Kahr / Auto-Ordnance M1 Carbine
On Oct. 22, 1941, the U.S. Army, realizing that it was about to be involved in a battle for the fate of the world, adopted for use the “U.S. Carbine Cal .30, M1.” This weapon would go on to become the one of the two most produced combat firearms in United States history with more than 6 million units being made.
Over the following 65 years, this carbine has been proven to be one of the all-time greatest combat designs. Not only has the M1 Carbine and its variants seen service with the military forces of numerous countries around the globe, but it has also been widely used by numerous law enforcement agencies.
Created originally to provide rear area troops a weapon that would offer improved hit potential and lethality over a pistol, the carbine quickly found favor with front-line soldiers and Marines. They saw that the weapon was highly portable, offering much over the submachine guns of the time. In fact, during some forms of fighting, the M1 Carbine offered improved capabilities over the legendary M1 Garand battle rifle.
As it came from the various factories, the M1 Carbine weighed in at 5.2 pounds with an overall length of 35.6 inches. The 18-inch barrel allowed the standard .30 Carbine (7.62 x 33 mm) ball round to achieve a muzzle velocity of 1,970 fps. This was significantly slower than a true rifle but much faster than most submachine gun calibers of the time. While the weapon was equipped with a sight that was adjustable to 300 yards, any degree of accuracy at this range, as well as lethality, was always deemed somewhat questionable.
While the long-range use of the weapon was always in question, that is not where this weapon was made to operate. Designed for relatively close ranges, the M1 Carbine excelled within this scope. Quickly finding favor by soldiers and Marines who were fighting in built-up or confined areas, the M1 Carbine was further developed into several variants, including the M1A1 folding stock paratrooper model, as well as the select fire M2 Carbine (widely considered one of the first “assault” rifles) and the select fire M3 Carbine, which was designed for use with then new “active infrared night vision” technology.
As many returning service members gravitated toward the law enforcement profession after the war, it only seemed natural that the M1 Carbine would accompany them. So it quickly found a home in the trunks and front seats of squad cars around the country. Just as they had in war, these officers found that the M1 Carbine excelled for the relatively short ranges that faced American law enforcement officers and offered much in terms of improving the capabilities of the weapons that had been in use up until that point.
Over the proceeding years, the M1 Carbine saw use with many agencies, but as time wore on, it was gradually replaced by other, more modern designs. In fact, the carbine fell into disservice as rifles as a whole were replaced by the ubiquitous 12-gauge shotgun or more modern 9mm submachine guns in most agency inventories. Despite all of this, however, the carbine always maintained a following with some and saw use by such notable agencies as the NYPD where it was used by, among others, the much vaunted Stake-out Unit.
Recently, in the aftermath of several very high-profile shootouts and in the face of growing officer casualties inflicted by suspects, the patrol rifle has once again become the hot topic for law enforcement.
While the rifle normally seen in most patrol cars is generally a variant of the AR-15, a number of agencies, for one reason or another, seek to find an alternative weapon for use by their officers. Beginning in 2005, Auto-Ordnance, a subsidiary of Kahr Arms, began producing its copy of the original M1 Carbine, providing a new supply of weapons, parts and accessories.
Before you think the 65-year-old design is a less-than-capable law enforcement firearm, it is worthy to note that there exists dramatic parallels between what the carbine was originally designed to do and the issues that currently face law enforcement.
The M1 Carbine and the round it fires excel at ranges of less than 100 yards. Given that the vast majority of officer-involved shootings—even those that take place with rifle-armed officers—occur at distances well within 25 five yards, the range capabilities of the .30 Carbine round is not a problem.
Likewise, despite the fact that there are anecdotal stories from both World War II and Korea where the lethality of the original non-expanding ball round was called into question, advancements in current bullet design and construction have led to several loads that now elevate the round into being a first-rate urban law enforcement caliber.
In fact, the .30 Carbine 110-grain Jacketed Soft Point (JSP) creates a temporary stretch cavity that may produce effects that will permanently damage a multitude of internal organs. One of the best loads is the Remington 110-grain JSP, which has an average velocity of 1,864 fps. In ballistic gelatin, this bullet expands to between .54 and .58 inches and penetrates between 13 and 16 inches. These results make this load ideal for urban police. It also shows good terminal effects even after being fired through automotive windshields and ballistic armor.
This final point is an additional advantage of the .30 Carbine. While it has very little recoil or muzzle flash, it still quite easily penetrates body armor. While the criminal use of body armor is still somewhat rare, it is a valid concern that should be addressed when agencies look to adopt a patrol long gun. The original M1 Carbine, as well as the Auto-Ordnance version, weighs less than 5½ pounds. That plus all of the capabilities cited make for an almost perfect weapon for use in a patrol capacity.
As World War II wore on, the U.S. military saw the need for a reduced sized version of the M1 Carbine and as such requested that a folding stock variant be produced for use by airborne troops and others. Denoted as the M1A1 Carbine, this weapon featured a skeletonized wire stock, which folded to the left side of the weapon, reducing its overall length to just 25 ¾ inches. As patrol vehicles have become more compact and equipment laden, many police agencies have also seen the wisdom of weapons that are of a reduced over all length.
Auto-Ordnance produces its own version of the M1A1 Carbine. As this weapon arrived from the factory, it was equipped with one 15-round magazine. However, 10-, 15- and 30-round magazines are currently being produced by Auto-Ordnance and several other manufacturers. While there are a great many military surplus magazines that can still be found, officers and agencies are cautioned that the 30-round capacity magazines have been noted to, in some instances, be less reliable than the original 15-round capacity versions.
Using a variety of loads, including some older surplus ball and offerings from both Winchester and Remington, the test M1 Carbine was a dream to shoot. With almost zero recoil, the weapon was quick in multiple shot strings and tracked easily between multiple targets. Throughout the several hundred-round test, there were no malfunctions, despite the fact that the weapon was not cleaned.
Officers who shy away from the recoil of other weapons do not find the M1 Carbine objectionable and learn quickly to shoot quite well, something that is not always the case with other firearms. The Auto-Ordnance M1A1 version (denoted as the model AOM150) folds down to the point where storage within a patrol vehicle is not difficult, but the stock can be quickly deployed for immediate use. During testing, the weapon displayed a more than acceptable accuracy potential as it was easily capable of placing an entire magazine within the head of a standard B27 training target at 50 yards.
While only one weapon of the type was tested, the design is clearly capable of delivering more than enough accuracy for modern law enforcement use.
During the testing of the Auto-Ordnance M1 Carbine, it was determined that the comb of the weapon (the height of the stock in relation to the sights / bore) is such that the end user must really get his head down to adequately acquire the iron sights. While this may be of concern to some, for most, this is simply an issue to be dealt with in training. For any who truly find this objectionable, there are other variants of the M1 Carbine produced by AO that do not have this issue.
For officers or agencies that do not fancy the folding M1A1 stock, a standard M1 Carbine model is available from Auto-Ordnance as is a version that uses a more modern Choate designed folding polymer stock.
Also, for those who wish to mount an optic on the weapon, which negates the comb issue, there are several viable ways to do so, including the Ultimak Picatinny rail system, which replaces the upper hand guard. This rail allows for an officer to mount any of the variety of red-dot or other optics now commonplace within the law enforcement community. It is a most worthy addition to this weapon.
Taken as a whole, the Auto-Ordnance series of M1 Carbines remains true to original versions. Each 18-inch barrel has a 1 in 20-inch twist, exactly like the original. The magazine release button is located on the right side of the weapon forward of the trigger guard. When depressed, it will allow the all-metal magazine to drop completely free without hang-up. An early war-style, flat, two-lugged bolt is used in this weapon and has proven itself exceedingly reliable. It is so reliable, in fact, that this basic design has been incorporated into several other very well known and successful post-war rifles.
The M1 Carbine in any version is hard to beat for patrol use. This handy little weapon has seen combat on nearly every continent and in every environment known to man. From the jungles of the Pacific Theatre during World War II to the frozen Chosin Reservoir of Korea, the M1 Carbine has seen it all. Now that Auto-Ordnance is again making this old warrior available, the time has once again come for it to resume its rightful place in the armory of many police agencies, defending the life of officers and innocents alike.
Scott Oldham is a supervisory sergeant with the Bloomington, IN Police Department where he is assigned to the Operations Division as patrol supervisor, as well as being one of the team leaders for the department’s Tactical Unit. He and his partner, Sergeant Mick Williams, provide contract instruction on a wide range of subjects, including tactical and patrol-based skills. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published in Law and Order, Jan 2009
Rating : 8.2