Fishing

The Chiappa 9mm M1-9 Carbine — The Best of Both Worlds

3 WWII vintage rifles with several vintage handguns

The M1 Carbine was the most produced American Infantry weapon of World War II. We built around 6.5 million of these tidy little rifles by the time the last shot was fired. At the apogee of production, we were producing 65,000 M1 Carbines a day. Truth be known, the Axis never had a chance.

Chiappa M1-9 rifle top, Springfield M1 Carbine bottom
The Chiappa M1-9 is a reasonably priced facsimile of the original GI Carbine that fires inexpensive and easily obtained ammunition.

One of the reasons for the Carbine’s success was its remarkably ergonomic chassis. At a time when most Infantry rifles were as long as a floor mop, and as heavy as Goliath’s bowling ball, the lithe little M1 Carbine was positively airy. From fetid Pacific jungles to bombed-out European villes, American GIs came to appreciate the utility of a compact, lightweight combat rifle that sported a decent magazine capacity. Those same attributes drive the Information Age Chiappa M1-9.

Chiappa guns are manufactured in Italy using modern manufacturing techniques. This means that there will be a few polymer parts to include the sights, trigger guard, and non-functional bayonet lug. Some corn-fed American shooters raised on the forged steel of the 1911 and Garand will balk at such stuff as un-American or somehow threatening to one’s virility. However, I found the Chiappa M1-9 rifle to be serviceable, reliable, and fun.

The Chiappa M1-9 Carbine looks like your granddad’s GI Carbine in dim light. However, a glance at the magazine gives notice that something is indeed amiss. The M1-9 is chambered for 9mm and is blowback operated. The M1-9 is fed from standard Beretta handgun magazines. The magazines accompanying the gun carry 10 rounds. Aftermarket 15, 17, and 30 rounders fit and feed fine as well.

bolt carrier assembly
The bolt carrier assembly is fairly massive to accommodate the blowback action firing 9mm Parabellum rounds. As a result, recoil is just snappy enough to be fun.

As the M1-9 is blowback operated, it eschews the familiar rotating bolt and gas tappet of its military forebear. In its stead, is a surprisingly heavy bolt carrier that tends to counteract the spunky recoil impulse of the 9mm round. The manual of arms is the same as that of the GI gun.

The Chiappa M1-9 Carbine is available with either GI walnut or black polymer stocks. It can also be chambered for 9x21mm. Unlike the GI gun, the receiver comes standard with a dovetail for scope mounting. The Beretta pistol magazine utterly ruins the aesthetics of the rifle, but once you get past the wrongness of the pistol magazine jutting smartly from the bottom the utility of the gun becomes apparent.

Generation Gap

The basic Carbine design is not without its eccentricities. The front sight is heavily fenced, and the line of sight is nestled deep in the forearm. This can restrict your peripheral vision somewhat, but the low sight axis makes for minimal aiming error off the bore. The original sling mounts logically on the left side, using a clever little cylindrical oil bottle to hold it in place. The M1-9 doesn’t come with the sling or bottle, but it is available online it you want a low-priced reproduction.

3 WWII vintage rifles with several vintage handguns
You can drop a holy fortune on vintage WW2-era military firearms. The Chiappa M1-9 runs the economical 9mm Parabellum cartridge and is a great option for the collector on a budget.

The original gas-operated M1 Carbine is a joy to shoot. Recoil is piddly and magazine changes are seamless. The bolt does not lock to the rear on the last round fired, but it can be secured there for inspection. My original vintage M1 rifle will pop stumps, all day long, at 100 meters on my backyard shooting range.

The Chiappa M1-9 is a variation on the original theme. The chassis is identical, so the manual of arms remains unchanged. Recoil was spunkier than expected, however. The experience is in no way objectionable, but it was adequate to remind us that this was a real gun and not some rimfire toy. Unlike the GI Carbine, there is no mechanism to lock the bolt to the rear manually.

Ruminations

So, what exactly will the M1-9 do that your favorite Glock 17 won’t? That’s a reasonable question. The longer barrel will give you a little added horsepower but not much. Both guns carry about the same amount of onboard ammo, and the M1-9 is bulkier, heavier, and longer. However, that added bulk, heft, and length make the gun much easier to manage, particularly by neophyte shooters. The rifle chassis is innately more accurate and more readily controlled. The M1-9 would make a splendid home defense tool.

In generations past, the M1 Carbine was the most popular recreational firearm in the country. The M1-9 captures that same sweet stuff while running dirt-cheap ammo through readily available magazines. There were a few failures to eject early on, but that passed soon enough. The manual recommends a 150-round break-in period, and getting there is pure fun. The Chiappa M1-9 captures all that classic Carbine cool, yet it shoots for only pennies a round.

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (19)

  1. I own two M1 carbines, Inland & Plainfield. Love them both. Nothing can replace the firing and low recoil of a 30 caliber carbine. I wait to get the best deals on ammo for them.

  2. My father landed on Peleliu as a 19 yr old Marine, forward observer for naval gunfire. His carbine made .3 inch holes in the Japanese, who attacked on… I know an intruder can’t be compared to someone defending their honor and homeland to their last breath, but (my opinion is) a .3 inch pistol caliber round delivered by pistol, carbine or long rifle is not the defense weapon I will count on…

  3. The Ruger Mini-14 and Mini-30 both use cartridges in more wide circulation than the M1Carbine cartridge-and more effective than the M1Cartridge cartridge.Yes the Chiappa can use 9mm Beretta magazines but so can the Ruger 9mm carbine use Ruger[or Glock ] magazines.If I were going for a 9mmcarbine,it would be a converted Glock 17.Note I agree the M1carbine feels handy,but so does the Ruger Mini-14/Mini-30.. or Marlin 99M1 22 LR ! I recall that someone tried[apparently unsuccessfully]to convert M1 carbines to 44Mag[or was it 45Mag,not 45ACP or 45Colt].That the M1cartridge was developed either independently or from some other cartridge, suggests that a 35 caliber cartridge could have used the 357Mag or a version of the 357Mag.Even [later,granted]357Mag ‘auto handguns have been developed. Who knows if that could not have happened in the 1930s??Use the same analogy of the 1911 Government and the Thompson sub-machine gun or M3A1 submachine gun.If I not mistaken[please correct me if I’m wrong],the later 5.7mmJohnson can be made from 357Mag brass.

    1. Karl not arguing anything your saying, yes the other cartridges are more available and offer a great improvement over the 30 carbine round. Yes those other rifles are handy. I also agree if it were me I would rather buy a gun designed to shoot the 9mm than some retrofit.

      MY only contention is your applying here and now to 1940. Even in present day it would be hard to make something to fill all the restrictions the Ordnance Department had in place. Look at the Chiappa, in 9mm. That increase from .308 to .355 ,which is the 9mm bullet diameter, increase the weight. The originals M1 carbs came in at around 5.3lbs. The Chiappa in 9mm weighs 6.3lbs. A full pound more and thus out of the specs the Army wanted.

      Doubt you could make 5.7mm Johnson cases from .357 brass. Though I’m no expert on that round. Base diameter is bigger on a .357 not to mention its rimmed.

    2. Carl, you need tpo remember at the time the main US infantry gun was the M1 Garand. Shooting 30-06 caliber.
      The M1 carbine is shooting the 30 carbine. Basically the same bullet (Though they made the carbine less grains versus the Garand.)
      There was no plan or thought about messing with pistol calibers as they were not very effective except in close quarters. The M1 carbine was there for the behind the front lines and paratroopers. It gave them a more handy rifle to use that did get in the way like the Garand.
      the 30 Carb round was converted from the 32 self loading cartridge.

  4. The use of the 9mm as a cheap plinker is understandable. However, if you want to get some attention, chamber it for 10mm auto. A light carbine that matches your Glock or 1911 in 10mm would be a fun combination.

  5. I’d just buy a new Ruger PC, use Glock or Ruger mags, if the purpose was to shoot a 9mm carbine, even a HiPoint.

    If you want a “pretend” M1 Carbine buy the Chiappa (and good luck with their Customer Service) or buy a real GI M1 carbine buy some ammo and learn to reload.

    I’ll never buy another product connected to Chiappa as a result of purchasing a dedicated 22lr AR UPPER that had had multiple issues and Chiappa Customer Service refused to respond to my emails or phone calls regarding the numerous issues with their product and warranty. Nope I’ll never touch anything even remotely connected to the name Chiappa!

    1. Have the Ruger PC Carbine; totally reliable with any ammo, accurate, takes down, Ruger & Glock mag compatible I use my Ruger SR mags..

  6. Sounds like a fun little carbine. skeptics should remember that one of the original plans for the M1 carbine was to bridge the gap between the 1911 and the Garand. A lightweight compact firearm which was more accurate than the 1911. Especially for officers and carrying on vehicles. Yes underpowered compared to the Garand. It became popular in the 60s & 70s due to very cheap surplus ammo and low recoil. Awesome plinker. Sadly the price of the little 30 cal ammo is outrageous. Therefore the Chiappa fills this niche nicely with the 9mm. Kuddos. Yes a larger caliber sounds nice, but priced ammo defeats the purpose. And yes it would be nice if it used a magazine which more closely resembled the original M1 carbines.

  7. The 357 Magnum cartridge came out in the 1930s.It , or a rimless version of it, could have been used.
    A shortened 30-06 could have used a 44 or 45 caliber projectile [as was the later 44Autoag-I recall it was/could be used 308Win/7.62×51 NATO brass.Yes I know that only came out ~1970].The Germans used shortened 8mm cartridge to make the 8×33 in their sturmgewehr.

    1. If only you were around in 1940. I do like the thought of a rimless 357. The 357 mag out of an 18.5″ Marlin 1894C is better, though it really is not that great a leap over the 30 carb. Especially when you start bleeding pressure off to run the action.

      Think the larger rounds would of needed to add more weight. Not just to contain the power but a barrel using a larger diameter bullet is going to be bigger around than a smaller caliber. Think of it as a circle, if I have a 30cal hole and wanted to make it a 40cal I would need to add more material just to get around the bigger hole. I might also need to increase thickness of barrel for a more powerful round. Multiplied over 18.5″ that alone is probably at least 3/4 of a pound.

      Even the jump to a rimless 357 would add weight, not sure if it would of been enough to go over the Army’s specs though. Most of the rounds at the time like 9mm Largo, 9mm Steyr, and even the .38 Super are not nearly as good as the 30 carb.

    2. Actually, we have 4 of the lever action 357s, two are the Marlins, one Remlin and one from 1981 with the old micro groove barrel. With 110 grain bullets, same as the 30 cal carbine, I can get about 2,200 fps, only 1,900 in the carbine. We also have 2 of the 9mm carbines, camp carbine and KelTec sub 2000. They only produce about 1,300 fps with a 115 grain bullet. Point is, the 357 can take 158 or 180 grain bullets and some loads so it also comes with a dramatic hunting advantage, but a real view of the number shows this:

      1. the 357 mag,110 gr at 100 yds, has over 1,000 foot pounds

      2. the 30 carb, 110 gr at 100 yds has about 750 foot pounds, and

      3. the 9mm, carb, 115 gr at 100 yds has only about 372 foot pounds,

      Point is, I love my 9mms, and they are great for defense, varmints in the yard, plinking, and just cheap fun shooting. Actually I think the M1 carbine is one reason the Ruger mini 14 and mini 30 are so popular, same action is a serious caliber. Would love to have one, but you can see, we have too many carbines already.

    3. Actual barrel lengths of the lever actions? Once again your going to bleed some of that pressure back to work the semi-auto action. Lastly still a bigger round, so barrel and receiver are going to be heavier. I doubt it would of made Army requirements.

      My defense of the M1 carbine comes from what it was at that particular time. Filling the Army’s requirements was no easy task. I think it would be hard to do today.

      Love shooting the Ruger Mini-14. I also consider it “handy” though it still weighs over a pound more than a M1 carbine. The Chiappa as a look a like M1 carb in 9mm makes little sense to me. I would rather a gun built to shoot 9mm which can be had for the same cost if just looking for a fun gun to use with magazines I already had while shooting 9mm.

  8. My M1Carbine handy-yes.Wimpy cartridhge.Even back then there could have been better choices[obvoiously its cartridge was a sew one,same could have been aplied to the 357Magnum.Post war in in the last 30 rays,the Ruger Mini-30 or Mini-14 handle just as easy,but with superior cartridge;ditto the 7,62×39.”while “I’m re-writing history!”,a 7mm[like the British wanted] instead of 30 caliber could have been employed in the M-4-or better the FAL The current novelty of the 6.5 mm bears that out.

    1. So without rewriting history what cartridge do you suggest? The 7.62X39 is still a thirty caliber and came out some time in 1944. While I agree it is a better cartridge. Unfortunately even the lightest AK version the AKM is still a pound over weight.

      I think the problem is sticking to the Army’s mandated that the new cartridge caliber to be greater than .27cal. Combined with the rifles weight restriction makes the caliber choice real tough.

      Now with those restrictions I think you would be hard pressed to find something that existed that would of worked. All the rounds that caliber were bigger and you weren’t getting into a that light a rifle. Remember the point was something better than a 1911, not another rifle, already had one of those.

  9. To me,it would be easier to take a Glock 17 and install a carbine kit [and thereby have handgun/rifle comb]o..or have a Ruger Mini-30 carbine instead.Dimensionally about the same but superior ballistics. The M1Carbine CARTRIDGE has always left me cold i.e the US was too stupid to employ the 357Magum cartridge [or rimless version]in the M1Carbine-would have been superior..and that cartridge was here in the 1930s..Even the 5.7 Johnson cartridge would have been superior to the M1Carbine cartridge. Obviously I’m a Glock fan…take a Glock 18 and install it into a carbine conversion… would be like the M2 carbine!.
    This Chiappa carbine looks like Ruger’s existing pistol caliber.Yawn.

  10. To me,it would be easier to take a Glock 17 and install a carbine kit [and thereby have handgun/rifle comb]o..or have a Ruger Mini-30 carbine instead.Dimensionally about the same but superior ballistics. The M1Carbine CARTRIDGE has always left me cold i.e the US was too stupid to employ the 357Magum cartridge [or rimless version]in the M1Carbine-would have been superior..and that cartridge was here in the 1930s..Even the 5.7 Johnson cartridge would have been superior to the M1Carbine cartridge. Obviously I’m a Glock fan…take a Glock 18 and install it into a carbine conversion… would be like the M2 carbine!.
    This Chiappa carbine looks like Ruger’s existing pistol caliber.Yawn. .carbine.

    1. Would of liked to see a comparison between 30 carb and 9mm out of each included here. Karl where the numbers for the 5.7 are good it would be tough for it to have been consider at the time seeing as it didn’t come out until two decades later. That fact combined with the fact that it’s parent case was the 30 carbine necked down,

      Have always thought the M-1 carbine was great, fun little gun. Very easy to shoot and a real good gun to start younger shooters on.

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