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[Review] M1 Carbine (Auto Ordnance): Blast From the Past

Does the old M1 Carbine have a place in your collection? We hands-on test Auto Ordnance's reproduction for accuracy, reliability, ergonomics, and more.

    The M1 Garand tends to get most of the American WWII glory, but it’s not the only cool firearm from the ’40s!

    If you’re looking to expand your gun collection or maybe add a rifle that has significance to American warfighters, you should take a look at the M1 Carbine.

    A new production rifle using modern ammo has breathed new life into this classic firearm. The Auto-Ordnance M1 Carbine chambered in the venerable .30 Carbine.

    M1 Carbine and Ammo
    M1 Carbine and Ammo

    I will be going over the history of the old workhorse, what kind of quality to expect from Auto-Ordnance, and my time using it on a hog and turkey hunt down in Texas.

    With the newer production Hornady ammunition, it is safe to say this old rifle still has a place!

    Table of Contents


    Proven in Combat

    The M1 Carbine saw initial service during WWII in 1942. It was built as a lightweight rifle to be used as a short-range carbine within 300 meters.

    This rifle was never meant to be a full-blown battle rifle, which was somewhat of a change in military doctrine for a fighting rifle.

    M1 Carbine WWII
    M1 Carbine in combat during WWII in the Pacific theatre. *Courtesy of US Militaria Forum

    The tiny carbine saw service throughout WWII, Korea, and even into the Vietnam Conflict. The rifle was especially liked by troops that weren’t on the front lines.

    With its 18” barrel, and shorter designed action, the M1 Carbine and later versions of the M2 and M3 were favored for their handiness.

    Between the short-stroke piston operation, and non-corrosive primers used in its ammunition, the M1 Carbine was a very reliable semi-automatic, magazine-fed weapon.

    While it was loved by troops “in the rear with the gear”, GIs that were engaging the enemy in the Pacific and European theatres had their gripes.

    old school NV
    Before “tacticool” was a thing, GIs used select-fire M2 Carbines with early night vision devices

    Although the M1 was praised for its accuracy, the round nose 110-grain projectile typically passed through the enemy without incapacitating or immobilizing them.

    By design, it was meant to bridge the gap between the M1 Garand in .30-06 and the M1 Thompson sub-machine gun in .45 ACP, but FMJs at that speed did not prove to effectively stop the enemy.

    Forgotten Weapons along with Ken Hackathorn has an outstanding video talking about the M1 Carbine, its role in WWII, and the exact limitations of the rifle in combat!

    Fast Forward to Today

    Today you can still buy surplus M1 Carbines, but the prices of those rifles are usually well over $1,000 and they can show their wear.

    A quick search on GunBroker.com will show that WWII M1 Carbines can sell for over $4,000 in great condition. Enter Auto-Ordnance.

    On mesquite and in the sun, God Bless the Lonestar State
    On mesquite and in the sun, God Bless the Lonestar State

    If you want a new production M1 Carbine, built to original GI specs, then look no further than Auto-Ordnance. The rifle’s parkerized steel receivers, walnut stock, and original iron sights are a perfect reproduction from the original design.

    at Brownells

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Available Coupons

    These weapons are currently produced in Worcester, MA at the AO facility. They also have a line of 1927A-1 “Tommy” guns, 1911’s, as well as multiple models of the M1 Carbine including a Para-Trooper model with a folding stock.

    Battle scars from rough handling while in Texas, and hunting pigs from the truck.
    Battle scars from rough handling while in Texas, and hunting pigs from the truck.

    The T&E firearm sent to me was the standard AOM130, with a 15-round magazine. Quality of the rifle was excellent with parkerizing on all the steel components. The walnut stock wasn’t amazing in finish, but it looks excellent overall.

    Keep in mind though that the wood easily scratches which is my only gripe with handling the weapon.

    On the Range

    While testing the AO M1 Carbine I experienced no malfunctions or failure to feeds through nearly 500 rounds of testing.

    During my time with it, I did not clean it and only applied lubrication to the receivers and the action. The best ammunition that ran through the weapon was hands down the Hornady Critical Defense 110-grain loads.

    Hornady has been and still is a great choice for hunting or match ammo
    Hornady has been and still is a great choice for hunting or match ammo

    In my years of shooting, one thing generally remains the same. Hornady ammunition tends to be high quality and tends to be some of the best ammunition ran through any gun I have owned or used.

    They also offer ammunition in uncommon cartridges, and the M1 Carbine is no different. For a hunting or self-defense load in .30 Carbine, the only answer is Hornady.

    at Brownells

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Available Coupons

    My best 5 shot group at 100 yards measured in at 2.1 MOA, which could do even better with a magnified optic. Being limited to iron sights only for this carbine, I moved in closer at 50 yards.

    My best 5 shot group at 50 yards shrunk to 1.41 MOA and point of impact was 1.8” right and .59” low. At 100 yards, typically impacts were nearly 5” low.

    Authors best 5-shot, 50-yard group with Hornady Critical Defense.
    Authors best 5-shot, 50-yard group with Hornady Critical Defense.

    The rear sight is drift adjustable on this model from AO, but I did not have the proper tool for adjustment.

    Assuming I wouldn’t stretch too much further than 50 yards on my hunt in Texas, a slightly right point of impact was manageable, and I kept it in mind.

    Out of the box accuracy though was impressive, and it fed typical 110-grain ball ammo like Magtech 110-grain FMJs flawlessly.

    Hogs Went AWOL

    While hunting hogs in Texas, it’s legal to shoot them from a moving truck while on private land. Keeping a weapon short and effective to shoot out of a moving truck is important.

    I have had great success with AR-15s in the past, but I wanted to try something different this time.

    Benjamin, TX got a lot of rain this spring. Almost too much. While it’s great for farmers and domesticated or wild animals, it makes hunting hogs in wheat fields practically impossible.

    Due to the rain, this year the wheat fields measured above the hood of the truck. I didn’t let that stop me using the AO M1 Carbine in a hunting role though!

    The turkey hunting down in Texas for Rio Gobblers is fantastic. With the purchase of a hunting license, hunters are permitted to shoot up to 4 Rio gobblers and rifles of all types are allowed. It was time to drop a long beard with a weapon that my fellow Devil Dogs used in the Pacific.

    On my second day during the morning, I ended up having 2 Gobblers come into my calls. They hung up at a feeder at about 100 yards.

    While the .30 Carbine can easily kill a turkey at that range, the two Toms were moving too much to take an ethical shot with the older iron sights. 

    Luckily for me, a more aggressive Tom of the same size strolled through. His strutting and crotchetiness ended up scaring off the other males and sent them right to me.

    The lead bird gave me a clean shot at roughly 50 yards, and the Hornady Critical Defense 110 grain bullet did its job quickly and ethically.

    Thoughts on the Carbine

    I enjoyed my time with the M1 Carbine reproduction from Auto-Ordnance. From handling older M1 Carbines to other more recent reproductions, AO would take the cake in my opinion for the best reproduction.

    The Parkerizing is thick, and it holds up well to the elements with a simple coat of oil. With the rain we experienced, all the coated steel had no issues with rust.

    The AO M1 Carbine is easy to carry due to its lightweight.
    The AO M1 Carbine is easy to carry due to its lightweight.

    The wood stock leaves something to be desired though. Being advertised as walnut, I expected a little more resistance to scratching and denting.

    This obviously did not affect function, and if you are not treating the carbine as a safe queen this isn’t necessarily something to worry about.

    Recoil was mild from the small cartridge, and I would compare it to a slightly harder .300 Blackout.

    Considering its short-stroke gas piston design and lack of a muzzle device, recoil would probably be more comparable to a 5.56 NATO. Its 5.4 lb. the weight doesn’t tame recoil like an AR15 either.

    M1 Carbine ammo vs other ammo
    (L to R) 5.56 NATO and .300 BLK compared to the .30 Carbine

    While the M1 Carbine does not have a last round bolt hold-open feature, you can easily lock the bolt to the rear by depressing a small plunger-style button on the charging handle. This came in handy letting the carbine cool after doing magazine dumps to test feeding.

    The magazine release is in the expected spot which is just past the push-button safety at the front of the trigger guard. I have heard reports from GIs mistakenly pushing the magazine release instead of disengaging the safety under stress.

    In my opinion, they are far enough from each other to keep it from being an issue, especially for range or hunting use.

    Bolt locked to the rear allows easy cooling and inspection of the chamber.
    Bolt locked to the rear allows easy cooling and inspection of the chamber.

    The chamber and feed ramp area were highly polished which is a testament to Auto-Ordnance’s quality and attention to details. The barrel is not chrome-lined though, which would be a perk, but I wouldn’t necessarily worry about service life.

    Many barrels in M1 Carbines are not chrome-lined and they are still chugging along.

    Magazines For The M1 Carbine

    Modern M1 Carbine mags come in a few flavors and are produced by several brands including ProMag and KCI. You can even get them in 30-round capacities and 10-rounders for those of you in ban states!

    Auto Ordnance also makes mags for the M1 and they’re solid. They aren’t Glock mags cheap, but a steel magazine that is cheap is…suspicious.

    at GunMag Warehouse

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Available Coupons

    By the Numbers

    Reliability: 5/5

    Roughly 500 rounds were put through the M1 Carbine from Auto-Ordnance while I tested and evaluated it. Only once I had a failure to feed, and that was completely my fault when the reciprocating charging handle clipped the side of an obstacle during cycling.

    It was complete user error on my part. Using Hornady Critical Defense loads make hunting efficient and clean.

    Affordability: 4/5

    There are cheaper alternatives if you would like an M1 Carbine and you may be lucky to find a beater in fair shape at a gun show.

    at Brownells

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Available Coupons

    But when you look at prices with companies like Inland Mfg. and Fulton Armory, the Auto-Ordnance M1 Carbine is probably the best bang for your buck. Ammunition isn’t the cheapest, but TulAmmo offers cheap steel-cased ammunition for about 24 cents per round – that’s a solid price for plinking ammo!

    Customization: 3.5/5

    There is still a market for accessories with the M1 Carbine, mostly centered around optic mounts. As stated before, with an appropriate optic accuracy could tighten up a bit compared to the rudimentary iron sights.

    A mount for a micro red dot could make this tiny lightweight hell on wheels for a short-range defensive carbine using the Hornady Critical Defense loads.

    Ergonomics: 5/5

    For a fighting carbine of the 1940s, this rifle is very ergonomic and quick to deploy, which was a shift in weaponry of the time. The detachable magazine inserts cleanly, controls are easy to reach, and the reciprocating charging handle is easy to manipulate.

    Pair all that with a soft recoiling, lightweight, accurate rifle, and the M1 Carbine was very much ahead of its time.

    Overall: 4.5/5

    As stated earlier, the only drawback, in my opinion, was the finish and overall quality of wood for the stock. The receivers look excellent. The iron sights are basic but true to the original GI design.

    The weight is phenomenal, and accuracy is impressive for its design type of weapon. I would highly recommend the Auto-Ordnance M1 Carbine if you are in the market for an M1 reproduction.

    Parting Shots

    The reproduction M1 Carbine from Auto-Ordnance is a winner in my book. Whether used as a hunting rifle, plinker, defensive carbine or truck gun, this light-weight accurate weapon will serve just about anyone well.

    Paired with the history and nostalgia of the weapon, any gun collection will do well having it among the ranks.

    Have you ever got your hands on a classic M1 Carbine design? What were your thoughts on the aged service weapon? For more WWII goodness that is modernized, take a look at the Best 1911 Pistols!

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    15 Leave a Reply

    • Commenter Avatar

      The rifle is a work of art BUT without ammo it's just a bat!

      February 4, 2022 7:20 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      patrick diamond

      I am so very lucky in that I have an original Carbine. Inland division, 1944. This was brought back by the person who used it. It has all matching numbers and has never been thru a re-issue. I will continue to pass this weapon down.

      February 4, 2022 6:23 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Bruce Mergele

      I worked for a rancher in the Texas Hill Country who took advantage of the NRA deal in the 1960's. A 1903 Springfield, M1 Carbine and 1911 .45 auto pistol all for $100 mailed to your home. He had the Springfield sporterized for his son and used the Carbine as his ranch gun. I had a 32-20 Martini single shot which worked just fine for me and out to a sizable range. For turkey, 22 magnum or even 22 l.r. is just fine but, I know you were showing folks what the .30 carbine can do. The rancher passed away years ago and he bequeathed me the .45, still in the Anniston box. His heirs argued over the carbine and I don't know who ended up with it. As for me, my favorite was a 92 Winchester takedown rifle in 25-20 that my Dad had. Loads of folks in central Texas "hunt" with what I'd consider elephant guns and are way-overkill. I've taken wild hogs with a .22 magnum, 32-20 and .243 Winchester out to 100 yards... whatever you have at the time (and better be quick!). Great article and someday hope to have a carbine myself.

      January 2, 2020 4:44 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Greg Wallace

      I enjoyed the article about the M1 Carbine. I have one that my Dad left me. He bought it through the NRA program back in 1964 for $100. It was like new when it arrived in the mail, packed in cosmoline. Dad told me if I cleaned it, I would be the first to fire it. He told me to soak it in our bathtub in hot water to loosen the cosmoline. Worked great, but cleaning the bathtub was a bigger chore! My Dad and I went up to our cabin located on an alpine lake, which was frozen over. Dad gave me a full 30 round magazine and let me go for it. I had already passed the NRA sponsered Firearms Training Class. I was 13. I had ice flying high into the air! I still have the rifle and I buy reloads from dealers at the local gun shows. It is still a great gun to shoot! I will pass it on to another family member, hoping they keep it to pass on again!

      August 30, 2019 8:16 am
      • Commenter Avatar
        john galt

        Have had problems with reloads, so now stick to manufactured ammo. The problem was especially severe with my M2 carbine, which had to be reworked. Love the M1 & 2.

        February 6, 2022 4:06 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Barry McHenry

      Would still like to see an article where someone used the M1 carbine on wild hogs.

      August 30, 2019 7:52 am
      • Commenter Avatar
        Ken Whitmore

        Same. I was devastated that the wheat fields were so high. I know it would do the job as a truck gun with Hornadys ammo!

        August 30, 2019 9:25 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Ian VanVranken

      Good to know there are 10rd mags for ban states...except the M1 Carbine is banned by name in Jersey I would love to have one of these!

      August 27, 2019 4:48 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      David E Swanson

      I am lucky enough to have a family. M1 Carbine later Winchester release from 45. My Great uncle Einard brought it home from fighting in Both theaters Europe and Japan. I don't believe it was used in the war at least not the stock. I assume it was replaced by surplus after the war in the 50s. I also have a can of .30 carbine ammo from ww2 still shoots!

      August 24, 2019 7:24 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Karson Branham

      Great article, I built my M1 from all US surplus parts except the new match grade criterion barrel and the new Fulton armory forged receiver I mares to it, the rest is all USGI new surplus. The stock is an M2 which leads my mind to think of more possibilities in the future. Great shooter and awesome PDW. The nice thing about the US Cal 30 carbine is it doesn’t look “bad” like the other black rifles and due to its nostalgia and collectibility, I think it may survive the current gun ban mania going on my many politicians. Every bit as able to defend as the most modern rifles, well worth the effort to “get some”! In the words of the ever awesome Jerry Mucilek.

      August 23, 2019 2:34 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Jim Hovater

      As an LEO I carried all of the 'tacti-cool' firearms. However, the older I get, (I'm 58) the more I find myself drawn to guns of my youth. I own minty Winchester and National Postal Meter M1 Carbines. My EDC is a Kimber Pro Carry II in 9mm.

      August 23, 2019 3:35 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      A. Remfry

      I like my M1 carbines from Auto-Ordnance , but I have had problems with them. The Front Band Assembly holding the hand guard to the stock (and the rifle together) does come loose after a few rounds fired. I had sent my rifle back and Auto-Ordnance tweaked it, but didn't really work. Ended up filing the Front Band Lock Spring into a hook to stop the Front Band Assembly from moving when the rifle was fired.

      August 22, 2019 10:09 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      Yes l like my carbine l have a GI Underwood GI M2 that's been in my family sent 1964. It's a good weapon.

      August 22, 2019 6:05 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Larry Fletcher

      I have a Iver Johnson pistol grip M1 thats a little tricky to shoot with a short barrel. I would love to put a vortex venom on it.

      August 22, 2019 5:55 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      I’ve had an AO M-1 carbine for a few years now. It’s a hoot to shoot. One of my son’s calls it a grown-up’s .22. It handles well and is not fatiguing to tromp around in the woods with. And, I like the 30 round mags.

      August 22, 2019 4:52 pm
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