Reconsidering the M1 Carbine as an Assault Rifle

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The M1 Carbine is a weapon that, although popular with shooters and soldiers alike, has been unfairly dismissed in the broader context of the development of the modern assault rifle. Although initially fielded without select-fire capability, the lightweight and handy M1 Carbine was a surprisingly capable weapon, able to perform the combat roles of both the full-size infantry rifle and to a more limited extent the submachine gun, out to short distances. Its development would foreshadow the post-war assault rifle, and both it and its cartridge would become a model for several post-war intermediate caliber assault rifle projects in France, Belgium and elsewhere.

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A US Army crew chief holding a select-fire M2 Carbine as he looks out the door of his UH-34 Choctaw helicopter in 1963. Image source: milsurps.com

 

Perhaps the lowly Carbine has been overshadowed by the much larger and more impressive-looking MP.44 Sturmgewehr used by the Nazis during the war, or maybe the post-war sale on the civilian market of Carbines almost exclusively of the semi-automatic-only M1 variant has kept the rifle off the radar of post-war assault rifle historians, but the little rifle deserves a second look at its importance in the broader history of the modern select-fire infantry rifle. This post will not cover in-depth the M1 Carbine’s history, but will instead make the case to any historians – amateur or professional – reading it that the Carbine is worth reconsidering as an important milestone in the development of the assault rifle.

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A US infantryman, possibly a Paramarine, fools around in the Pacific Theater with an M1A1 Carbine paratrooper variant. He has chosen the minimum of camouflage in the hot climate. Image source: usmilitariaforum.com

 

Development of the M1 Carbine, at the time called the “Light Rifle” (not to be confused with the later Lightweight Rifle program covered in another ongoing series of mine) began in earnest in the fall of 1940. In the years preceding, requests had been generated within the US Army for a supplemental weapon to the new M1 Garand, which would provide a lighter weight, more convenient combat tool to soldiers in the ever-growing logistical tail of the force. The cooks, mechanics, drivers, secretaries, pilots, paratroopers, etc of the US Army could all use a weapon much lighter and handier than the standard M1, which, fully loaded, weighed about ten pounds. Most relevant to our topic, the initial specifications for the Light Rifle dictated a weapon capable of select-fire, that could fire semi-automatically as a rifle would, or fully-automatically, like a submachine gun. The solicitation reads:

j. The rifle is to be of the self-loading type, capable of being fired either semiautomatically; that is, one shot for each pull of the trigger, or it shall be possible by the operation of the selector to fire the weapon automatically. Selector change shall be made only with a special tool.

Equally relevant, the solicitation also included a requirement for high-capacity magazines:

d. The rifle must be designed with a box magazine which may be fed from clips or chargers. Magazines with capacities of 5, 10, 20, and 50 rounds should be supplied. [emphasis mine]

In the summer of 1941, due to the protests of the inventors and the results of firing tests showing a limited utility, the fully automatic requirement for the Light Rifle was eliminated, and with it the 50-round magazine requirement, to expedite development time. This was a sound decision that allowed the swift selection of the winning Light Rifle – Winchester’s entry by William C. Roemer and Fred Humeston, based on David Marshall Williams’ work – and its selection in October 1st of 1941 proved the merit of Ordnance’s logic. The Light Rifle program had taken a mere 16 months from appropriation of funds to the selection of a design for production, and as a result the M1 Carbine’s production began in earnest in August of 1942. The production of the new Carbine during World War II is one of the era’s great industrial success stories, with 9 firms and numerous subcontractors producing 6,221,220 of the weapons between the start of production and the end of the war. The emphasis on the rifle’s tremendous production history should not be missed: It is a necessary – though often-ignored – characteristic of the assault rifle that it must be cheap and easy to produce, or else it can only be a specialist weapon and not a standard-issue replacement for the conventional rifle. Although it did not enter service with the select-fire hallmark of the German Sturmgewehr, it was produced in far, far greater numbers (more than 16 times the number M1/M2 series of Carbines were produced than that of the German Sturmgewehr series, despite production occurring over a similar period of time).

M2_CARBINE___INVENTOR_RESIZE

One Lt. Fred Kent assists Betty Brewer in firing an M2 Carbine equipped with a paratrooper folding stock. Kent is (probably erroneously) listed in the period description of the photo as the inventor of the M2’s fully automatic mechanism. Image source: usmilitariaforum.com

 

Starting before D-Day, the development of a select-fire variant of the Carbine brought the program full-circle, and the M2 Carbine with full “rock-n-roll” capability was accepted for service on September 14, 1944. Even with this, however, some may raise objections to calling the little rifle a true “assault rifle” citing its especially poor ballistics. While it’s true that the .30 M1 Carbine caliber is underpowered compared to other “intermediate” calibers, let’s reconsider it for a second, too:

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What is evident here is that the .30 M1 Carbine caliber is actually closer to the 7.92 Kurz caliber of the German Sturmgewehrs with respect to trajectory and velocity than it is to either the 9mm Parabellum pistol round of the British Sten and German MP.40 submachine guns, or the .30 M2 Ball rifle round of the M1 Garand. For some points of comparison, the .30 M1 Carbine possesses the same bullet drop at 300 meters as the 9mm Parabellum does at 220 meters, or the 7.92mm Kurz at 360 meters. It possesses the same energy at 300 meters as the 9mm Parabellum does at 160 meters, meaning it is still lethal at that range – although significantly less destructive than the 7.92 Kurz, which equals that energy at 510 meters. In terms of trajectory, velocity, and energy, the .30 M1 Carbine is certainly a lethal round at the “magic” 300 meters normally used to define intermediate rifle cartridges. The Carbine’s capabilities at this range are demonstrated in a video by TNOutdoors9, embedded below:

Indeed, the Carbine became a staple of front line troops in both Europe and the Pacific, thanks to its balance of capability, great handling, and excellent availability. Far from being “just” an echelon weapon, the Carbine was instead an extremely relevant weapon of battle, in fact Carbines captured by the Germans received the designation Selbstladekarabiner 455(a).

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German soldiers, reportedly of SS Kampfgruppe Hansen, sprint across a road for a staged photo in Poteau, near the Ardennes, in December of 1944. One of them carries a captured M1 Carbine. More details on this series of photos can be found at bavarianm1carbines.com. Image source: ar15.com

 

Whether everyone agrees that the M1/M2 Carbine is an early assault rifle, of course, is unimportant. Instead, it’s my hope that the humble Carbine is recognized as a major development in the history of the modern intermediate-caliber select-fire service weapon and not dismissed as a mere early personal defense weapon!



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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  • Gunslinger Hobbs

    The little M1 is still relevant today. I’ve been saying for a few years now that all those old Lend/Lease M1’s gathering dust in South Korean memories should be brought back, given a once-over for serviceability, and pressed into service in a grant program to arm school administrators who would want them. It’s the perfect tool for the job: light weight, highly maneuverable, accurate, reliable, .357 magnum level ballistics, low chance of overpenetration, especially with modern defensive loads, negligible recoil, and it has almost no muzzle blast. It’s also much less “menacing” aesthetically than any AR, with its sporter style wooden buttstock and little 15 round magazines. Fat chance of this idea happening under this administration, but if the idea gained traction, a future administration might jump on it, so spread the idea. I can think of no better use for these rifles than that. They defended the world from fascism in WW2, helped our Korean allies stem the flow of Communism in the Cold War, and now they can come home to defend our nation’s youth from extremism and insanity. A fitting semi retirement for these faithful old warriors.

    • Ceiling Cat

      Funny, Fascism and National Socialism killed more Communists than Communists themselves, and there is no way America would have been invaded 50 years even after a hypothetical total Axis victory. But since this site is clearly not about politics, I will stop after this. Unlike a certain bunch who is so eager to “discuss” about “saving” the world.

      • Bal256

        “Funny, Fascism and National Socialism killed more Communists than Communists themselves”

        • Ceiling Cat

          Life is ironic, isn’t it?

      • Jeffrey Scott Boyer

        I think the 20 million killed by Stalin and the 20 million killed by Mao would have to disagree

        • Andrew Benghazi

          Mao killed 60 million.

          • Gjert Klakeg Mulen

            Both directly and in-directly.

      • Sulaco

        Well we know now that the Nazi’s had plans on the drawing boards to build both multi engine bombers and obital bombers to hit NY with atomics….they never got the chance, but had the war gone to a stale mate who knows.

      • Cal_Grimalkin

        I believe that I have read documentation that between Stalin and Mao, they managed to kill off about 20 million of their own folks.

        Since the beginning of time, there have been folks who have had a desire and an intent to enslave other folks, and that has not changed and will not change, at least not as long as us living here today will see.

    • Paul White

      I love them as a fun gun but I’m not sure that they’re “better” for much of anything than an AR 15 with adjustable stock and 16″ barrel.

      • Swarf

        Better looking. By a lot.

  • gunsandrockets

    Supposedly the favorite weapon of Audie Murphy.

  • Kevin Harron

    I’d view the M2 as an assault rifle under my own personal criteria. Intermediate calibre, select fire. Works for me.

    • Ceiling Cat

      .357 magnum is no where near what an intermediate caliber is. It is still a handgun cartridge, period.

      • Actually, .357 out of a carbine is rifle powered, 125gr @ 2113 fps, and 1239 ft/lbs. That’s pretty much in line with 5.56 in terms of energy.

        However, the M1 is chambered in .30 carbine, not .357 😉

        • Ceiling Cat

          That’s is pretty good. For the 18th century.

          • .357 was invented in 1934.

          • abecido

            I’m always ready to be corrected, but I don’t believe anything in the 18th century made 2100 fps.

      • DW

        Handgun cartridges also includes .44magnum, 454 casull, .500 S&W magnum, etc. Energy level isn’t what defines them.

      • Kevin Harron

        The M1 shoots .30 Carbine, not .357 magnum.

  • Red McCloud

    It’s a PDW. It fires a low-powered intermediate cartridge, is very small (especially with the folding stock or as an advisor model), and the M2 model is select fire. This was a gun meant to replace the 1911, making it by definition a Personal Defence Weapon.

    • However, much like the modern PDW’s (P90, MP7,etc) it was used primarily in an offensive capacity.

      Which begs the question, who decides the classification – the designer, or the end user?

      • Guest

        The end user definitely. Because if you give a soldier anything, they will use it for purposes the designer never even imagined!

        • Then I guess that makes the M1 Carbine an assault rifle 😉

          • dansquad

            If we stretch the concept, then the Mauser 713 Schnellfeuer with its wooden stock-holster, 20 rounders, select fire capability and wild small cartridge, also fits in and forerun all of them.
            Come on…

    • DW

      Wouldn’t say it’s low powered, as it’s still immensely more powerful than handguns (more than two times more powerful than the .45ACP)

  • Stephen Beat

    Apologies if I’m adding some extra petrol, but wouldn’t it be fairer to say that the M1 was an early PDW? (This is a question and not a statement.)

    • Paul Epstein

      PDW just means personal defense weapon, so the name is almost uselessly vague when it comes to including or precluding weapons from it, and in practice it has been a very, very broad category. M4 carbines have been issued in the same roles any other PDW has been- as tanker weapons, for officers, breaching squads, security etc. If you can think of a role the P90 or MP7 has been used in that an actual assault rifle hasn’t been, I’d be interested to hear about it.

      Mostly, the PDW is just another term for submachinegun, a more modern label, but while you can identify specific trends in cartridge design that can differentiate the two, the most prominent examples of PDWs are still in every way submachineguns as well, and since there’s no single definition a lot of them are defined as or issued as assault rifles. Overlap is unavoidable.

      • tts

        I thought PDW’s were generally expected to have more range + somewhat better power than submachine guns that use auto pistol cartridges?

        The P90 is kind’ve the epitome of what a PDW is supposed to be, wasn’t the term even invented for the gun?

        • Paul Epstein

          It was invented for the gun, and then immediately went into much broader use. And the P90 IS pistol caliber, as evidenced by the FiveSeven pistol in the same cartridge- the 5.7mm is not a whole lot different than the 7.62 Tokarev in either design or execution, which is a small caliber, flat shooting cartridge used by a small automatic weapon and later by a pistol (with the magazine in the pistol grip).

          There’s nothing in the definition of the term submachinegun to exclude the P90. PDW was just marketing by FNH to get customers to consider using it in cases where the submachine guns they’d used previously no longer had the necessary capabilities. It worked well for that, but I don’t think it’s much use as a separate category unless you REALLY need to have something that only includes the P90 and MP7.

          • tts

            Yea it does fire a pistol cartridge but its a weird one. It was designed to work with their PDW and then as a alternative with their new pistol.

            Performance wise I’ve seen it compared to 7.6 Tok and .22 Mag but I believe its supposed to be better at going through armor with the right projectile than either of those.

            I don’t know if they were trying to cover all their bases or just confuse people. Certainly does muddle the whole thing up vs subguns marketing if not performance wise.

          • iksnilol

            I’d dare say 7.62 tok is superior.

            More energy and more potential (for various ammo types and whatnot). FN 5.7x28mm is a one trick pony in my eyes.

          • ostiariusalpha

            The 5.7×28 guns have better ammo capacity than any 7.62×25 chambered weapons. That 50 round mag is an enormous advantage for hosing down baddies in a close quarters fire-fight.

          • Hedd Wyn John

            Google PPSh-41. Came with a 71 round drum as standard.

          • ostiariusalpha

            I don’t need to Google it, I’ve seen a real one. The same sized drum for 5.7×28 could hold about 125 rounds. If you just wanted to stick to a 75 round drum mag, the 5.7 would be much more compact and lightweight.

          • Hedd Wyn John

            But do they make a 125 round drum in 5.7?

          • iksnilol

            Sure, but what stops you from making a P90 with similar mags in 7.62×25?

            Besides, if capacity is important I’ll get an PPSH and some 70 round drums ):P

          • Tassiebush

            I am just imagining a ppsh41 mag on a p90. Totally know that’s not what you meant but it’s a giggle! ;p

          • iksnilol

            Cheek weld would be a beach 😛

          • Tassiebush

            Perhaps a concave nose cone mount could be fitted to the drum for a good nose weld…
            Oh BTW finally tried out subsonic .22mag yesterday from my carbine and it was definitely a pleasantly mild load. Comparable to a subsonic .22lr in noise. A tad sooty. Was testing/zeroing open sights and mounting then zeroing scope. Just 25m so not hugely informative accuracy wise. I ran out of light before I could shoot groups further out but it was definitely accurate enough for small game at that distance and seemed to match group size of regular .22mag.

          • iksnilol

            Nose weld? that’s a new one. Could revolutionize the tactical community. High enough nose piece would be faster to nose than a regular cheek piece is to shoulder.

            Cool, subsonic .22 mag is kinda silly if you have a .22 LR but I am glad you enjoy it, adds more capability to the .22 mag rifle.

          • Tassiebush

            Nose weld would put more snap into snap shooting…

            Yeah in my case subsonic .22mag means there’s basically no reason to take the .22lr hunting anymore since I have most capabilities of both cartridges in one gun. In my context though I see way more .22mag appropriate game with a small number of occasions seeing rabbits and pigeons.
            I imagine in other places small game like rabbits and squirrels probably make up a much larger portion of the game and a .22lr is a better fit.

          • gunsandrockets

            Nose weld? Is that what nose rings are for?

            Like a single point nose sling?

        • ostiariusalpha

          Actually the acronym has been in use by the U.S. military since the 60’s. It’s defined as an individual carry weapon fulfilling the role of defending one’s person in emergency situations while being unobstructive to one’s regular duties; the first PDW was the M1911A1 pistol. The Army was looking for a replacement for it beginning in the late 60’s due to the lack of ammo capacity and went through a huge number of experimental cartridge and weapon configurations, settling finally on the conservative M9 pistol chambered in 9mm. When you see the term PDW used now, it almost always refers to weapons designed for the type of personal defense ammunition whose armor penetrating characteristics were set by NATO document AC/225-D/296. 5.7x28mm and 4.6×30 were purpose made to fulfill the parameters of AC/225-D/296.

          • Paul Epstein

            I’ll accept a correction even though it wasn’t sent my way. Out of curiosity since you seem to be familiar with it, how far off would 7.62 Tokarev be from fulfilling the requirements?

          • The requirements for D/296? I doubt that it would, at least not without significant modification. The only way to know would be to actually fire it at a CRISAT vest at 200m.

            Consider that .30 Carbine from an M1 has a velocity at 200m of approximately 1,250 ft/s, making it roughly equivalent at that distance to a 9mm fired from a handgun with slightly higher sectional density. A 7.62×25 Tokarev is going to be 300-400 ft/s slower at the muzzle than a .30 Carbine, with a lighter bullet with a lower ballistic coefficient. It seems very unlikely that it could penetrate CRISAT at 200 meters.

          • ostiariusalpha

            The bimetal jacket gets pretty impressive penetration on simple Kevlar vests, I could see perhaps with the “significant modification” of a spitzer bullet with a steel penetrator tip and a slight bump in velocity putting a hole in the CRISAT target. I have considerable confidence that a sabot round could do the trick. And, of course, tungsten makes all kinds of magic happen.

          • Again, the NATO requirement was for CRISAT penetration at range.

          • ostiariusalpha

            True, but there’s a chance that the Tokarev’s little .310 project could still have the oomph necessary if you could bump up the velocity of an 85gr bullet from 525m/s up to around 600m/s and give it a slightly better ballistic coefficient. With a sabot going about 725m/s, it could definitely be done.

          • ostiariusalpha

            True, but there’s a chance that the Tokarev’s little .310 projectile could still have the oomph necessary if you could bump up the velocity of an 85gr bullet from 525m/s up to around 600m/s and give it a slightly better ballistic coefficient. With a sabot going about 725m/s, it could definitely be done.

          • Paul Epstein

            I think the question then becomes if it would still be a practical weapon at the time period in question- I think it might. If the sabots don’t become an issue, it obviously works well with high capacity drum magazines for a submachinegun, and the Vietnamese still issue a double-stack pistol that uses the round. If the hands of Vietnamese officers can manage it I think an average US GI can probably figure it out.

            It’s since been superseded, but I suspect that if, prior to the 1960s, we’d decided to ‘modernize’ the Tokarev the same way it modernized the 7.63 Mauser, and use a saboted .224 projectile, then SMGs and pistols using it might still be issued to US rear echelon troops.

          • Without a sabot, I think the changes are pretty low. The 7.62×25 is a favorite of mine, sure, but it’s no wonder-cartridge when it comes to armor penetration except at close ranges.

          • ostiariusalpha

            You’re probably right, it would be a neat test though. I don’t own any pistols that use bottle-necked cartridges, but I find them rather fascinating.

        • Tom

          For pretty much as long as gunpowder weapons have been standard issue there have been variants designed for soldiers who’s job was not simple to “point musket in direction of enemy and fire”, various artillery and Sargent patterns where made specifically to reduce the encumbrance of such soldiers. Whilst some armies did dispense with this practice by the 20th century others (I am looking at you Netherlands) kept multiple patterns of rifles often with only minor differences for different troop types.

    • DetroitMan

      Conceptually, yes. The basic purpose for which the Army requested a carbine design is the textbook definition of a PDW. Since there are no objective criteria to define a PDW, you can’t rule out other classifications. So I would argue it can be called both an early PDW and an early assault rifle or proto assault rifle.

  • Let the assault rifle / PDW debate commence!
    Extra wild card for consideration:
    – Melvin Johnson’s .22 Spitfire conversion.
    – FN’s chambering of an early Universal Carbine prototype in .30 carbine

    • Would love a modern version in .22 Spitfire.

      • gunsandrockets

        Even better, one in .19 Badger caliber!

    • Twilight sparkle

      I always wondered why the p90 wasn’t just chambered for 22 spitfire, I’m fine with 5.7×28 but they’re just so similar it seems like reinventing the wheel.

      • Paul White

        I think firearm’s manufacturers excel at reinventing the wheel. I don’t get why.

        • Bob

          sales and money!

          • UnrepentantLib

            And I expect a certain amount of ego. Why should I use your cartridge when I can use mine, even if they both do the same thing.

        • Archie Montgomery

          The ‘proprietary’ factor. It is ‘our’ handiwork! (Cited also by UnrepentantLib.)

          Aside from that, the length of action is a limiting factor in ammunition selection. Also, length of action imposes weight and over-all size considerations – Mr. Watters mentions this.

      • Jay

        The tapered .22 spitfire case doesn’t work with the straight, long magazine of the p90. You need a curved magazine if you want to load that many tapered cartridge. A curved magazine wouldn’t work with the P90 design.

        • Twilight sparkle

          That’s kinda what I thought might have happened.

        • The Spitfire is also slightly wider, which would have reduced capacity and increased grip width in the Five seveN handgun.

          The PDW requirements were very specific, mandating that the pistol PDW had to fire the same round as the Shoulder Fired PDW, and had to have a capacity of at least 20 rounds.

          “In 1989, NATO published document D/296, outlining a number of preliminary specifications for these (PDW) weapons:

          The new cartridge was to have greater range, accuracy, and terminal performance than the 9×19mm cartridge.[16] Additionally, it was to be capable of penetrating body armor.[16]

          The shoulder-fired personal defense weapon was to weigh less than 3 kg (6.6 lb), with a magazine capacity of at least 20 rounds.[16]

          The handheld personal defense weapon (pistol) was to weigh less than 1 kg (2.2 lb), although a weight of 700 g (1.5 lb) was deemed desirable; it was to have a magazine capacity of at least 20 rounds.[16]

          Both weapons were to be sufficiently compact to be carried hands-free on the user’s person at all times, whether in the cab of a vehicle or the cockpit of an aircraft, and were to perform effectively in all environments and weather conditions.”

          Given that the 5.7×28 was designed as a replacement for 9mm Ball, in weapons of similar size and construction to those that fired 9mm, it’s pretty much an ideal cartridge.

          The only problem is for some reason FN loads it about 200-400fps slower across the board than what the cartridge is capable of. See Elite Ammo spec’s to get a better idea of what should have been.

      • The Spitfire would have required fatter, taller, and longer magazines if you wanted to retain the 50rd capacity. Plus, you’d likely need more mass in the barrel and bolt for the P90’s delayed blowback mechanism to remain safe.

        • Twilight sparkle

          The original p90 mag was fatter because they hadn’t finalized the cartridge yet, you can see how much they were cut down on the right side of you hold the new mags in your hand.

          • That was caused by the transition from the original SS90 load to the current SS190. I suspect that once FN decided to develop a 5.7x28mm pistol, the engineers realized that it would difficult to shoehorn the long SS90 into a reasonably-sized grip frame.

          • Twilight sparkle

            I believe that’s exactly what happened. I love my ps90 but it just seems like everything people consider unique about it already had a contemporary equivalent.

          • De Facto

            Yup. If FN offered it in calibers other than 5.7 it would do much better. I know I would have bought one by now if they had.

          • Avery

            Maybe if 5.56mm telescoped round takes off, it would be an easy conversion from a P90 PDW to a P90 assault rifle. I don’t think there’s much of a difference in base dimensions in overall rim diameter and overall length, and the 5.7x28mm is very straight-cased as is the 5.56mm telescoped. Might have to bulk up the chamber to withstand the new pressures.

          • De Facto

            They’d have to change it from straight blowback if you increased the power of the cartridge. It’d be easier to just offer the PS90 as a PDW chambered in traditional straightwall pistol calibers. If FN actually wanted the PS90 to take off they’d offer it in 9mm or .45. That would make it actually desirable to your average shooter. I think most people dislike botique rounds. If you want more power, 10mm or 7.62×25 Tokarev would be interesting and perfectly sufficient in a PCC/PDW.
            I guess what I’m getting at is the 5.7 is an answer to questions that have already been answered in other places.

          • Anonymoose

            How about .45 Win Mag in a PS90? lol

          • De Facto

            .50 AE!

          • Anonymoose

            Why not .440 Cor-bon? Take advantage of that 16″ bbl and have deeper penetration.

          • desertcelt

            Somewhere I read that they had experimented with the 45 Win. Mag in the M1 carbine and the receivers cracked.

          • Anonymoose

            Universal M1s were converted to 10mm and .45 Win Mag. I’m pretty sure they worked pretty well.

          • Twilight sparkle

            Buy one, you won’t regret it. It’s my favorite firearm

      • iksnilol

        Probably because they could use 5.56mm tooling. The 5.7mm case is basically the 5.56 cut down from what I have seen. Slight difference on the rear tho.

        • ostiariusalpha

          Same bullets, but the case is unique in base and rim diameters. It has no parent case.

        • Twilight sparkle

          5.7 looks a bit too straight and narrow.

      • Anonymoose

        I’d love a PS90 in .30 Carbine. It would be cheaper to feed, at the very least.

      • Darren Hruska

        If the .22 Spitfire would have been “too much,” then the .22 SCAMP would have been an interesting alternative. That cartridge preceded 5.7x28mm and has marginally better ballistics (on paper anyways). However, the trials seemed to ask for proprietary ammo from FN and H&K, if I recall correctly.

        • Based on photos, the .22 SCAMP is nearly identical to the 5.7×28 case, and when loaded properly the 5.7×28 matches the velocity.

          .22 SCAMP launches a 40gr @ 2100fps from a 7″ barrel; Elite Protector 5.7 launches a 40gr @ 2009 out of a 4.75″ barrel (would likely meet or exceed 2100fps out of a 7″ barrel.)

          I just wish we had adopted the SCAMP all those years ago. Such a forward thinking design.

          • Darren Hruska

            I think the big problem with the SCAMP was that Colt wanted it to replace the M1911. That was quite a radical idea, seeing as how different the two guns are and how much larger the SCAMP is. If anything, the SCAMP should have been targeted for use among tunnel rats in Vietnam and for downed pilots. It’d likely have been very successful in such roles.

          • It’s definitely one of those great “what if’s” in US small arms design. The SCAMP was a good bit longer than the 1911 (11.6″ vs 8.25″) and 1lb heavier. I still suspect that despite the slight increase, it would have proven the overall more useful sidearm than the 1911.

            However, if the program were to be resurrected, the FN Five Seven, modified to have a 3 round burst function and 21 round mag, would really be a future worthy sidearm. Quite surprised FN has not made such a design ala Beretta 93R.

          • fmike15

            sounds like a .22 TCM

    • The French also played with .30 Carbine postwar, resulting in designs like the

      CEAM Modèle 1950.

      • snmp

        CEAM Modèle 1950 => CETME B => HK G3

        • Gjert Klakeg Mulen

          Gerat 03 -> Gerat 06 -> Gerat 06H (STG 45(M)) -> CEAM Modèle 1950 -> CETME B -> HK G3

  • lbrty2112

    Buddy of mine has hunted with an Inland for over 30 yrs. It was handed down from his father. Swears by it.

  • Joe

    Intended as a PDW, yes. Largely utilized in an assault role, also yes. If they had shortened a .30-06 case like the later German 7.92 Kurz the cartridge could still be in use today.

  • Bub

    I had wanted one of these since I was a kid. Last summer I finally was able to land one. Great little guns. They handle well and are super easy to shoot.

    While I would agreed it’s not an assault rifle it is more than a submachine gun. They are hard to classify, but looking back it was a great carbine for its time. IMO the USA may have dropped the ball a little. I agree with the article in so far as the M1 Carbine was a first step toward the intermediate caliber assault rifle which looking at the roll the carbine played in WW2 should have lead to development of what we think of today as a true assault rifle. The military’s insistence on full sized rifle (7.62×51) slowed down the development and adoption of an assault rifle not only in the USA, but in much of the free world for years.

    • Hedd Wyn John

      I agree but you can’t deny that the 7.62×51 NATO is a great machine gun & marksman/sniper round etc. Reliable, powerful, very accurate and good effective range.

      • iksnilol

        But it is also kinda hard to deny that it is superior to a good 6.5 or 7mm round.

        • ostiariusalpha

          You mean inferior to the 6.5, right?

          • iksnilol

            Yes, I mistyped.

            HAIL 6.5!

            #6.5mmMasterRace

          • Tony Williams, is that you!?

          • ostiariusalpha

            #JeSuisTony
            #6.5mmMasterRace
            #IDon’tEvenUseTwitter

      • Bub

        No question about it, the 7.62×51 has a lot going for it.

  • The .30 Carbine is actually well within assault rifle power:

    30 Carbine 110gr @ 1990fps = 967 ft/lbs
    5.45×39 7n6 53gr @ 2900 fps = 979 ft/lbs

    Furthermore, AR 15’s with the popular 10.5″ barrel now in vogue:
    5.56 10.5″ 62 gr @ 2627 fps = 950 ft/lbs

    Delving deeper, when you consider the use of FMJ projectiles that had very late tumbling (early 7.62×39, possible 7.92×33?) there’s a pretty good chance that actual wounding from the M1 carbine was fairly close that of the Sturmgewehr.

    • Your specs for 7N6 are slightly low, but the point is certainly made.

      • Ah, foolishly went off the Wikipedia specs without double checking!

        • midnitelamp

          I don’t think wiki does firearm tests; was the article foot noted?

          • ostiariusalpha

            Max Popenker is the source material for the 7N6.

        • Don’t worry about it, I’m nitpicking based on nominal velocity for 7N6.

          As Os pointed out, your numbers come from Max, so I can hardly argue with them. Having said that, I suspect those are measured at a test distance, not at the muzzle. Here’s what Max said a while back when I asked him about those figures:

          “Official firing tables for AK74, dated to 1977, list MV as 900m/s; 960m/s is for RPK-74. Official manual for AKS-74U shows MV 735m/s”

    • Alan

      The 110 grain fmj bullet from the Carbine was very squat and had a very thick jacket. That projectile didn’t typically tumble, the physics was just wrong. However, given the dimensions of the projectile additional shock or tissue damage would have been very slight. Tumbling in and of itself is a poor energy transfer mechanism. The 55 grain bullet out of the M-16 platform did tumble, but the primary terminal effect, as Dr. Fackler set out in his well know ballistics report, isn’t caused by tumbling but by explosive mechanical fragmentation. Those little bullets (above about 2500 fps) blow up, and cause damage completely disproportionate to their weight and diameter.

      • fmike15

        I’ve watched some old training videos from the 1940’s and it looks like the military was more interested in penetration than wound ballistics. The penetration shown was impressive, youtube it.

  • VanAllenFiction.com

    This can’t be a really good gun article unless somehow you have worked in the words Obama, Executive Order, ATF, US Attorney General, Hillary, Hilldog, Oregon Ranchers, and “they took our guns!” Fun Game: Read gun articles for 1 hour and down a shot of tequila or whiskey every time you find one of the above words. #shitfaced #GodILoveRedNecks

    • tts

      Everyone will die if they play that game. E V E R Y O N E

      • VanAllenFiction.com

        That’s why I suggested just doing it for 1 hour.

    • schizuki

      Gotta pass. I’m still hung over from eight years of “BUSH LIED!!!” and “Halliburton!!!”

      Guess I should mosey over to Huffpo for some “Koch Brothers!!!” hair-of-the-dog.

      • VanAllenFiction.com

        You never played any game like that while reading gun articles. My point: I want to read about guns, not about what dumbass necks think about politics.

        • schizuki

          Well, now you know how “dumbass necks” feel whenever they read or view virtually all mass media overwhelmingly run by arrogant progs.

          Me, I’d also rather politics stayed with politics. Not, oh, say, intruding into a Super Bowl halftime show.

          • VanAllenFiction.com

            I didn’t watch the SB. I want to read gun articles not political neck-rants. Gun articles usually have a good amount of political rants in them written by necks. Seems you agree with me. Less neck-rants and more gun info is all I want. Is that too hard to deliver? If it is… then okaaaay I guess I’ll join in and write about guns the same as all the rest: “Obama, ATF, taking all our freedoms!!! Booooo!!!! This is a real nice gun.”

    • abecido

      How much tequila did you drink before dropping this turd?

      • VanAllenFiction.com

        How much tequila did yo momma drink before dropping you, turd?

        • abecido

          I am awestruck and humbled at the originality of your wit.

    • n0truscotsman

      .um…can we NOT have that?

  • mosinman

    i think the M2 carbine would meet the criteria for an assault rifle

  • The_Champ

    High capacity, select fire, intermediate cartridge. I’d say it fits the bill perfectly.
    All that’s left to debate is really whether .30 carbine is edged out enough over 9mm or .45 to make it more than a submachine gun. Thus we enter that grey area of debate that will never truly be settled.
    And just to muddle things, might we consider potent little 7.62×25 out of something like a Ppsh an assault rifle?
    Here’s another question, has anyone ever tried to fit a Spitzer style bullet into a .30 carbine case?

    • hikerguy

      I thought the same thing about a spitzer bullet for the rifle. It would have made it penetrate much better. I’d imagine if the cartridge had been necked down to 6.5 with a spitzer it would have created something wicked…

    • ostiariusalpha

      The M18 high pressure test round was a spitzer.

      • The_Champ

        Neat. What’s the history of this round? Just a test the military considered and rejected?

        • Nope, it was essentially a proof round.

          • The_Champ

            So I guess my next question would be, without modifying the rifle and case, is there any room for a Spitzer round pushed faster at higher pressure?

          • Not one that long.

          • ostiariusalpha

            Without modification to the rifle and its magazine, it’s not going to happen.

    • Full Name

      For the PPSH, I have the ballistics as 87gr @ 1600fps = 494ft/lbs. Less powerful than a .357 Magnum revolver (125gr @ 1400fps = 544ft/lbs).

  • DIR911911 .

    that 30-06 . . . damn! as much power at 500 yards as the m1 has at the barrel

  • Mc Cain

    The military testing done during the Korean War demonstrated, absolutely conclusively, that the M1 Carbine was a total failure as a battle rifle. It was designed only to be used by those troops whose primary duty was not that of front-line rifleman. It fired what is bascially a submunition and had a very limited effective range.

    I love the M1 Carbine. I love the story of it. “War Baby” is a fantastic book.

    But as a weapon of war, it was seriously defficient.

    • Hedd Wyn John

      The M1 performed satisfactorily in Korea. Stories about .30 carbine rounds being stopped by thick Chinese winter coats are just that… stories. Modern tests have shown the .30 carbine to be more than capable of penetrating thick clothing at combat ranges and taking out the guy wearing it. I’d put those Korea stories down to poor marksmanship. The carbine has an effective range of 200-300yards as it is capable of inflicting lethal wounds at those ranges. The M1 carbine was popular with the troops and that’s usually a good sign.

      • PTMcCain

        Wrong….Google the research study released by defense department.

        • ARCNA442

          I’m interested, do you have a title for this study?

          • Mc Cain

            Read the comments further upstream.

        • Hedd Wyn John

          I’ve seen the tests on YouTube, winter coats myth has been busted. The only issue with the weapon was reliability in cold weather. The main thing behind the fur coat myth is that the troops were used to the .30-06 which unsurprisingly due to its power was good at one-shot stops. The .30 carbine obviously wasnt going to have that performance so throw in some poor marksmanship and you’ve got stories of Chinese bulletproof coats.

          • .30-06 M2 Ball has atrocious stopping power. So bad, that I’m told it’s used as a control round by the goat labs…

            Of course, it’s not like .30 M1 Carbine performs any better.

          • Hedd Wyn John

            I wouldn’t stand down range of someone firing 30-06 m2 ball if I were you. It has as much energy at 500!yards as .30 carbine has at the muzzle.

          • I wouldn’t stand downrange of somebody firing .22 LR. Energy is not the whole picture in terms of effectiveness, although those kinds of numbers print very nicely for a manufacturer.

          • Bub

            What is the wounding effectiveness of the M2 ball round? I read some of the studies referenced in this article and much of the conclusion read something like and I paraphrase “used to good effect”.

            The other thing I noticed was what was considered acceptable reliability. In cold weather only 2-4% of Garands exhibited reliability issues. I know those had to be horrible conditions in Korea, but by modern firearm standards that’s not so good.

            As for the M1 carbines it seemed to be hit or miss on reliability and whether or not the troops liked them based on the studies. Reworked carbines or my guess poorer condition carbines were disliked, well duh. However other seemed to like them. My personal experience at the range only is that on the carbines you need to keep the chamber clean and the gun well lubed to run reliably.

          • The M1 Garand seems to be a very good cold weather weapon, a characteristic shared by its offspring, the AK. Its weakness is dust and debris, and also accuracy (they can be made very accurate, but it’s difficult).

            Wounding effectiveness of the M2 Ball would have been pretty mediocre, as yaw and upset for that round tends to happen later rather than sooner. I’m sure it performed better than .30 M1 Carbine, but by today’s standards it’s not a very good performer.

            Here’s a paper dealing with .30 M2 AP, which has roughly similar performance to M2 Ball, except with respect to penetration. The paper is really a fascinating read, although the images sadly have been destroyed by over-copying. Note in the chart on page 22 how little energy .30 M2 AP dumps into the gelatin cylinders:

            http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/233840.pdf

          • Mc Cain

            For anyone interested in facts and objective research and reality as it is in all its ugly truth regarding the effectiveness of the M1 Carbine in combat, the best available were produced by the Defense Department’s Operations Research Office at John Hopkins University. The specific study I would refer you to for my assertions about the failure of the M1 Carbine in combat is:

            “Commentary on Infantry Operations and Weapons Usage in Korea: Winter of 1950-1951” by S.L.A. Marshall

            Short summary: The M1 Carbine proved a miserable failure in delivery lethal rounds on target in combat

            The other report I’d refer you to is…

            ORO-T-160 Operational Requirements for an Infantry Hand Weapon. Known informally as “The Hitchman Report”

            These documents are objective studies delivering cold hard realities, which most people at the time would rather choose to ignore about their much beloved .30 caliber main battle cartridge, .30-06 and the puny .30 Carbine cartridge.

            If you want the truth and facts, these are the sources you need to study.

          • Ezra Bristow

            Because government reports are always free of bias and could never be tampered with to support a specific viewpoint?

          • Marshall’s report was the reason for the Carbine’s atrocious reputation in the 1950s, however, even he has some positive things to say about it (he considers it superior to the M1 for echelon troops operating in dangerous areas).

            Marshall’s report gives too negative a view of the Carbine, in my opinion, but his criticisms are essentially valid. The Carbine is not a very reliable weapon by our lofty modern standards, and a rearsenalled mixmaster gun has a much higher chance of being a turd than one that’s all original (I strongly suspect this was one of the major underlying problems in Korea – Marshall even mentions a fellow who had a “pet” Carbine that worked well). It is yoked to the second worst magazine design in US military history (top spot goes to the 8mm Chauchat’s magazine), and has the same open receiver as the M1, which causes problems when exposed to debris.

            The .30 M1 Carbine ammunition is also a poor performer from a stopping power perspective, although the degree to which it is inferior to other contemporary rounds has been exaggerated. It’s worth noting that all intermediate rounds during that period performed very poorly in this regard.

            The M1 Carbine would be vindicated in the law enforcement world after WWII and Korea, though. Domestic conditions, plus commercial soft point ammunition really allowed the little carbine to shine as a handy, lethal weapon.

          • The_Champ

            Yep I think that sums it up nicely.

            I breezed through the report and the big complaint seems to be cold weather malfunctions with the carbine.
            Clearly from what we know about wounding ballistics now days, that little.30 carbine fmj round isn’t gonna be a great show stopper. But neither is a 7.9 Kurz fmj, or 5.56 in many fmj guises or 7.62×39 fm…land on and on.
            For what its worth my old Inland beater functions great in routine use.

          • Mc Cain

            “I breezed through a 158 page single spaced report and I am as ignorant as I was before I breezed through it.”

            LOL

          • gunsandrockets

            I have had a copy of the SLA Marshall report since the 1990’s. It’s a good read with many interesting conclusions.

            And you are overstating the case it makes against the carbine.

          • Mc Cain

            The data in the reports is conclusive, reliable and dead-on accurate: unlike the M1 Carbine and its .30 Caliber round. 🙂

          • Actually, Marshall has come under fire as having significant methodological issues. Here’s a paper with a stimulating discussion of this: http://strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pubs/parameters/articles/03autumn/chambers.pdf

            Having said that, I think Marshall’s assessment of the M1/M2 Carbine is fairly close to correct, but his whole condemnation of it is probably on the extreme side. There was a missed opportunity after Marshall’s paper was published to either fix the Carbine’s problems or develop something better, and as a result the general Army would have a hanging requirement for a portable echelon weapon all the way until the M4 Carbine of the 1990s.

          • Bill

            Based on his “methodology” or lack thereof, putting any credence into anything Marshall wrote is risky, regardless of the topic.

          • Yes, it’s remarkable he’s been as vindicated as he has been. Needless to say, “Marshall said it, therefore it’s true” is a pretty thin argument!

          • Mc Cain

            If you read the reports you would know how stupid your remark just made you look.

          • marathag

            Some WWII era smokeless powders were very temperature sensitive for pressure, esp. shotgun and pistol powders.

            Lose enough velocity due to it being 10 below, and it seems like the Chinese ‘Volunteers’ had bulletproof coats, when using an already marginal cartridge

            Soviets also noticed LL 45acp being more effected by cold than the 7.62×25 did.

      • Simcha M.

        The Nazis had thick wool winter coats and these were penetrated by the diminutive 30 carbine round in the fierce winter of 1944.

        The Chinese did not have thick coats, per se but rather QUILTED coats. It’s not always the material but rather the construction of the material.

        • The idea that .30 Carbine couldn’t penetrate winter coats at normal ranges is absurd. To accept such silliness, one has to inflate the protective qualities of such coats to well over that of Level IIIA body armor.

          Cue jokes about magical Chinese kevlar weave…

    • gunsandrockets

      From what I’ve read, the primary failure of the carbine in Korean combat fell into two categories, both of which are linked to the full auto M2 carbine. The M2 carbine was the primary variant issued during the Korean War.

      The first failure was running out of ammunition without producing enemy casualties, a function of spraying on full-auto. The second failure was jamming. But some soldiers claimed that the M2 version of the carbine was less reliable than the original M1 carbine. Possibly true considering the change in bolt mass between the M1 and M2 carbine.

      • I strongly suspect another issue was most of the Carbines in service at the time being rearsenalled mixmasters. I could definitely see that causing problems, considering how many subcontractors there were in the program.

  • Twilight sparkle

    Well I’ve always kinda considered the m2 carbine one of the first assault rifles. I figured it didn’t get designated one because the term just didn’t exist yet; however, you make an interesting point with the pdw comment. I guess the m1 is just an outlier that’s hard to place because of early ideas of the type of role an intermediate rifle should fill.

  • Robert Rodriguez

    Once again Nathaniel, you played the Devil’s Advocate and did so superbly.

    It is interesting to note that the original requirements for the intermediate cartridge that would eventually end up being the 5.56×45 was that it needed to have the same energy and recoil as the .30 Carbine but a flatter trajectory at range…

    • Thanks for the kind words, Robert! Just trying to get people thinking. 🙂

  • Nimrod

    Love the war baby carbine but both it and it’s cartridge is obsolete.

  • hikerguy

    A PDW as what the modern concept is? Yes. But a forerunner to today’s assault rifle (especially the folding stock, vertical handled selective fire M2) ? I’d agree with that as well.

    While not really a part of this discussion I would also have to say the Thompson was also similar to the AR concept and a forerunner despite it’s pistol cartridge. I better go hide now.

  • Wolfgar

    I consider the STG 44 to be the first successful assault rifle like the M-1 Garand was the first successful semi auto. The Garand followed other innovated semi autos like the RSC1917 as the STG-44 followed other intermediate select fire weapons. They are the standard which others are compared in their categories. The M-1 carbine is just that, a carbine rifle. When the M-2 was fielded in full auto it could possibly be considered an assault rifle. The m-2 para troop version with a pistol grip and folding stock fits very well in the accepted assault rifle category. The only problem is the cartridge seems to be a bastard child with a high velocity round nose pistol shape bullet yet it’s velocity could be argued that it fits in the intermediate assault rifle standard. I personally would place it in the PDW category as it works extremely well in that roll. Knights 6X35 PDW works very well in the assault rifle roll when compared to other accepted short barreled assault rifle calibers so how people wish to place them is up to the individuals perspective. Cro magnon man was successful and Neanderthal man was not but thanks to DNA we now know Neanderthal’s DNA lives on in all of us. More in some than others but he is still with us. Like evolution their is a little DNA of every failed fire arm design in the successful ones, which category they belong in I guess depends on who’s opinion one validates.

    • Hedd Wyn John

      How about calling it assault carbine? More powerful than a submachinegun, less powerful than an assault rifle but when compared to the ballistics of Krinkov’s and short barrelled AR’s it fits the bill and has very similar effective range.

      • Wolfgar

        Works for me!

      • Rock or Something

        Please, let’s not give the politicians more ideas…

    • iksnilol

      Uh, Carbine rifle is sorta an oxymoron. Carbine is a shortened rifle.

      • Wolfgar

        Hence they called it the M-1 carbine.

        • iksnilol

          Yeah, but the term “carbine rifle” is an oxymoron and quite frankly, stupid.

    • Tassiebush

      Actually Neanderthal DNA isn’t found in sub Saharan African’s.

    • The MP.44 wasn’t terribly successful, if you consider the fact that it didn’t achieve standard issue status (not even close), was a technical dead end, had a short production life, few secondary adopters, and was on the losing side of the war. 380,000 MP.44-series rifles were made.

      In contrast the M1 Garand was made in the millions, armed the entirety of US infantrymen (who were issued rifles, of course) and became standard issue for numerous countries after the way. Six and a quarter million M1s were made between 1930 and 1957.

      The MP.44 is far more comparable to the RSC 1917 you mentioned, as I explore in this post:

      “In many ways, the RSC Mle. 1917 is comparable in significance to the MP.44. Both are weapons introduced at the end of a World War, and while neither was the first weapon of their kind, both were the first of the type produced in large enough numbers to matter (production for sturmgewehrs of all types during the war was almost 380,000 according to Sturmgewehr!, for the RSC over 85,000, according to Proud Promise) . Both are mildly overweight, somewhat crude incarnations of the concepts they represent. The MP.44 uses a stamped, mild steel shell to save on critical alloy steels, while the RSC Mle. 1917 re-uses many existing components, such as barrels from the Berthier and stocks from the Lebel, to expedite production. Both were produced under the great stress of world war, as their respective home countries were bled dry of men and materiel by a terrible conflict.”

      Therein lies the rub, as well. As a community, we inflate the importance of the Sturmgewehr, and dismiss something like the RSC 1917, because of a deeply entrenched feeling of German superiority and inventiveness. Instead of soberly considering the history of the Sturmgewehr, it’s context, and why it existed, we instead shout to the heavens about how the Germans were the “first” to “crack the code” of the assault rifle, and how smart and handsome they all must have been.

  • Parnell

    New Jersey considers it an “assault rifle”, that’s why I don’t own one. However you can buy a Beretta carbine or a High Point carbine in New Jersey. Go figure? Hell. we can’t have an M1 in New Jersey. Try and hide an M1 on your person, good luck!

  • Mark

    Even against soft targets M1 Carbine FMJ ammunition provides very poor wound ballistics. M1 Carbine soft point & hollow point ammunition, available commercially, provides adequate wound ballistics, but then it is quite expensive, costing as much as far better performers.

    • snmp

      soft point & hollow point that’s forbiden by the Law of war (Hauge convention) . Use it in war and you could go in trial for war crime, an then you coul not have the proction of pow

      • Mark

        Home defense does not involve that issue.

  • Don Ward

    I’m just here to watch people sling around arbitrary terms like “intermediate cartridge” and “personal defense weapon” like they are somehow set-in-stone, well-defined, categories. With luck, I’ll see some use of the word “battle rifle” as well.

    • Don Ward

      Also, can I peddle my alternate history theory about “What if Germany had the M1 Carbine by 1941?” Because that’s what you’re supposed to do whenever someone mentions early assault rifles, right?

    • The_Champ

      Quite to the contrary what I’m reading here is lots of thoughtful discussion about exactly what those terms mean, and the wide boundaries they seem to encompass.
      But to each his own I guess….. glass half full or half empty.

      • Don Ward

        There’s enough of both going on.

        • ostiariusalpha

          Well, I like to battle rifle my comments to make them more battle rifle-ish, it just gives the comment section a more battle rifle-tastic sense of battle rifle-ness.

          • Don Ward

            That comment was so awesome that I feel the sudden urge to field strip and lubricate my Homeland Defense Rifle.

          • ostiariusalpha

            Uh… that’s not a euphemism for something else, is it? Nevermind, better not to know.

          • Don Ward

            Putting the Eeew in Euphemism.

          • Joe

            Nope, but “Function Check”…

          • Cal_Grimalkin

            all right, let’s just throw “Tactical” into the conversation.

      • James Matters

        I always take the position that half-full or half empty is meaningless… What counts is the size of the glass!

    • MichaelZWilliamson

      Bonus points if we can start a fight over what purpose a scout rifle serves, other than to enrichen Steyr. 😉

  • Ezra Bristow

    It could be worth considering the media and psychological elements of the M1’s history. Much in the same way John Wayne’s “The Green Berets” gave the M16 a reputation as a plastic gun, and the coverage of the Iranian Embassy Siege cemented black overalls and an MP5 as THE weapon of an elite force, could the M1 Carbine have been treated the same way?

    The association with the Korean War – largely glossed over in the history books due to a series of severe military and political failures – already puts the M1 Carbine on a weaker footing than the fullsize Garand. The Garand was riding high as the weapon that beat the Nazis and the Japanese, depicted in the many heroic movies and newsreels that were being lapped up by a public enjoying the prosperity of a post-war economy. When you took your best girl to the drive through, are you going to admit you carry/carried a candy-ass carbine instead of the rifle of a real man? I fully recognise that M1 Carbines were extensively fielded in Hollywood armouries but I hope you will see my point as to the mindset I am creating. Then comes the embarrassment of Korea and what better way to deflect poor doctrine and leadership than to blame equipment? So the stories debunked below on the inability of .30 carbine to penetrate clothing etc. etc.

    M2/M3 Carbines do deserve recognition as an assault rifle ancestor. Admittedly the ballistics weren’t as great as 8mm Kurz but as numerous others have pointed out… you wouldn’t want to be shot by one either and I dare anyone to put on a winter coat and test out .30 carbine for themselves (don’t, you’ll get hurt). A poorly performing experiment is just as valuable as a first-time win, if only to give you somewhere to go from.

    Long live the M1! Long live debates on the Internet! Long live the shooting community!

    • Avery

      It’s kinda important to note that M1 carbine was the choice for American revolutionaries and urban guerrillas during the ’60s and ’70s because of it’s large magazine, compact size, and light weight. Everyone from Malcolm X to Patty Hearst was photographed with one. If the Kalashnikov hadn’t entered in to the American marketplace in the early ’80s with the copies made by Norinco, Zastava, and the Egyptians, the M1 carbine would probably still be a popular choice among America’s underground elements.

      • James Matters

        I think it had more to do with its price in those days. Back then you could buy a carbine for $30…

      • MichaelZWilliamson

        The primary problem with the carbine is ammo supplies. For practical purposes, nothing else shoots it, and there’s very few loads available. All the others are both larger distribution weapons, and share the cartridge with other platforms.

      • Lt_Scrounge

        It was also VERY inexpensive with multiple manufacturers remaking them from investment cast receivers and surplus parts. I remember seeing them in a Woolworths in the late 80s for $175 each. One company (National Ordinance) was actually rebarrelling the demilled actions with surplus 03 Springfield barrels that were cut down and milled to fit.

    • James Matters

      The M1 Carbine is the only US arm that I am aware of that (at least anecdotally), has a history of users wrapping around tree trunks in order to get a Thompson or M3 or ANY other gun. I just can’t see why the country is so enamored of the gun…

      • A friend of mine, upon reading your comment: “Now, I am no expert, but I am pretty sure that if a soldier intentionally breaks his weapon, the army does not go “Oh, didn’t you like that one? Here, take a new one from our broad assortment of replacement options!””

        • fmike15

          Our platoon sergeant saw one of our guys throw his M67 recoilless rifle on the ground, thinking he would get a lighter weapon. Needless to say he spent every moment of the next week glued to that thing.

      • fmike15

        I bet they regretted it, both the Thompson and the M3 weigh close to twice as much and are crap to aim. When we went to the field for training, we had a guy who always left the bolt for his M3 in the barracks because it was a brick.

  • aka_mythos

    I think something like the M1 carbine is the missing link in a trend in modern defensive weapons. For in home defensive use there is a trend from two directions for something that’s potentially more appropriate indoors than a SBR AR or other rifle and something more powerful than a pistol caliber carbine. This trend has lead to the growing adoption of 300Blk and a larger number of pistol caliber ARs in the market.

    • Marcus D.

      You know, if you chop the receiver in half and add 2/3 inch, modified the mag well, and rechambered the barrel, you could stuff a .300 black into it. It would have about the same ballistics as a 7.92 x 33 kurtz.

      • gunsandrockets

        Annnnd after all that, you then have something almost identical to the Ruger Mini-14 in .300 BLK! Currently available at your LGS.

        • I guess the gas system would be different?

          • ostiariusalpha

            The comparison would be between the Ruger Mini-14 and the Winchester LMR. The Mini weighs ~2.9kg and the LMR weighed 2.22kg, so an up-sized M1 Carbine would probably be somewhere in between that.

          • The LMR is likely lighter in construction than the M1 Carbine, believe it or not. Williams Carbine, which is basically an LMR in .30 Carbine, weighed only four pounds flat, if you can believe that!

          • ostiariusalpha

            I’ve commented nearly ad nauseum about my chagrin that none of the full Williams designs ever made it to production. The G30R, the Williams carbine, and the LMR were each and every one an amazing firearm that didn’t get the chance they deserved.

          • I completely agree. The G30R/WAR in particular was one of the most promising weapons of the period, and Ordnance was very foolish to ignore it after the conclusion of the war.

        • Marcus D.

          Except that the Mini is ugly and the Carbine is slick. It has a lot to do with the ugly op rod sticking out of the side of the Mini and the ugly fore end.

      • gunsandrockets
  • Southpaw89

    I tend to consider the M1 carbine to be a transitional gun, just at the point where the value of an intermediate cartridge was being realized, but before the best means of implementing it became apparent. Still that very reason is why it still soldiers on in the civilian world, it doesn’t seem like many rifles developed after that can be had by civilians in their original form, if only due to the lack of full auto capabilities.

    • ARCNA442

      Well, by that logic the Stg44 and AK-47 were also transitional guns since the shortened rifle rounds they fired have been completely replaced by purpose built small caliber intermediate rounds.

      • Southpaw89

        Not quit what I was going for, I was referring to the semi only function and the more traditional stock, the 44 and 47 are undeniably assault rifles, even being a little outdated doesn’t change that.

        • ARCNA442

          Then would you consider the M2 with a paratrooper stock to be an assault rifle?

          Personally, I think the M1 / M2 was probably the closest the US ever got to the Russian / German idea of an assault rifle (something halfway between a submachine gun and a full size rifle), but never really took off because we had a reliable mass produced semiautomatic rifle.

          If I really wanted to break with conventional wisdom, I might even suggest that the M16 was really more of a battle rifle than an assault rifle when you look at its contemporaries.

          • Southpaw89

            Would actually consider the M2 in general to be an assault rifle, the ability for full auto fire being the defining factor, (along with the cartridge) while the pistol grip type of stock is just a good idea for the sake of controllability, a paratrooper model would definitely fit the bill in function and looks. As for the M-16, I think I’ve heard that suggested in the past, would have to look into what defines a battle rifle to know for sure, it may very well be another rifle that blurs the lines, but it certainly fits the assault rifle role well enough.

          • Re: Your last paragraph. That’s an interesting set of gymnastics you’re putting those terms through. 🙂

          • ARCNA442

            True, but my understanding is that the Russians and Germans basically developed the assault rifle (in the form of the Stg44 and AK-47) because of their love of the not quite capable enough submachine guns. The M1 / M2 is the closest the US got to this because of doctrinal differences.

            The M16, on the other hand, was intended to take state of the art technology to produce a smaller gun that could keep up with the traditional rifles. If one were to look at the general specifications (barrel length, sight configuration, magazine capacity, furniture design) of all the “assault rifles” while ignoring their calibers, one would find that the Stg 44 and AK-47 are remarkably similar to SMGs while the M16 looks a lot more like the battle rifles.

          • ostiariusalpha

            I can kind of see what your saying. The AKM is a lot like someone tried to make an SMG into more of a full power rifle, and the M16 is like a shrunken full size rifle (which, come to think of it, it is). The Sturmgewehr I’m not so sure of, they’re just huge and heavy for any comparison to the lightweight SMGs the Germans were fielding at the time. You’d have to be Hitler to be delusional enough to think it was really a maschinenpistole.

          • ARCNA442

            Well, the Germans were trying to pioneer a brand new weapon in the middle of a fight for national survival with a horrible logistics system. They basically had a slightly different prototype every year so it’s difficult to tell where they would have ended up if they had had more flexibility. That said, the Stg44 took a lot of cues from their LMG, rifle, and SMG development.

          • Tom

            In fairness to the StG44 the Germans did not have access to the best quality metals so had to use more to compensate.

            I would imagine if development of the StG44 had continued then it would have been lightened and probable would have benefited from wooden furniture rather than stamped metal.

            As for the this issue of is an assault rifle a large SMG or a small battle rifle, I think it depends entirely on the doctrine of the users. The Russians wanted the AK47 to be a powerful SMG that could if necessary engage targets in semi auto out to 300 metres. The US (and by extension NATO) on the other hand wanted a powerful semi automatic rifle which could if necessary be used as an SMG (not hat it worked that well on the M14 or other 7.62mm rifles). Basically the AK prioritised short range volume of fire and the M14 prioritised single shot accuracy.

          • Here’s a cool glimpse at what an StG.44 Part 2 Electric Boogaloo looked like:

            http://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/2015/07/15/unknown-post-war-stg-44-derivative/

            Note the weight, far lighter at 3.580 kg (7.89 lb)!

          • ostiariusalpha

            It gets you started on those pointless, but fun, what-if fantasies where the Germans started the war with the MP-44 and upgraded to this improved version at some point. Then alternate universe Alex would be proudly showing off his collector’s StG-42 to alternate Nate, and alternate Ian & Karl would be at Shot Show with HMG’s replica.

          • In this universe, does Alternate Nate become a collector of M2 Automatic Rifles, as well? 😉

          • ostiariusalpha

            Well, of course he does! Only his M2 Carbines weigh a mere 2kg because David Williams miraculously managed to finish his prototype before the Roemer/Humeston team did theirs. He also has several interesting articles on the adoption in 1953 of .280/30 British due to T65 cartridge being uncontrollable in full auto for the Winchester G40 Light Rifle.

          • M2 Automatic Rifle would be the T20E2 select-fire Garand w/ 20 round mags. 🙂

          • That’s an oversimplification, but I see your point.

    • aka_mythos

      I get what you’re saying its a precursor… a sorta incomplete idea of an assault rifle before anyone had realized an “assault rifle.”

      It evoke imagination, how arms development may have gone differently had its originally intended full-auto capability had been embarrassed and it was manufactured in that form. It’d likely have been found far more useful outside of its original defensive intent. We’d have likely seen the Army adopt assault rifle doctrines sooner.

    • jdm61cc

      True. We could argue convincingly that it would have been a better round/weapon in a 6mm or .25 variant with a spitzer bullet perhaps requiring a slight longer magazine, but at that time, .30/7.62 was he caliber you were going to use whenever possible.

    • Cal_Grimalkin

      Wasn’t the M1 carbine originally to replace the handgun for officers, and other troops who were not “Front Line” troops. More accuracy than a handgun, lighter than a full sized rifle.

  • ZMD

    Obviously a PDW. 30 Carbine is less powerful and lighter than a true assault rifle, way more powerful than pistol rounds and totally capable of piercing soft body armor. Hell, the mag easily fits in your hand, why didn’t HK chamber the MP7 for the still relatively soft-recoiling 30 Carbine instead of a caliber that takes 10 rounds to put someone down?

  • Sulaco

    I used to love this small rifle but after buying two versions and nobody being able to get them to work I gave up and bought M4’s….

  • Rodford Smith

    I love my .30 Carbine. This despite it being an Iver Johnson made in the Eighties. It has needed multiple repairs and replacement parts down through the decades. (Just one problem, the steel in the bolts was notoriously soft and prone to peening. Fortunately, they take GI surplus parts which are much sturdier.) It is easy to shoot. I have managed to keep most of a 15 round magazine in the torso of a silhouette target at 125 yards, freehand through trifocals. (Of course, no-one was shooting back at me. 🙂

    I hope to buy one of the new Inland versions later this year.

    The main technical problem with the M1 Carbine is that it is only reliable with a narrow selection of bullet weights and chamber pressures/muzzle velocities. Even with that, it is effective on small and some medium game with a good softpoint or hollow point bullet.

    OTOH, if through some bizarre set of circumstances I found myself in a long-range rifle duel I’d much rather have my Springfield M1A with the National Match barrel and ‘scope. 😉

  • Lance

    I think the select fire M-2 is a assault rifle its select fire has a intermediate cartridge and uses a standard 30rd mag. 30 carbine (7.62×33) us the same length as the Nazi 7.92×33 Kurtz the MP-44 used. While the German cartridge is better due to that its necked and fatter giving better ballistics, The 30 carbine to enjoyed light recoil and hitting power (on paper) to 300 yards. This is one reason the west didn’t go nuts over the MP-44s use in the end of the war compared to the Soviets. Didn’t effect use because we did have light mag fed rifles in use and all personnel by 1945 had a automatic weapons by then (yes sniper excluded). But the Russian who were using mostly SMG like the PPSH series and bolt action rifle like the full sized M-91/30 Mosin Nagant and its late war supplement the M-44. The MP-44 make a huge impact on them compared to us.

  • Anthony Rosetta

    It sure was easy to carry in the field and on guard duty.

  • A text message conversation I one had with Nate:
    Me: “Hey, do you think the M2 carbine is an assault rifle?”
    Nate: “I would say It’s assault rifle-ish”

    We have very serious intellectual conversations.

    • ostiariusalpha

      And so was born the new category of ammunition, “intermediate-ish.”

      • Tassiebush

        The concept could be broadened. Imagine the categories. Smart-ish bomb, nuclear-ish weapons, cluster-ish bombs…

        • Tassiebush

          Flamethrower-ish

          • Don Ward

            Soviet PPSh-ish.

          • Tassiebush

            Semi auto version

          • Don Ward

            Semi auto-ish version.

            *Rack* *Bam* *Bam* *Click* *Rack*

            *BAM-BAM-BAM-BAM*

          • ostiariusalpha

            Cluster-ish bombs only have three or four components, so they’re only sort of like cluster bombs. Nuclear-ish bombs consist of a tiny, short-lived singularity that compresses the matter around it till their nuclei fuse for a small but potent explosion, though they have no explosive potential in and of themselves. Smart-ish bombs have been around forever as semi-guided weapons. Flamethrower-ish weapon… hmm, maybe a weapon that streams out caustic substances or a handheld directed energy weapon like the Active Denial System, that makes you feel like your burning alive. Actually, when you first posted, the first thing I imagined were the proton packs from Ghostbusters.

          • Tassiebush

            I was imagining really lackluster versions but they’re all pretty good examples.
            Not implying that m1 carbine is lackluster though. I think it’s a very good weapon in it’s context.

          • Tassiebush

            Man I’d like one of those active denial devices.

          • Twilight sparkle

            The xm42 is pretty flame thrower-ish. Like it’s not that good but I could see it getting the job done in a building.

          • ostiariusalpha

            I guess if your combating weeds and gophers, it’ll do the trick. I’d rather have the proton pack.

      • Tassiebush

        Legal-ish is a favourite

  • RealitiCzech

    I suspect the ‘light rifle’ concept went 1-1.5lbs too far for reliability. Still would’ve been my choice if operating operationally in that time frame.

    • I can’t really think of any place where the light weight was seriously compromising reliability. Mostly, I think the ammunition had some deficiencies, and the action could have used some improvements.

  • Mike

    RUGER .30 CARBINE

  • May

    Really am kinda glad to see someone else remembers the M1/M2 carbines. Those little things had a lot more potential than we gave them credit for, they went over really well in Korea and the Pacific, but they never really got all that much attention. I guess part of why they faded away was because of how their developments were treated, the M3 was an experiment and the M2 was a stop gap, they weren’t designed with the mindset of them becoming a standard, but given the opportunity and a little adjustment they very well could have been.

  • kyphe

    http://i.imgur.com/ZbfW6Gs.jpg The Winchester M1907-17 is also a very underrated almost unknown member of the early assault rifle club. it was a conversion not factory produced but they made a few thousand of these fully automatic trench carbines.

  • Robert Griffith

    The M-1 Carbine was the preferred weapon of one Audie Murphy, the most decorated soldier of WW2. That’s a pretty powerful endorsement of its effectiveness on the battlefields of that war. That’s good enough for me.

  • Ben Warren

    Yet again, the article is worth reading for the tags alone. “It’s like a real rifle but for hobbits!”

  • me ohmy

    the M-1 carbine was always limited by bullet selection….some 110 Hp’s… they hit like a 32-20 or a like a light 357..PLUS. good rifle….bad bullet choice with FMJ.

    • mosinman

      wouldn’t most pistol caliber weapons be poor choices with FMJ too?

      • Most intermediate rifle calibers are, too.

        • mosinman

          yup. great for punching little holes in things

      • me ohmy

        they fielded with 110GRN FMJ’s… dont tell me, tell the hague convention we need more effective bullets. and yeah.. FMJ’s need VERY high muzzle velocity, and or mass to do the nasty on human type targets.. these like the broom handle mauser, and any tokarev, shooting a high speed 30 cal bullet…with short bullet length which doesn’t upset in the flesh, or need to strike bone to upset, and minimal mass.. they zip through with almost no energy transfer. as for pistols….big and slow.. 45ACP is pretty nasty. nine mill at half the weight and 1/10th less diameter comes up short, for only the mass.. not the bullet diameter, to negate it’s energy transfer.
        that’s why FMJ 45ACP is preferred by active troops.. FMJ nine just ain’t doing enough damage.

      • me ohmy

        they fielded with 110GRN FMJ’s… dont tell me, tell the hague convention we need more effective bullets. and yeah.. FMJ’s need VERY high muzzle velocity, and or mass/bullet length and sharp point/blunt end shape to do the nasty on human type targets..WHEN THEY FLIP and and or break up.
        the broom handle mauser, and any tokarev, shooting a high speed 30 cal bullet…with it’s short bullet length which doesn’t upset in the flesh, and need to strike bone to upset, and minimal mass.. they zip through with almost no energy transfer. as for pistols….big and slow.. 45ACP is pretty nasty. nine mill at half the weight and 1/10th less diameter comes up short, for only the mass.. not the bullet diameter, to negate it’s energy transfer.

        that’s why FMJ 45ACP is preferred by active troops.. FMJ nine just ain’t doing enough damage.

  • Tormund Giantsbane

    The great point to be made in all of this is that, had there been a war between the USA and the USSR in 1947 or so, the Americans would have likely deployed more assault type weapons in the form of the M1 carbine than the CCCP would have. M2 carbines vs SKS would have been an interesting infantry rifle matchup.
    The irony here is that the US then wasted its time trying to make a lightweight Garand instead of an up powered M2.

    • gunsandrockets

      M2 carbine vs SKS? That contest was all too common during the Vietnam War!

  • gunsandrockets
  • not very influential on later developments tho, unlike the Stg.44, whose designers worked on the CETME & later at H&K

  • Tom

    Not an unreasonable position to hold but I would speculate the reason the M1 Carbine is largely forgotten (in terms of assault rifle development) is simple that it went no further. Had the US decided to improve the M2 Carbine rather than the M1 Garand for a new service rifle then I think people would consider the M2 at least the predecessor of the modern assault rifle.

    Perhaps most damning to the case though is that even had the M2 never appeared the StG44 would still have come about. Whilst the StG44 may not be the most refined example it checks all the assault rifle boxes.

    • The MP.44 was also a dead end, except for its caliber. I could even turn the tables on your argument, and point out that while no major element of the MP.44 was carried over into other rifles, the tappet gas system of the M1 Carbine was incorporated into a great deal of post-war assault rifle designs.

      • Tom

        A very good point and one that is perhaps forgotten too often. The M2 was a forgotten opportunity for the US to deploy a proper assault rifle but alas the insistence on 30.06 levels of power scuppered the assault rifle concept.

        Whilst no element of the StG44 went further (I think its fair to say that the StG44 did not feature any new technologies just mated existing tech into a new rile) it did see some post war prototypes though that is all they where as other designs like the AK, FAL and Cetme/G3 where simple better. I am not aware of any real development of the M2 beyound a few wildcat cartridges?

        If nothing else the StG44 gets the legacy of first large deployment and the name. The M2 is perhaps in the same “nearly assault rifle” category as the Fedorov.

        • ostiariusalpha

          If you read through Nate’s linked article, you’ll see that Gordon Ingram developed an intermediate cartridge rifle during the 70’s called the SAM based on the M1/M2 Carbine that the Somalian government (this is from before sh*t completely hit the fan for them) was interested in producing. Jim Sullivan, of AR-15/M16 fame, got drawn into the project for a bit himself at one point.

        • The only direct MP.44 descendant I know of I discuss in this article: http://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/2015/07/15/unknown-post-war-stg-44-derivative/

          • Tom

            believe Argentina played with a few in the 1950s before opting for the FAL.

            Though I have had another thought on the M1/2 vs the StG44 and that is post war use. The M1/2 saw extensive use postwar where as other than Yugoslavia and a few East German units no nation which could acquire other weapons used the StG44. So I would say that is a definite a plus point for the M1/2.

  • guest

    IMHO there is nothing “wrong” with M1C as a weapon for that specific time period, but unfortunately it was also “doomed” from the beginning:
    Round FMJ ball bullet and a round what is basically performs like a “boosted pistol round”, archaic layout of all Garand-type weapons (under the barrel gas system, complex receiver) etc.
    So out of all of this – including the time period – only two legacies lived on: The Sturmgewehr’s layout which was as history has shown the correct assault rifle layout, and another thing which is not mentioned at all: 7,62×39 which wad developed as M43 during WW2.

    Case closed.

    • I have no idea why people call it “the Sturmgewehr’s layout”, when it had existed for a long time before then… Including in the famous Thompson submachine gun!

  • Martin M

    Since everyone else has had their go, I’ll just add that I kick myself for not buying several of these when they were cheap. At least I should have picked up some magazines. It’s a worthy rifle. It’s not for snipers. It’s not for hunting hogs. It will get the job done, though.

  • demophilus

    Seems like there’s a potential category mistake here — I mean, something could be a PDW *and* an assault rifle. Like an AKM, or an M-4. They’re assault weapons, but they can also be PDWs, despite any hardening of the categories.

    UIM, nobody’s mentioned .22 APG, the bottleneck .30C round Aberdeen Proving Grounds developed for Project Salvo. The M1C was a test bed for the experiments that led to the M-16.

    I’ve heard of .30 sabot loads developed for .224 bullets in .30C cases. Don’t know much about them, but they’d seem to be a good alternative to rebarreling an M1C in a wildcat caliber.

    I’ve thought the tubular bullets developed by Abraham Flatau might be a good fit for the M1C, but have never heard of anyone trying it.

    • ostiariusalpha

      Both the AKM/AK-74M and the M4 are larger and heavier carbines than the M1, they might be shoe-horned into the PDW category with certain variants like the AK-74U “Krinkov” or the Mk 18 with some allowances that they aren’t exactly a natural fit for the role. Neither one qualifies as a D/296 parameter PDW, due to that document’s requirement that the ammunition must be usable in a standard pistol.

  • Geo

    Clickbait Nate strikes again!

    Arbitrary consideration for arbitrary category term.

  • Jwedel1231

    Let’s move from the archaic “category” way of classifying weapons, and move to a more civilized, modern “spectrum” style. A scale of rimfire plinker to anti-material weapon.

  • Ratcraft

    I absolutely love my M-1 carbine. 1944 IBM.

  • Lt_Scrounge

    I wish the Obamao administration hadn’t stopped the repatriation of the hundreds of thousands of M1Carbines sitting in armories in South Korea. It would make them reasonably affordable if they hit the market here and I would love to get one of those old ones. I had to sell my 1942 Inland when I lost my job a few years ago.

    • MichaelZWilliamson

      I wish people would stop repeating that myth as some sort of gospel.

      The Korean Carbines and Garands have been in dispute for over a decade.

  • Death 2 Assault B4 Rifle

    Why we continue to use a Hitlerian adjective when describing a weapon is beyond me, not to mention it’s a really poor adjective at that…since it’s Man who does the assaulting (he was insane, remember?).

    A noob points to a AR lying on his friend’s bed.

    Noob: “Is that an assault rifle?”

    Friend: “Shh! No, silly–that’s a sleeping rifle.”

    I just use ICR (Intermediate Cartridge Rifle). It’s easier to type, it’s more specific than MSR, and, most of all, it really pisses off the Gun Grabbing Gestapo.

    • Hitler approved the term “assault rifle”, but it was invented by the Allies during World War I.

  • Jinglebob

    Nice little handy rife, used some on active duty. Now if the price could get reasonable, $800 range is some what high.

  • I love shooting my Dad’s M1 Carbine, it is a great rifle and for it’s time and intended purpose is hard to knock it. However, I consider the PS90 a great modern-day replacement in so many ways.. 50rd capacity with no long appendages, lightweight, shorter, sealed from elements, takes optics, etc. Also I would venture to guess that SS190 can pierce modern lightweight armor much better than .30 carbine. But what about the civilian 5.7mm loads (American Eagle or SS197SR) vs .30 carbine ball ammo with respect to lightweight armor?

  • dltaylor51

    I bought a 1944 Win.M-1 in really nice shape at a gunshow about 5 months ago for $650,all the parts are stamped with the W and barrel is like new so just look around and there are still good deals out there to be had.

  • BigFED

    In the early 1960’s (1963, IIRC) Mel Johnson took the .30 Carbine case and necked it down to shoot .223 bullets. The round was really impressive, but the military already had a hard on against Mel and didn’t even give him a chance. The round did become popular in mid and South America.

  • Eric Blatter

    The 5.7 Johnson was designed by COL Melvin Johnson, USMC, famed for designing and developing the M1941 Johnson semi-automatic Rifle, and the M1941 Johnson Light Machinegun. Though his rifle and light machinegun were excellent weapons with few faults, they just happened to fall into the niche of weapons that couldn’t, or wouldn’t be produced because of the pressure of war production during WWII. While they were both viable weapons for infantry soldiers and paratroops, it was impossible to produce them without impacting the production of weapons already proven in combat and in issue to America’s armed forces. The Parachute Marines in the Pacific and the First Special Services Force in Europe used some of these firearms during the war, however both these units were small in comparison to standard formations and neither survived the war, nor did the Johnson rifle and machinegun.

    1

    A few years after the end of WWII, Johnson played with and developed a cartridge that is comparable with most “Assault Rifle” cartridges of today, the 5.7mm Johnson. It is a necked down 30 caliber M1 Carbine case, with a 40-grain bullet traveling between 2700 and 3000 feet per second (fps). Its platform was an M1 Carbine with a new barrel in .22 caliber with some minor modifications to the receivers feed ramp. As the M1 Carbine used a thirty (30) round magazine, and with the appropriate parts could be converted to select fire (semi-auto and full auto) using a selector switch, Johnson had really developed a modern small caliber Assault Rifle, years ahead of it’s time.

    2

    The first generally accepted Assault Rifle was the MP44 of WWII fame, fielded by the German Whermacht. It had several other names from it’s development years and later was renamed the STG44, yet all varitions were essentially the same platform that fired the 7.92×33 Kurz from a thirty round box magazine. This weapon set the bar for all rifles that followed, the U.S. M14 rifle (and later the M16), the FN/FAL, the H&K G3 (and Spain’s CETME), and the ubiquitous AK47 of which over 70 million have been made world wide. All of these weapons fire what is called an intermediate round. A round that isn’t quite as powerful as “standard issue,” yet has more power than a handgun. Of all these rifles only one, the M16, fired a small caliber round of disproportionate power. It is commonly known today that a small bullet, fired at a much higher velocity than a larger caliber bullet, has a tremendous impact in infantry engagements of limited distance. Small caliber cartridges don’t do well over at ranges greater than 600 meters and only then with a projectile almost twice the weight of any bullet used in the 5.7MMJ, but it’s really impossible at present to have a cartridge that can do it all.

    3

    4

    Back in the early 1960’s, when Johnson developed his 5.7 cartridge, small caliber weapons were frowned upon by “experts” that were convinced that such a small caliber cartridge was inadequate for military purposes. How strange that only a few years later our military decided that the M14 rifles that the U.S. had adopted were too big, clumsy, and over powered for the jungles of Vietnam and replaced it with the M16 rifle, at the cost of millions of wasted tax dollars and the lives of not a few soldiers during the “teething period” of that rifles development. How much money and lives might have been saved if the U.S. had merely taken all the many thousands of M1 Carbines in inventory and storage and had them converted to 5.7 Johnson. I once knew a former Marine who, when he first deployed to Vietnam, was issued an M2 .30 caliber Carbine, for which he was immensely grateful as it was far more controllable than an M14 on automatic fire, was less than half the weight, and he was able to carry a lot of spare magazines with more than double the “combat load” of the M14.

    What is even more unusual is that the current trend is for these smaller caliber “mini-rounds” to replace the larger caliber military rifles. After the adoption of the 5.56 by America, the Soviet Union developed their 5.45×39 cartridge and it has been primary issue since 1974. In recent years FN has developed their 5.7×28, which is theorectically available for machine guns, rifles, carbines, and pistols, though it does not develop quite the same energy as the 5.7 Johnson.

    Looking at an M1 Carbine, one sees a light carbine, handy, well balanced, of a good capacity, and “battle tested.” While there has been some ill feelings and bad press on occasion berating the M1 Carbine, I wonder if it is just sour grapes combined with an ammunition problem. During the Korean War, the M1 and M2 Carbines were issued by the thousands. Some felt that it didn’t “work as advertised” in the bitterly cold weather. Stories of multiple hits on Chinese soldiers where the .30 Carbine failed to stop them are easy to find. As the .30 Carbine has as much power as a .357 Magnum at 100 yards, I wonder if anyone actually counted the number of hits, rather than blame the carbine. As the temperature was as cold as a body could ever imagine, I wonder if the powder charge was affected by the cold and failed to do its job.

    Regardless, the M1 Carbine, and the 5.7 Johnson have had a “bad rap” but as a team, it is a very fine cartridge/rifle combination. The cartridge is excellent for personal defense, and I wouldn’t hesitate to use one within a range of 200 yards. It makes a fine varmint cartridge, however in it’s original platform isn’t quite up to the task for accuracy reasons. The M1 Carbine isn’t designed for varmint type shooting at several hundred yards. While it isn’t any sort of large game combination, on the smaller four legged, and two legged varmints, it is deadly. Factory cartridges are scarce, but they can be found on occasion. Loading information is also scarce, but it can be found if one cares to look. As it’s case capacity is close to the .22 Hornet and .218 Bee, these two other cartridges can be used as a base line, as long as one pays careful attention to reducing charge capacity by 10 to 15% when starting to develop a load. It would also be prudent for me to mention that I believe that the in-availability of cartridge brass is one of the reasons that the cartridge isn’t more popular. Cases must be formed from standard .30 carbine brass. While I’m still experimenting with loading this cartridge here are some of my discoveries. At this point I’ve been able to form case’s using a set of CH4D dies with a single pass with the de-capping stem removed, then a second pass with the stem to complete the neck. I lubricated the case’s with Castor oil (a trick another taught me) and worked slowly so as to not over stress the case. However I must say that I’ve not had to form very many cases as of yet. Then too once formed they must be trimmed to length (I use a Forster trimmer) and the necks inside reamed. And it appears that annealing the cases is a good idea. I’m still in the process of determining if one should anneal before forming, or after, but one of the problems discussed by those who do use this cartridge is that case life is reduced due to neck splits during firing, or during forming. Obviously annealing before forming should address that problem, and after forming the case neck should still be soft enough for several firings. But that is one of the issues of re-loading bottle necked cartridges, repeated re-sizing will cause the case neck to become brittle, so annealing is an issue. Another “problem” is that people that form their own cartridges are loath to loose them either by short lived cases or by your rifle chucking them into the brush, which the M1 Carbine will surely do if not firing in a location where your brass can be readily found. The following information is from published data from several sources. And as mentioned it is recommended that with all cartridge re-loading charges should be reduced by 10-15% for initial testing.

    Bullet Powder / grains Muzzle Velocity Muzzle Energy

    40 / 4227 / 14 grains / 2820 / 720

    40 / 2400 / 12 grains / 3000 / 795

    50 / 4198 / 14 grains / 2700 / 810

    40 / Factory / 3000 / 795

    I’ve been working on a load that uses Hornady’s 35-grain “V-Max” bullet and which works well. I’ve an IAI 5.7 Johnson Carbine that I really like; it is well made and accurate enough. The muzzle was threaded and an early “bird cage” M16 flash hider was installed, it is a nice addition for those who like such an enhancement. It no longer takes a bayonet, but that is hardly a concern for me. I’ve also acquired an original Johnson that I’m very fond of. There are several manufacturers that produced this firearm, and they can be found on occasion. The “Plainfield Machine Company” made some in military and “Sporter” versions before the company went bankrupt. Israel Military Industries (IMI) also made a small quantity, and I believe Iver Johnson also made a small number. I do not recommend converting a U.S. made M1 Carbine as they are rapidly becoming far more valuable as a collectors piece and too valuable to alter. If altering a carbine is the users only option, the aforementioned companies all made .30 caliber M1 Carbines and these can be altered with little complaint from a collector. I highly recommend this carbine/cartridge combination for anyone who desires “a high capacity magazine assault rifle” and enjoys making and reloading their own ammunition. It is a winner!

    It is also necessary for to me to comment that some of the IAI produced carbines seem to have an issue with headspace. I have spoken with one other person that has an issue with headspace, resulting in case separations that are a serious issue. To the point that damage to the rifle occurred. I also have read of this problem in the past. I believe that quality control issues were merely one of the reasons that IAI discontinued producing the 5.7 Johnson Carbine. I’ve not heard or read of this being an issue with any other commercially produced 5.7 Johnson Carbine. So, if one has such a problem, the only remedy is to have the Carbine re-chambered or re-barrelled. This does not however detract form the fact that a properly built 5.7 Johnson Carbine is a good choice for a light, handy, and powerful firearm.

    Note: The term “Assault Rifle” was coined from the German term “Sturmgewehr,” which means “Storm Rifle.” The word “Storm” loosely translates to “Assault,” in English. Strictly speaking an “Assault Rifle” is a military rifle with a detachable box magazine, firing an “intermediate cartridge,” capable of both semi and automatic fire through the use of a selector switch. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives of the Justice Department tightly control firearms of this nature. Here in the U.S. one can legally own one, however it must be a registered firearm for which the owner has paid a $200.00 transfer tax and be subjected to a through background investigation by the BATFE. There are only a small number of true “Assault Rifles” in private hands in the U.S. and the current political flap over the possession of these rifles really involves a military appearing firearm. While looking “mean” and having a larger magazine capacity than one would normally use in hunting, it fires a cartridge that is far less powerful than one normally used in hunting such as a 7mm Magnum, a 30.06, or even a .243 Winchester. As written, the 2nd Amendment states, “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” The word “people” means all citizens, not merely law enforcement, the National Guard, or the military, as some would attempt to make you believe. The “militia” was “the people.”

  • Anon. E Maus

    If .30-06 is full sized, and .223 is intermediate size, I’d regard .30 as small sized.
    To me, the M1 was largely the PDW before the PDW

    By no means incapable however, the M1 has vastly superior terminal ballistics to the MP7 and P90
    To me, it feels like the P90 would have been much better served if the 5.7mm was hotted up, and given a heavier bullet, while making the action lever-delayed or roller-delayed to compensate. The Five Seven pistol to me is pretty much irrelevant so I don’t care if that would be a problem there.

  • Floyd McCarty

    I do appreciate the information that is factual. I have a problem with the title. ( ASSAULT) rifle.
    I’ve been around firearms all my life. My grandfather had an old Winchester that sat by the door in his old country house. I never saw it do anything but gather dust. More appropriate nomenclature would be DEFENSE rifle. Sorry it is kind of touchy to me. The media blitz on gun owners has been sickening at best. When we use THEIR terminology we accept their IN ANY FORM (WE) lose. Sorry I’m not trying to be rude or informative. The confusion is in association,
    With words that don’t go together. Politically correct, life insurance, house ethics, and any more free will,and united states. Sorry maybe I’m just tired. Just venting you did a great job.

    • The term “assault rifle” was invented by the Allies during World War I.

  • Alan

    The carbine was handy and well liked, I understand it was generally considered more effective in the pacific then in the European theater, possibly because of the generally smaller stature of the combatants. There was a leap in technology that might have extended the life of the carbine, if it had ever caught on. Specifically the advent of the .22 Spitfire/Johnson. A proprietary cartridge developed the Johnson Gun Company, the Spitfire was .30 carbine necked down to .22, a 40 grain bullet developed a hefty 3000 fps and a 50 grain bullet 2,700. The military application of such a round is obvious. The Carbine is lighter and arguably more reliable than the early versions of the M-16, and without trying to change history, and acknowledging that the m-1 carbine could never have filled the role of a main battle rifle, it is a shame the Spitfire carbine was not more widely marketed. I’d have bought one, given a reliable Ammo supply.

  • Alan

    I hate that when I go back and read earlier comments, I learn that everyone else out there is as smart as I am. Darn it. But yeah I don’t know the .22 Johnson wasn’t a barn burner. Way better than the hornet in a more modern case, I bet it would have made a better revolver cartridge then the jet, and it was already an awesome lightweight 2 and 4 leg coyote control cartridge.

  • Miguel Raton

    OK, 1st off, where did Jake Gyllenhaal get a time machine? [3rd photo from top of the Paramarine in WWII.]

    Lastly, the only thing the Carbine, M1, .30 cal had going against it was just not quite enough boiler room for the bullet. If the military had opted for a .25 caliber bullet instead of the .30, at the same pressure as the .30-’06 [~50kcup vs. the ~40kcup of the carbine rounds, iirc] it would probably have been enough to get the ballistics where they needed to be to make it the 1st true assault rifle, esp. after the M2 FA conversion came out. Oh well, they wanted to get them out the door & into the hands of soldiers quickly, so .30 caliber barrels made the most production sense [for the same reasons the Soviet’s sub guns were .30 cal.]

  • Jack 250

    a lighter more accurate and efficient assault weapon can be made on the same frame with a 222 hornet green tip mag.. Killing is killing, don’t moralize. The same can be said for a cut down light weight m-14 with a snail mag. Semper Fi.

  • Andrew Foss

    Rifle != Carbine
    M1 carbine != assault rifle.
    An assault rifle is a select-fire full-length rifle firing a cartridge with power levels and maximum effective ranges above pistol calibers and below full power calibers, and bore sizes smaller than pistols and rifles both.

    The M1 carbine is none of that. Claiming that the M1 carbine is so is criminally, negligently and militantly oblivious to reality and the definitions in common use of those words. And further: 100 inches of drop at 300 meters is is unacceptable performance for a rifle or a carbine.

    The M1 was overshadowed by the StG-44 because it was A:semi-automatic, (The M2 was never issued in quantity as it was only standardized in ’44, and the M1 worked “well enough”) and; B: a johnny-come-lately. (StG-44: 1943, M2: 1944)

    Do I consider the M1 a useless weapon? No. I consider it useful for
    its intended purpose: To give tankers, pogues, parachutists and truck drivers a weapon
    with a longer range than a pistol but taking up less room than a full
    sized battle rifle.

    But as a useful front-line infantry weapon issued generally and exclusively? Hell no: That’s just asking for an entire *division* to get shot up by *one* guy at 600m with a “real” rifle.

    No, the M1/M2 carbine isn’t even the precursor to PDWs. (You can thank the German MP-18 or the Luger P-08 for that.) Nor assault rifles. (StG-44.)

    • So are you saying that the M4 Carbine isn’t an assault rifle, either? It was, after all, designed to do exactly the same thing as the M1 Carbine.

      I also don’t see the logic in ascribing a single “predecessor” to an entire class of weapons. You argue, essentially “the M1 Carbine isn’t a predecessor to assault rifles, that’s the StG.44” as if that whole class can only have one ancestor. In reality, designers take influence from a wide variety of sources, including the M1 Carbine in many cases.

      • Andrew Foss

        I’m arguing definitions. And as we all know, definitions are important: What do you do when some ‘grabber starts spouting off about banning “ass-salt weapons”? (like a modern self-loading rifle) or “Dangerous sniper weapons”. (like Fudd’s deer rifle or someone’s target rifle.) If it were a rifle, it’d be called an M4 rifle. It’s not, it’s called an M4 carbine.

        What I’m trying to do here is get you into the mindset of fragmenting the definition of “assault rifle” as much as possible to make the job of those same gun grabbers more difficult, rather than cede ground and make their eventual goal of banning *all* firearms easier.

        As to the second part: You argue that the StG-44 isn’t the first assault rifle? I’m awaiting the article that details the one that *is* the first, then. The logic here is, not one of previous influences, but one of influences on future designs. So: Which military carbines out there are semiauto-only or firing a different cartridge than their fully-sized brethren? I’m awaiting that article, as well.

        • First, this is a technical article, and it has nothing to do with politics.

          Second, I detail no less than twelve assault rifle predecessors to the German sMP./MKb./MP./StG. series in the second article I ever wrote for this website, which I linked already both in the text body of this article, and in the comments section!

  • Cal_Grimalkin

    years ago, before we had civilian access to AR’s, AK’s and every other manner of powerful bullet hoses, there was some experimentation with converting the M1 Carbine to .357 Magnum. Can’t remember how they managed the magazines with rimmed rounds, but I remember gun magazine articles about the conversions. Some were semi auto and some were a pump version.

  • jfsoren

    I joined the US Air Force in 1967. Trained as an SP Sentry Dog Handler. Went to Thailand in 1968. All that time we trained and qualified with the M-16 rifle. Came back to the States in 1969 and my first stateside base in Michigan. They handed me an M-1 carbine and said here’s your rifle. Carried it on duty every night for six months and never fired it. By the time they got around to replacing the old carbines with recycled M-16’s from Vietnam, I had graduated to Law Enforcement duty and was carrying a S&W .38 revolver instead of a rifle.
    When I saw that they were releasing some old carbines for sale to the public, I thought about buying one just so I could finally get the chance to shoot one, but my gun safe is already full and I can’t really justify adding another novelty rifle to my collection.

  • Archie Montgomery

    Let’s not give the idiots who believe ‘guns are evil’ any more half-truths to spout.

    The M1 carbine is a rather inoffensive, short ranged ‘house gun’ type firearm.

  • Mike Stewart

    Here we go, betting the farm on the kinetics, again… Projectile energy is but ONE indication, and not a very good one, at that, of the “power” of cartridge. There is also hydrostatic effect to consider at velocities over Mach 2, which the .30 USC cartridge never really makes, even at the muzzle, plus a host of other factors, such as penetration.

    In modern parlance, the .30 M1 Carbine was designed more as a “P.D.W.” than as an assault rifle, though doubtless it was pressed into the latter job description too often. One of my favorite authors from happier times described the M1 carbine as “a light handy, unobtrusive little rifle that is immensely popular among those who’ve never had to shoot anybody with one”. I find it difficult to improve on that summarization, expanding projectiles or not.

    I find them very fun to shoot. I’d find it a horrible chore to stake my life on one.

    • “One of my favorite authors from happier times described the M1 carbine as “a light handy, unobtrusive little rifle that is immensely popular among those who’ve never had to shoot anybody with one”.”

      You mean like Jim Cirillo?

  • fmike15

    I don’t know about the M1 carbine being dismissed, I’m in my 50’s and since I was a kid the M1 has always been a coveted weapon.

  • fmike15

    hell yeah!

  • buzzman1

    They were meant to give the Support people an easy weapon to carry around. and was perfectly fine out to 100 meters. However saying that MY personal experience hunting with it made it less than desirable. I shot a deer at a little over 100 yrds with a M-1 Carbine and it took me hours to find it. The bullet made a nice clean hole though the deers heart and it was bleeding out slowly. I saw another deer that the guy just pointed and started pulling the trigger. He hit it 18 times before it dropped. I know their are guys that have had really good luck with the round dropping deer and hogs with them but I wasnt one of them.

  • Mikial

    I have no personal experience with the M1 Carbine, and have in fact never shot one, only having seen and held them at gun shows. Consequently, I will relate my father’s personal experience with them.

    My dad started out in the Horse Artillery in the 1930s, but when WWII started was transferred into the anti-aircraft artillery corps in North Africa. However, after the US Army suffered serious tank crew losses in battles with the German Panzers in North Africa, he was transferred into the armor branch where he served in both Shermans and M10 Tank Destroyers with Clark’s 5th Army in Italy until the end of the war. During that time, he went through three Shermans, the first two being destroyed by a mine and anti-tank fire respectively. He was lucky and his only wounds were losing all but four of his teeth from smashing his face into something inside the tank when it hit the mine. Throughout my life he never had more than those four teeth since he refused to get dentures even though the VA would pay for it. He was of Scotch and Irish lineage after all and had a stubborn streak.

    His crew were all issued the M1 Carbine because it was compact and easy to carry for armored vehicle crewman. The M1 Carbine was easier to store in a tank and quicker to deploy as the crew exited a disabled tank, and in simple terms . . . the tank crews hated them. My father told me that as soon as they could, everyone on his different tank and tank destroyer crews threw their M1 Carbines in a ditch and acquired a Garand. They all felt that the extra weight of the Garand was well worth it when considering its effectiveness as a combat weapon.

    The “cheap and easy to produce” qualification is also evident in the M4 Sherman tank when compared to the German tanks of the era, and with similar consequences. The tanks and carbines were indeed easy and cheap to produce, and in his estimation at least, their performance was marginal.

    Now, I’m not personally attacking the M1 Carbine, I am simply relating things my father, who participated in the infamous Rapido River crossing and who I regarded as a hero, related to me. I consider the M1 Carbine a significant historical weapon and if I ever get a good opportunity, I will add one to my collection along with my 1943 production Garand and the various 1911s my wife and I own. It does indeed have a place in history, but from the first person accounts of my father, it was a poor compromise as a primary weapon.

    • JeepsGunsTanks

      The Sherman tank was not simple and easy to produce, in fact, it was so advanced the Germans could not copy it. The Sherman tank was also a better tank than anything the Nazis produced, and the big cats being any good is Nazi propaganda.

      • Mikial

        You obviously haven’t done a great de3al of research on the various tanks to WWII. But if you have and this is your conclusion, then i will chock it up to the perpetual debate about tanks and weapons and wish you the best.

        • JeepsGunsTanks

          Yeah, um no, if you think the Tiger and Panther were good tanks, you’re the one who needs to read up on the subject. Try sources not riddled with Nazi propaganda though. It’s a dead on FACT the M4A1 Sherman was far to advanced for the Nazis to copy, they couldn’t make steel castings large enough to reproduce the hull or turret, and they couldn’t figure out even a 2 axis gun stabilizer like the nearly every model of the Sherman had.

          Hell, Nazi tanks didn’t even have truly interchangeable parts, and in many cases things had to be hand fitted to fit.

          All Sherman parts model to model interchanged without problems, no mater what factory made the part or the tank. If you don’t understand how huge that was in 1942, well, I’d say you’re the ignorant one, but that’s already clear.

          Maybe think deeply on why it’s important to you that Nazi equipment be better than it really was.

          • Mikial

            Now you’re talking about production techniques, and there is no question the USA had the best assembly line production technique in the world. Shermans were easy for the USA to build in tremendous quantities, and they were easier to maintain than Panzers. And yes, I am aware of what a major factor building and maintenance factors were, so save your insults. Consequently, we could build and repair them faster than the Germans could destroy them, but destroy them in large numbers they did.

            Read the book Death Traps by Belton Cooper, who was an armor maintenance officer in the 3rd AD during WWII (not really a source “riddled with Nazi propaganda,” although I’m not sure what sources you’d be referring to).

            The Shermans at the time of Normandy (32 tons) had 2 1/2″ of armor on a 45 degree glacis and a short barreled 75mm low velocity gun (2,050 fps). The smallest and weakest Panzer the Mark IV (PzKw IV – 32 tons) had 4″ of vertical armor on the glacis and a HV 75MM gun (3000 fps). By the time they built the Panther (PzKw – 53 tons) V they were manufacturing the hull with a better angle, so it ‘only’ had 3 1/2″ on the glacis but at a decent angle of 38 degrees. Finally, the King Tiger (PzKw VI – 64 tons) had 6″ armor at the critical ricochet angle of 45 degrees and a long barrel HV 88mm gun (3250 fps). The German tanks had a combat qualitative superiority of 5:1, although not a mechanical reliability one.

            German tanks could take out a Sherman with one shot at very long ranges. Further, they could shoot through a brick wall where a Sherman was hiding and still penetrate, and on at least one documented occasion Michael Whittman shot at a Canadian Sherman column coming down a narrow lane in the bocage country and put a round clear through the lead Sherman and then into the next one taking them both out. By contrast, Shermans had to close to within 600 years to even have a chance , and even then they often watched multiple shots bounce off the German armor. My father was indeed a tanker, but I was also an Armor officer (M60A3) and I can tell you that 600 yards in open country is knife fighting range to a tank. The attrition rate of the 3 AD was around 600% throughout the war. But, as I said, we could build and repair them faster than the Germans could destroy them, and there is no doubt the Sherman was mechanically more reliable as well.

            To be fair, the Germans didn’t develop the Panther or the Tiger to fight Shermans, they developed them to fight T-34s and T-34/85s, which were the only WWII tanks superior to German tanks on the field.

            So, feel free to write more personal insults since that seems to be your way of making a point, but I’m done with this conversation. The article was about the M1 Carbine, not tanks.

          • JeepsGunsTanks

            Jesus, where to start with this mess….

            I suppose we will go in order, so let’s start with “Now you’re talking production techniques”, no, I was talking technological prowess. The Germans lacked the technical know how to do large castings; they also lacked the industrial capacity. German production techniques were a joke, not just in the tank industry, but across the board. Designing a tank that could be mass produced, was easy to maintain, and was reliable, along with being a good combat vehicle was in fact the sign of a well-designed tank.

            All versions of the Sherman had well sloped armor right from the prototype. All Shermans had a very fast power traverse for their turret. They had a periscope site and a telescope, making target acquisition easier for American crews. Shermans had an override for the commander so he could put the gunner on target, German tanks lacked this simple feature. I notice you ignored the stabilizer, because you kind of had to, since the Germans had nothing like it in the works, and were only working on stabilized sites, a technological dead end.

            Did you know the Sherman had four reliable power packs, and a powertrain reliable enough to see decades of use and still work? Let’s list them since you probably don’t know.

            The Continental R975, a very reliable motor. Contrary to what Belton Cooper says about plugs fouling, if he hadn’t of been an incompetent stooge, he could have talked to an good mechanic and found out you could just rev the ol 975 up and get it nice and hot and it would un-foul the plugs. He also fails to mention the R975 was a dual ignition motor, and it was rare for both sets of plugs to foul. This was the preferred motor of the US Army for its Shermans until the better GAA came online.

            There was also the GM 6046 twin diesel, most of the tanks powered by this very reliable motor went to Russia and the Brits, and was very well liked.

            Next up, the Chrysler A57 Multibank, this motor was 5 inline 6 cylinder motors tied together on a common core, tied together through gearing. Now this motor started out a little ‘German’ in that it was a complicated and unreliable. Unlike most German tank motors, it got more reliable as they figured out how to fix all its little problems, and this motor went on to power a large chunk of Sherman production. This version was used by many nations in Combat, but was also the most common British Sherman, as the Sherman V.

            Then there was the nearly perfect motor for a medium tank in the Shermans weight range, the Ford GAA, the biggest all aluminum V8 Ford ever made at 1100 cubic inches.

            The Germans had a decent motor in the HL 120 but it was not as good as any of the motors listed above. And the HL230 was a trash motor.

            The Powertrain on the Sherman, (the Tranny, differential and final drives) was strong and reliable enough to take all the upgrades thrown at the tank during and power war, all the way through the 70s when the Israelis were upgrading them. No one used German powertrains for anything but poor quality scrap.

            Now let’s address Belton Cooper and Death Traps. The book is trash and the author was looking for a paycheck, and sensationalized his book for extra profits.

            See this review on Amazon from a Fellow Armor Officer(assuming that wasn’t made up), and Author Robert Forczyk

            “Death Traps, a poorly written memoir by Belton Y. Cooper promises much, but delivers little. Cooper served as an ordnance lieutenant in the 3rd Armor Division (3AD), acting as a liaison officer between the Combat Commands and the Division Maintenance Battalion. One of the first rules of memoir writing is to focus on events of which the author has direct experience; instead, Cooper is constantly discussing high-level or distant events of which he was not a witness. Consequently, the book is riddled with mistakes and falsehoods. Furthermore, the author puts his main effort into an over-simplified indictment of the American Sherman tank as a “death trap” that delayed eventual victory in the Second World War.

            Cooper’s indictment of the Sherman tank’s inferiority compared to the heavier German Panther and Tiger tanks ignores many important facts. First, the Sherman was designed for mass production and this allowed the Allies to enjoy a 4-1 superiority in numbers. Second, fewer than 50% of the German armor in France in 1944 were Tigers or Panthers. Third, if the German tanks were as deadly as Cooper claims, why did the Germans lose 1,500 tanks in Normandy against about 1,700 Allied tanks? Indeed, Cooper claims that the 3AD lost 648 Shermans in the war, but the division claimed to have destroyed 1,023 German tanks. Clearly, there was no great kill-ratio in the German favor, and the Allies could afford to trade tank-for-tank. Finally, if the Sherman was such a “death trap,” why did the US Army use it later in Korea or the Israelis use it in the 1967 War?

            There are a great number of mistakes in this book, beginning with Cooper’s ridiculous claim that General Patton was responsible for delaying the M-26 heavy tank program. Cooper claims that Patton was at a tank demonstration at Tidworth Downs in January 1944 and that, “Patton…insisted that we should downgrade the M26 heavy tank and concentrate on the M4….This turned out to be one of the most disastrous decisions of World War II, and its effect upon the upcoming battle for Western Europe was catastrophic.” Actually, Patton was in Algiers and Italy for most of January 1944, only arriving back in Scotland on 26 January. In fact, it was General McNair of Ground Forces Command, back in the US, who delayed the M-26 program. Cooper sees the M-26 as the panacea for all the US Army’s shortcomings and even claims that the American offensive in November 1944, “would have succeeded if we had had the Pershing” and the resulting American breakthrough could have forestalled the Ardennes offensive and “the war could have ended five months earlier.” This is just sheer nonsense and ignores the logistical and weather problems that doomed that offensive.

            Cooper continually discusses events he did not witness and in fact, only about one-third of the book covers his own experiences. Instead of discussing maintenance operations in detail, Cooper opines about everything from U-Boats, to V-2 rockets, to strategic bombing, to the July 20th Plot. He falsely states that, “the British had secured a model of the German enigma decoding machine and were using it to decode German messages.” Cooper writes, “not until July 25, the night before the Saint-Lo breakthrough, was Rommel able to secure the release of the panzer divisions in reserve in the Pas de Clais area.” Actually, Rommel was wounded on 17 July and in a hospital on July 25th. In another chapter, Cooper writes that, “the British had bombed the city [Darmstadt] during a night raid in February,” and “more than 40,000 died in this inferno.” Actually, the RAF bombed Darmstadt on 11 September 1944, killing about 12,000. Dresden was bombed on 13 February 1945, killing about 40,000. Obviously, the author has confused cities and raids.

            Even where Cooper is dealing with issues closer to his own experience, he tends to exaggerate or deliver incorrect information. He describes the VII Corps as an “armor corps,” but it was not. Cooper’s description of a counterattack by the German Panzer Lehr division is totally inaccurate; he states that, “July 11 became one of the most critical in the battle of Normandy. The Germans launched a massive counterattack along the Saint-Lo- Saint Jean de Daye highway…” In fact, one under strength German division attacked three US divisions. The Americans lost only 100 casualties, while the Germans suffered 25% armor losses. The Official history calls this attack “a dismal and costly failure.” Cooper wrote that, “Combat Command A…put up a terrific defense in the vicinity of Saint Jean de Daye…” but actually it was CCB, since CCA in reserve. On another occasion, Cooper claims that his unit received the 60,000th Sherman produced, but official records indicate that only 49,234 of all models were built. Cooper claims that the 3rd Armored Division had 17,000 soldiers, but the authorized strength was about 14,500. Can’t this guy remember anything correctly?

            Cooper’s description of the death of MGN Rose is virtually plagiarized from the official history and a number of articles in ARMOR magazine in the past decade reveal that Rose was an extreme risk-taker. Reading “Death Traps,” the uninitiated may actually believe that the US Army was badly defeated in Europe. Cooper even claims that, as the 3rd Armored Division approached the Elbe River in the last days of the war that, “with our division spread out and opposed by three new divisions, our situation was critical.” If anybody’s situation was critical in April 1945, it was Germany’s. Actually, the 3rd Armored Division had one key weakness not noted by Cooper, namely the shortage of infantry. The division had a poor ratio of 2:1 between tanks and infantry, and this deficiency often required the 3AD to borrow an infantry RCT from other units. While the much-maligned Sherman tank was far from perfect, it did the job it was designed for, a fact that is missed by this author.”

            Now let’s talk about your magical Panzer IV with four inches of frontal armor. DO you even Jentz or Spielberger bro? If you don’t get the joke buy a clue, but needless to say, the rest of your Nazi propaganda spew is just that. A load of garbage. The Panther was rarely used in the Bocage because it was unreliable and clumsy. The Panzer IV did the work there, but was at best, roughly equal to the 75mm Sherman. The US Army didn’t face Tiger II tanks until later, and just about every documented fight between panthers and Shermans, the panther lose, and do not take out 5 Shermans before they die. Have you ever heard of the Battle of Agincourt?

            Average engagement range in the ETO was around 800 yards, for both sides. The winner of a tank fight was the guy who saw and shot first. The Sherman was better at spotting targets than the panther was, since the Panther had fewer periscopes and the gunner was blind. The Panther also had final drives, on the G model, that only lasted on average, 150 kilometers!! LOL that’s Nazi tech for ya. Also a turret drive that couldn’t spin the turret if the motor was not running, and to turn at top speed the motor had to be at max RPM, and even then the drive was weak and didn’t work on even mild slopes!!

            I could go on and on and on here, I think you should try reading some current works on the subject, R Forczyks books or Armored Thunderbolt by Steven Zaloga. You sound like the only books on the subject you’ve read were written by Germans, and not the good ones like Jentz and Speilberger.

            You really should try and update yourself, that way you won’t look like such a wehraboo. At this point it’s doubtful anyone cares what you have to say about the M1 Carbine.

  • Zebra Dun

    Could be either or.
    If it has a Pistol Grip, large capacity magazine, selective fire a flash hider and bayonet adapter then by the law it is an Assault rifle.
    Yet, if you chambered an AR-15 into .30 carbine would it be an assault rifle still?
    What if you chambered an AR- in .32 magnum? .357 Magnum would they be assault rifles also?
    It seems closer to submachine gun than assault rifle and actually fills the niche for Carbine quite well.
    After all it is all just a name isn’t it?

    Any weapon used in the assault formations are assault rifles/pistols.

  • 1911a145acp

    My Dad was youngest of 9 and a WWII vet. He did not hold the M-1 Carbine in high regard. His oldest sister, my Aunt had a son who was drafted into Korea. I well remember him sitting an a chair at family reunions, shaking, chain smoking, suffering from what I now understand to be PTSD. (they called it “Battle Fatigue” back then) and quietly telling stories of combat from the worst of the Korean conflict. I distinctly remember one horror story where his unit was overrun by ChiCom human wave attacks. They had expended all 30-06 ammo for belt fed and Garands, he shot a small Chinese soldier in the quilted black “pajama’ outfit several times and said he saw tufts of fabric tear out his back. The enemy soldier jumped into his foxhole and they fought to the death. My uncle described how his frozen Carbine (Many guns were frozen and inop) broke in half, shattered at the wrist of the wooden stock and he used the jagged end and the trigger guard to stab and beat the N. Korean to death.

    • Mikial

      You know, people who have never been there can never truly appreciate what these true heroes went through.

    • Mazryonh

      Not to disparage that anecdote, but I thought that M1 Carbines of the Korean War era all had bayonet lugs? Did your cousin not have access to a bayonet that time?

  • Doktor Jeep

    Make a .223 version that uses AR15 magazines and is more reliable than a Mini-14 and maybe we’ll talk.

  • John Henry Bicycle Lucas

    I owned two of them. One was an early universal M1 knock off. The second was a Underwood made in 1944. Both were great rifles. Lightweight, easy if carrying with barrel down, to bring on target quickly. Balance is great and recoil is very light considering the power of the round. Easy to change magazines. Easy to use, field stripping is more difficult than some, easier than others.

    One very important positive to me is capability to stay on, or close to target when burning through a magazine.

    The Universal brand did not like hollow point ammo. It would occasionally hang one going up the ramp, but had no problem with ball ammo at all.They were not originally made to shoot hollow point so I have to give it a pass on that one. Never tried hollow point ammo in the Underwood 1944.

    Do a little study on Carbine Williams,as they called him. Amazing story.

    • John Henry Bicycle Lucas

      Nathaniel F. great article, well written, and with great graphic comparisons.

  • Hyok Kim

    Mao’s bodyguards loved M1 carbines. They rated it higher than both Soviet PPSH, and Thompson. They really appreciated its light, handiness, and long range from both the ammo and closed bolt system. You can find the info from a book, ‘Unknown Mao’.

  • Richard Lutz

    Best combat rifle of WWII and Audi Murphy’s favorite weapon. Got a bad rap due to use of 30-shot mags (not as reliable as the 15-shot mags) that would not be securely held by the M1 Carbine mag catch and needed to be upgraded with the one used on the M2 Carbine. Without the upgrade the 30-shot mags would cant, impeding feed reliability, or fall out. Penetration can be greatly enhanced by using bullets with a hardened steel core.

  • Mike Stewart

    I was referring to the late and Honorable Lt. Col. John Dean (“Jeff”) Cooper. It’s entirely possible that Mr. Cirillo re-used the line, to which I doubt the late Col. would take no umbrage.

  • Interestingly enough, on one of his tours in Vietnam (where he was visiting a lot of remote firebases by helicopter), my dad favored an M2 carbine fitted into an M1A1 stock. He said it was out of the way of his other impedimentia when slung behind his back with the stock folded. He thought it was more convenient than an XM177 for what he needed, and “enough gun to get away from the crash site.”

    Of course, he thought of that setup as more of a SMG, and said he wouldn’t choose it for a weapon if he expected to need a gun.

  • scaatylobo

    With MODERN loads of Hornady Critical Defense ammo that has a 110 grain FTX tip —– THAT is what the tests should be compared to.
    NO,this is not a gun to do combat at unkown ranges stretching out past 125 yards.
    But at ranges known ,of CQB & house to house = this is one of THE rounds.
    Beats the snow out of any 9MM !.and easy to shoot for any and all sized people.

  • In my experience, WHO will publish anything if it gets attention, without regard for fact-checking.

  • publiusr

    Nice to see something besides yet another M-4.M-16 contraption.

    Then too–all servicmen should be Clint Walker clones who can fire BARs from the hip.

  • Mazryonh

    If we accept that there is a “spectrum” of intermediate rounds, then wouldn’t the .30 carbine be on the lower end? Haven’t there been a few semi-auto handguns chambered in .30 carbine? I would think one short enough to fit in a pistol-grip-inserted magazine might count as “handgun and SMG” level. Modern PDWs like the MP7 and the P90 had their rounds specifically designed for companion handguns after all.

  • Padmmegh Ambrela

    If they had designed the bullet better combined with select fire capability from the onset of the production US would have been the first country with mass produced successful assault rifle.