February 2017

Reproduction M1 Carbines: We Test Auto-Ordnance and Inland Manufacturing Models

Do these U.S.-made M1 Carbine knockoffs perform like Uncle Sam intended? Yes, sir, they do. If you don’t want the real thing for historical or personal reasons, these two shooters work fine.

m1 carbine rifles

Notice the Auto-Ordnance M1 (left) has a flattened bolt top, while the Inland (right) has a round bolt.

The M1 Carbine was adopted during World War II, then proceeded to arm our soldiers during the Korean War and Vietnam War, making it one of the most widely produced of all U.S. Military rifles. Millions were produced, and at one time, surplus models were quite common and inexpensive. Try finding a vintage M1 Carbine today, and you will pay close to $1000 for a well-used specimen. Costs, however, will vary dramatically depending on which manufacturer produced the M1 Carbine, the model, features, and condition.

Auto-Ordnance M1 Carbine Paratrooper

The Auto-Ordnance M1 Carbine Paratrooper ($941) is a copy of the Model M1A1 with a folding wire stock.

Avid M1 Carbine collectors know that Winchester finalized the design of the M1 Carbine and produced the rifle, but other manufacturers like Inland Mfg. Division of General Motors Corp., Underwood (a typewriter manufacturer), IBM (when they made adding machines), Rock-Ola (a jukebox manufacturer), and others all received government contracts to produce the Carbine. Eleven manufacturers in total produced the M1 Carbine for the U.S. Military. Numerous commercial copies were produced after WWII. These commercial copies cost less, but their quality varies depending on the manufacturer, and some are not true reproductions of the M1 Carbine; rather, they are more of each manufacturer’s “interpretation” of the M1 Carbine. Some are even chambered in 22 L.R., such as the Ruger 10/22 M1 and 9mm Luger, such as the Chiappa M1-9, respectively. They sort of look like an M1 Carbine but use a different operating mechanism. A true M1 Carbine is chambered in 30 Carbine and uses a gas-operated, short-stroke piston mechanism with a rotating bolt.

The Inland Mfg. M1 1945 Carbine

The Inland Mfg. M1 1945 Carbine ($1079) is more period correct. The Inland is a copy of the last style of Carbine that the original Inland company manufactured in 1945. In our opinion, these reproductions offer a lot for collectors, competitive shooters, and home defenders.

We opted to test two new M1 Carbine reproductions, the M1 1945 Carbine from Inland Mfg. (not the original Inland Mfg. but a new company) and the M1 Carbine Paratrooper from Auto-Ordnance (A-O). We found on three websites (Brownells.com, CheaperThanDirt.com and BudsGunShop.com) that the Inland’s cost ranged from $999 to $992 and the A-O from $828 to $752. Both of these are built like Uncle Sam intended using a gas-operated, short-stroke piston system with a rotating bolt, and they are chambered in 30 Carbine.

We looked at these two Carbines for historical accuracy, for competition use in M1 Carbine Matches, and as a home-defense choice. In our opinion, the Inland is suitable for all three, where the A-O is not competition ready, but it satisfies the other two roles pretty well. Bottom line, our test team found these two carbines to be reliable, depending on the ammunition employed, offer good performance if the cartridge is used within its limits, and unlike some other M1 Carbines our testers have fired in the past, these two reproductions are accurate enough for nearly any use.

Inland Manufacturing m1 carbine rear sight

The Inland’s rear sight is more user friendly and more easily adjustable; the aperture slides up or down the ramp for elevation, and the knob adjusts windage.

How We Tested

Since the Carbine is a mid-20th century design, there are a few features that might seem dated to the modern shooter, because they are. The crossbolt safeties were located outside the trigger guard, which is common on many shotguns and rimfire rifles, but less true for centerfire rifles. The magazine-release button, which is larger, sits just forward of the safety button. Initially, testers new to the Carbine had to pay attention so they did not press the wrong button, but they soon learned and could determine by touch which button was which. Not a ding on either the Inland or A-O, just a feature of the M1 Carbine design worth noting.

auto ordnance m1 carbine rear sight

The rear sight on the A-O is drift adjustable and offered two apertures for different distances. Note the bolt hold-back button (arrow) near the A-O’s handle.

Another feature of the design requires the magazines to be loaded fairly straight into the magazine well. Today’s modern rifles typically have a flared magazine well that funnels the magazine home and offers the shooter a bit of wiggle room when inserting a magazine. Those testers with AR-15 experience found it took slightly more effort to insert and seat the magazine. Once the rifles were loaded, some testers ran the Carbines like an AK, racking the operating handle from under the rifle with their support hand and grasping the stock at the pistol grip with their firing hand. Some became pretty efficient reloading the Carbine during testing.

m1 carbine test ammunition

Our test rounds included, from left to right, Hornady Critical Defense with 110-grain FTX bullets, which caused some function problems in the Inland, steel-case TulAmmo rounds with 110-grain FMJs, Hornady 30 Carbine with 110-grain full-metal-jacket bullets, and IMI ammo with 110-grain soft points.

m1 carbine rifles

The A-O (bottom) did not have a bayonet lug like the Inland (top); this difference made each rifle historically correct.

Ammo can be difficult to find at big box and smaller retailers. We found some locally in North Carolina (GunShopJax.com) some IMI (Israeli Military Industries) ammo with 110-grain SP (soft point) bullets for $30 for a box of 50 cartridges. Online, it is quite easy to source ammo. We purchased Hornady Critical Defense with 110-grain FTX bullets ($33/20), Hornady 30 Carbine with 110-grain full metal jacket (FMJ) bullets ($39/50), Aguila 110-grain FMJs ($24/50), and steel-case TulAmmo rounds, also with 110-grain FMJs ($15/50). If you see the trend, the 30 Carbine’s sweet spot is the 110-grain bullet. Military ammo was loaded to a muzzle velocity of 1990 fps and muzzle energy of 967 foot-pounds. Of the four ammo types tested, the Hornady Critical Defense ammo was loaded to 2000 fps, while the TulAmmo, IMI, Hornady standard, and Aguila were at military velocity of about 1990 fps. The TulAmmo had the lowest velocity of all ammo tested. The cost is about 4 cents a round, making 30 Carbine ammo slightly less expensive than 223 Remington ammo.

30 Carbine Range Data

IWI 30 Carbine 110-gr. SP Inland Mfg. M1 1945 Carbine Auto-Ordnance M1 Carbine Paratrooper
Average velocity 1902 fps 1816 fps
Muzzle energy  884 ft.-lbs.  806 ft.-lbs. 
Smallest group  2.6 in.  2.1 in. 
Average group  2.85 in.  2.6 in. 
Hornady 30 Carbine 110-gr. FMJ
Average velocity  2046 fps 1984 fps
Muzzle energy  1023 ft.-lbs.  962 ft.-lbs. 
Smallest group 3 in.  2.25 in. 
Average group  3.05 in.  2.67 in. 
Hornady Critical Defense 30 Carbine 110-gr. FTX
Average velocity  1982 fps  1866 fps
Muzzle energy  960 ft.-lbs.  851 ft.-lbs. 
Smallest group  2.4 in.  2.4 in. 
Average group  2.75 in.  2.8 in. 
Aguila 30 Carbine 110-gr. FMJ
Average velocity  1960 fps 1901 fps
Muzzle energy  938 ft.-lbs.  883 ft.-lbs. 
Smallest group  2.05 in.  2.1 in. 
Average group  2.25 in.  2.3 in. 
TulAmmo 30 Carbine 110-gr. FMJ
Average velocity  1953 fps 1893 fps
Muzzle energy  932 ft.-lbs.  875 ft.-lbs. 
Smallest group  2.65 in.  2 in. 
Average group  2.87 in.  2.55 in. 
To collect accuracy data, we fired three-shot groups from a bench using a rest. Distance: 100 yards with open sights. We recorded velocities using a ProChrono digital chronograph set 15 feet from the muzzle.

m1 carbine feed ramps

The polished feed ramp on the A-O pictured at left fed all ammo with no issues, even modern hollowpoint ammunition. The Inland hiccuped with the Hornady FTX bullet.

The 30 Carbine has a reputation as being an anemic cartridge, and that is true if you compare it against the 30-06 Springfield. The 30 Carbine round was designed as an intermediate cartridge between the 30-06 Springfield in the M1 Garand and 45 ACP in the M1911A1 pistol. The 30 Carbine fits the role, but push it too far, and naturally it will underperform because it was not designed to replace the 30-06. As a hunting round, it can kill up to deer-size game if used at medium distances down to inside 100 yards.

auto ordnance m1 carbine feed ramp detail

A detail of the feed ramp of the A-O showing its high polish that we think helped function.

Magazines—new and surplus—are quite easy to acquire and inexpensive, from $8 to $35 depending on manufacturer and capacity. The M1 Carbine was originally issued with a 15-round magazine, and 10-, 15-, and 30-round magazines are the most common. Less common are 5-round magazines. We also acquired a new 30-round magazine from the A-O website (Auto-Ordnance.com; $35) and ran the magazine in both rifles.

We tested with iron sights at 25 yards and 100 yards to see how well, or not so well, the Carbines performed. We were pleasantly surprised at the accuracy and performance. Here is what we learned from these reproduction M1 Carbines.

Inland Manufacturing M1 1945 Carbine 30 Carbine, $1079

GUN TESTS GRADE: A-

Inland Manufacturing M1 1945 Carbine 30 Carbine

The Inland M1 costs more, but it offered a good interpretation of the last production M1 Carbine manufactured in 1945.

ACTION TYPE  Semi-automatic gas-operated short-stroke piston
OVERALL LENGTH  35.75 in. 
BARREL LENGTH 18 in. 
SIGHTS  Adjustable aperture rear; fixed front 
OVERALL HEIGHT  6.9 in. 
STOCK LENGTH OF PULL  13.2 in. 
WEIGHT UNLOADED  5.2 lbs. 
WEIGHT LOADED  5.8 lbs. 
CAPACITY  15+1 
ACTION FINISH  Parkerized 
BARREL FINISH  Parkerized 
MAGAZINE TYPE  Detatchable steel box 
STOCK  Smooth walnut 
TRIGGER PULL WEIGHT  6.1 lbs., single stage 
SAFETY  Pushbutton 
WARRANTY  1 year 
TELEPHONE  (877) 425-4867 
WEBSITE  Inland-Mfg.com 
MADE IN  USA 

Inland Manufacturing M1 1945 Carbine 30 Carbine stock

We felt the Inland was a good facsimile of the original carbine in overall cosmetics, including the stock. It was a plain piece of walnut with an Inland cartouche on the right side.

The M1 1945 Carbine is modeled after the last M1 Carbine the original Inland manufactured in 1945. Inland Manufacturing was founded in 2013. The company purchased the rights to use the Inland Manufacturing name, which during WWII was a division of General Motors. Back in the day, Inland produced most of the M1 Carbines for the government in Dayton, Ohio, and the new Inland is also located in Dayton, but it has no affiliation with GM. All parts are made in the U.S. According to Inland, all the parts of a new M1 are interchangeable with parts from an original M1.

Opening the box, the owner finds the Inland M1 set into die-cut foam and sees that it comes with a canvas sling, oiler (which is used to hold the sling into the stock) and one 15-round magazine.

Inland Manufacturing M1 1945 Carbine 30 Carbine bayonet lug

A bayonet lug on the Inland makes this Carbine historically correct; early original Carbines did not have a bayonet lug.

The M1 1945 Carbine is made with an investment-cast receiver mated to an 18-inch barrel with four grooves and a 1:20-inch twist rate. The features that make the Inland historically accurate are numerous, including the type-3 bayonet lug and barrel band. Early original production rifles had no bayonet lug. The lug was later incorporated into the design. Original M1s also had simplified sights, a flip-up aperture with two settings, one for 150 yards and the second for 300 yards. Later models used a modified sight with a sliding ramp, and so does the new Inland.

The new Inland also uses a pushbutton safety. Late-model originals changed the safety from a pushbutton to a rotating lever. Elsewhere, original M1s had a flat bolt — basically, the top of the bolt was milled flat. Later models used a round bolt to reduce manufacturing time. These features were also incorporated into the new Inland.

carbine rifle magazines

We ran 15-round and 30-round magazines through both carbines. That’s a reproduction canvas four-pocket magazine pouch (Auto-Ordnance.com; $21).

The walnut stock is referred to as a “low wood” stock, which means it is relieved next to the operating slide. Early M1s had wood nearly covering the slide, and the wood was prone to splitting in this area. From a historical perspective, we felt the Inland was a good facsimile of the original carbine.

The stock on the Inland was a plain piece of walnut with an Inland cartouche on the right side of the stock near the metal buttpad. The metal on the action wore a nice Parkerized finish. The steel magazine was blued. The trigger was a single stage with some creep that broke at 6.1 pounds, comparable to other M1s we fired at the same time for reference. Typical service-style trigger. In hand, the Inland was lively and came to the shoulder fast.

We found the sights allowed us to easily acquire a target. We first fired the Inland with Aguila ammo, which is close to mil-spec ammo, and we found the rifle ran well. No issues. We did find that the Hornady Critical defense ammo initially did not feed properly. The bullet tip would jam on the feed ramp. Critical Defense FTX bullets have a polymer insert in the bullet’s hollow point. The bullet shape also has more of a point. We measured the cartridge length and found the Hornady Critical Defense cartridge had an overall length of 1.68 inches, which is the maximum SAAMI length for 30 Carbine cartridges. The other ammo measured 1.67 inches, on average. One thing to note, ball ammo or FMJs operate best in original M1 Carbines, and in the Inland we found this to be true as well. The rounded FMJ bullet tip helps the cartridge feed better. We thought we would have the same ammo issue with the IWI ammo, which uses a soft-point bullet, but the IWI ran flawlessly. We dinged the Inland rifle’s final grade a half notch as a result because the OAL of the Hornady cartridge was to spec.

At 100 yards, the Aguila ammo performed well, and we were able to shoot our tightest three-shot group, which measured 2.05 inches. The TulAmmo rounds and Hornady Critical Defense also gave good accuracy, averaging close to 2.75 inches. In fact, we were quite pleased with the results because we were using iron sights and a mil-spec-comparable trigger.

Inland Manufacturing M1 1945 Carbine 30 Carbine buttpad

The buttpad was well fitted and slightly textured so it was fast to shoulder.

Recoil was mild with not a lot of muzzle blast. Those new to the Carbine easily took to the round and rifle and found it easy to shoot. At 25 yards, fast follow-up shots were quick because recoil was minimal. Since the rifle is only 36 inches long, it is easy to maneuver. With an unloaded rifle, we maneuvered through rooms and hallways with ease. In our opinion, at the distances typically encountered in a home invasion, the Carbine offers plenty of punch. There are less expensive options available, but the Inland could serve as good home-defense firearm.

Likewise, we would use the Inland in CMP M1 Carbine Matches. These matches are fired at 100 yards in four stages with slow and rapid fire and from prone, standing, sitting, and kneeling positions. For this use, the Inland would be a good alternative to an original.

Our Team Said: The M1 1945 was pleasant to shoot, and we would use it for tasks as diverse as competition as well as keeping the ranch safe. It was historically accurate, and collectors of original M1 Carbines would do themselves a service by shooting a new repro rather than wearing out an original and reducing the value. It is an expensive home-defense option, but we wouldn’t mind using it in that role, if push came to shove.

Auto-Ordnance M1 Carbine Paratrooper, 30 Carbine, $941

GUN TESTS GRADE: A-

Auto-Ordnance M1 Carbine Paratrooper Model AOM150 30 Carbine

The A-O Paratrooper is easier to transport due to the folding stock, and it offered good reliability and a lot of shooting fun. We think it is a good interpretation of the WWII model.

ACTION TYPE  Semi-automatic gas-operated short-stroke piston
OVERALL LENGTH  35.75 in.
BARREL LENGTH  18 in. 
SIGHTS  Flip aperture rear, fixed front 
OVERALL HEIGHT  6.9 in. 
BUTTSTOCK LENGTH OF PULL  13.2 in. 
WEIGHT UNLOADED  5.3 lbs. 
WEIGHT LOADED  5.9 lbs. 
CAPACITY  15+1 
ACTION FINISH  Parkerized 
BARREL FINISH  Parkerized 
MAGAZINE TYPE  Detatchable steel box 
STOCK  Smooth walnut handguard, folding wire stock
TRIGGER PULL WEIGHT  Single stage, 7.1 lbs. 
SAFETY  Pushbutton 
WARRANTY  1 year 
TELEPHONE  (508) 795-3919 
WEBSITE  Auto-Ordnance.com
MADE IN  USA

Auto-Ordnance M1 Carbine Paratrooper Model AOM150 30 Carbine stock folded

With the stock folded, the Carbine is more compact, but it can still be ready to fire.

The A-O is a reproduction of the Model M1A1, which is a model variant specifically designed for paratroopers who required a shorter weapon. The original Inland manufactured the M1A1 back in the day. These are rare and quite collectible, and we imagine a collector would be loath to fire a valuable specimen. In our opinion, the A-O makes a great stand-in for the original. Like early original M1A1s, the A-O had no bayonet lug, and the stock was close to original’s, even down to the brass rivets that attached the leather cheek rest to the wire stock.

The sights were per the original, a simple flip-up aperture with two settings, one for 150 yards and the second for 300 yards. Windage was drift adjustable. We preferred the sights on the Inland because they were easier to adjust, but this sight set-up on the A-O is historically accurate, if that’s more to your liking.

Auto-Ordnance M1 Carbine Paratrooper Model AOM150 30 Carbine folding stock

Two indents in the side of the stock allow the wire stock to fold closer to the side of the rifle.

The stock does not lock in an open or closed position. A detent keeps the stock in position, and when we fired using the stock, we could easily knock it out of the open position. Again, this is a feature on this older design. The rest of the stock was plain walnut. The pistol grip was thick and filled the average-size hand. The stock was made of a heavy-gauge wire with a flat unpadded cheek rest and a steel buttpad. The stock folded to the left side of the rifle, and like on the originals, the left side of the stock was milled out and the buttpad pivots to the side so the stocks fold flatter against the wood under the receiver.

Auto-Ordnance M1 Carbine Paratrooper Model AOM150 30 Carbine cheek piece

A flat and unpadded leather cheek piece made the A-O slightly less comfortable to shoot, but was historically accurate.

Elsewhere, the A-O was a close copy of the original M1A1 produced in 1942-43. The rear sight, folding stock, no bayonet lug, and flat-milled bolt top are period correct. The rear sight on the A-O is the simple drift-adjustable sight. The A-O’s stock and sight don’t actually sync up. The low-wood stock is a feature of Carbines built in 1944. The rear sight is from earlier models. That’s nit-picking and is not a game changer by any means, if you’re looking at this rifle as a portable shooter.

Auto-Ordnance M1 Carbine Paratrooper Model AOM150 30 Carbine buttpad

The buttpad was metal and twisted to the side when the stock is the folded position. Crude looking, but effective.

Magazines inserted easily, but we needed to make sure with both Carbines that it was fully seated. When we loaded a magazine of the Hornady Critical Defense ammo, we expected a similar jam as we had in the Inland, but that did not happen. The A-O chewed through all the ammo with no exceptions. Looking at the feed ramps of both rifles, we noticed the A-O was more polished and finished. We suspected the extra polishing on the A-O allowed it to feed the Critical Defense ammo better than the Inland. We used the two 15-round magazines that came with the Carbines and the 30-round magazine interchangeably and had no issues with either rifle. Pressing the magazine release on both the Inland and A-O allowed the magazines to drop free. On the last shot fired, the bolt locked back, open, due to the design of the magazine follower. This allows the user to lock the bolt back by pulling the bolt fully rearward and pressing the bolt hold-back button — a handy feature.

Auto-Ordnance M1 Carbine Paratrooper Model AOM150 30 Carbine push button safety

The pushbutton safety (left arrow) is behind the pushbutton magazine release; some testers mixed them up at first, but with a little time on the gun, they managed fast reloads with the light rifle.

At 25 yards, one tester was able to shoot a near perfect three-shot cloverleaf with the A-O using the inexpensive TulAmmo. Recoil was more noticeable with the A-O since the cheekpiece on the wire stock was not as comfortable. The best average accuracy was attained with Aguila ammo. One tester was able to shoot a 2.0-inch three-shot group at 100 yards with inexpensive TulAmmo; 2.1-inch best groups were obtained with Aguila and IWI. On average, we achieved 2.3- to 2.8-inch groups at 100 yards with three shots. The trigger pull weight averaged 7 pounds, but we still were able to shoot some decent groups. Looking at the data, we noticed the A-O had less muzzle velocity with all ammo types than the Inland.

With the stock folded, we fired from the hip and found it quite easy to walk in hits on clay pigeons set out on a bank at 25 yards. The A-O was also light enough that we could shoot it one handed.

Our Team Said: The A-O was extremely fun to shoot and quite accurate. The folding wire stock is not as stable as the wood stock, but it offers a smaller package to carry. As a home-defense rifle or truck rifle, the A-O is a good choice.

Written and photographed by Robert Sadowski, using evaluations from Gun Tests team testers.

Comments (2)

I have longed for an M1 carbine for many years and am about to pull the trigger. There is much talk of the current stock of new manufactured M1 carbines and it appears that the Fulton Armory version is a better quality firearm than either the Inland or Auto-Ordnance.
This article would have been complete and comprehensive had you included a carbine from Fulton Armory.

I understand about availability and deadline issues and empathize with your challenge in getting an article published, but I am still flinching on pulling the trigger because I don't feel fully informed.

Do you have any plan on following up with an evaluation of the Fulton Armory M1 carbine?

Posted by: Steve M | February 3, 2017 2:49 PM    Report this comment

I have been in lust for one of these M1 carbines since you could get one for thirty bucks when I was a kid. Of course thirty bucks was a day's pay for my dad, and an un-achievable amount of money for a grammar school kid. Since we lived in the marxist state of NJ, parental attitude certainly precluded having a gun in the house as well.

Kudos for a great article on these fun little shooters and thanks for talking me out of the money for a new one.

Posted by: NM Patriot | January 30, 2017 9:18 AM    Report this comment

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