There is no doubt that the handiest and best-handling defensive short rifle or “carbine” ever made is the .30-caliber U.S. M1 Carbine. The “pistol gripped” M4 AR-15 Carbine can’t begin to hold a candle to it in terms of quickness to the shoulder, pointability, and carryability.
The .30-caliber M1 Carbine was developed for the U.S. Military by Winchester as a weapon for support personnel and others not engaged in person-to-person combat on the front lines of battle. These personnel would include artillerymen, for example, whose main focus was on their crew-served weapon. While they had previously been armed with 1911 .45 ACP handguns, it was determined that the effectiveness of a handgun as a combat arm at the basic level of military training was optimistic. No doubt, at close range, the 1911 .45 was an outstanding piece of hardware, but at ranges beyond 21 feet, things got dicey. What was needed was a shoulder-fired arm that provided an extended effective range and allowed its users a chance at defending their position without overburdening them with a full-size rifle. Thus the M1 Carbine was born.
The M1 Carbine fires a .30-caliber straight-walled cartridge that drives a 110-grain bullet that delivers twice the kinetic energy of the .357 Magnum revolver cartridge. Often demeaned for its “lack of power,” it was never intended to compete with or replace the .30-06 1903 Springfield or M1 Garand battle rifles. Funny thing was, it did end up replacing those arms in specialized combat situations, even though its effective range was (and is) 200 yards or less.
Original military M1 Carbines are collectors’ items today (unless they are in REALLY poor condition). You could pay $2,000 for a really desirable model that shouldn’t be shot much due to the collectability factor. Fortunately for those who want one of these fun-to-shoot yet practical defensive pieces, there are excellent M1 Carbine replicas available today at reasonable prices. One of the best examples is from Inland Manufacturing in Dayton, Ohio.
The original Inland Manufacturing Company was a division of General Motors (also located in Dayton) that was tasked with making the original GI Carbines during WWII. The new Inland is located just down the road from the original, and the new carbines they make are exquisite.
According to Inland, the 1945 M1 Carbine is modeled after the last production model the original Inland manufactured in 1945. It features a type 3 bayonet lug / barrel band, adjustable rear sights, push button safety (rather than the rotating lever style used on the last versions of the M1), a round bolt, “low wood” walnut stock, and a 15-round magazine. A 30-round magazine catch was used to allow M2-type Carbine magazines. 30-round magazines did not see military use until the M2 Carbine appeared at the end of the war. The M2 had full-auto fire capability and saw a lot of use in Korea and later in Vietnam.
The first thing I noticed about the Inland 1945 M1 when I pulled it from the box was its excellent walnut stock. The finish is dark “GI” style, making the 1945 look more like an original carbine, and the wood itself was quite nicely figured. On the right side of the buttstock is the military-type crossed cannon and flaming bomb insignia, which has been stamped into the center. The stock has been inletted for a replica oiler and canvas sling, which are included with the gun (along with a single blued 15-round magazine).
The Parkerizing is nicely done, and the GI-style rear sight is adjustable for both windage and elevation. The end of the barrel behind the front sight is stamped “INLAND MFG DAYTON, OHIO.” This stamping helps identify the 1945 as a newly manufactured—and not an original— M1 Carbine. I decided to test the carbine with some new 110-grain FMJ “ball” ammo that I had on hand from Hornady, and the same type of load from Remington. I also brought along an original M4 military bayonet to mount while test-firing.
I started out with the Hornady ammo and ran into a snag. As it turns out, Hornady apparently loaded the bullets in the cases beyond the length that would allow it to feed. Each round hung up on the feed ramp as it attempted to cycle. Near the end of the 50-round box, I was able to get 6 of 10 rounds fired to cycle properly. If you want to carry your M1 with expanding ammo, Remington has a soft hollow-point version available as well.
There was no such issue with the Remington FMJ ammo. Each round fed flawlessly. The 1945’s trigger pull was decent for a military arm, with no takeup or slack. The sights were zeroed precisely from the factory and shot to a “dead center” point of aim, with groups in the 4-inch range at 100 yards. If you want to mount an optical sight, Inland now has a “Scout” model available with a Picatinny-railed aluminum handguard.
The GI M4 Bayonet locked securely on the Inland M1. Firing the gun with it mounted was just plain cool, especially considering that I managed not to stab myself with it or damage any ancillary gear, including my car. At the 30-yard range, I fired it with the bayonet affixed. This made no apparent difference in the groups that were fired, at least at that distance.
I know it is an AR world, but there is still room for competing designs that offer some advantages over an M4 AR-15 in terms of weight and controllability. The 1945 M1 Carbine from Inland offers those advantages. MSPR is $1079. Learn more at www.inland-mfg.com.