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Inland M1 Carbine Review

Inland M1 Carbine Review

There is no denying that there are huge differences between generations; not in the people themselves, as people are people, but rather in the stuff of their day-to-day lives. Pop culture is an easy one to point out, but perhaps the biggest change is in technology. My teenage kids barely have any recollection of CDs and had no idea what a toaster oven was when I mentioned it.

m1carbine-15While firearms technology doesn't change as rapidly, what is popular and available does. Current generations of new shooters just don't know anything about surplus firearms, as the supply has dried up.

Well, let me a little more exact on that: the supply has dried up on some items (such as 1903 Springfields and Mausers) while other items (such as the metric tons of Garands and M1 Carbines South Korea would love to sell to us) are being blocked from import by our own federal government, which means supply goes down, and prices go way up. The end result is that most new shooters today won't even have an opportunity to buy a surplus rifle at an affordable price.

m1carbine-1Luckily we live in a predominantly capitalist country. For the last 10 years or so, many firearm manufacturers have decided to manufacture in America what they couldn't import. And this hasn't been just for new designs, but for established classics as well. Supply of M1 Carbines drying up? The folks at the new Inland Manufacturing out of Dayton, Ohio, decided that they would make new M1 Carbines.

But they didn't want to recreate just any M1 Carbine. In the realm of M1 Carbines, Inland Manufacturing has a very historic name and the new Inland Manufacturing M1 Carbine as exactly as possible replicates the last production model Inland Manufacturing was making for the U.S. Government in 1945.

Let's look at the specifications of the M1 Carbine itself before we get into the details of the new Inland. The M1 Carbine was the closest thing our troops had to an assault rifle in World War II. It weighed just 5 pounds 3 ounces, not much more than half the weight of the M1 Garand or Thompson SMG, yet had very mild recoil. It was fed by 15-round detachable box magazines. Overall length was just 35.75 inches.

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. Intended or not, U.S. soldiers all over the world carried the carbine into battle. Somewhere over 6.2 million carbines were produced during World War II alone, more than any other U.S. small arm.

m1carbine-16During World War II, close to a dozen manufacturers produced carbines. In 1941 a division of General Motors, Inland Manufacturing, was tasked to support the war effort. By the end of the war, Inland had become one of the largest gun manufacturers in history, producing nearly 3 million firearms in less than five years. The most well-known firearm produced by Inland was the M1 carbine.

The new Inland Manufacturing LLC is not affiliated with General Motors. Instead of taking government handouts of taxpayer money as a reward for incompetence like the current iteration of GM, they decided to be like the old GM/Inland and make classic American firearms. In addition to the fixed stock M1 Carbine the new Inland is making the folding-stock M1A1 Paratrooper version in addition to two 1911 pistols.

The M1A1 has a side-folding metal buttstock attached to a walnut stock, and replicates versions fielded by some airborne units in World War II. I really like the looks of the M1A1, but found that its pistol grip does not feel nearly as good in the hand as the traditional wood-stocked version.

m1carbine-8With its standard 18-inch barrel, the M1 Carbine balances just forward of the magazine. The barrel has four grooves and a 1:20 twist. The bolt handle (which is actually part of the operating slide that 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 M1." At the rear of the receiver just behind the rear sight is "INLAND MFG." The receivers are made by Kahr (Auto Ordnance) and production was a bit delayed, as they had to wait for approval from the ATF to get a marking variance.

The walnut stock on my sample was perfectly fitted to the receiver, with no gaps, scratches or dings. In this age of plastic and aluminum, it was refreshing to have a wood stock in my hand, and I especially liked the authentic cartouche on the right side of the buttstock.

The stock has a metal buttplate and a slot for a sling and oiler. An oiler and authentic green canvas web sling are provided with the rifle. A screwdriver is all you need to replace the stock on a carbine.

m1carbine-3This carbine mimics the last production models of the original Inland with its Type 3 bayonet lug/barrel band, adjustable rear sight, pushbutton safety, round bolt and "low wood" walnut stock. The pushbutton magazine release is marked "M," and there is a line underneath it, indicating that it has been modified to work with 30-round magazines. While 30-round magazines were developed in conjunction with the full-auto version of the carbine, the M2, they didn't see use by troops until the Korean War.

The front barrel band on the left side has an integral sling loop, and it is all one piece with the bayonet mount that encloses a section of the barrel like a shroud. The front sight is a simple post, protected by wings. The rear sight is fully adjustable for both windage and elevation, and while it is much more functional than earlier fixed sights, I don't like the looks as much; I think the big rear sight just looks too busy.

The safety on this model is a pushbutton just forward of the trigger guard. Later models had a safety lever-down for On, rotate back for Off. Personally I've found that I prefer the lever safety, as it is more natural to use. With your finger outside of the trigger guard, the tip of your forefinger will be near the front of the trigger guard, in front of the safety. When it is time to fire, you can simply swipe off the lever safety as you move your finger back to the trigger. While during World War II Inland did make models with a lever safety, it is not historically accurate to this model.

m1carbine-6The carbine's ease of use is a big reason for its huge popularity. I can't state 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.

Unlike many weapons whose springs are so strong many kids and women can hardly load them, it is possible to work the bolt on the M1 Carbine with one finger. You can lock the bolt back with a spring-loaded pin on the top of the handle; retract the bolt, push the pin down, and it clicks nicely into a detent in the receiver.

To release, just give the bolt handle a little tug backward and let it fly. The bolt of an M1 will only lock back if using magazines with certain types of followers; if the rear of the bullet shape on the follower is vertical, it will lock the bolt back. None of the 15-round magazines I used, including the one provided with the rifle, would lock the bolt back, but the 30-rounders I tried did.

Soldiers complained about the Garand's weight, capacity, recoil and its bad habit of announcing to any nearby enemy soldiers, with a loud "ping," that it was empty. Detractors of the M1 Carbine (and you will find naysayers of every weapon our military has ever fielded) really could only ever find only one flaw with it, its "underpowered" cartridge.

m1carbine-9The .30 Carbine cartridge is a straight-walled case and traditionally features a .30 cal. 110-grain FMJ bullet travelling 1900-2000 fps. If you look at the ballistics of the .30 Carbine round, it is roughly equivalent to a .357 Mag. fired out of a rifle-length barrel. That makes it substantially more powerful than the .45 ACP, and it had more than enough oomph to penetrate World War II Japanese helmets and body armor plates.

Admittedly, those ballistics pale when compared to the M1 Garand's .30-06, a full-power rifle cartridge, but that's like comparing a golf club to a baseball bat; they were not designed to do the same job.

You'll find anecdotal evidence on both sides of the stopping power argument, and many of the negative reviews come out of the Korean War, where our troops were engaging Chinese troops hundreds of yards away, wearing quilted uniforms and/or tough leather vests, often in extreme cold (which I suspect affected the velocity of the round).

On the plus side I know Audie Murphy was a big fan of the little rifle. He was not a large man himself, and thought the carbine very handy for fighting in the woods in Europe. If you don't know who Audie Murphy is, let's just say he saw enough combat to know what worked and what didn't, and had a documented track record of hitting what he was aiming at from time to time.

While everyone is scrambling to get more tactical than the next guy, and find a color that's blacker than black to paint their ARs, it wasn't so long ago that SWAT teams were arming their members with the unassuming M1 Carbine. Author and instructor Jim Cirillo was a member of the NYPD's Stake Out Unit and was involved in more gunfights than every cop I personally know put together.

m1carbine-11He quite often carried an M1 Carbine, loaded with 110 grain JSPs, and said that of all the weapons the unit used the carbine had the best track record: 100 percent one-shot stops. Anyone thinking about using an M1 Carbine for personal defense today has the option of loading it with soft-point or hollow-point ammunition, something our soldiers couldn't do.

The carbine's utility isn't limited to personal defense, however. There are many locales around the country where it is not legal to hunt deer with a .223, but over the last 60+ years untold whitetail deer have been killed with the .30 Carbine. Many ammunition manufacturers make soft-point or hollow-point .30 Carbine ammo, and while a 110-grain JSP at 1900+ fps is no belted magnum, it is more than enough to kill a deer. Because it is so light and handy, with modest recoil, it is a great centerfire long gun on which to start a new shooter.

I pulled this rifle out during some down time on location in Georgia at the last Handguns & Defensive Weapons filming set. One of the cameramen, who's in his early 30s and a hunter and gun owner, asked, "What's that?"

He'd never seen an M1 Carbine before, which reinforced the thought that when things fall out of fashion with older generations, the younger generations never even heard about them. And that's a shame. So I took the opportunity to educate him on the rifle.

m1carbine-10Inland provides one 15-round magazine with the rifle (or a 10-rounder and a 1944-era rifle with a Type 2 barrel band and no bayonet lug if you live in states which selectively interpret the Constitution).

I searched around online to see what was out there. While surplus magazines are still available, "new in wrap" GI mags are impossible to find. What I did discover was new, commercial Korean-made 15- and 30-round M1 Carbine magazines. The 15-rounders were selling for $10 or less, and I ordered some of both.

The wrappers for the 30-rounders have an NSN-number on them but I believe this is just for show, as Korean troops haven't been armed with carbines since the 1970s. The 30-round magazines had followers that would lock the bolt back when empty.

To complete my excursion I went online and bought a perfect (new) reproduction of the double-magazine canvas stock pouch seen on many GI guns, complete with 1943 markings. Shipping and handling cost me more than the pouch. This pouch was actually designed to fit on a belt, and hold stripper clips instead of 15-round magazines, but once one GI did it...

m1carbine-12To get the pouch on the rifle, you have to take the stock off, and I found it very tight at first. As it was originally made for a belt, there is a snap in back that will scratch up your stock, unless you drill it out. Even with two loaded 15-round magazines hanging on the buttstock, the carbine balances and handles better than just about any other rifle Iíve ever held.

Shooting an M1 Carbine is just plain fun. Even people with slight builds will be able to shoot it all day long without tired arms or bruised shoulders. M1 Carbines also tend to have good trigger pulls just because of the geometry of the fire control system, and this Inland was no different. The trigger pull is a single-stage with no take up. It was relatively crisp and 6.25 pounds in weight.

While surplus .30 Carbine ammo is long gone, and commercial ammo isn't as widely available as .223, .30 Carbine ammo is being produced by just about every major ammunition manufacturer. For testing I had FMJ ammo on hand from Winchester, Hornady and Wolf, JSPs from Federal, Remington, and Winchester, and JHPs from Hornady.

The M1 Carbine has proven itself on battlefields around the world and hunting grounds here at home, and avoids the stigma of the "evil black assault rifle." This rifle hits all the details right of an original Inland (with a few well-thought-out additions) without the cost of being a piece of history.

How many people can actually afford to buy guns they don't intend to shoot? Heck, I've got a question: why buy a gun you can't shoot? Shooting is the fun part. Because the new Inland M1 carbine is not a collector's item, you can shoot it all you want without worrying about damaging your "investment," which is as it should be.

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