In my younger days I enjoyed a commercial version of the M1 Carbine manufactured
by the Iver Johnson Company. But I still cringe at the images of Patricia H
earst, and her SLA "comrades" packing an M1 Carbine during that foiled bank heist.
Tom Hanks helped remedy Hearst's dis in the film Saving Private Ryan.
Unveiled in 1938, mainstay for officers, non-coms, airborne (i.e., folding butt
stock), Marines, snipers and paramilitary, the M1 Carbine, U.S. Carbine .30, M1,
little brother to the M1 Garand, is one of the most heralded of America's military small arms.
And at more than six million copies made, it is the most prolific.
Mechanically, the M1 Carbine is similar to the Garand, but it was never designed
as a combat infantryman's primary rifle. It's chambered for a .30 caliber intermediate
round and features a round-nosed, 110-grain bullet that lacked the wallop of the .30-06.
But what it lacked in punch, it more than made up for in compactness, weight and
up-close-and-personal accuracy and firepower. The M1 Carbine saw American service
from mid-1942 to the 1960s. In World War II, it served in Europe and in the Pacific.
The M1 Carbine saw combat in Korea and to a lesser extent, Vietnam. Numerous M1s
were distributed to our allies in South Korea, South Vietnam, Taiwan and Israel.
And it made a successful civilian debut as a sporting and hunting rifle.
But the M1 was in its element in the hands of U.S. troops during World War II.
The M1 Carbine weighs about 5 pounds empty, and it's just shy of three feet long. This
little gas-operated, rotating bolt, semi-automatic rifle is capable of laying down 900
rounds per minute. It has little recoil, and it accommodates 15- or 30-round, detachable
box magazines. But the M1 Carbine lacks the foliage and body armor-penetration of
the .30-06, and it is not a good standoff rifle, incapable of shots much beyond 200 yards.
It has served as a platform to launch grenades and carried bayonets, and it distinguished
itself as a sniper rifle with night-vision optics on Okinawa and in Korea.
The M1 Carbine is not a rifle for all seasons, but it definitely had its moments.
And it deserves a place in the serious collector's gun case.