Review: Iver Johnson 1911A1 Carbine

Iver Johnson 1911A1 Carbine

I eat and breathe the 1911, and have been fascinated by the pistol for more than 40 years.

The firearm illustrated isn’t a pistol, but it is a 1911, something of a contradiction. Among the 1911s I own, this one is a real fun gun.

While there is always a possible use for personal defense or small game, I think the Iver Johnson 1911A1 carbine is simply a fun gun, even an oddity, and makes for a great conversation piece.

Note: A word on legal issues. I am no expert, but I will tell you this, don’t put a stock on a pistol and don’t put a shorter barrel in a pistol-caliber carbine, period.

Initial Thoughts

The Iver Johnson is a shoulder-stocked factory carbine, not a stocked pistol. A specially-designed mainspring housing mates to a shoulder stock to create this carbine.

SAM of the Philippines supplies the re-branded Iver Johnson. The carbine is nicely finished and the sights are larger than GI types. The grips have the famous Iver Johnson Owl Head logo.

The 16.25-inch barrel generates a big gain in velocity over the five-inch barrel pistol without increased recoil. Most 800 fps .45 ACP loads, as an example, perk up to over 1,000 fps.

Faster loads are even faster with some 185-grain JHP loads breaking 1,125 fps in the carbine. I can see 200 grains at 1,100 fps without any problem — near 10mm Auto ballistics.

I don’t think it was an easy task to convince a carbine with a swinging barrel link and barrel bushing to operate reliably, but the 1911 carbine works well.

Iver Johnson 1911A1 Carbine
A truly interesting firearm and fun to shoot as well!

Test Firing

All standard 1911 magazines worked well, locking in place and feeding.

I was pleased with performance of lead SWC and RNL loads. Factory hardball 230-grain FMJ loads also did well.

Firing from a benchrest, the carbine is capable of a two to three-inch group at 25 yards, all we may ask.

Getting a grip is a bit complicated, even cramped for some hands, but it can be done with practice. Remember, the lower part of the grip is taken up by a stock attachment.

The stock seems rigid enough, but I would not stress it over much. The 19-inch length of pull is what you make of it. It works OK for most of us. Fast shooting and tracking on targets is fun.

At four pounds and with a few more ounces when fully-loaded, the Iver Johnson carbine doesn’t recoil very much.

When firing, the sights are closer to the eye than with a pistol and this makes for good accuracy potential.

Among the most accurate combinations is a hard-cast 200-grain SWC over enough Titegroup powder for 1,100 fps (899 fps in a pistol).

Iver Johnson 1911A1 Carbine Disassembled
The carbine isn’t difficult to disassemble.

Other Considerations

There was one fly in the ointment. The carbine does not feed hollowpoints, at least not all hollowpoint ammunition. Some hung on the feed ramp.

While I consider the piece primarily for recreation, I like to be able to use a wide range of ammunition.

After managing to work up excellent cycle reliability with the long barrel and a standard operating action, you would think feed reliability would have been addressed.

It is what it is, and this is true to the GI gun in most ways — including the feed ramp’s original less-than-optimal design.

The Iver Johnson 1911A1 carbine offers a lot of fun, good conversation, and is much easier to shoot well than a pistol.

As for serious use, many long guns are not safe to keep fully-loaded at home ready. This .45 is.

It is fast into action and a shooter that struggles with a pistol may get good hits quickly with this carbine.

Standard ammunition develops more energy in the Iver Johnson carbine’s 16.25-inch barrel.

Chances are, I have only scratched the surface of this firearm’s potential.

Iver Johnson 1911A1 Carbine Stock Attachment
This is the stock attachment.

1911A1 Carbine Specifications:

Model 1911A1 Carbine (IJ01RIFLE)
Action Single-Action Semi-Automatic
Caliber .45 ACP
Frame Carbon Steel
Finish Olive Drab
Sights Improved Fixed Sights
Barrel 16.25 Inches
Twist Rate 1:16″ RH, 6 Grooves
Trigger Pull 4.9 lbs
Overall Length 35 Inches
Height 5.25 Inches
Slide Width 0/92 Inches
Weight 4 lbs
Capacity 8+1 Rounds (Also Accepts All Other 1911 Magazines)

Have you ever fired the Iver Johnson 1911A1 Carbine? Tell us what you thought in the comments below!

About the Author:

Wilburn Roberts

When Wilburn Roberts was a young peace officer, he adopted his present pen name at the suggestion of his chief, as some of the brass was leery of what he might write. This was also adopted out of respect for families of both victims and criminals. The pen name is the same and the man remains an outspoken proponent of using enough gun for the job.

He has been on the hit list of a well-known hate group, traveled in a dozen countries and written on many subjects, including investigating hate crimes and adopting the patrol carbine. He graduated second in his class with a degree in Police Science. It took him 20 years to work himself from Lieutenant to Sergeant and he calls it as he sees it.
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 (8)

  1. I wonder if they are getting away with building these by making it as an AOW? I used to have an SOT, and we played with one like this I built out of surplus stocks, and I don’t remember who was selling the long barrels; but when I realized that because of the interchangeability of the barrel was too easy, I didn’t want to bother with the short barreled rifle hassle, and destroyed my project. I could have registered it legally, yes, but that wasn’t my goal at the time. I had a hard time parsing the AOW law, so I gave up there too.

    I got to admit though, I had more fun shooting this, that even the MGs we had in stock! I had a drum magazine on it, and was planning to get one of those custom grips that had a scope mount on it, before I gave up the project. Oh – well, I had my fun! I’d LOVE to buy one of these, but what if this ends up another BATF “bump stock” fiasco?

  2. I’m blown away by UR artical. I was not aware of this gun. For it to be considered a rifle doesn’t it have to be 26″overall. I have been thinking of a DIY or kit gun for a long time. I know that u can get a 80% for the 1911. The one thing I would like to see is a barrel shroud on it. Everyone always wasn’t to have something different. Thank you for UR artical.

  3. “don’t put a stock on a pistol and don’t put a shorter barrel in a pistol-caliber carbine, period.”
    How about putting the 16″ barrel in a standard 1911A1 ?
    Could one obtain the spring housing and add it to the grip?
    Reason I ask, I have a few FN INGLIS HiPower CH models with shoulder stocks and would love to add this to my cabinet.

  4. SARCO has a holster for this gun and some other accessories. These things do have a history once being considered as a personal defense weapon in place of the standard rifle or as a survival weapon for air crew. This was quickly looked at and forgotten but the concept lives on. As for installing a standard barrel, I think you will find that as long as you do not attach the stock you are fine. Look at the Thompson Contender, which can be both rifle and pistol just by switching a few parts. Many others also.

  5. The Iver Johnson 1911 Carbine is a lot of fun to take to the range. It handles very well. Rapid firing saw 25 rounds in a 3″ hole at 15 yards. That was rapid fire, not slow aimed. Slow aimed would probably be better. It moved easily between targets and felt recoil was greatly reduced by the stock.

    I may look at upgrading the sights or, at the very least, steal my wife’s nail polish to add a dot of color to the front site.

    I really enjoyed shooting it.

    The only downside was in field stripping. The barrel was very difficult to take out for cleaning due to how tight the fit is.

    Also, you do have to put up with either a very long wait time, or pay the extra to contact Iver Johnson Arms directly. I was on a wait list with 2 different internet retailers for about 18 months. Contacted Iver Johnson directly and had it within 3 weeks. I did have to pay full retail, but it was worth the extra $50 to me.

    I consider it well worth it.

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