Rifles > Historical

The M1 Carbine

This Saginaw M1 Carbine retains its original NRA and Army Depot papers, increasing its value.

11/7/2011

The M1 Carbine owes its existence to the need to arm battlefield support troops with something other than a weighty M1 Garand. Thus, in 1938 Gen. Douglas MacArthur issued a directive to develop a “light rifle” for rear-line personnel.

The task fell to Winchester’s engineers, including William C. Roemer, Fred Humeston and supervisor Edwin Pugsley, based on a concept by Jonathon Edmund Browning, half-brother of John Browning. Although the 1952 movie “Carbine Williams” credits David Marshall Williams with inventing the M1 Carbine, as Bruce Canfield points out in “The Complete Guide To The M1 Garand and M1 Carbine,” Williams’ sole contribution was the carbine’s short-stroke gas piston system.

On Nov. 24, 1941, the Army contracted with Winchester and General Motors’ Inland Manufacturing Division to start production on what was officially known as “United States Carbine, Caliber .30, M1.” It was fortuitous timing; two weeks later, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. Winchester and Inland produced the majority of the guns, assisted by (in order of quantity) Underwood-Elliot-Fisher; Saginaw Steering Gear Division of General Motors (which assembled carbines from parts produced by the Irwin-Petersen Arms Co. of Grand Rapids, Mich.,); National Postal Meter; International Business Machines; Standard Products of Port Clinton, Ohio; and Rock-Ola Manufacturing Co. Extra receivers were produced by the Quality Hardware Machine Co. Early carbines had L-shaped rear sight assemblies, changed around 1944 to adjustable apertures. Bayonet lug sleeves were added later. Various additional parts revisions throughout production, combined with the numerous contractor sources, can make carbine collecting a lifetime affair.

In addition to the standard M1 Carbine (issued with 15-round magazines) there were four variations: M1A1 with folding wire stock; M2 with 30-round magazines and full-automatic capability; the night scope-equipped M3; and the T3 with integral scope base for snipers. In all, more than 6.5 million M1 Carbines were produced between September 1941 and August 1945, making it one of the most prolific arms of World War II.

In 1963, about 240,000 M1 Carbines were decommissioned and sold (without magazines) to NRA members for a mouth-watering $20 apiece ($17.50 plus $2.50 S&H). Made by Saginaw, this carbine is one of those guns, shipped from Red River Arsenal in Texarkana, Texas, to an NRA member on Jan. 24, 1964. In 80 percent condition, it retains the original NRA and Army Depot papers, plus the check stub. Normally valued at $650 to $750, this provenance makes it an $850 to $950 collectable—not a bad return on the NRA member’s investment.

Gun: M1 Carbine
Caliber: .30 Carbine
Serial Number: 3557XXX   
Condition: 80 Percent - NRA Good/Very Good (Modern Gun Condition Standards)
Manufactured: Between May 1943 and February 1944 by the Saginaw Steering Gear Division of General Motors
Value: $850-$950 (includes premium for original government and NRA papers)

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21 Responses to The M1 Carbine

Ron P wrote:
October 15, 2013

I have a M1 carbine mfg by Quality HDW. Had it for 24yrs, shoots great, Blue Sky stamped on barrel, poss return from Korea, would like to know the value of this carbine, Ron

Dave W wrote:
October 03, 2013

In 1968, I was a newly assigned USAF Air Policeman. Our standard weapon was the M-16. Due to a major buildup in Vietnam, our M-16s were taken away to be reconditioned and provided for use in Vietnam. In place of the M-16, we received M-1 and M-2 carbines which we carried with 3 magazines (1 loaded and 2 in ammo pouch). In Jan 1969 I arrived in Vietnam and was issued an M-16. The M-16 was fine, but the M-1 carbine was a sweet little rifle to carry. In 2013, I purchased a Saginaw M-1 Carbine for myself.

John H D wrote:
June 02, 2013

My father carried an M1 Carbine all over Italy then the Philippines. He love it and spoke of it so much my wife and son got one for me for C-mas last year. Shoots great. 05-43 Inland barrel, Quality Hardware receiver. Join a forum. Suggest M1 Family, tons of info...

William Hart wrote:
March 18, 2013

I just got me a 1943 Rock-ola m1 carbine in 98[%] condition with an original mag stamped rock-ola all numbers matching not imported :)

GB wrote:
March 25, 2012

Back in high school, an Army helicopter pilot who served in Vietnam gave me an Inland M1 carbine that he obtained in country and carried when he flew missions. It was an unmodified gun, never updated or refinished; he broke it down and brought it home. Nobody wanted it and I ended up with it. What a sweet gun.

Russ W wrote:
February 05, 2012

I have a m1 carbine that i bought in 1984 and i paid 125.00 dollars for it. It was manufactured by General Motors and the barrel has 1-49 stamped on it near the end of the barrel. It is in good shape and shoots very well. Wonder what it is worth.

Joe Acuff wrote:
February 05, 2012

I just bought an Inland M1 carbine sn 5426105 and I would like to know how to find it's date of manufacture.

Marc wrote:
December 31, 2011

I have an Inland Division 6-43. Picked it up in the early 1980's at a local gun shop for around $100. In great original condition except I added the bayonet lug. Great Rifle!

john delaney wrote:
December 03, 2011

Just recently on TV a commentator said without qualification the .30 Cal Carbine IS a pistol cartridge and has absolutley NO knockdown power. I say.. BULL as a Viet Vet and a user of the .30 cal Carbine.. it put the enemy down and hard. Who ever says differently never shot someone with it.

Choc wrote:
December 01, 2011

I've an IBM M1A1 mfg. Dec, 1943. Clean, easy and fun. My son "borrowed" it 10 years ago and would like to find another in equally good shape and reasonably priced.

Joe S. wrote:
November 23, 2011

Mine is a plain vanilla Inland, but I didn't buy as a collectors item, I bought it to shoot. A couple of years ago I bought 1000 rounds of ammo for it, on top of the several hundred I already had. I'm just starting in on that ammo now.

andy wrote:
November 23, 2011

We got our M1 in 1968 through a program at work. It was $67. Mine is a rearsenaled Std Prod with Underwood barrel. It still shoots like a dream.

Bryan wrote:
November 22, 2011

The first firearm I ever fired was an M1 Carbine belonging to my dad. I was 6 and had to have help with holding it. It seemed so powerful. That was in 1963. I grew up with M1 Carbines and have always had one around. While I'm under no illusions that it's a thunderbolt now, I still do feel it's more useful and effective than its reputation would suggest. The .30 Carbine round is not an impotent round and the little rifle is so very handy and points like your finger.

Herb wrote:
November 21, 2011

My mother worked for Roc-Ola during the war and assembled carbines. I have one of her carbines in almost new conditions.

Brad wrote:
November 20, 2011

My carbine, like my Garand and my 1911, is fun to shoot. But, I so much enjoy watching my father when he looks at or shoots the firearms ... It takes him back to the USMC in the 1950's. For me and my two sons, it offers a rare glimpse into the sacrifices of my fathers oldest brother. Now gone, Uncle Carl was a Marine in the Pacific during WWII.

Pete wrote:
November 11, 2011

Mine is an Inland, 1-44. Wouldn't give it up for anything.

Rick wrote:
November 10, 2011

The M1 carbine was intended to involve small and medium industries in building the weapons by employing diversified and redundant sets of subcontractors spread all over America. The prime contractors could only build bolt, receiver, slide, barrel, and trigger housing. Some of the smaller companies made only a couple of those parts, and got the rest from one of the others. All of the smaller parts came from subcontractors who might specialize in wood (stocks), springs, fasteners, sheet metal, etc. Most of those names would have been lost to history, except IBM was the only prime contractor to save all its paperwork after the war. This enabled collectors to track down more information. Now a M1 carbine can be literally read like a book, because there are books out there that show all the engineering changes, dates, and companies involved. The variation in parts can establish a date range when various changes were made to the weapon during its service life. I'm grateful for my IBM carbine, which shows it unchanged from its June 1944-dated parts. It's rather homely with its laminated beech stock and brazed trigger assembly, but somehow it escaped all the upgrades and repairs that 95% of surviving carbines have undergone.

James wrote:
November 09, 2011

I also have an Inland made in 11/1943, and great shape!

Paul Ursini wrote:
November 09, 2011

Wouldn't trade my M1A1 for any price.

Marvin wrote:
November 07, 2011

I have an Inland made in 11/1943 Great Shape!!

Mike wrote:
November 07, 2011

I love shooting my M1 awesome rifle for sure! Thanks for the share!