By James Lindsey
In a day, when in the firearms world all the rage is synthetic stocks and cutting edge technology, it is sometimes refreshing to take a step back to days gone by, back to the days of blued steel and hardwood.
While I am a big fan of most modern firearms and own many different types of hunting rifles, I still find myself drawn to the old mutt gun. Whether I am out on the farm scouting for the upcoming whitetail season, dispatching coyotes from my property, or just having a fun day of target shooting with my daughter, the old M1 carbine is usually my go-to gun.
The M1 carbine was produced by many different companies for the war effort during WWII. Parts were often shipped back and forth between the companies. Each carbine produced would have a mixture of parts manufactured by more than one of these companies, hence the name “mutt gun.”
When most people think about part interchangeability, they think of the modern sporting rifle. However, that approach to manufacturing has been going on for a very long time. During WWII, M1 carbines were produced by not only the firearms manufacturer Winchester, but also by companies such as Underwood Typewriter, Rock-ola (a jukebox manufacturer), Saginaw Steering Gear (a division of General Motors), and IBM.
There were a total of 6,121,309 carbines completed during the war. There were also several variants of the carbine produced. This includes a select-fire version designated the M2, as well as the M3, an M2 carbine fitted with an infrared scope system.
The M1 carbine was originally designed to provide support staff with a weapon that had greater range and accuracy than the 1911 .45 ACP sidearm. Though it may have been intended for that sort of use, it quickly became a favorite among troops and was carried into many battles as their primary weapon.
While the M1 carbine was originally issued with a standard 15 round magazine, when the M2 select-fire variant came along, the capacity was increased to 30 rounds. With the select fire option of the M2 and the increased capacity, the M2 carbine became a favorite among soldiers fighting in the jungles of Vietnam.
It also found favor with U.S. Special Operations Units. With the introduction of the M3 variant came an infrared scope system. This gave snipers an edge to be able to take out their targets at night.
The M1 carbine was in service by U.S. Forces from 1942-1973. It was used during WWII, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. Weighing only 5.8 lbs. fully loaded and having an 18″ barrel, it was greatly appreciated by many of our U.S. service members.
With the light weight of the M1 carbine and the short barrel, it is a joy to carry around the farm. It has more than enough power to dispatch varmints. With today’s advanced ammunition, such as the Hornady Critical Defense line, we now have a 110 gr. FTX bullet with 2,000 fps and well over 900 ft.-lbs. of energy. That is twice the power of the .45 ACP and more power than a .357 Magnum. This makes the M1 carbine a low recoil option for hunting coyote or even whitetail deer.
You may not be able to own the carbine carried by your grandfather or great-grandfather, but firearm manufacturers are producing new production carbines today. These companies are Inland Mfg. and Auto Ordinance. Now you have the option to buy a good used carbine or a brand new one if you choose to.
The carbine that I own is a National Postal Meter, produced in 1943. I absolutely adore that little carbine and have plans to pass it down to my daughter one day. She has a love for the great outdoors and has grown to love the old mutt gun herself. The M1 carbine is not only a great piece of history, but an all-around great little firearm to have in your collection.