Firearms

M-1 Carbine: Appreciating an Old War Horse

m-1 Carbine

I know what you are thinking; there isn’t anything that the M-1 carbine does that the AR platform rifle doesn’t do better. If you look solely at the ballistics, cost, availability of ammunition, and accuracy, you would be right. There is a reason why our troops no longer carry the old jungle gun—it is mostly obsolete. The firearms community has cast it aside as a relic of an age gone by. Collectors of World War II memorabilia and history buffs now seek it simply as an addition to their collections. Most M-1s probably sit tucked away in the gun safe the majority of the time.

m-1 Carbine
M-1 Carbine

For many years, I was a pure practical gun owner. I usually look at guns like any other tool. I bought them for their specified purpose, and used them accordingly. I have a .270 bolt-action for hunting elk and deer, a 12-guage shotgun for birds, an AR for home defense, and a 9mm for concealed carry. As age began to creep up, I became a bit more sentimental. My grandfather passed away and left his gun collection to his surviving relatives. In his dusty old gun cabinet, an M-1 Carbine sat leaning in forefront. I picked it up and immediately old thoughts came rushing back. I recall grandpa teaching me how to shoot, hunt, and defend myself. I took my first whitetail with that carbine when I was about nine. I remember the old war vet loading only three rounds in the box magazine saying, “If that boy can’t do it in three shots, he doesn’t need to do it at all.” I chuckled and took the gun home.

At the range, the carbine performed beautifully. I had not fired the gun since I was a teenager, and I immediately noticed that it was extremely light and easy to point. Despite the measly 5.2-pound weight, recoil was minimal, which made rapid fire very controllable. I started to shoot on the move, and put rounds on the paper with comparable results to my AR. Surprised, I found the gun to be more accurate and fun to shoot than any pistol caliber carbine or submachine gun I had experience operating. The 15-round magazine performed flawlessly, and has never caused a problem. I can’t speak for the aftermarket 30-round mags, but I hear they work well.

Ballistically speaking, the little .30 caliber cartridge has around twice the kinetic energy as a .45 ACP, and much greater range. When compared to a .223, it is significantly less, but still packs enough of a wallop to stop a man in his tracks. This is especially true if you trade in the over penetrating FMJ ammo for something with a soft expanding projectile. For defensive purposes, the gun would do everything I would expect from a combat carbine. It can stop a human, it’s very accurate, carries plenty of ammo, and it never jams.

There is perhaps one factor that scores more points for the old carbine than any other—the cool factor. This little gun served on the front lines of three major U.S. wars. It is still in use by Israeli police as a standard long gun for non-combat elements and Mash’az volunteers. Many of our fathers, uncles, cousins, and grandfathers carried this gun in combat and it brought them home. It was there at Iwo Jima on Mount Suribachi, and it served in the jungles of Vietnam. It operates flawlessly and gets the job done when you need it most. The next time you see an M-1 carbine sitting on a table at a gun show, take a second look at it. The weapon can still stand up to the task, and would be an excellent addition to anyone’s home arsenal.

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 (13)

  1. I’ve got one that’s a cherry. I bought it from a fellow employee in Indiana still in cosmoline. It’s an Infield manufactured in 1944. I gave it a light sanding & wiped on 3 coats of Tung oil. It really brought out the grain & looks beautiful. I polished the feed ramp so it would feed reloads with the 100 grain Speer Plinker. It’s a half jacketed that should expand very well. It’ll easily shoot at 2000 fps & that bullet should expand very well at that velocity. With a 30 round magazine, it’ll easily handle 2 or 3 intruders.

  2. Have had sevrral original Korean Conflict M-1 carbines and all fun shooters but while I may of gotten family meat with them using soft tip ammo they were all head shots.
    I remember oh so many cases of our Blacktail deer running off after being hit 4or 5 times by some local rednecks kid abd then holler for me to track em down.
    Guys at local AFB once gired over 100 rounds
    into 18 cow elk that game department had to ask real hunters to finish putting 12 down.
    Our short stock and musvular blacktail deer, or hell elk especoally, are notorious round packers once they have adrenaline pumping, far more
    harder to drop than when shot unexpectedly.
    My favorite carbine was silver and gold plated had burly maple stock, it came new Custom rebuild 500 rounds of ammo and best of all was a.gift from wife.
    She used it to keep coyotes away from cattle
    and our chicken and ducks.
    The 300 yard peep lied on original but this one had a special Lyman graduated for windage that actually was dead on up to 250;300 and more was Kaintuck guestimation
    One night I was jarred wide awake by a burst of gunfire coming from boys room, the boys were
    8,9, and 10 and jumping up I grabbed for the
    carbine to find both it and wife gone; so
    grabnibg the Ruger pistol in 30 I ran into their darkened room.
    At far end of room in wide open moonlit window
    I seen wife on knees with three heads behind her holleting you got em you missed em.and yotes yipping and yellping.
    T walked over behind then and asked tried whispering but by then everyone was damn near deafb but they ointed out in the well lit snow covered field what she shooting at.
    It seems one of our cows had dropped a calf and yotes must of gotten to it and were tearing it apart when just as wife got there due to boys
    hollering, a bear c ame out bawling, piled into the pack and was after the calfs remains.
    WHEN I got there the bear was rolling and hunching and biting at back as she poured in thre lead from 30 round bannan clips tapped together,.
    The y otes in kill mode were still after calf and
    fighting bear .but before I could join the shoot they had drup part of calf into woods.
    Well we all 5 of us in jammys and nighty and
    farm boots ended up going into field where
    about a 250 #sow and three yotes had not
    made the woods.I saw one crawling for trees
    and finished it with ruger pistol,damned flash lit
    up the 40 acers and damn near deafened all 5
    of us.
    So yes the carbine could serve well as it did that night.
    My wife went back to her creator after our
    45+years married but more years knowing each other, and every now and then on a still country
    night when I hear a rifle shot I pat the cold empty spot beside me and say;” God you got one hell of a good women up there now, and I thank you both.

  3. Geeze I LOVE this rifle. Carried one in high school ROTC and have had one since then. I believe my Dad bought it at Federal’s Dept. store for $55 in the 50’s, because he had one on Saipan in WW-duece. He was an Ordnanceman then, and of course had his choice of any weapon he wanted. He chose the wire-stocked “paratrooper” model because it was lighter to carry and gave it very high praise. He and I both heard many a bar-room commando enlighten us on how “puny and under-powered” it was supposed to be, and would look at each other and grin. We both knew that it was a superb weapon with a great cartridge for what it was designed for. We had one at our deer camp and my Aunt Betty, who sat around tending the stew orchili pot while we were humping our butts through the woods, shot several deer through the kitchen window with that “feeble” little carbine.
    I had the chance to do some un-scientific testing with ballistic gelatine one time while stationed at the ammo depot in Earle New Jersey, and fired into some gel with both an M1 Garand (30-06) and an M-1 Carbine, and was totally surprised at the cavity created by the carbine round. I credit it to the broad frontal nose of the bullet mostly. This was borne out on both deer I have shot with my carbine. Both were shot at under 50 yards, and both were classic broadside “just behind the shoulder” hits with military surplus FMJ cartridges. Neither went more than 25 feet, and the damage inside the carcasses was just as impressive as my ol’ 30-30 was with similar hits. As far as I’m concerned, the ONLY problem with them little jewels is finding one, and their price.

    1. I’ve read a couple of articles about Audie Murphy, a man whose opinion on combat fire arms I give much credence to, and a man who could carry any weapon he wanted in combat. He stated that his favorite fire arm was the M1 Carbine. Good enough for Audie Murphy is good enough for me. I don’t need any more recommendation than that.

  4. Bought an m1 carbine a while back at k mart for about $120 bucks. Good to have in the once great state of Connecticut.which now states that
    The 15 round mags must be registered with the state.Sure wish I had some!!!

  5. Y’all remember the Ruger Blackhawks in .30 carbine, right? I’d be curious to own one of these carbines now. I never fired one, but when I was a young adult, a friend and I went to Ft Hood to deer hunt. He carried anM-1 Carbine, possibly one he’d been issued in Vietnam. I never paid it much attention, never even asked to shoot it. I should have. Haven’t had that oppritunity since. Don’t know whatever happened to him or that carbine, but neither of us fired a shot on that hunt. I was carrying an old 740 Remington in 30.06 which couldn’t be trusted to hit a deer 1 out of 3 or 4 shots with at 100 yds or so, ’til I narrowed it down to barrel bedding, and found the problem in the tension on the barrel lug/forearm mounting fastening nut that had dual size threads, and consiquently needed re-adjusting. Anyway, I’d always heard how under powered the .30 Carbine was for deer, so I figured we each had about as good a chance recovering game. After all these years, and now that I have nice hunting rifles but no longer hunt, it would be a very interesting gun to use as a ranch gun just to ride in the toolbox for plinking, possible varmint dispatch, or nosy intruders(outdoor defense on my land. The 5.5 lbs sounds great, I’d like to hear more from you guys that have storys or just a fond memory to share about this Carbine.

  6. I have always loved the little rifle that could.My Grandad had a Garand and a Carbine. Ive wanted one myself but havent had the chance or found one that was affordible too me.Thanks for briging back memmorries.

  7. I cannot agree more. The M-1 is an awesome weapon and got many back alive over the years. This year was the first gun show I was able to go to. They had many different guns on display. The M-1’s were there and so were the AR’s. I bought my AR at this show, it was a lot lower in price than the M-1’s. I would love to add one to my collection, however my collection is a shooting one. None of the guns that I own just sit in the cabinet. Right down to the old Red Ryder bb-gun. I shoot them all, at different occasions, nonetheless they don’t just sit there. I love my guns and will never give up my second amendment RIGHT to keep and bear arms.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Time limit exceeded. Please click the reload button and complete the captcha once again.

Your discussions, feedback and comments are welcome here as long as they are relevant and insightful. Please be respectful of others. We reserve the right to edit as appropriate, delete profane, harassing, abusive and spam comments or posts, and block repeat offenders. All comments are held for moderation and will appear after approval.