Musings on the M1 Carbine

Another article I wrote a long time back that I think is still relative today.

I fondled an M1 carbine the other day and as happens with most every gun I get interested in, I thought I’d write out the pros/cons and see where it takes me. So far I’ve talked myself out of nearly every one I get interested in when I do this, so lets see what happens this time. As always I am going to look at the M1 as your average American citizen minded dude. This means that money (initial investment and ongoing use) will be a consideration as well as the probable use of the gun.

The short and sweet of the history of the M1 carbine is that it was developed in the early 40’s to fill a void between the Garand and the 1911 .45 pistol. It’s a lightweight semi-automatic carbine that became a standard firearm in the US military during World War II and the Korean War. It did see use during and after Viet Nam by the US and the Koreans and Israelis took to using the Carbine for a while as well.

This is as good a time as any to interject my own little version of authors A.D.D. and say that it is basically what the Tommy Gun was used for so I don’t really know why it was ever needed in the first place. Not important, I’ll go more into it later.

As a gun itself with the standard stock, it weighs in at 5.2 pounds and measures out to 35 and a half inches with an 18 inch barrel. Mags are most commonly available in 15 and 30 rounds with the 15s reportedly being the most handy for balance of the gun. 10 round mags are available for the nurtured states.

The round it fires is termed the .30 Carbine and is a rimless cartridge with a 110 grain bullet weight. Muzzle velocity comes to a bit below 2000 feet per second. This combination is good for 100 yards with bullet drop and decreasing velocity becoming a big problem by 200 yards. Many people compare the ballistics of the .357 and more appropriately from the numbers I’ve seen, the 44 magnum. So it does have the oomph to do some damage to a target.

Essentially it is a pistol caliber carbine and should be compared by weight, handling, sights, range and capacity to other PCCs. On the other hand, it is usually compared to an AR, AK or SKS which is really inaccurate. It does not hold up to those comparisons, but then neither does a PCC. The M1 carbine is a support weapon at best and suited well for home defense. We’re talking bedroom to front yard distances. In the field useable range is zero to 150 yards or so and of course local terrain, i.e. open shooting range, may dictate if this is good enough for you.

Now when I say home ‘defense weapon’, I would usually dissuade discussion of shot gun vs. carbine vs. pistol as it gets off the main topic rapidly, but I think there are some advantages here to look at. One is capacity which it has over the shotgun or (many) pistols. Two is second shot reset, again which it has over the other two. I firmly believe that personal preference should dictate what you use (as long as you know the negatives as well as the positives) and the same rings true for close combat. Lots of people advocate a pistol as it is easiest to maneuver in CQB but over penetration may come into play for those worried about such things.

I have heard this is why many police entry teams have gone to the to the M4 style carbine over the MP5 meaning that the frangible nature of the 5.56 is easier to control and less apt at over penetration than a 9mm out of the MP5. Don’t know for a fact but it seems logical. For most cases, the M1 should be loaded with a soft point bullet although there is talk of loads using the great Gold Dot hollow point bullet soon to be available. <snip> Hornady came out with one hell of a load after this article was written – ID

Now on the capacity issue for a home defense gun, lots of people would say it only takes a few rounds of 00 buck or one cylinder of a revolver to end a home defense threat. All I can say to that tired old argument is that the one time you need more than what you have is when you’ll really be rethinking the whole thing. Having 30 rounds available doesn’t mean you should or are going to use them, but that one time you need them you’ll be glad to have them.

Okay we might be getting a little ahead of ourselves here so lets back up. Like I said, it is essentially a PCC and was created as an in between of the Garand and 1911 meant for support for medics, engineers and the like. In my research this means it is the Tommy gun but lighter. Lighter generally means handier but with the same general range, Some people would rather have a gun that shares the same ammo as my pistol, and this makes sense for the military. I’m not military though and If I’m carrying two weapons, its because they can do to different things. Well you can do more different things with guns that have different ammo if you follow me, they just cant reload each other which is not a big deal for the home defender. 

So what’s it good for?

First, not many of the common to your average middle class American citizen pistol caliber carbines are truly battle proven for wear and tear. The M1 is. Parts changing is fast and quick and it can be done in the field if you have the part needed.

While doing the research on the M1 I came on this quote which lays it out as good as any could:

“… good at close range … handy and short, good in all 50 states, detachable magazines with 10 rounds in 50 states, that has this kind of power and such a huge user base and decades of testing behind it? Shotgun is good, I got one but it doesn’t hold 10 rounds nor does it come with detachable magazines. AR or AK or SKS? Too much penetration for a suburban neighborhood with flimsy houses close together. MBR? Too long to wield effectively indoors. Pistol? Have to go 10mm or .357 to come close to this kind of stopping power, and not everyone can handle one effectively (think wife or kids). In my mind, the .30 carbine with SP ammo is close to perfect for the suburban home defense firearm, good in all 50 states, quick reloads, mags as deep as your local law will allow, and easily handled by every family member. What’s not to love? So it won’t take a Chinese soldier at -40 degrees at 300 yards. I don’t know about you, but that scenario doesn’t figure in to most of my home defense planning. Motorcycle gang methheads doing a home invasion at 3 am in East Suburbaville Heights? Sounds a lot more like a scenario I might have to plan for. And the M1 carbine sounds like a valid option for that occasion.”

Now a few of my last thoughts: First ammo is not always easy to find, pretty spendy when it is found and the case life for reloading is low so that does play a factor. There are a few different stock variations to consider with the folding wire stock the most common other style. Like any folding stock, the real beauty of it is being able to tote a complete gun in such a small package. A folded M1 Carbine or even a folded AK fits into a tennis racket bag and you can pretty much take that anywhere as unobtrusively as you like. The downside is shooting wire stocked guns suck compared to the real thing. Standard stocks allows a better cheek weld for overall better marksmanship performance. Now the saving grace of not having a proper cheek weld or stock placement is using a red dot sight. In any contorted position as long as you can see that red dot on your target, you have as good a chance to hit it by not screwing up the rest of the shot as if you were shooting traditionally. Oh and Ultimak does make a rail for the M1.

Prices vary with models and makers but interestingly enough the best price usually seems to come with the best maker, that being a GI issue M1 straight form the fine people at CMP. They are running in the $450 to $550 range depending on what grade you select at CMP. At gun shows and in the local shops I haven’t seen one yet for under $600. Kahr has their version but break in issues are common. Might as well get one already broken in that was GI issue that might just need a spring or two here or there if you ask me, especially for the price.

Another positive of the M1 Carbine is that it is less offensive to the gun weary public than an AR or AK. REDICULOUS I know but in these stupid times with ignorance of firearms and their uses, a guy riding his tractor in his field with an M1 Carbine on his side will cause less panicked police calls than the terrorist with an AK who must have commandeered a tractor for his fast get away. Gun savvy people know there is no difference but we seem to be the minority these days and to change that we need to keep the sane image alive in the sheeple. Anyway yes it is stupid, but it is a consideration for some.

Overall it is another niche gun like the PCC or shotgun or even bolt action. They each have their place. It is not a do all gun by any means and was never meant to be. If that is remembered, it is a good tool. Whether back up for yourself; main gun when you have other things than fighting to worry about; as a hand out to your buddy that for what ever reason needs a gun and you need him to have one; as a stepping stone in firearms training or one other very good point, with low recoil and short features, they are quite popular with the yougin’s and women folk. That popularity should not dissuade the manly men and if does, PM me for psychological self confidence and overcompensation counseling recommendations.

As for myself, mark this down as one of the few times I haven’t talked myself out of a gun I got interested in for no good reason. Adding another caliber and platform to get proficient on is not what I want to do right now but man if I see one for the right price, it will be mine. Oh yes! it will be mine.

<snip> I bought one – Ian

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