There are a number of companies out there offering refurbished WWII-era firearms, but Auto-Ordnance is currently the only manufacturer of new M1 Carbines. Okay, confession time. Reagan was in office the first time I ever shot an M1 Garand, but it wasn’t until August 2011 that I actually fired an M1 Carbine. I have no good explanation for this other than perhaps always being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and I realize now what I was missing. I suspect I’m not the only one.
In fact, I’d bet there are a whole generation of shooters out there who know next to nothing about the M1 Carbine. As I was picking up my test rifle at my local gun store a boy who looked about 12, who was there for a hunter safety class, said “What’s that?” I’m sure he’s not alone in his ignorance of a piece of American firearms history, and considering how light, handy and soft-recoiling the carbine is, that’s a shame.
The M1 Carbine was not designed to be a front-line combat weapon but rather was meant for support troops, something a little more powerful and easier to hit with than the .45 ACP 1911 pistol. U.S. soldiers carried the carbine into battle all over the world, and more than 6.2 million carbines were produced during World War II alone, more than any other U.S. small arm.
During World War II close to a dozen manufacturers produced carbines, and the design evolved in small ways over time. The Auto-Ordnance carbine, made with all new parts (no surplus), is designed to replicate D-Day-era carbines and a Saginaw-made carbine was used as a model for this version, and in fact the paperwork provided with my rifle uses the phrase “Saginaw Packing.” It also features a one-year warranty.
The Auto-Ordnance carbine has a flat-top bolt, no bayonet lug on the barrel and a push-button magazine release (marked with an M) just forward of the cross-bolt safety on the front of the trigger guard. The rear sight is a non-adjustable flip version, with one aperture for 100 yard usage and a taller one for 300 yards.
With its standard 18-inch barrel the carbine balances just forward of the magazine. There is a metal buttplate on the stock. The bolt handle, which is actually part of the operating slide which controls the bolt, is the perfect size for a finger and reciprocates when firing. At the front of the receiver is stamped, “US CARBINE CAL 30 ML”. At the rear of the receiver is “AUTO-ORDNANCE WORCHESTER, MA”.
The stock on my sample was perfectly fitted to the receiver, with no gaps, scratches or dings, but it had rather boring grain and color—true GI grade. However, the Auto-Ordnance M1 Carbine in the rack at my local gun shop had a much prettier stock, as have most of them I’ve seen. A screwdriver is all you need to replace the stock on a carbine.
The carbine’s ease of use is a big reason for its huge popularity. I can’t say enough just how light and handy the carbine is. It comes to the shoulder quickly, it points naturally, is even lighter than it looks, and it recoils about the same as a .223 of equal weight, only with less muzzle blast.