The U.S. Carbine Caliber .30


Where and Who to turn to for More Information and Further Assistance

The Basics Here
The U.S. Caliber .30 CarbinesThe Carbine ManufacturersThe Barrel ManufacturersParts, Variations & Markings
Carbine NomenclatureThe Serial NumbersThe Stocks & HandguardsPost WWII Ordnance Operations

I wish I could help everyone, but with over 6 million U.S. Carbines and almost 1 million post war commercial carbines one person can't handle all the requests for assistance. However, there are a number of resources available that can answer any question you might have, including groups of knowledgeable collectors and shooters on discussion forums. The internet is ripe with experts on almost every topic, so you would be wise to get opinions from more than just one person.

This Website & it's Sister Website Discussion Forums
Links Page Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) M1 Carbine Forum
Books Page M1 Carbine Forum
  MilSurps Forums: M1 Carbine
Post War Commercial Carbines Military Surplus After Hours
   New Zealand M1 Carbine Collectors


Between June 1942 and August 1945 ten primary U.S. contractors manufactured over 6 million U.S. .30 Caliber Model M1, M1A1, M2, and T3 Carbines. During World War II these carbines were issued to U.S. soldiers in every theater of war around the world. M1 Carbines were supplied to a number of Allies via the Lend/Lease Program during WWII. Carbines were smuggled into, or parachuted to, resistance groups in a number of different countries during the war.

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 .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 for. It's not surprising the carbines used in Korea received a reputation as totally inadequate. The wrong tool for the job at hand. City fighting at distances of less than 200 yards, the carbines were usually adequate, which would later make them popular with police departments around the world.

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

Since the early 1960's private importers and exporters have acquired a great many of these carbines and sold, traded, or brought them back to the United States, where they were sold to civilian gun owners. Through the Director of Civilian Marksmanship and eventually the Civilian Marksmanship Program, the U.S. Army has provided thousands of carbines for raising funds to support shooting programs across the nation.

The popularity of these carbines has led many to collect them or simply buy one for home protection or recreational shooting. If you are one of these people, or intend on becoming a carbine owner, this page is for you. The information provided here is basic and meant as an aide, introduction, and simple reference material for you to refer to should you so wish.


No one source has all of the information you'll see on these pages. In addition to my own work, the following contributed to what appears here. Individual authors hold the copyrights to their work and gave permission for their work that appears here.
  • The Carbine Club, newsletters with research articles by various members from 1976-2010
  • TM 9-1276 Cal. .30 Carbines M1, M1A1, M2, M3, U.S. Government Printing Office, 1947 & 1953 editions
  • "War Baby!, The U.S. Caliber .30 Carbine", Volume I, by Larry Ruth
  • "War Bay Comes Home!, The U.S. Caliber .30 Carbine", Volume II, by Larry Ruth

U.S. Caliber .30 Carbine Models

Models M1 & M1A1

"The only difference between the carbines M1 and M1A1 is the stock. The M1 has a one-piece wooden stock, whereas the M1A1 has a folding metal stock extension and a wooden hand grip."

[TM 9-1276 Cal. .30 Carbines M1, M1A1, M2, M3, U.S. Government Printing Office, 1953, paragraph 5, page 3]

U.S. .30 Caliber Carbine Model M1

U.S. .30 Caliber Carbine Model M1A1

U.S. .30 Caliber Carbine Model M1A1

Model M2

"The carbine M2 is the same as the MI except for differences in design of certain components and the addition of others ..., which permit the M2 to deliver either semiautomatic or full automatic fire."

[TM 9-1276 Cal. .30 Carbines M1, M1A1, M2, M3, U.S. Government Printing Office, 1953, paragraph 5, page 3]

U.S. .30 Caliber Carbine Model M2 with birch stock

The receivers used for the model M2 were the same as the receivers used for the model M1. They are interchangeable. The only difference was the M2 marking instead of M1. On some receivers the 1 or 2 was left blank and hand stamped with the appropriate number when the carbine was finally assembled. The M2 marked receivers, with or without any other parts attached, are legally considered machine guns.

Model M3 (T3)

"The carbine M3 is the same as the M2 except that the rear sight is not included and the top of the receiver is designed to accommodate special sighting equipment (sniperscope) issued by the Corps of Engineers. Information on the sniperscope may be found in TM 5-934l."
[TM 9-1276 Cal. .30 Carbines M1, M1A1, M2, M3, U.S. Government Printing Office, 1953, paragraph 5, pages 3 & 4]

T3 carbines were manufactured only by Inland and Winchester. The serial numbers are four digits and not related to the blocks of serial numbers issued to the various manufacturers by U.S. Army Ordnance.

U.S. .30 Caliber Carbine Model T3, without scope

U.S. .30 Caliber Carbine Model T3, without scope

U.S. .30 Caliber Carbine Model T3, without scope

Original T3 carbines are rare.

Following Data
extracted from
TM 9-1276 Cal. .30 Carbines M1, M1A1, M2, M3, U.S. Government Printing Office, 1953
(paragraph 6, pages 8 & 9)

Number of Parts*Early: 56-58
Late: 55-56
64-65 Early: 79-81
Late: 78-79
Barrel Length18"
Sight Radius21.5" @ 100 yards
Overall Length35.58"35.63"
Overall Length-stock folded 25.51"
Weight5.5 lbs6.19 lbs
Trigger Pull4.5-7 lbs
Rate of Fire (full auto) 750-775 rpm 
Stock Material WWIIwalnut, some birch, a few cherrywalnut
Stock Material post WWIIwalnut, birch, otherswalnut
*number of parts varied as minor changes were implemented and do not include a
complete breakdown of the rear sight and barrel band

.30 Carbine Ball Ammo (GI)
Weight of Bullet (aprx)111 grains
Weight of Loaded 15 round mag.59 lbs
Weight of Loaded 30 round mag1.07 lbs
Weight of 100 Cartridges2.8 lbs
Muzzle Velocity (aprx)1900-2000 fps
Chamber Pressure per sq inch (aprx)40,000 lb
Effective Range300 yards

Timeline for the U.S. .30 Caliber Carbines

1940Jun 15 Secretary of War issued orders for the development of a light rifle for support troops as an alternative to the 1911A1 .45 caliber pistol
1941May - Sep Samples tested by U.S. Ordnance are submitted from:
  • Savage Arms
  • Woodhull Corp.
  • Colt
  • Harrington & Richardson (Reising)
  • Auto-Ordnance
  • Springfield Armory
  • Bendix Aviation (Hyde)
  • Winchester
  • Russel J. Turner (individual)
 Sep 30 Board of Infantry trials officers announce the Winchester design had been chosen for adoption
 Nov 11 Carbines based on the Winchester design manufactured by Winchester (5) and Inland (5) are submitted to Ordnance for testing
 Dec 07 Ordnance completes the Ordnance drawings for manufacture of the parts and carbines, Pearl Harbor attack starts war in Pacific
 Dec 11 Germany & Italy declare war on America
1942June Inland starts production
 September Winchester starts production
 November Underwood & Rock-Ola start production, Inland adds first series of M1A1 production, first M1 Carbines see combat in North Africa
 February Quality Hardware & National Postal Meter start production
 April Standard Products starts production
 May Saginaw starts production, inherits Irwin-Pedersen contract & takes over IP facility at Grand Rapids
 August IBM starts production
1943October Inland completes first series of M1A1 production
1944April Underwood, Quality Hardware, National Postal Meter*, Standard Products*, and Saginaw completes production
 May Rock-Ola & IBM complete production, Inland starts second series on M1A1 production
 May Inland completes second series on M1A1 production
 Sep FN Belgium begins converting M1's to M2's under U.S. Ordnance control
1945April Inland starts M2 production
 May Winchester starts M2 production
 May 5 War in Europe ends, FN completes M1 to M2 conversions
 June FN Belgium begins carbine overhaul (inspect/rebuild) program under control of U.S. Ordnance
 July U.S. Arsenals begin carbine overhaul (inspect/rebuild) program begins, conversion of some M1's to M2 begins
 August 14 War with Japan ends
 August Inland & Winchester complete all production, Springfield Armory assumes responsibility for entire carbine program
1946June FN Belgium carbine overhaul program completed
1967June Springfield Armory closes, carbine part acquisition turned over to U.S. Army Material Command
 *July 1944 National Postal Meter as Commercial controls completes 239 carbines, Standard Products completes 150 carbines

Estimated Total
U.S. Caliber .30 Carbine Production
June 1942-August 1945

    M1 > 5,551,311
    M1A1 140,000
    M2 est. 417,500
   Total > 6,117,827
  • The total number of U.S. Caliber .30 Carbines
    manufactured, will probably never be known.

  • War Baby The U.S. Caliber .30 Carbine by Larry Ruth,
    page 490, quotes The Ordnance Department:

    "Procurement and Supply" by Thompson and Mayo
    as stating a total of 6,117,827 carbines were manufactured."

! Things You Should Know !

A Small Footnote

"Carbine Williams"

May 1952
Hollywood, California

David Marshall Williams has been erroneously credited with designing the .30 Caliber Carbine. Williams designed the short stroke gas piston which was a significant contribution, but the carbine was actually designed by other employees at Winchester. Williams had been hired by Winchester and given the opportunity and latitude to come up with his own design, which he failed to do within the time allotted to meet U.S. Ordnance deadlines for prototype submission. A second team at Winchester, working concurrently and separately from Williams, produced the design adopted by U.S. Ordnance.

During his short tenure at Winchester, Williams repeatedly created conflicts with fellow employees that ultimately led to his dismissal. In May 1952, MGM Studios released the movie "Carbine Williams" starring Jimmy Stewart as David Marshall Williams. The movie portrayed Williams as the inventor of the U.S. M1 Carbine. Thereafter Williams became known as "Carbine Williams".

The North Carolina Museum of History in downtown Raleigh, NC, relocated Williams' personal workshop to their museum, where it was reconstructed with minute detail and opened as an exhibit. The workshop exhibit is located behind a see through partition that prevents close examination. The South Carolina Military Museum in Columbia, SC, includes an exhibit of some of Williams inventions and over thirty four of his personal collection of .30 Caliber Carbines. Interestingly, these include a number of post war carbines manufactured by commercial companies.

Producer Michael Mann once told me movies are not about truth or reality, they're about entertainment. A truthful and realistic perspective from a man who has been fairly successful in the entertainment industry. Unfortunately the human mind sometimes has difficulty separating truth from entertainment. Those who deserve the credit for design and development of what became the U.S. M1 Carbine are a group of people who worked for Winchester whose names have passed into history. Williams earned only a footnote. Reality was he interfered with the development, some of it intentionally, as much or possibly more than he actually contributed. Everything else aside, he does deserve credit for the short stroke gas piston that enabled others to design and build the carbine.


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