Firearm Showcase: The Williams Sporter Carbine at the Cody Firearms Museum – HIGH RES PICS!

In January, just before the 2017 SHOT Show, I got the opportunity to travel to Cody Wyoming to visit the Cody Firearms Museum at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, to see some of their rare firearms and bring photos of them to our readers. The folks at the Cody Museum were tremendously helpful in getting high quality pictures of the weapons in their collection, and so I’d like to give a big “thank you” to Ashley and Danny!

The first weapon we’ll be taking a look at is something that looks familiar, but isn’t: Below is a carbine prototype made by the famous David Marshall “Carbine” Williams, well known for designing the WWII M1 Carbine used by USGIs. Williams didn’t actually design the M1 Carbine (that was two other Winchester designers, William Roemer and Fred Humeston), but the M1 was based on his work, and he did work on carbines at Winchester at the same time. At least one of those carbines, which has the distinctive Williams-style safety and large operating slide, was made into a sporter model, and it’s that one we’re bringing to you today.

If you’re interested in seeing more of the Cody Firearms Museum, I highly recommend taking a trip out to Cody, Wyoming to see their awesome and extensive collection. They have over 7,000 firearms, about 4,000 of which are on display. In particular, if you have an interest in Winchester firearms and their history, Cody is the place to be. If just a visit isn’t enough for you, then check out the museum’s 79-page book, which highlights some of the finest pieces in their collection!





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 is also the author of the original web serial Heartblood, which is being updated and edited regularly. He can be reached via email at nathaniel.f@staff.thefirearmblog.com.


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  • TechnoTriticale

    Operating system? Caliber? Capacity? Magazine?
    Or at least links to that info?

    • Jared Vynn

      I’m guessing it’s chambered in .30 SL, holds 5 rounds, and uses a short stroke gas piston with a rotary locking bolt.

    • Lou

      My thoughts exactly. Welcome to the world of internet gun “articles.”

      • Yeah, this was such a low effort post that I drove out to Wyoming in a blizzard to make it. Lazy Millenials!

        • Lou

          That’s commendable. Now get the article written to match your initial efforts.

          • Showcase posts are about getting high quality photos of rarely-photographed firearms out into the public, not about exhaustively covering a subject.

            I’m glad the enthusiasm is there for the Williams carbines, but any extended treatment of them from me will have to come later. Right now, I have more than enough big projects on my plate.

    • SP mclaughlin

      “My name’s Nathaniel F, and the F stands for f— you.”
      *sarcasm

    • I linked to another article I wrote previously with that information.

      • Jared Vynn

        Am I correct that it is a 30 carbine (likely labeled .30 SL) chambered rifle using Williams gas piston with a garand style locking bolt? Or is it a different prototype? Is that a fixed magazine with a stripper clip feed or is it detachable? Is that a safety in the trigger guard or is it the magazine release? I can’t enjoy the pictures if I have to go to different articles or even external websites to find this information.

        • I don’t recall the barrel being marked, but I’m sure it was .30 SL/Carbine.

          The Williams carbines do use a tappet gas system but are a bit different than the rifle designed by Humeston and Roemer that became the M1 Carbine. They use a different, fatter rotating bolt design with a larger operating rod and cam track, and their fire control is different.

          • Jared Vynn

            Would the larger bolt allow for use with cartridges with a larger rim diameter like the 9mm/.223 perhaps? I have been looking into the possibility of converting an m1 carbine to a 22tcm.

            Also is the different cam track the reason there isn’t a top handguard/heatshield?

          • No, the cam track doesn’t prevent there being a handguard. I think on the sporter it’s just for style, there’s actually a top cover dealie made of sheet metal.

            As for a .223 version… Watch this space.

          • Jared Vynn

            Now I am truly intrigued.

            I’ve thought a modern m1 design chambered in 300 blackout could be popular and practical (something like the mini-14, but closer to the m1 carbine design than the m1a).

          • Marcus D.

            I would have to assume that this is one of the downsized versions of his G30 rifle in 30-06, to which the histories refer, and in .30 Carbine.

          • Yeah, the G30 and Williams carbines were in development simultaneously. I believe the G30R was a derivative of the carbine. The original G30 and G30M were more based on Ed Browning’s work.

        • The safety is the rotating flapper on the back of the receiver. What looks like a tiny M1 Garand safety in the triggerguard is actually the magazine release.

      • TechnoTriticale

        re: I linked to another article I wrote previously with that information.

        Thanks for the effort, anyway. I hovered over most of them on first reading, and which one that might be wasn’t obvious. The way the article was worded, it could also have been taken to mean that there would be more in a future article.

        If you have the ability, you might routinely add a title=”description” attribute to your links (Vigi does, surprisingly). Title= pops further info on hover. A lot of useless mobile platforms fail to utilize that metadata, but those of us on desktop appreciate it.

        • I’ll try that.

          There are 12 different Cody articles this go around, covering 12 separate guns in their collection. The blizzard really cut our visit short, sadly, so that’s it for now. However, I am planning another trip.

          One of the reasons these articles are so short is because they have to fit into our “daily” bracket. If they were longer, I couldn’t publish them as quickly, due to quotas and allotments in our scheduler. Since I think it’s important to give people these rare looks at guns they may never get to see anywhere else, I am doing it this way.

          • Jared Vynn

            Maybe change the format to be a sneak preview of each of the guns in the first of the series with a more in-depth article for each gun in following articles for future series? I don’t know the details behind how you submit the articles or the time you have to write so my suggestion may not be feasible.

          • I can’t commit to that right now, sorry. I have too many projects on my plate as it is.

          • Jared Vynn

            I understand, sounds like there is going to be some interesting articles coming up.

          • More showcases this week, followed by the first part of an interview with Kori Phillips sometime this month, and some other stuff. Should be fun.

  • Swarf

    Thank you for the first installment of what I can only assume will be a three part series on this firearm.

    Next we learn how the hell it operates and what it shoots. Stay tuned!

  • The links directed to a specific company will be ok. IT’s just the random ones that go through vigilink etc.

  • I realize that viglink messes things up, which is why I try to differentiate my hyperlinks from what viglink creates by making my hyperlinks use longer strings of text. It’s the best I can do for my readers without adding notations in brackets or something equally unreadable.

    http://i.imgur.com/mYVoq9y.png

    • billyoblivion

      Yes, but we’ve already been trained.

      Stop ringing that bell, I’m already drooling.

  • Don Ward

    So much sand in the panties of the comments section. I suppose you pansies would be more happy if Nate simply reposted a press release about some tactitard AR grip, huh?

    • Don Ward

      And for all of you who don’t know how journalism works – I do – an article like this where the author/photographer is present takes several man hours of work, beginning with contacting the museum staff, playing phone or e-mail tag setting up a time when you can stop by, arranging for when museum staff can be present and actually going to the physical location. I don’t know how much TFB pays its contributors but I can form a pretty rough guess based on how much I have received for similar type of work. And I would hazard a guess that Nate actually spent more money out of pocket than he was reimbursed.
      So rather than grousing, try showing a little bit of gratitude you petulant, gormless Internet gits.

      • Jared Vynn

        Well pretty pictures are nice, but provide us with very little value without knowing what the subject is. Knowing about the subject material allows us to better appreciate the excellent photography work at show. As it is any appreciation is overshadowed by curiosity of the subject.

        • Don Ward

          How about pay attention to bylines and what they mean? When Nathaniel F. does an article for TFB it generally means there has been a bit of work put into it. Seriously.
          Or is it that you’re just so used to press releases about Hexmags that you don’t know good gun journalism when you see it?

          • Jared Vynn

            The is nothing here though. All I know is it’s a prototype of the m1 carbine. I shouldn’t have to go digging into other articles and even external sites so I can get the context needed to enjoy the picture. This is a poor article diminishing some excellent photography. It is obvious that it isn’t grabbing either the attention/traffic nor appreciation of other articles. The pictures are a good draw, but there is nothing to make us stay.

          • Don Ward

            So in other words, you don’t know how what separates good journalism from bad. Gotcha.

          • Jared Vynn

            Or maybe my metric is based on the real world data of resultant discussion following a posting while yours is based academic ideals. Also maybe you should address my points instead of backhandedly insulting me via strawmanning.

          • Don Ward

            OK. Here’s the deal. I have ten years of experience in the field of journalism, having run newspapers myself and at various times being an editor, staff writer, stringer, columnist, photographer and freelancer at various publications large and small. That is before I said eff the whole industry, I’m going to a job that pays more and where I have the chance of being eaten by a Brown bear.
            With that said, this article is a photo essay. Newspapers and magazines have been doing photo essays since the invention of the offset press. It is an editorial technique still used today. People like pretty pictures.
            Doubling down, every gun magazine in the country relies on these sort of photo spreads. So I am somewhat flabbergasted why the comments section today has gotten all sort of hot and bothered why Nate and his editors decided to run this photo essay of a rare gun with the obvious promise that there will be an entire series of photo essays on rare guns that the writer has personally photographed at the Cody Museum in Wyoming, a location that 99.99 percent of gun nuts will never go to.
            Now there are some quibbles that one who is a professional journalist might have. And that is the fact that Nate isn’t a professional photographer and is – like myself – a writer who has also been thrust into the role of photographer because TFB can’t afford its own professional shooter. And that’s fine. I’m not a professional photographer either. But I’m still happy to see some pretty darn OK shots of this rifle.
            Which is why I’m here defending the 2nd best article that has appeared today on TFB. The best article, btw, also has a byline with Nate’s name on it.

          • Jared Vynn

            If the article fails to reach anyone though or engage the readers than it won’t matter how good the content on display is though. My problem is the article fails to engage us with details on what we are seeing. And for the subject matter there is a far better media alternative in forgotten weapons that actually goes into details of said firearms. As it is we have an article leaving us asking more questions than were answered. There is a reason unfortunately clickbait articles are so successful, they draw readers in by arousing their curiosity and satiating it which is where this article falls short.

            This article fails to engage with the readers in a meaningful way and this has been reflected both in dearth of comments compared to other articles and the substance of the comments.

          • Loud and clear. I’ll stop going to museums to take photos, and instead sit on my ass and write nothing but clickbait press releases from here on out. 😉

          • Klaus

            I say let it ride,after reading all of his comments I think it’s just PMS.

          • Jared Vynn

            See that is unnecessary and quite rude insult that fails to contribute in anyway. I am pointing out grievances many are expressing with the article and my thoughts on what is lacking. I am trying to be constructive in my criticism, as it is he has answered some of the questions I have had (and others had) and even got my attention for future articles.

            I enjoy me some nice gunography but I also like knowing what I am looking at. Pictures are worth thousands of words, but it won’t matter if you don’t know the language of those words.

            All I am saying is many of us readers would appreciate more details about the subject of the great photography on display.

          • Jared Vynn

            I’m disappointed that’s what you took away from my comment. Rather I would like to see as example some commentary following the pictures describing what we are seeing, for instance in the picture of the trigger we can see a flush magazine and you could tell us the capacity and mechanism for removing the magazine or the differences between this rifle and the production m1 carbine. As I said before they are good pictures and I have enjoyed them, but I find myself dissatisfied with the information presented (or lack thereof). It sounds like unfortunately you do not have the time needed to fully flesh out these articles, maybe promise a revisit of these in the future. As it is I am thankful for this article as I never would have known of this rifle or Williams contributions to the m1 carbine design.

          • I had hoped the emote would have tipped you off that I was kidding about not doing museum trips.

            I love Williams’ stuff. I’m sure I’ll write about it again sometime, but I don’t know when. Glad people are interested in the subject, but I think it’s very silly to come into someone’s comments section and demand they give you more content than they’ve already brought you. Don’t you see how that might turn someone off?

          • roguetechie

            Don’t you dare!!!

          • roguetechie

            The article isn’t targeted towards readers WHO FAIL TO ENGAGE!

            There, it’s YOUR FAULT NOW!

      • I appreciate the support, but it’s cool, man. I’m glad folks want to see more content on the Williams carbines.

        • Jared Vynn

          I know I am very interested, the m1 carbine has always been an intriguing firearm for me. Especially with how similar firearms are now becoming more popular.

      • Yes, for the record I do all these museum trips on my own dime. I get paid for the articles that come out of them, but nothing else.

  • RetroG

    It’s nice gun porn, and I can see things in the pictures that were adopted or influenced the M1 Carbine, but for the younger or more casual reader, I have to agree with the comments about the lack of any real info about the rifle in the pictures. I mean, if you took the time and effort to drive out to the Cody Museum (a very cool place) in a blizzard, make the post worthy of it.

    And stop saying “I have more than enough big projects on my plate.” over and over. Lots of us have other stuff we should be doing than coming here to read articles. You have typed more defending the lack of info than was in the original article.

    • I think it’s weird that nobody had an issue with the last set of showcases I did from the H&K Grey Room, but they’re losing their crap over this one. I’m being serious, that’s a head-scratcher to me.

      • Jared Vynn

        Different audience this time? I know I skipped out on the H&K as it didn’t interest me while the m1 carbine design does.

    • Don Ward

      So another guy who doesn’t understand good journalism.

      The hilarity being that there is another “gun porn” post exactly five stories up from this one which is basically a picture of an HK but instead of the author actually doing legwork to get it, he lifted the photo off the Internet, doesn’t give any info on caliber or capacity or operating systems and no one whines.

      The difference being that everyone is here are clutching their pearls, busting Nate’s chops for actually going above and beyond finding new content.

      • Give it up, man. It’s alright. Weird, but alright.

        • Don Ward

          OMG NATE! WHY YOU GIVE US NEW CONTENT? DONT YOU KNOW WE JUST WANT REHASHED PRESS RELEASE!

    • Actually, the M1 Carbine and Williams’ prototype were under development at the same time. Winchester execs grew tired of Williams’ inability to cooperate with the company’s other designers, and let him go off on his own to develop his preferred design. The M1 Carbine had already been adopted by the US Army before Williams had finished his own prototype.

      • Marcus D.

        All true. And this rifle was largely based of his G30M and G30R rifles, short stroke gas piston designs that Winchester hoped would displace the Garand. According the Wiki, the G30R weighed in at 7 1/2 lbs. When that project fell through, and Williams couldn’t play well with others, he designed a carbine, largely based on the G30 design, but his design was too late to the party. One must assume that this sporterized version was intended for post-war consumption.

        • The G30R was based off his carbine, not the other way around. The carbine was finished in 1941.

  • Thomas

    I would like to see how the Williams carbine breaks down to see how the component parts compare to the M1 carbine and Bill Ruger’s original Mini 14 design.

    • Jared Vynn

      I doubt we will get lucky enough for the museum to do a disassembly for a photography shoot.

  • Gambler X
    • Keep waiting. I deliberately picked guns Ian didn’t do.

    • William Nelson

      Oh my God is that a funny picture; love it!

  • Swarf

    Oh man, Nate, I just looked back at this thread and I’m sorry to see it turned in to such a mess.

    For whatever it’s worth, and at the risk of offending other contributors, no one on TFB does more historically weighty and detailed writeups than you. Hell, the 1911 piece from earlier was worth it’s weight in bunched undies alone.

    So, I take my snippy comment back. Thanks for all your work, and the great pictures.

    • There is no need to apologize. Nothing happened.

      I appreciate the kind words.

  • The G30R was not derived from the M1 Carbine. It was a derivative of the Williams carbine.

  • Check these sources:

    https://www.amazon.com/Baby-U-S-Caliber-Carbine-Vol/dp/0889351171

    https://www.amazon.com/M1-Garand-Rifle-Bruce-Canfield/dp/1931464561

    Mechanically, the G30R is very similar to the M1 Carbine, however it is not derived from it – important distinction. The G30R is very clearly of the same lineage as the Williams carbine design and the LMR, rather than Humeston and Roemer’s carbine that became the M1.