The M1 Carbine

History and maintenance guide for America’s first Personal Defense Weapon: United States Carbine, Caliber .30, M1.

by Paul Mazan

American shooters have a love affair with the M1 Carbine and have had since the day it was introduced. From a purely logical point it is hard to understand why. It isn’t particularly inexpensive to buy or shoot. The cartridge is marginal at best for anything larger than coyotes and the gun isn’t accurate enough for use on varmints smaller than woodchucks. Yes, I know people that have shot deer with it and I’ve even seen .30 Carbine used on prairie dogs, but I can say the same thing about .22 LR. Just because a thing can be done doesn’t mean it should be. Given all that, we still have a love affair with the M1 Carbine and the only reasons I can give are that it’s fun to shoot and it was carried in combat by some relative of just about everyone, including my father.

The story of its development and manufacture is pretty well known but there persists some misunderstood facts, so I will briefly cover the history before getting into the mechanics. Let’s get the most commonly circulated and “known” fact out of the way first. The M1 Carbine was NOT invented by David Marshall “Carbine” Williams while he was in prison. What Mr. Williams invented was the short stroke gas operating system that was used on the Carbine and later on the M14. His involvement in the development of the M1 was very limited. He was hired by Winchester to work on a program but it proved so difficult that Winchester assigned two of its engineers to do the development work and Mr. Williams quit.

The U.S. Army Infantry formally requested the Ordnance Corps to develop a light carbine to replace the 1911 pistol in 1938. Ordnance was opposed to its development because…

Read more in the March 2018 issue.

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