Old Favorites: The M1 Carbine

September 1, 2021
Tiger McKee

One of my favorite weapons is the old .30-caliber M1. This is the rifle I grew up shooting. The M1 is lightweight and compact – with a short stock - has very little recoil, and it’s easy to operate. It was the ideal rifle for a kid, and my dad, who was with 20th Group SF, always had plenty of ammo.

In my opinion the M1 is highly underrated as a defensive weapon. It’s lightweight, around 5 ½ lbs, short length - 35 ½ inches - and its light recoil make it an ideal carbine for self-defense. (For a full history of the M1 Carbine check out the “War Baby” series from Collector Grade Publications: www.collectorgrade.com ) There have always been complaints about the stopping power of the .30-carbine, but a lot of this comes from shooting ball or full metal jacket ammo into fanatical opponents who were hopped up on drugs. Under these conditions it won’t matter what you shoot ‘em with it’s probably going to take a lot of rounds. Modern carbine ammo, like a 110-grain bullet moving around 1800 fps that’s designed for expansion, works pretty well.

Another of my all-time favorites is the Ruger 10/22, which is similar in size, weight, and operation to the M1 Carbine. I have one 10/22 about thirty years old, I’ve shot a lot of rounds through it, and it’s only been cleaned it once. The two major things I don’t like about the 10/22 are the sights and stock.

The issue with the sights is easily corrected by installing a set up Tech Sights’ GI-Style aperture sights, which provide you with sights like the old A1 M16, or installation of a rail and red-dot sight. My problem with the stock is the concave shape between the stock’s heel and toe. To solve this problem I installed a West One Products carbine style stock, #100-005-624, which is a replica stock similar to the M1 Carbine. The sights and stock are easily installed without any special skills or tools.

Another advantage of the 10/22 is the variety of aftermarket parts available for it. For magazines I use Ruger’s 30 round mags. While changing stocks I also installed a custom trigger and extended mag release, both available from Brownells. For information and details on more extensive modifications like these Brownells has books and DVD’s on the 10/22, plus a lot of other aftermarket accessories.

Most of my training/practice is done with AR’s, but every once in a while, it’s good to mix it up some. There are a lot of M1 carbines out there, so being familiar with them is a good idea. For self-defense it can also be a good option, especially if you live somewhere that the AR isn’t a choice. For fun and inexpensive shooting, training up a new shooter or for children the 10/22 is a great choice, especially after a few modifications. Setting a 10/22 up as an M1carbine clone is icing on the cake

Tiger McKee 

Tiger McKee is director of Shootrite Firearms Academy, located in northern Alabama.  He is the author of “The Book of Two Guns” - http://shootrite.org/book/book.html writes for several firearms/tactical publications, and is featured on GunTalk’s DVD, “Fighting With The 1911 - http://shootrite.org/dvd/dvd.html  McKee’s new book, AR-15 Skills and Drills, is available off Shootrite’s website: http://shootrite.org/AR15SkillsBook/AR15SkillsBook.html