazine can be loaded round by round outside of the gun but stripper clips can also be used for rapid reloading of the weapon with the magazine in place. Original magazine capacities were 15 and 30 rounds, but luckily 10 round magazines are available for those of us folks living in the “Peoples Republic of California.” There were various sights made for the gun. My favorite rear sight is adjustable for both elevation and windage.
The M1 carbine is still in use by various police departments around the world, such as those in Brazil and Greenland. It is one of my favorite firearms, as I grew up hearing stories about it and watching it in the many WWII films. It periodically stands guard in my work area, but that is mostly because I just like to look at it. It is light, quick to get on target and does not over penetrate, particularly with commercial soft nose rounds, making it a viable option for home defense. With the addition of the bayonet, the intimidation factor and its usefulness go up considerably.
Whether you buy an old military version or one of the current reproductions, you will end up with a fun firearm for plinking at the range, a fine hunting gun for small game (what a jackrabbit motivator!), or a reliable weapon for self-defense.