Q. I recently saw an M1 carbine marked “UN-QUALITY” but can’t find any manufacturer by that name. The closest I could come up with was Quality Hardware, which marked its carbines “QUALITY H.M.C.” Can you explain the origins of the carbine I saw?
A. As was the case with several manufacturers of the M1 carbine, some receivers were produced by subcontractors. Each subcontractor was assigned a code consisting of one or two letters. The receiver of the carbine you saw was manufactured for Quality Hardware Machine Co. by the Union Switch & Signal Co., which used the code “UN.” US&S was the only subcontractor to incorporate its code letters into the name of the maker on the receiver; in all other cases, the subcontractor code was stamped somewhere on the receiver but was not part of the manufacturer’s name. To cite one example, the receivers made by the Auto-Ordnance Co. under subcontract for International Business Machines were marked “AO” below the serial number on the receiver bevel, and the standard “I.B.M. CORP” name was not changed.
The “UN-QUALITY”-marked receivers are quite scarce, since just fewer than 29,000 were produced out of a total production by Quality H.M.C. of 359,666. Original examples are avidly sought after by collectors today.
—Brunce N. Canfield, Field Editor