Educational Zone #67 – Great Firearms – The M-1 Carbine

During WWII, it was recognized that many rear area troops, and even front line troops with jobs that required them to carry other equipment, did not need or want to carry the heavy M-1 Garand battle rifle. The M-1 Garand weighed around 10 pounds and was large and somewhat cumbersome for use from a vehicle.

But these troops needed more than a pistol, as, even then, knowledgeable people knew that “Rifles are rifles and pistols are pistols”.

So it was determined that a smaller, lighter weight carbine was needed. That led to the development and issuance of the .30 M-1 Carbine.

The M-1 Carbine weighed only a little over 5 pounds and was less than 3 feet long. It fired a 110 grain round nosed jacketed bullet at approximately 2,000 fps. Not as powerful as a full-sized battle rifle, but more powerful than a pistol.

The troops that carried this weapon quickly fell in love with it and it became widely used in both theaters. It was even widely used by front line troops and airborne troops that wanted a lighter weight weapon.

My example is a modern day reproduction of the original.

It is an Iver Johnson rifle and is marked “1941-1991 50th Anniversary”.

It is a fine shooter.



The front sight is protected by wings.

The rear sight is adjustable and also protected.

But I find that these sights are not nearly as well designed as on most battle rifles.

In the old Military Rifle Matches we had at our gun club, the club had a couple of .30 Carbines to loan to women are smaller children that wanted to shoot, but couldn’t handle the recoil of the full sized M-1 Garands.

At 200 yards, the .30 Carbine had to have the sights adjusted way up to get on target.

And at 300 yards, the sights were almost at the top of their adjustment and it was about at its accuracy limit, just lobbing the bullets into the targets.


At shorter distances, the Carbine is plenty accurate and able to be used very effectively.


The controls are simple and easy to manipulate.

There is a small button that will allow the bolt to be locked back.

Pulling the bolt to the rear will release this hold back and allow the bolt to travel forward.


The magazine release is easy to acquire and the magazine will drop free.


The safety is also right in front of the trigger guard.


There was a convenient oiler located in the butt of the stock and held there by the rifle sling.


There were both 15 and 30 round magazines available for the carbine.

In fact, there was even an M-2 Carbine that had full auto capability.

If you’ve ever seen one of these shot, you will be amazed at how fast it can cycle at around 900 rounds per minute.


No discussion of this rifle would be complete without a discussion of the .30 Carbine cartridge. This round was developed specifically for this carbine. As stated, it fired a 110 grain JRN bullet at around 2,000 fps.

The modern .357 Magnum handgun cartridge pushes a 125 grain bullet at around 1,450 fps. Compared to most common pistols, the Carbine is more powerful.

There were rumors of lack of penetration into the frozen clothing of North Korean soldiers in the Korean War, but my tests seemed to indicate that those rumors were unfounded.

See here: The .30 Carbine and Frozen Clothing

There may have been a lack of “Stopping Power” with the Ball ammo, but it wasn’t due to lack of penetration.

Modern cartridges with Jacketed Soft Nose Hollow Point bullets can greatly improve the effectiveness of this round.

These place this carbine in the same ballpark as the AR15, in regards to cartridge power.

Here's an example of standard Ball, including a fired bullet, and the Winchester Hollow Soft Point commercial ammo.

Here’s an example of standard Ball, including a fired bullet, and the Winchester Hollow Soft Point commercial ammo.

The recent availability of the .30 Carbines from the Civilian Marksmanship Program has caused some renewed interest in these fine old carbines.

If you’ve never shot one, you owe it to yourself to give one a try.

They are very easy-recoiling rifles.


And they are sure fun to use to bounce a plastic bottle around on a dirt bank.



I can almost guarantee that you will enjoy shooting them.

3 Comments on Educational Zone #67 – Great Firearms – The M-1 Carbine

  1. I’m seeing a lot of commentary on the 30 Carbine regarding underpenetration in the Korean War. I’m wondering if anyone else considered the temperature being the cause of the weak performance. American Soldiers complained that these guns didn’t stop Korean and Chinese soldiers because the bullets wouldn’t penetrate their frozen clothing. I think that these guns suffered from temperature sensitive powder. Some powders just don’t burn well in lower temperatures. And the temps in Korean winters were mighty frigid. So, if there was an actual dip in performance, i’m guessing the possibility of temperature sensitive powder causing the problem is as likely as anything else.

  2. George Steele // March 28, 2017 at 7:37 pm // Reply

    If that were the case, wouldn’t there be after action reports of fte’s from the lower barrel pressure? I’ve read that the problem was the short barrel, which meant short sight radius (compared to Garands and ’03 Springfields), which meant the reason the Koreans didn’t drop was because they weren’t hit in the first place. Carbines sure acquitted themselves well in Okinawa, since they were responsible for about 1/3 of the Japanese troops KIA.

  3. Randy Phillips // October 8, 2017 at 1:33 am // Reply

    In WWII my dad was trained in using the flame thrower. When he arrived in the Pacific Theater he found that people carrying a flame thrower tended to have short life spans. So he some how got rid of that and got a M1 Garrand. Finding that to heavy he traded it for an M1 carbine which he then carried in a few campaigns. Including the liberation of the Santo Thomas concentration camp in Manila. He was in the unit that got there first. And then in finishing capturing Manila. A month for so later he was hit in a med pouch he wore to carry his ammo and it blew up nearly killing him. For the rest of his life he carried M1 Carbine brass bits in his hip.

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