When I was a kid growing up in the pre-M16/AR-15 1960s, the “way-cool” intermediate, civilian legal long gun that people admired and desired was the U.S. .30-caliber M1 Carbine — especially one with a thirty-round “banana clip.” It was the last word in easy-to-shoot defensive firepower for issues arising within 200 yards.
Back then, surplus war carbines were easy to get for very little cash. In 1962, Sears offered newly manufactured M1 Carbines in their mail-order Christmas Wish Book for $78 — delivered directly to your door without a background check. Surplus 1903A3 Springfield rifles could also be had for $48 from Sears. Oh, how did we survive as a nation with guns being delivered right to our doors? Very well, actually.
The M1 still has a lot to offer in terms of defensive firepower, portability and shootability — particularly when stoked with modern ammo. Modern arms manufacturers like Inland Manufacturing and Kahr/Auto-Ordnance/Thompson currently turn out great replica carbines, likely of higher quality than those which were available new from Sears in 1962.
A political poster that I saw recently on Pinterest helped to increase my appreciation of the M1’s potential place in the modern world. It was from the group “Women Against Sharia,” and it depicted an athletic young woman wearing a survival pack and gear and holding an M1 Carbine as her primary defensive arm. It was a perfect fit for her.
The M1 Carbine, with traditional full walnut stock, weighs in at a feathery 5.5 pounds. It can easily be pointed and fired with one hand. The .30 Carbine cartridge, even in its traditional military guise, delivers a 110-grain FMJ bullet at 1990 feet per second with 967 FPE at the muzzle. That’s nearly twice the energy of a .357 Magnum revolver cartridge fired from a handgun. It did exactly what the U.S. Military intended in WWII: provided specialized troops (and other troops off the front line) with a lightweight weapon that allowed them better defense of their position at longer ranges than was possible with a 1911 .45 ACP handgun, without the bulk of the M1 Garand. It also gave them 15-round-capacity magazines.
My replica Auto-Ordnance AOM-150 .30-caliber Carbine rides in the front seat of my patrol car with the stock folded. From its position, I can quickly withdraw it from the case as I step from the vehicle, opening the stock as I go. This same carbine rides with me on off-duty trips as well.
I’ve tried a number of different controlled-expansion loads with it for duty use from a couple of different manufacturers — Remington, Hornady, Cor-bon — with good results in terms of cycling and accuracy. Recently, I ran across a new .30 Carbine loading from the DoubleTap Ammunition line: their 110-grain jacketed soft-point round.
DoubleTap ammo, which includes the DT Defense, DT Tactical, DT Hunter, DT Longrange and DT Safari lines, offers an extensive line of ammunition for self-defense, tactical applications and hunting. Manufactured in the USA and using top-of-the-line components and bullets, DoubleTap ammo is designed for premium performance — and their .30 Carbine ammo is no exception.
There are two .30 Carbine loads currently available from DoubleTap: a 100-grain Barnes TAC-XP copper hollow-point, rated at 2000 feet per second, and the load I tested, a 110-grain jacketed soft-point, rated at 2010 feet per second and 987 FPE at the muzzle.
DoubleTap doesn’t specify the manufacturer of the JSP that rides atop their cartridge. It looks very similar to the JSPs used by Remington or Winchester, although Winchester is now marketing their load as a hollow soft-point. DoubleTap loads their version 20 feet per second faster than the others.
I went out to the range with the requisite 25-pound block of moist modeling clay. I did not bother running the round across the chronograph, because previous testing with other DoubleTap cartridges showed their published velocities to be spot-on.
Let me tell you something about firing the M1, whether in the full stocked version or the Paratrooper version I have. It is a hoot. There is zero recoil and very little muzzle blast or flash. M1s generally don’t need flash suppressors; there isn’t enough flash to worry about. The piston operating system smoothly cycles the arm, and its ultra-light weight means you can carry and shoulder it all day long (which is why GIs loved it). The military peep sights are rugged and well-protected, and the rounds are delivered right where you want them. But make no mistake — the .30 U.S. Carbine round isn’t a .22 LR. It is a serious combat arm.
Before running the clay block test, I checked the DoubleTap rounds for proper cycling. As expected, their round profiles fed just like FMJ ball ammo and were totally reliable. I verified zero on the head of a silhouette target, off-hand at 50 feet, and easily delivered five nicely grouped “hostage rescue” headshots.
Time for the block test. I backed off to 20 feet from the block, settled in and fired. I was rewarded with a dead center strike — and a chunk of clay being blown forward into my right calf. The effect on the block was spectacular! And a little surprising even for me as a proponent of the M1 Carbine.
The sides of the block had been expanded well beyond their square borders. Another large piece of clay had been blown forward from the entrance hole and was laying on the plastic barrel that I had set the block on. I began to section the block in order to measure the cavity. I stopped before fully sectioning it when I noticed that a fist-sized expanded portion of the block had pushed down through the taped seam in the cardboard box that the clay came in and that I had used to directly support the block. That was something I hadn’t seen before in any other cartridge test.
The bullet had disintegrated in the clay with various fragments visible. A few small fragments had exited the rear of the 10-inch block, demonstrating adequate, but not excessive, penetration. I ran the tape inside the cavity and came up with a measured diameter of 11 inches at the widest point. Note in the photo the partial sectioning of the block, which was left together to give you an idea of the damage caused by the DoubleTap .30 Carbine cartridge.
While the AR-15 is a great weapon, it is not for everyone or for every situation. The same is true of the M1 Carbine. It is not an extended-range designated marksman rifle. It is a carbine meant for 200-yards-or-less combat situations, firing at human-sized targets. With great ammunition like the .30 Carbine JSPs from DoubleTap, it can easily continue to fill its intended combat mission — and then some.