Welcome to Jercol's Back to the Basics. This is where I will post useful information, tips, and gear reviews about what I learn about Outdoor Survival, Activities, and Disaster Preparation. My only goal is to be informative, realistic, and at least a little entertaining.


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Almost My New Favorite Rifle: Auto-Ordinance M1 Carbine

In general I'm not a fan of semi-auto rifles and pistols.  There's nothing wrong with them, there really isn't, I just think firearms that require more interaction are more fun to shoot.

Take a single action revolver, in my opinion is a whole lot more fun at the range than most other pistols.  It makes you slow down, put a little more time, energy, and thought into shooting.  To me, that's more fun.  It also makes me more accurate since I'm not just throwing rounds down range, each shot is a very deliberate process... not just pulling a trigger.

I think that's probably the same with rifles, that the reason bolt action rifles are widely considered more accurate is because it forces the shooter to slow down.  I also think that the lower the capacity, the more careful the shooter.  If you only have five rounds you make them count, if you have twenty than you are more likely to shoot first and question later.  More input from the shooter and fewer round capacity means slowing down, there is more of a process between each shot being fired, and ultimately I think that makes a shooter more accurate.

However, the firearms that I like to shoot have their limitations.  For most people a single action revolver  doesn't make a lot of sense for self defense compared to even a modest semi auto.  Semi autos usually have larger capacity, quicker follow up shots, and faster reloading.  So, obviously semi-autos have a place, I just never really enjoyed shooting them very much.

All that said, I decided I wanted to add a semi-auto rifle to my growing collection.  I really like the collection I've got going and decided to continue adding variety.

So, of all of the times to go to the gun store looking for a semi-auto rifle, this was probably the absolute worst time to go.  I wasn't looking for an AR-15 or AK, I was thinking maybe a Ruger Mini-14, but quite literally the three stores I went to were cleared out of any semi-auto rifle over a 22lr.  I would have been good with getting a 22lr semi-auto but they were all AR variants (I'm not a fan), or 10/22s in garish colors (I mean that literally, there were greens and purples left).

Then, at the last store I went to I saw something interesting.  Just like the others, the semi-auto shelves were bare... this one had one last rifle.  I'd never seen anything like it and asked if I could check it out.  It came with a folding stock and had a beautiful wood forestock and handle.  It almost looked like an old version of the AK but was obviously a smaller caliber.


Turns out it was an M1 Carbine, a WWII replica of a paratrooper's rifle built by Auto-Ordinance and Kahr.  I'd heard of the Garand, but never the M1 "carbine" before.  I did a little research and realized that I really should have heard of it before, it's a pretty cool rifle with a very cool history.  Check it out yourself, if you need more info there are many, many M1 carbine fan sites out there.

The more I looked at it, the cooler it seemed.

The 30 carbine ammo is not a particularly good round for hunting or survival scenarios (it's actually called ".30 carbine" and you're not likely to find it laying around).  The round looks like a skinnier version of the .357 and hasn't been common for decades.  It's also pretty similar balistically to the .357 out of a rifle.  It's a little weak for a rifle round, only really usable out to around 150 yards, and it was mostly issued to support troops in WWII.

.38sp vs .30 carbine

.38sp vs .30 carbine

Despite being less common, because of it's small size it's cheaper than a lot of rifle ammunition, about $25 for a box of 50.  Almost the equivalent of most pistol amunitions.

I decided to go for it, the rifle was just quirky enough that it caught my interest.  I like getting those looks of "WTF is that?" when I uncase my rifle at the range.  This rifle would be a unique addition to my collection AND it was semi-auto.  Score one for the weirdo.

Then comes the real question, how did it do at the range?

First time out?  I don't think I hit the target.  It took some cycling to get it running smoothly, the first few times it was pretty rough.  It also had an issue with feeding the last round in the mag.  I think that was stiff springs in the mags, which should break in, causing the last round to get stuck half way inserted.  Otherwise, it was a blast to shoot.  This thing kicks about the same as a .38sp out of a lever gun, which is hardly more than a .22lr.  I think I was grinning ear to ear with each shot, it was just a blast to shoot.

I looked it up later and accuracy problems are a pretty common with these rifles the first time out.  Out of manufacturing they leave the front site too tall.  This is also had a non-adjustable flip-up rear sight, one for 100 yards and the other for 200.  I'm going to have to do some playing to get it up to the accuracy I would expect.  The only other complaint that I had is that the rifle isn't actually "blued", it's painted and scratches fairly easily.

But man, is this a cool carbine.  It's pretty, I love all the wood.  It's easy to disassemble and clean.  It barely kicks, and it's fun to shoot.  It's a unique addition to most anyone's collection.  Even with the few small issues I had, this rifle is quickly creeping toward the title of "Favorite Rifle".  It makes it me smile everytime I shoot it.

For all you survivalist types, this is probably the lightest rifle I've ever held.  You pick up my rifle case and it feels empty.  Seriously, the whole rifle weighs in around 5lbs.  This paratrooper folding rifle, you cold sling it over your shoulder and forget about it until you need it.  The ammo isn't common, but it is fairly light and inexpensive compared to actual "rifle" rounds.  Besides, with how light the rifle is you could compensate by carrying more ammo.

At $990 dollars it isn't the cheapest rifle, but for that price I can put up with the few complaints I've got (they're all easily fixed).  I'm definitely looking forward to getting the sights adjusted and having some fun throwing lead the next time I head to the range.

 And I found out that Ruger makes a Blackhawk single action revolver in .30 carbine.  Apparently, it's very, very loud and intimidating.

Ruger Blackhawk .30 carbine


Muhuhahahahahaaaa!


EDIT (02-10-2013): I love my M1 carbine.  I love the history, the looks, and how it shoots.  However, the rear sight drives me bonkers.  It comes with a non-adjustable flip sight, one for 100 yards, one for 200 yards, in a dove tail joint.  On mine, it was really off to the left.  To "adjust" this sight you need the proper vice/tool, or a hammer, punch, and patience.  I ordered an adjustable sight for it, tried a dozen times to replace the flip sight... and broke down and ordered the proper removal tool.  These typically go for $150, the cheapest I could find was with Sarco for $70 (E-Sarco Inc).  It's been frustrating, especially since I'm probably only going to use it once.  So, great rifle, just keep that rear sight in mind.  On a plus note, the original M1 needed to have the front sight ground down in the field, whereas the front sight on my replica seems spot on.

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