Left side view of a M1 Carbine.
Source: The Swedish Army Museum - © GNU Attribution - Share Alike license
The M1 Carbine is a World War 2 era self-loading rifle of US origin. It was developed during the early stages of World War 2 to provide US forces with a weapon that filled the gap between a sub machine gun and a full size rifle. It was deemed that many frontline troops that are not riflemen could use weapon that was less cumbersome but yet adequate for combat. These roles include officers, engineers and drivers. In a sense the M1 Carbine was the first dedicated "personnel defense weapon" design, an idea that would be revisited in the 1990's.
The M1 Carbine is based on the Winchester M2 rifle designed by John Browning. The Browning design was finished by David Williams who started to develop a short stroke gas piston design. The M1 Carbine is gas operated and uses a tapped-and-slide gas mechanism. Externally the M1 Carbine looks like a classic rifle with its wooden furniture and lack of a pistol grip. The .30 Carbine round used in the M1 Carbine was specifically designed for this weapon. Unlike most intermediate power rounds developed in World War 2 the .30 Carbine is not of a spitzer design.
The M1 Carbine is a semi-automatic weapon that fires the intermediate power .30 Carbine round. At first only the 15 round magazine was available. With the introduction of the select-fire M2 Carbine the 30 round magazine was introduced. The M2 has a high cyclic rate of fire of about 900 rpm. The maximum effective range is 200 to 300 meters. Most M1 Carbines have an accuracy of 3 to 5 MOA, which is adequate at such ranges.
The main user of the M1 Carbine was the US military. US forces used it as a standard issue weapon alongside the larger and more powerful M1 Garand. After the Korean war the M1 Carbine was replaced. The M1 Carbine was widely exported and equipped many European forces right after World War 2. The M1 Carbine was also widely used by gendarmerie and police forces of many nations. By today's standards the M1 Carbine is obsolete but remains in use in various nations, mostly in the reserve role.
Original M1 Carbine and the M1A1 paratrooper variant shown side by side.
Source: US DoD - © Public domain
The M1 Carbine was issued to US troops alongside the M1 Garand, which was the standard issue frontline rifle. The M1 Carbine was produced in larger numbers (over 6 million) than the M1 Garand (5.4 million).
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