[SHOT 2016] Comparing Reproduction M1 Carbines, Kahr vs. Inland

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The little M1 Carbine really is a timeless classic. Made in huge numbers for only a few years during WWII, original Carbines have steadily become scarcer and more expensive as the surplus reservoir accordingly declined.

The Carbine, though, has proven to be an easily manufactured weapon, being made by numerous subcontractors during WWII, some of whom had never made firearms before. As a result of this, manufacturers post-war have slowly crept into the arena of manufacture of M1 Carbine reproductions, and as demand has grown and prices of original carbines have risen, the ceiling for how good a reproduction the market will support has risen correspondingly.

The latest example of this is Inland Manufacturing; operating from the home of the original Inland division of GM, they were present on both the showroom floor and on Industry Day. TFB got a chance to look at – and shoot – their rifles, as well as a chance to compare them with those of Inland’s competitor, Kahr/Auto-Ordnance.

At Media Day, the Inland guns shot very well, functioning with the authority I would expect of a real M1 Carbine, and of course handling just as well. It was no torture test, for sure, but the company did let TFB spend quite a bit of quality time with the rifles, and we experienced only one malfunction during the shooting. Critics will be quick to judge, I’m sure – “only one malfunction! How can you say that, when we expect flawless performance?” So you should, my readers, so you should, but it is worth your time to consider that in all my days, I don’t recall having ever seen an M1 Carbine firing at the range without experiencing some sort of hiccup. It’s an excellent design (for 1941), crippled by the worst magazines ever fielded in US military service – and Inland recognizes that. I had a stimulating conversation with the manufacturer about which magazines they were sourcing, and what their plans were for improving the magazines versus the original pattern, but for the faithful M1 Carbine reproduction manufacturer, there is not a whole lot they can do to fix that issue.

 

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Our own Miles Vining gets it done with the Inland Mfg. Paratrooper Carbine.

 

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Inland was also showing off a krinkle-finish-on wood Carbine, with added scout mount and conical flash hider. According to Inland, this model shows off how accurate the M1 Carbine design really can be.

 

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The Inland Mfg. 1945 Carbine.

 

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The Advisor SBR, with rail and red dot optic.

 

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The Model 1944 Paratrooper Carbine.

 

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Inland Mfg.’s fabulous range bench.

 

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The Advisor pistol, ripe for SBR conversion.

 

Sometime in the future, I will probably write a post exploring the strengths and weaknesses of the M1 Carbine’s design, but for now I will just note that I considered Inland’s rifle’s performance to be satisfactory – even impressive – for a rifle of the pattern, especially considering the ammunition they used (Aguila).

So, how does the Inland compare to the Kahr? Functionally, I cannot say – I don’t have trigger time with the Kahr. For the enthusiast, however, there’s another equally important quality, and that’s fidelity to the original. The Kahr M1 Carbines were not poor rifles by any means, but the Inland guns in my opinion made wholly more convincing reproductions of the originals. My readers should understand that there is quite a lot of variation among M1 Carbines, as they were made by nine primary contractors, but the Inland guns had what I felt was a much more “GI-style” wood finish (probably tung oil or linseed), and more convincing metal parts. The Kahr guns pass the “25 yard test” for being originals, but one can quickly see that the wood is a little too light and the wrong pattern, and the metal is finished just a little differently.

Kahr/Auto-Ordnance:

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Inland’s guns, on the other hand, are some of the most convincing reproductions I’ve ever seen. Displayed on a wall, or stand, and oiled thoroughly, it could pass for an original, until the beholder got their paws on it. Inland Mfg’s M1s are cast, not milled on a horizontal machine like the originals, but the difference is difficult to see except for right up close.

Inland Mfg:

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The Inland and Kahr booths were literally right across from one another. As you can tell, the lighting at SHOT Show is, um, variable.

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It’s not for me to say which make is “better”, especially when one considers the price. An Inland gun runs a $1,049 MSRP, usually selling for $900-$950 on GunBroker, while the Kahr has an MSRP of $846, and sells for $750-800 online. Without knowing which rifle functions better (a basic check between the two on the showroom floor revealed few differences), I can only say that Inland’s is in my opinion the better reproduction.


Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He can be reached via email at nathaniel.f@staff.thefirearmblog.com.


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  • M.M.D.C.

    Thanks for the post. You ought to hit Kahr and Inland up for some test guns and do a range test and side by side comparison.

    • Sean Wegenau

      This! I’d love to see a 1K round “Torture Test” between the two.

      Since “real” M1’s aren’t “That” much more expensive anyways (being about a grand on gunbroker for non rare models), i see the market for this being people who want an M1 with a warranty. Function and price is probably more important to the target markets of both of these brands rather than 100% fidelity.

    • jcitizen

      Yeah, but be sure and shoot NATO surplus M3 auto carbine ammo in it. That is what I like to shoot. Especially when I run into a lot of tracer, which still happens once an a while. The prices are not always sky high! Most civilian M1 CANNOT take the pressure! Just 50 rounds will wallow out the chamber and ruing the pistol/rifle.

      • Brian Fulmer

        Please put down the crack pipe. The M3 had scope mounts on it, so in Korea they put an illuminated IR scope on it. There is absolutely no difference in the ammunition. The M2 was the select fire variant without a scope. I hope you’re not driving on public roads.

        • jcitizen

          It is a well know historic fact that after the select fire carbine was developed that NATO adopted a higher power cartridge to augment reliable operation for the new design. Thanks for the correction on the last two model versions. I’ve shot quite a bit of it, and a full auto M2 with paratroop stock, and it becomes quite obvious in just the first few rounds that more power is self evident.

  • Dcoil1

    How was the paratrooper stock? I know it doesn’t “lock” open, but was there any play or wiggle?

    • A little wiggle, which is unfortunately true if the originals I’ve handled as well.

      The US gov’t never really could properly design folding stocks.

  • aweds1

    That’s a nice price point for the Inland given what an M1 Carbine from Fulton Armory costs.

  • sliversimpson

    So, just for clarity, what is the color of the wood and metal of the Inland rifle that you felt was more accurate to the original rifles, or was it the quality of the wood and metal?

    • Color and finish of the Inland’s was closer to the originals. If I were a better photographer, I could have gotten good shots of the metal especially, but sadly I suck with a camera as of yet.

      • richard scalzo

        No one really wants to do a true parkerizing in high production today. The few that do restorations take some time to do one rifle.

  • Blake

    Are these going to be offered in calibers other than .30 carbine?

  • mosinman

    why are they the worst magazines ever fielded by the US?

    • They are fragile, thin, and poorly dimensioned. They were designed in a hurry and never significantly changed, and it shows.

      • mosinman

        interesting, are the 30 rounders any better?

      • Brian Fulmer

        They were designed to be used once and thrown away. The various spades and clips came later, and the same model was used for the aluminum M16E1 magazines. Didn’t work out well then, to say the least!

  • Rimfire

    Love the walnut stocks, and hoping for alternate calibers soon. That .30 carbine rounds are just so “in-between” for so many hunting experiences. Can it be made to run .45ACP, or better yet .44 Magnum some day?
    See, I have asked this question over and over; never a real answer (yet) Is the .45 ACP a step up over the .30 carbine in a long gun? I seriously don’t know. If not, what would be the better option.

    • Paul White

      if anyone makes a semi auto .44 magnum carbine that doesn’t sucka nd isn’t 4 figures, I’m in. Right away, no questions asked, in

      • richard scalzo

        Ruger had one years ago.

        • Paul White

          wasn’t it prone to slam fires?

      • twr

        I hear you…I myself am patiently waiting for an AR in .357 magnum, although I could get excited about a .44 as well.

        • Swarf

          That would almost make me want an AR. Almost.

    • .45 ACP is nowhere close to .30 Carbine from a rifle. The .45’s propellant is very fast burning, so there’s not much point in going beyond 8″.

  • Captain Obvious

    I’ve had three original carbines and still own the 44 Winchester. Frankly, the value and appeal of the M1 carbine is that it was in the war. Otherwise both it and it’s cartridge are obsolete. Any AR, AK, SKS or any other 5.56 or 7.62×39 rifle is better in every way to a .30 Carbine. Consequently I don’t see the point of making (or buying) replicas that cost more than the originals.

  • Leigh Rich

    When you have the real thing nothing else compares.

  • scaatylobo

    I hav an original Inland,and a Kahr.
    NOT feeling the love for the Kahr,need to put a few ‘K’ through her to trust and possibly love her.

  • jcitizen

    If I was sure the pistol could take NATO machine carbine ammo, I’d even pay a high price. Other wise I’m gonna be forced to file a manufacturing form for a pistol and make one my self out of surplus parts. Only the military grade chambers can take the full power NATO ammo I’ve been shooting all these years. I’ve already shot out an older Enforcer carbine that was made of Saturday night special metal.

    I feel the pistol fills an especially unique niche, in that you rarely see a compact pistol with that much power and accuracy, that is that light, and handles like a dream! I used my pistol at great dispatch on wild dogs; and I can attest it is one of the most impressive killers from zero to 100 meters, I’ve ever used. The thing was so much fun to shoot, it became my main weapon on the job, when checking fence on the prairie, and was absolutely a barrel of fun to shoot at targets too! I would take this to any machine pistol that has ever been manufactured, and I’ve had the lucky opportunity to shoot most of them.

  • richard scalzo

    The only issue I have with the new reporductions is that the stock never looked like that of an original from the 40’s.

  • twr

    Question for the history buffs here: My grandfather was a b-17 tail gunner in the war, and his service record lists “carbine” as his weapon qual. Any idea if aircrew members would have carried any of these variants?

    • Neil Lewman

      My grampa was a B17 navigator late in the war, eventually becoming part of the Japanese occupation. He was issued an Inland M2 carbine.

  • janklow

    would be amazing if we could get some well-priced, reliable reproductions all over the market. M1 carbines are the MOST fun little guns.

  • Richard Lutz

    Underrated gun. It has the same muzzle energy as a short barrel .44 Magnum revolver. Loaded with soft point ammo the NYPD stakeout unit in the 1970s found it outperformed all their other guns including 12 gauge shotguns loaded with buckshot and slugs.