|The M1 Carbine|
|Barrel Length:||18 in (460 mm)|
|Region of Origin:||United States|
|Users:||United States National Guard|
|Rate of Fire:||
|Action:||Gas-operated, rotating bolt|
The M1 carbine (formally the United States Carbine, Caliber .30, M1) is a lightweight, easy to use semi-automatic carbine that became a standard firearm for the U.S. military during World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, and was produced in several variants. It was widely used by U.S. and foreign military, paramilitary and police forces, and has also been a popular civilian firearm.
In selective fire versions capable of fully automatic fire, the carbine is designated the M2 carbine. The M3 carbine was an M2 with an active infrared scope system. Unlike conventional carbines, which are generally a version of a parent rifle with a shorter barrel (like the earlier .30-40 U.S. Krag rifle and carbine and the later M16 rifle and M4 carbine), the M1 carbine has only one part in common with the M1 rifle (a short buttplate screw) and fires a different cartridge.
Prior to World War II, Army Ordnance received reports from various branches (infantry, armor, artillery, supply) that the full-size M1 rifle was unsuitable as issued for an increasing number of soldiers with specialized training (mortar crews, machine gun crews, radiomen, tankers, artillerymen, forward observers, signals troops, engineers, headquarters staff etc.) who did not use the service rifle as a primary arm. During prewar and early war field exercises, it was noticed that these troops, when issued the rifle, often found their individual weapon too heavy and cumbersome. In addition to impeding the soldier's mobility, a slung rifle would frequently catch on brush, bang the helmet, or tilt it over the eyes. Many soldiers found the rifle slid off the shoulder unless slung diagonally across the back, where it prevented the wearing of standard field packs and haversacks. Alternate weapons such as the M1911 pistol and M1917 revolver, while undeniably convenient, were often insufficiently accurate or powerful, while the Thompson submachine gun, though reliable, was heavy and limited in both practical accuracy and penetration at typical combat ranges.
Additionally, Germany's use of glider-borne and paratroop forces to infiltrate and attack strategic points behind the front lines (Blitzkrieg tactics) generated a request for a compact, selective-fire infantry small arm to equip support units and line-of-communications troops who might find themselves engaged in combat without prior warning. U.S. Army Ordnance decided that a selective-fire carbine would adequately fulfill all of these requirements, but specified that the new arm should add no more than five pounds to the existing equipment load. The requirement for the new firearm called for a compact, lightweight defensive weapon with an effective range of 300 yards, with greater range, firepower, and accuracy than the pistol, while weighing half as much as the Thompson submachine gun or M1 rifle. Parachutists were added to the list of intended users after Ordnance received a request for a lighter and more compact infantry arm for airborne forces, and a folding-stock (M1A1) version of the carbine was introduced in May 1942 to meet this requirement.
n 1938, the Chief of Infantry requested the Ordnance Department develop a "light rifle" or carbine, though the formal requirement for the weapon type was not approved until 1940. This led to a competition in 1941 by major U.S. firearm companies and designers. The prototypes for the carbine competition were chambered for a new cartridge, the .30 Carbine, a smaller and lighter .30 caliber (7.62 mm) round very different from the .30-06 in both design and performance. The .30 Carbine cartridge was intermediate in muzzle energy (ME) and muzzle velocity (MV). Essentially a rimless version of the obsolete .32 Winchester Self-Loading cartridge, the .30 Carbine had a round-nose 110 gr (7.1 g) bullet. From an 18 in (460 mm) barrel, the .30 Carbine cartridge produced a muzzle velocity of approximately 1,970 ft/s (600 m/s).
Winchester at first did not submit a design, as it was occupied in developing the .30-06 Winchester M2 Military Rifle. The rifle originated as a design by Jonathan "Ed" Browning, brother of the famous firearm designer John Browning. A couple of months after Ed Browning's death in May 1939, Winchester hired ex-convict David M. Williams, a convicted murderer and former moonshiner who had begun work on a short-stroke gas piston design while serving a prison sentence. Winchester hoped Williams would be able to complete various designs left unfinished by Ed Browning, including the Winchester .30-06 M2 rifle. Williams incorporated his short-stroke piston in the existing design. After the Marine Corps semi-automatic rifle trials in 1940, Browning's rear-locking tilting bolt design proved unreliable in sandy conditions. As a result, the rifle was redesigned to incorporate a Garand-style rotating bolt and operating rod, retaining Williams' short-stroke piston. By May 1941, the M2 rifle prototype had been shaved from about 9.5 lb (4.3 kg) to a mere 7.5 lb (3.4 kg).