Carbine Williams and the M1 Carbine

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Justin Taylan, founder of PacificWrecks.com (a site well worth visiting), recently visited the South Carolina Military Museum and took these photos of the displays dedicated to David Marshall Williams aka. Carbine Williams. The information below was kindly provided by Chris Webb.

Korean War era M1 Carbine with Infra-red optic

You probably know “Carbine” Williams, he’s a legend! He was expelled from the Blackstone Military Academy and serving time at the Caledonia State Prison Farm in Halifax County, North Carolina during the ‘30’s for second degree murder! His sentence was cut short so the the could design firearms for the US military.

“Williams related that the superintendent, H.T. Peoples, noted his mechanical aptitude and allowed him access to the prison’s machine shop where he demonstrated a knack for fashioning replacement parts for the guards’ firearms from pieces of scrap and automobile parts. In prison, he would save paper and pencils and stay up late at night drawing plans for various firearms. His skills in the machine shop permitted him to stay ahead of his assignments and allowed him time for his own hobby.”

Williams also designed several .22 cal versions issued firearms including the Browning machine gun and Colt automatic pistol for use during training exercises.

The U.S. patents for the highly successful Benelli Shotgun (U.S. Patent 4,604,942) reference Williams’ U.S. Patent 2,476,232 for a recoil operated semi-automatic shotgun with a non-recoiling barrel.

In 1952, MGM released a film loosely based on his life starring James Stewart and Jean Hagen as his wife Maggie; Williams served as a technical advisor. The film was appropriately titled “Carbine Williams”.

a wooden model of the T-machine gun chambered in .22. signed by “Carbine”
two pistol grip short barrel variations of the M1
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Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


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  • UNC_Samurai

    If you’re ever in Raleigh, I highly recommend stopping by the North Carolina Museum of History. The Museum has preserved Williams’ workshop, which is on display along with a significant part of his collection. And it’s free to visit.

  • http://guns.everydaynerd.com Nerd

    Being a South Carolinian, I’ve also visited the museum, and it is a great place for sure! Glad our state takes pride in it’s history!

  • John C.

    I remember seeing one of those “sawed off” carbines before. I think it was in a Blue Book of gun values or something

  • Paul

    Now imagine today at ANY prison they allowing a convict to design and work on guns!

    Back then they knew violence was in the heart of the person and not an inanimate object (the gun.)

    Mr. Willams pleaded guilty to killing Deputy Sheriff Alfred Jackson Pate, but only after a hung jury could not decide if he was guilty.

    Yes he ran an illegal distillery near Godwin, North Carolina, but in the depression with prohibition, well he did have a family to feed.

    Who knows, he may have very well been innocent of the killing of the Deputy.

    And we shoud thank him for his service to his (and our) country!

  • http://www.thegunzone.com/556dw.html Daniel E. Watters

    The two pistol versions are the commercial Universal Enforcer. You can tell by the cut-out bolt cam slot in the op-rod.

  • http://www.berrysmfg.com/ plated bullets

    Is the truth so damaging as to undermine this country so much that there must be self appointed so called journalists who must attack the truth at all costs in order to protect us from ourselves?

    Daffy Duck summed it up nicely in “Rabbit Seasoning” when he looked at the audience and said ‘Aha! Pronoun trouble! It’s not “He doesn’t have to shoot YOU now”, it’s “He doesn’t have to shoot ME now”. And I say he DOES have to shoot me now!’

    Thanking
    plated bullets

  • Keith Applegate

    Whoever curiates that display is certainly not very gun savvy. (I refrained from using the term stoopid.)

    When fitted with the infra-red sniper scope and its accoutrements the correct military nomenclature is Carbine M3.

    Also, unless my screen resolution deceives me, the plaques indicate those Universal Enforcers have spur triggers. It also looks like they call them “Birds Head Grips”. Not even close.

    (Why any reputable military museum, in the US, would contain several POS Universal carbine copies escapes me.)

    Geeesh! With multiple faux pas like that, how are we to believe anything they tell us?

  • milton webb

    What would be the value of a M1 carbine personally autographed on the stock (burned in) by Carbine Williams? He was a friend of the family who lived down the road autographed the stock to my brother-in-law.

  • Deborah Bias Carter

    I am appalled that this man was exhonerated and made into a hero. He was a murderer who should have served his full term. They made a movie after him and now a museum. What about the deputy sheriff? who by the way was my Great Uncle. Most articles never even mention his name. This was a man who was only doing his duty when he was killed. What glory was in it for him to die. His daughter,My aunt Ellen never got over her father’s death. The real hero of this story died in the line of duty..protecting and serving his community

  • Deborah Bias Carter

    I want you to know that I am in no way slamming the museum or it’s currator. My view is strictly personal and felt I just had to have my say. All my life I was taught you reap what you sew but I suppose in some cases that’s not true. It’s just a shame that my great uncle’s death went almost un-noticed. He was a fine lawman,gentleman, and father.

  • chris webb

    I grew up with my father telling me stories about williams and my great uncle. Im glad my family could be so close to such great history.

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/ Steve (The Firearm Blog)

      chris, care to share some stories with us?

  • David Gregory

    My Great Grandfather Bootlegged Shine With Carbine Williams His name Frank Gregory And inthat Movie My Great Grandfather was said to have died well he died in the 70s and was not pleased with that one bit My Great Grandfather was there that day the shooting went down truth be told the concept for the carbine was well in motion before williams went to prison both My Great Grandfather and Carbine Williams came up with the idea together before that raid cause the ran shine the distillery was put together by my Great Grandfather and Carbine Williams