The M1 carbine is a lightweight, easy-to-use semi-automatic carbine that became a standard firearm for the U.S. military during World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, and was produced in several variants. It was widely used by U.S. and foreign military, paramilitary and police forces, and has also been a popular civilian firearm.
In selective-fire versions capable of fully automatic firing, the carbine is designated the M2 carbine.
WW II usageEdit
The first M1 carbines were delivered in mid-1942, with initial priority given to troops in the European Theater of Operations (ETO).
The M1 carbine with its reduced-power .30 cartridge was not originally intended to serve as a primary weapon for combat infantrymen, nor was it comparable to more powerful assault rifles developed late in the war. Nevertheless, the carbine was soon widely issued to infantry officers, American paratroopers, NCOs, ammunition bearers, forward artillery observers, and other frontline troops. Its reputation in front-line combat was mixed. The M1 carbine gained generally high praise for its small size, light weight and firepower, especially by those troops who were unable to use a full-size rifle as their primary weapon. However, negative reports began to surface with airborne operations in Sicily in 1943, and increased during the fall and winter of 1944.
In the Pacific theater, soldiers and guerrilla forces operating in heavy jungle with only occasional enemy contact praised the carbine for its small size, light weight, and firepower. Other soldiers and marines engaged in frequent daily firefights found the weapon to have insufficient stopping power and penetration.
While the .30 Carbine cartridge used in the M1 Carbine could not penetrate small trees and light cover as well as the standard U.S. .30-06 rifle cartridge, it was markedly superior to the .45-caliber Reising and Thompson submachineguns in both accuracy and penetration, while its lighter .30 cartridge allowed soldiers to carry more ammunition. Lt. Col. John George, a small arms expert and intelligence officer serving in Burma with Merrill's Marauders, reported that .30 carbine bullets would easily penetrate the front and back of steel helmets, as well as the body armor used by Japanese forces of the era.
The carbine's exclusive use of non-corrosive-primer ammunition was found to be a godsend by troops and ordnance personnel serving in the Pacific, where barrel corrosion was a significant issue with the corrosive primers used in .30-06 caliber weapons. However, in the ETO some soldiers reported misfires attributed to moisture ingress of the non-corrosive primer compound.
The M1 Carbine is the most frequently primary weapon in the USA's engineer class kit.