The .30 Carbine: A Fun Gun for Serious Use


This image pretty well sums it up–a happy shooter with the M1 carbine, preparing to blast a Zombie Industries larget.


The .30 Carbine: A Fun Gun for Serious Use.

by Bob Campbell
Contributing Editor

The US .30 caliber Ml carbine was the first of a modern class of lightweight personal defense weap­ons firing a mid-range cartridge. The carbine was intended to arm officers in place of the pistol they normally carried, and also to arm drivers and others that could not be encumbered with the full size battle rifle. le was intended for use within 100 yards or so. The car­bine is a handy weapon that does not gee in the way of other duties, such as driving a tank, manning a radio post or serving as an am­munition bearer. The idea was chat the carbine gives soldiers an edge over a pistol. Unlike previous carbines it was not simply a shore rifle that fired the same cartridge as the full power battle rifle but rather it fired a smaller cartridge and carried more rounds.
For comparison, the M1 Ga­rand .30-06 with a 150-grain bul­let yields 2700 fps, while an Ml carbine with a 110-grain bullet has 2000 fps.


This original .30 carbine is a great piece of history and a fine shooter.


The .30 carbine is light, handy, reliable and powerful.

What makes the .30 caliber carbine an ideal defense rifle for today is that the original intent was for the rifle to be suitable to face an unexpected attack. Troops in the rear area could easily keep a car­bine handy. The carbine is easily brought into action quickly and a fast number of shoes may be fired. Today the modern Auto Ordinance carbine may be kept handy in the home or in the vehicle and it handles brilliantly quickly. Not only that–the .30 caliber carbine is a wonderful fun gun for recre­ational use. Both muzzle blast and recoil are less than the AR 15 rifle as an example. While the AR 15 is a fine rifle, the .30 carbine is as well. I recommend the new pro­duction Auto Ordnance for the simple reason that it is a new rifle and proven reliable. You cannot count on the condition of a vin­tage rifle but just the same many are still reliable, and when new there was no more reliable light semi-automatic rifle.

The Ml carbine weighs but 5 pounds. My Colt AR 15 SO­COM with 16-inch barrel weighs 7.5 pounds without optics. The carbine handles very quickly due to this light weight. The .30 car­bine is easily shouldered with! a good sling. During World War II and Korea the carbine was pressed into service on a greater scale than anyone had imagined in 1940 when it was conceived.


The .30 carbine is a light kicker.

The carbine vied with the sub­machine gun for the lead in short ­range firepower, but it never re­placed the pistol or submachine gun, although it was in greater use than either. The .30 caliber carbine has a charming period look with the exposed barrel and short stock typical of carbines of the day. However, the .30 carbine was the first true low maintenance US Military firearm and also the first used exclusively with non-corrosive ammunition. The rifle definitely survived well in the long haul. The rifle is still in use in Israel with second line support troops and is a common rifle carried by tour guides.

The .30 caliber carbine features a bolt handle that is easily grasped for cocking the rifle and racking the bolt. The 15-round magazine is easily locked in place and may be switched for another rapidly. I or­dered several 15-round magazines from and they have given good results. There are also aftermarket 30-round magazines available but I have yet to see one that was completely reliable. They are best avoided.

The aperture sights and bold front post of the carbine are easily picked up and give good results in rapid combat fire and accurate fire to 100 yards. The carbine was in­tended for personal defense rather than offensive use as most military rifles are, and this short range de­sign parameter may seem to give us a short change in terminal bal­listics.

This isn’t really true as the .30 carbine has more energy than many .357 Magnum revolver loads. It simply suffers in com­parison to full-power battle car­tridges. Dealing with sappers; pre­venting a machine gun position from being overrun; a tank being charged by grenadiers, or an of­ficer defending himself, were the scenarios in mind when designers conceived the carbine.


These carbines and surplus ammunition are great for recreation

The .30 caliber carbine fires a 110-grain bullet at a nominal 2000 fps. Buffalo Bore Ammu­nition offers a full-power carbine load that clocks greater than 2000 fps and which gives superb accuracy even to 100 yards. The .30 carbine isn’t a deer rifle as sadly many have proven, but it is useful for varmints and predators.

Hornady offers affordable fifty round boxes of .30 carbine am­munition at a fair price and Hor­nady also offers a .30 carbine load in the Critical Defense line. FMJ loads should be chosen for prac­tice and the Critical Defense load­ing for home defense. The Buffalo Bore load is excellent for varmints and other use. As for accuracy, the Inland carbine is old steel but plenty accurate. It is also com­pletely reliable. Most .30 carbines will do well to group three shots into four inches at 100 yards. A number will be less accurate’ and a very few will exhibit greater accu­racy. With the Buffalo Bore load­ing my rifle exhibited a singular 2. 75 inch group but the average is 3.25 inches. I am very happy with chis performance.

The original sights are still in place and deserve some discussion.  The aperture rear sight is very fast on target and, coupled with the front post, gives a good sight picture for combat and pre­cision shooting to 50 yards or so. By precision, I mean coyote and small game. You will find the sight well adjusted for 100 yards. The second leg of the sight is for 300 yards, which is fine for area aiming and hoping to hit a humanoid target but that is a stretch for sporting use.  The .30 caliber carbine cartridge is interesting because it is, for all intents and purposes, as easily hand loaded as a handgun cartridge.  There is some taper in the case, but it is not severe.  This is an economical cartridge to hand load.

As for availability, the Auto Ordnance carbine is readily avail­able. More than six million origi­nals were produced and many are found for sale. The rifle is still fighting in Africa and was issued to troops and police in South Ameri­ca a decade or so ago. Photograph­ic evidence shows the carbine was still a back-up rifle in Israel rela­tively recently. I would avoid the various copies made during the 1960s and 1970s. Most had cast rather than steel receivers and per­formance was sometimes poor.


Buffalo Bore offers a credible full power loading for the carbine

The .30 carbine is not a bottleneck cartridge. The cartridge case is 1.29-inches long. The standard loading is a 110-grain FMJ bul­let at 1960 fps. Pressure is similar to Magnum revolver cartridges, 36,000 to 40,000 pounds per square inch. The .30-caliber car­bine has the same energy as the .357 Magnum in most loads. I have to report that the carbine did not produce the wounds that the .357 Magnum did at close range per my research.

When I first became a peace officer the .30 carbine was very common in police vehicles as a privately owned rifle. I never re­call one getting into action but there were some civilian shootings with the rifle. Results in personal defense are good at modest range. The .30 carbine is relatively inex­pensive to obtain, maintain, shoot and enjoy. It is user friendly, af­fordable, and makes an excellent go anywhere do anything light field gun and defensive handgun. It is also one of the great fun guns you will ever try. I recommend the .30 carbine without reservation as a fun gun and home defense gun.