The U.S. Caliber .30 Carbines


The U.S. Carbine Caliber .30


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Mission Statement

To provide a visual reference of the U.S. Carbines, Caliber .30, their variations, parts, accessories and more. To assist and encourage new owners, old owners, collectors and researchers to share and exchange information for the purpose of expanding everyone's knowledge. To facilitate communication with one another to collectively further the mutual goals of learning, preserving and sharing the history of the U.S. Carbines, Caliber .30.


Introduction

Work on this website has been ongoing since the summer of 2015. The information and photographs herein have been the fruits of years of research. Without the collective work and cooperation of many this website and it's forum could not have happened.

The website is an ongoing project. Some pages now under construction will be completed over the next few months. It is hoped the website will expand to include additional material, including accessories, magazines, ammunition and more. One of the many goals of the forum is provide a means by which research and knowledge can be pooled. Then shared via the website. Please feel free to jump in on the forum and help make this endeavor grow.

General Overview
of the History of the
U.S. Carbines, Caliber .30


Beginnings

"As a result of studies made during World War I it was definitely determined that the hand weapons, the Model 1911 Pistol and Model 1917 Revolver, were effective at only short ranges in the hands of the most expert. They were primarily weapons of self defense."

"The pistol and revolver being primarily defensive weapons it was the desire of the U.S. Forces to equip the soldier normally armed with these weapons with one having more offensive characteristics. It was thought desirable to extend the range on the proposed weapon to at least 300 yards, thus increasing the effectiveness of the soldier armed with sidearm's by at least 200 yards."

During the time between the wars the approval and funding for the design of such a weapon could not be obtained. In September 1939 Germany and Russia invaded Poland. Two days later France and Great Britain declared war on Germany. "The replacement for the pistol and revolver, now considered to take the form of a light shoulder rifle, was again proposed by the Chief of Infantry on June 15, 1940 and the development of such a weapon was approved by the Secretary of War."

"Accordingly, on October 1, 1940 the Ordnance Department published a circular which was in effect an appeal to known gun manufacturers and inventors to submit a gun with the following general characteristics:"
  • Weight not to exceed 5 pounds
  • Range effective up to 300 yards, semi-automatic fire essential, full automatic fire desirable
  • To be carried by sling or some comparable device
  • Chambered for a cartridge of caliber .30 of the Winchester self-loading type with a case
        similar to that of the commercial Winchester self-loading cartridge, caliber .32
  • The deadline set for submissions was May 1941. ["Proving Ground History of the Carbine, Caliber .30 M1" by Major G.P. Grant, U.S. Army Ordnance Dept., 30 Sep 1944]


    Winchester's Light Rifle Submission

    Winchester initially decided against an entry due to existing commitments. The deadline had already passed with trials underway when Winchester contacted Ordnance to advise them of developments during the design of a different project that had convinced Winchester they may be able to come up with a submission for the light rifle trials. The poor performance of submissions during the current trials caused Ordnance to give Winchester the go-a-head, if Winchester could produce a submission before the end of the current trials.

    Thirteen days later, 09 Aug 1941, Winchester presented their first prototype to the Ordnance Department for preliminary testing. The tests revealed the need for a number of improvements. Winchester presented their second prototype to the Ordnance Department on 14 Sep 1941 for the second round of testing. At the completion of the tests the Winchester light rifle was adopted as the Carbine Caliber .30, M1 on 30 Sep 1941.

    Winchester had designed and produced the winning submission in seven weeks.

    Winchester's other commitments caused Ordnance to enlist the assistance of the Inland Division of General Motors for further improvements to the design. After the production of a number of prototypes and changes to various parts, Inland produced the first carbines in June 1942, less than a year after Winchester had started the design and less than two years since Ordnance's call for submissions.


    Production

    Between June 1942 and August 1945 ten primary U.S. contractors manufactured over 6 million U.S. .30 Caliber Model M1, M1A1, T4, M2, T3, and M3 Carbines. To date, no other firearm manufactured in any country has surpassed the quantity of U.S. 30 Caliber Carbines manufactured during their 38 months of production. Even more amazing is only one of these contractors, Winchester, had the machinery, tooling and experience of manufacturing firearms prior to the carbines.

    ManufacturerFirst
    Production
    End
    Production
    Total
    Production
    # Months
    Inland Manufacturing Division, General Motors
            Dayton, OH
    June 1942August 19452,632,09738+
    Winchester Repeating Arms
            New Haven, CT
    September 1942August 1945828,05935+
    Underwood Elliott Fisher Company
           Hartford, CT
    November 1942April 1944545,61617
    Rock-Ola Manufacturing
           Chicago, IL
    November 1942May 1944228,50018
    Irwin-Pedersen Arms
           Grand Rapids, MI
    January 1943March 19430*3
    Quality Hardware & Machine
           Chicago, IL
    February 1943April 1944359,66614
    National Postal Meter
           Rochester, NY
    February 1943April 1944**413,01714
    Standard Products
           Port Clinton, OH
    April 1943April 1944**247,16012
    Saginaw Steering Gear, General Motors
           Saginaw, MI
    May 1943April 1944293,59211
    Saginaw Steering Gear, General Motors
           Grand Rapids, MI
    May 1943January 1944223,6209
    I.B.M.
           Poughkeepsie, NY
    August 1943May 1944346,50010
    Totals:   June 1942August 19456,117,82738+
    +:   months shown are months of actual production. Several dozen carbines (included in the totals)
    were produced as prototypes before full production started
    *:   all 3,542 carbines produced by Irwin-Pedersen failed to pass Ordnance inspection. Their contract
    and facility was turned over to Saginaw Steering Gear who disassembled the carbines, inspected each
    part, and integrated the surviving Irwin-Pedersen parts and receivers into the production of carbines
    produced by Saginaw at Grand Rapids.
    **:   July 1944 National Postal Meter as Commercial Controls completed 239 carbines, Standard Products
    completed 150 carbines

    Many original records were lost or destroyed after WWII. No single reliable source has been found for production totals and months of manufacture. As you will see throughout this website a fair amount of what we now know has been provided by the years of research of many, who have cooperated and shared with one another. Research is still ongoing by a number of researchers and it is hoped this website and it's forum will serve as a means to foster cooperation, sharing and further research in an effort to better understand and preserve the history of the U.S. Carbines Caliber .30.


    During World War II these carbines were issued to U.S. soldiers in every theater of war around the world.
    U.S. Carbines were also supplied to a number of Allies via the Lend/Lease Program during WWII.
    Carbines were smuggled or parachuted to resistance groups in a number of different countries during the war.


    Post WWII

    After the end of WWII many of the carbines were returned to America where they were inspected, refurbished, and/or rebuilt to the latest standards. Many of the carbines did not return to America. Instead, they were stockpiled in various countries in case they were needed.

    With the onset of the Korean War in 1950 the U.S. .30 Caliber Carbines once again served American troops and America's Allies. However, during this war the decision was made to offer the .30 Caliber Carbines as a main battle rifle, a role it was not designed or suited for. It's not surprising the carbines used in Korea received a reputation as less than adequate, particularly during the Korean winters when almost every American small arm had problems functioning. They fared better in urban areas as an alternative to a handgun at distances of less than 300 yards. This was the same reason they would later become popular with police departments around the world.

    After the end of the Korean War many of the carbines were once again returned to America, where they were inspected, refurbished, and/or rebuilt to the latest standards. Once again, carbines were also stockpiled in various countries in case they were needed.

    Of the over 6 million carbines built, over half were at some point provided or sold to other nations as military assistance. Many of these nations sold part or all of their carbines to other countries around the world.


    Obsolescence?

    After the war in Korea, with the overwhelming influx of military hardware returning to Ordnance facilities throughout the U.S.A. many rifles stateside were declared as surplus by U.S. Army Ordnance 1957-1958. Much of this surplus was sold at various arsenals and armories throughout the country. Some of the material was rendered inoperable and sold to scrap metal companies. Ordnance also auctioned many small arms parts to civilian companies. The U.S. .30 Caliber Carbines were never officially declared obsolete with many continuing to serve through the War in Vietnam and U.S. Air Force security personnel worldwide through the 1970's.

    Since the early 1960's private companies, importers and exporters have acquired a great many of these carbines and their parts. These have been sold and traded throughout the U.S.A. and abroad to the military, police, and civilians of various countries. The quantity of inexpensive surplus parts, lack of receivers, and popularity of the carbines with citizens and civilian police agencies has motivated over thirty different companies to produce over a million additional carbines since 1960 with commercially produced carbines and parts still being manufactured today.

    Through the Director of Civilian Marksmanship (eventually becoming today's Civilian Marksmanship Program) the U.S. Army has provided thousands of carbines for raising funds to support shooting programs across the nation.


    Into the 21st Century

    In the words of author Ken Warner in the 21st edition of Gun Digest in 1967, "Why Won't The GI Carbine Die? Nobody likes this little rifle but people, that's why...". True today as it was in 1967.

    The popularity of these carbines has led many to buy one for home protection and/or recreational shooting. Collectors are in no short supply. Since the addition in August 2006 of an M1 Carbine Match to the National Matches held yearly at Camp Perry, OH, the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) has added the match to their regional competitions nationwide.

    Carbines continue to be used by film makers in documentaries, war movies, science fiction, on television and in video games.

    If you are one of these people, or intend on becoming a carbine owner, this website is for you. The information provided here is basic to intermediate. Resources for additional information may be found throughout the website, on the pages devoted to Links and Books, and on the discussion forums indicated at the bottom of each page.

     

    Worth Noting

    Not one of the people involved in the manufacture of the .30 Caliber Carbines was thinking of the collectors 65+ years later who would be very interested in owning a carbine constructed of all "the right" parts with all "the right" markings. Their focus was on keeping up with the production demands of completing an average of 800-1000+ carbines a day, at each of the 10 prime contractor facilities. Documented evidence has been found showing all 10 prime contractors occasionally exchanged parts on an as needed basis. With an operation this massive, production lines would run short or have surplus of one or more parts at any given time. These companies were not in competition with one another, they all served one master, The U.S. Ordnance Department. Ordnance arranged for the transfer of parts from one facility to another in order to keep production moving. Many of these transfers were documented and have been extracted from archived Ordnance records. Not all records were saved after the war. According to several sources close to the inside workings of the day to day operations, not all of these transfers were documented.

    Don't make the mistake of forgetting the history of these carbines and all they've been through. If a carbine looks like new, someone may have reconstructed it into something it isn't, which is a hobby for some people and a profession for others. Stories of where the carbine was used should be substantiated by documentation, without which it would be wise not to accept the stories at face value. One of the most common stories is "this carbine went up the beaches on D-Day with my wife's grandpa (or other relative) who snuck it home in his duffel bag at the end of WWII, and kept in the closet since then". A few did come back this way, but far less than some people would want you to believe.

    Should you have questions, assistance is available on our Discussion Forum.

    The Discussion Forum also serves as a reference desk for the more advanced material that could easily overwhelm a website and is often subject to opinions that may vary
    due to a lack of original documentation. A number of researchers and authors are present on the forums, helping others and seeking information for various research projects.