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.
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.
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.
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.