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Guns and Weapons | AUTO-ORDNANCE M1 CARBINE .30

Long arm of the Law that won’t bust a budget — it’s a sub-MOA carbine!

GUNS & WEAPONS FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT, May 2008, Page 38-44 and 87
By Matt Berger


SEVERAL SHOOTINGS AND EVENTSin the past decade or so have served as a stark wake-up call to law enforcement. LAPD’s North Hollywood shootout has become synonymous with the cry for patrol rifles and carbines. The simple fact of the matter is that if you’re on the receiving end of a long gun, you need a long gun, and nothing else will do. Few would argue the wisdom of outgunning the bad guys, or at the very least, meeting firepower with equal firepower.

SWAT units are very good at what they do, and typically have access to equipment the traditional patrol officer doesn’t have access to, but realistically speaking, a good response time for a tactical team is at least an hour. Patrol officers are the ones who’ll be first on the scene, often within minutes. Waiting for SWAT isn’t always an option when an active shooter is firing on victims or officers. Seconds can matter; let alone minutes, or an hour or more.

A shotgun is a very powerful, versatile weapon, but it does have limitations exceeded by a rifle, and in some instances, a carbine. Some law enforcement agencies have implemented pistol-caliber carbines, tactical rifles, submachine guns, and even lever-action rifles.

The vast majority of America’s police work for smaller agencies. It’s not uncommon in many of these departments for officers to have to purchase their own duty gear and sidearms, let alone “supplemental” weapons such as shotguns and rifles. A common scenario is that of a new patrolman anxious for a long gun, but struggling to make ends meet. A new tactical rifles or carbine with all of the bells and whistles is always attractive, but not always affordable. One option worth considering is the M1 Carbine.


The M1 Carbine is a gas-operated semi-automatic carbine that was being developed on the eve of World War II, going into production in September of 1941. The weapon became a mainstay of US troops throughout the war, reappeared in the Korean War, and even saw some service in the early days of the Vietnam War. The M1 was revered for its light weight, lighter ammunition, and rugged reliability.

Loved by many, but despised by others, most of the M1’s detractors dismissed the gun as inaccurate and ineffective as a stopper. Much of this opposition had to do with unfair comparison of the carbine with battle rifles. The little M1 is most appropriately considered an intermediate weapon whose ballistics place it somewhere between a powerful pistol carbine and rifle. With a bullet weight of roughly 110 grains and a velocity in the range of 1970 feet per second (fps), its kinetic energy is in league with the .44 Magnum revolver, and only a bit less than that of the .223 when the latter is fired from short-barreled carbines. Much of the criticism leveled at the M1 was no doubt due to troops attempting to employ it at distances for which the rifle was more appropriate, and due to poor marksmanship.

In reality, the .30 Carbine is an effective penetrator, and even those who malign the weapon will concede that it’s a workhorse, functioning even under the most adverse conditions. The military would claim the gun’s effective range to be 300 yards, though a more realistic range for delivering accurate and capable stopping power is 200 yards and less.

Load Velocity Accuracy

Cor Bon 100 DPX 2017 0.69

Remington 110 MC* 1979 0.81

Bullet weight measured in grains, velocity in feet per second (fps) by “Chrony” Beta chronograph, and accuracy in inches for 3-shot groups fired bench rested at 100 yards (* 50 yards).


This brings us to the M1’s value for law enforcement applications. Barring certain exceptional scenarios encountered by some rural agencies, most police will never have occasion to engage targets beyond 100 yards, especially in urban and suburban venues.

Another factor law enforcement officers have in their favor is that of modern defensive ammunition. While an officer may want to keep some FMJ ammunition on hand for certain situations (this ammo will work quite well at penetrating car bodies and certain intermediary barriers), there is certainly no comparison between the performance of WWII-era ball ammo and today’s expanding hollow points in terms of wounding capabilities.

The M1’s “handiness” factor cannot be overstated here. If you haven’t hefted one of these guns, you simply cannot appreciate how light and “wieldy” they actually are. At 5.4 pounds, there’re lighter than even the smallest “shorty” AR15 carbines. The recoil of the carbine is very modest, and length of pull on the short side, making the gun friendly to even officers of smaller stature.

There were more than 6.25 million of these guns manufactured beginning in 1941, so 15- and 30-round surplus magazines are plentiful and cheap, and likely to remain so.

Lastly, one of the modern iterations of these carbines being rendered by companies like Kahr Arms can be had for the price of a decent pistol in today’s market, making them a viable alternative to more expensive rifles, carbines and sub-guns.

Kahr acquired Auto-Ordnance in 1999, and presently manufactures the Auto-Ordnance M1 in their state-of-the-air ISO 9002 certified plant in Worcester, Massachusetts. The guns are of newly manufactured parts using high-precision computerized machinery.

The M1 uses a short-stroke piston operating system. Charged by a reciprocating operating handle on the right side of the weapon, the bolt can be locked open by retracting the operating handle and pressing the locking pin down on the top right of the receiver.

Receivers are CNC machined from 4140 steel investment castings. Markings include “US CARBINE CAL 30 ML,” at the top front, and “AUTO-ORDNANCE WORCESTER, MA,” at the top rear. Serial numbers are marked on the left front.

The 18-inch barrel is machined from bar stock, and manufactured for Kahr by Green Mountain Barrels. It features a twist of 1 in 20 inches, and a 45-degree chamfer at the muzzle.

Stock is two pieces, from American walnut, handsomely grained with a stamped sheet-metal butt plate. The stock itself is recessed for the attachment of a sling at the rear. A swivel is mounted on the barrel band at the front.

Sights will be easily assimilated by those trained on the AR15/M16, combining an ear-protected front blade with a rear peep sight. The rear aperture flips from its 100-yard height to a taller 300-yard peep. The front sight is retained by a roll pin; windage is adjustable by drifting the rear sight in its dovetail.

Controls are ergonomic. The safety is situated just forward of the triggerguard, easily deactivated by the right index finger, and the magazine release is located just forward of the safety, also accessible by the trigger finger.

Trigger is a two-stage military unit with no take-up, letting off sharply at 8 pounds. The triggerguard and operating slide are CNC-machined investment castings.

Overall, fit and finish is very good, probably better than the original guns. The stock is also well finished. Barrel, receiver, trigger group, and operating handle are all evenly parkerized.

The weapon is shipped in foam padding with one 15-round magazine, cable lock, and rubber guards to protect the muzzle, operating handle and front sling swivel. Available accessories include a stock magazine pouch, carbine oiler and sling.


We headed to the range to see how the little carbine would perform. Champion Targets’ 8-inch VisiColor targets were stapled up at 100 yards, and we prepared to test the M1 for accuracy, benched on a sandbag.

The first thing noticeable about the M1 is its light recoil, in league with that of the AR15 rifle. The rear peep and front blade were also familiar, and easy to use.

Getting most of our rounds into an 8-inch pattern with all ammunition wasn’t a challenge; however, the 100-grain CorBon DPX impacted quite high, by about a full foot at 100 yards. We eventually solved this problem by stapling a second row of Champion VisiColor targets a few inches below the top row; aiming in at the bottom targets, we began shooting three-shot groups for accuracy. We soon managed an impressive 0.69 of an inch pattern with two rounds touching. The CorBon also turned in the highest velocities, averaging 2017 fps.

I had a deadline to meet, and things hadn’t exactly gone well before I made it out to the range. As a result, I was cutting it close, with the sun beginning to set as I started testing the Remington 110-grain MC. With the daylight fading, I decided to aim in at 50 yards with the Remington because one can’t hit what can’t be seen. My second group funneled into just 0.81 of an inch.

The carbine hammered away, never failing to cycle or go bang throughout my accuracy and velocity testing. The action was smooth, and the controls easily manipulated. Nothing is complicated about the M1. There was a definite fun factor present in shooting the gun.

Our only criticism of this gun is that we’d have preferred to have elevation and windage adjustable sights. This would easily regulate the sights for the ammo, which proved to be the most accurate in this case, the CorBon.

Overall, the Auto-Ordnance M1 Carbine acquitted itself well. It was reliable, comfortable and easy to shoot, and quite accurate for 100 yards. This featherlight gun would be very easy to maneuver in and out of a patrol car with its overall length just under 36 inches. This, coupled with its short length of pull and soft recoil make it a great candidate for officers of varying statures. Most of all, an officer could afford to purchase a gun like this for the same cost of their duty pistol.

It would seem that 66 years after the .30 caliber M1 Carbine was first produced, its original assets are still going strong.