M1 Carbine History

The .30 caliber carbine M1 was designed and manufactured for the specific purpose of providing an alternative to GI's normally issued only a handgun, to give them a weapon with more range and accuracy. 

Between June 1942 and August 1945, ten primary contractors and dozens of subcontractors established manufacturing facilities, tooled up, and produced over six million M1 carbines under the direction of the U.S. Office of Ordnance. Eight of these ten had no gun manufacturing experience. When the supply exceeded the demand, all but two of the contracts were canceled in mid-1944. The remaining two companies completed their carbine production runs by August 1945. Most of these six million M1 carbines were used by American soldiers in the Pacific and European theaters of WWII. The story of how this was accomplished within this time span, in these quantities, with a high quality standard, from start to finish during a period of war, is an amazing one. 

The .30 caliber carbine M1 rifle was the most produced small arm in American history (yes, even more than the M1 Garand). By the end of WWII all production had ceased. Some of the carbines remained in service or in storage overseas, many others returned home to America, where they were inspected and rebuilt to the updated standards set for the carbine at that time. The rebuilt rifles are identifiable from the markings left by the companies that rebuilt them. 

Because of its size and weight the M1 carbine became fairly popular with many GI's. Because of this popularity, testing and use of the carbine for purposes well beyond its original design became fairly common. During the Korean war carbines were issued as main battle rifles, a job the carbine was neither designed nor suited for. The outcome, and the opinions, were highly predictable. The experiences of using the carbine in place of a true main battle rifle like the M1 Garand, still unjustly haunt the carbine to this day. 

Over the years after WWII, these carbines went in many different directions and were used for various purposes. Some are still in use today, by the police and/or armed forces of America's allies, and foes. Many have returned to America and are owned by collectors and gun enthusiasts. Collecting aside, the .30 caliber carbine M1 is just plain fun to shoot, for some of the same reasons it was popular during WWII.