The M-1 Carbine: a tactical option?

The M-1 carbine, seen here with a paratrooper stock, is reliable, accurate and handy. Lee thinks they can make an effective home-defense weapon when combined with modern ammunition. Photo by Carla Varisco-Williams

The M-1 Carbine is one of the handiest weapons ever designed.

Give a novice an M-1 Carbine, minimal instruction, a couple boxes of ammo and they’ll be shooting decent groups right away, and having a grand time.

Like the 1911, the Luger and the 10-22, the M-1 Carbine just feels right in your hands.

Like the 10-22, it’s often dismissed as a plinker, or as a military collectable, not a serious fight-stopper that served with distinction through three wars.

Today the carbine gets a bad rap, especially when it’s used with GI ball ammo. Well, most of the GI ball is long since gone, and with modern ammunition – especially the 100 gr. DPX round from Corbon – the reliable little M-1 may yet have a new role as a home defender or patrol carbine.

To be clear – when compared to an AR, the M-1 falls short. But it’s much more lethal in terms of range, penetration, terminal ballistics and hit probability than most handguns – the original reason behind the M-1 carbine’s development.

With its minimal recoil, it’s easier to operate than a shotgun for shooters of smaller stature, and remember, it’s capable of holding 15, 30 or 40 rounds.

With GI ball, the 110 gr. projectile leaves the barrel at around 1,900 feet per second, which is nearly double the muzzle velocity of a 9mm.

When loaded with Corbon 100 grain DPX Triple-Shock X Bullets, the velocity increases to 2025 fps, which equates to more than 600 ft.-lbs. of energy at 100 yards. That’s decisive.

The Corbon bullet opens into four sharp cutting petals, similar to Black Talon, and they’re totally lead-free – something operators stranded behind the lines in the People’s Democratic Republic of California should consider.

Drawbacks are obvious, it’s an old gun. It lack rails, but there are aftermarket fixes available, if you want to destroy the look of the weapon. I don’t.

Auto-Ordinance is making new M-1 carbines, which retailed for around $800-900 back when you still find new guns.

Nowadays, the surplus market is insane, but there are still guns out there.

When paired with modern ammunition, I think the handy carbine is ready for a new niche as a home defender, especially for smaller shooters.


About Author

Lee Williams can’t remember a time in his life when he wasn’t shooting. Before becoming a journalist, Lee served in the Army and worked as a police officer. He’s earned more than a dozen journalism awards as a reporter, and three medals of valor as a cop. He is an NRA-certified law enforcement firearms instructor, an avid tactical shooter and a training junkie. When he’s not busy as a senior investigative reporter, he is usually shooting his AKs, XDs and CZs. If you don’t run into him at a local gun range, you can reach him at 941.284.8553, by email, or by regular mail to 1777 Main St., Sarasota, FL 34236. You can follow him on Twitter: @HT_GunWriter and on Facebook @The Gun Writer.

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