May 28, 2012

Fulton Armory M1 Carbine .30 Carbine

For whatever reason, lots of shooters like the M1 Carbine. Can you still get one today? Sure, no problem. Is that one better than this one? Well, maybe, and Gun Tests magazine looked at a few. Here's what they said about the Fulton Armory M1 Carbine .30 Carbine:

Based on a design by David “Carbine” Williams, the M1 Carbine was developed by Winchester around 1940. It was a gas-operated weapon that used a short-stroke piston. In a series of tests involving several manufacturers’ carbine designs, the Winchester version won out, and was adopted by the Army in 1941 as the U.S. Carbine, Caliber .30, M1. It was supposed to take the place of a pistol, i.e., be a better overall weapon than a handgun, for company and non-commissioned officers, communications personnel, some tank and artillery units, truck drivers, and support troops. Army brass apparently thought a short, light carbine would be a good substitute for a sidearm in that it would be able to reach farther and of course be easier to hit with than the .45 Auto. It was also felt that many servicemen who were commonly in cramped quarters couldn’t conveniently use the only other service weapon available, the over-9-pound M1 Garand, so a carbine made a lot of sense.

The carbine was not only accepted, but was built in enormous numbers, and served very well in its capacity. (There was nothing to prevent a carbine-equipped soldier from also packing a .45 Auto, and thus always have a weapon on his person.) About 6.5 million carbines were produced by the end of WWII. Among them were also the M1A1 (folding metal stock for paratrooper use), M2 (selective fire), and T3 (receiver grooved for big sniper scope) versions, but they came later. The initial version was semiautomatic only.

Gun Tests January 2003

Various manufacturers made M1 Carbines, all to stringent mil-spec standards. The receivers and bolts were forged and machined of WD 4140 Special steel (WD, for War Department, was the fixed, mil-spec requirement on what was also known as SAE 4140 steel), and the barrels made of WD 1350 Special, all with lengthy heat-treat sequences to give specific tensile strengths (110,000 psi for the barrels) and hardnesses. In short, original GI M1 carbines were very well made.

The cartridge itself was an offshoot of Winchester’s .32 self-loading round, absent the latter’s slight rim. The .30 Carbine round used a 110-grain FMJ bullet driven to just under 2,000 fps, and was powered by flake or ball powder. Today we can get soft-nose versions as well as FMJ, all of it having about the same ballistics as original ball.

Our Fulton Armory Service Grade M1 Carbine ($1,000) was a fully reconditioned beauty looking just like it did when carbines were new and the world was young ($1,000).

At first blush, the Fulton carbine looked like an expensive proposition. However, let’s see what you get, borrowing the description from that company’s website,

“The Fulton Armory Service Grade M1 Carbines are as close to new as you can get … Because we hand-build them one at a time, they easily surpass the beauty and reliability of the mass-produced carbines of the 1940s. Sure, you can buy one elsewhere for less, but by the time you replace the awful wood, replace the worn or excessively headspaced barrel, replace the unserviceable parts and pay somebody to get it working, you will have spent far more [than ours costs].”

Gun Tests January 2003

The stock was good, plain walnut. It was original GI issue, but in near-new condition. All metalwork was evenly Parkerized.

What does Fulton put into a carbine? How about: Original USGI receivers; all USGI parts, all checked with applicable gauges; an excellent-condition (refinished) original USGI stock and hand guard; a period sling and oiler; plus “The M1 Carbine Owner’s Guide,” a 140-page book by Ruth & Duff (autographed by Duff). This book was so filled with intensive details about the M1 Carbine that after reading portions of it, we had to rewrite portions of this report. Also in the Fulton package was one 10-round magazine. There’s a 30-day money-back guarantee, which gives you ample time to fall in love with your new purchase, or to find some good reason to reject it, which we don’t think you will.

The sample we had looked absolutely new. The metal had crisp edges everywhere, as though the parts had been machined last week and Parkerized yesterday. The metal finish was close to black, and evenly applied. The wood was good walnut, with a smooth finish that smelled like linseed oil. The wood pores were somewhat open, much as they were on original-issue carbines. The barrel was like rifled glass inside.

Gun Tests January 2003

All the carbines had this same style milled rear sight, with slide elevation for distinct ranges, and click-dial windage. Carbines are simple and fun, more suitable today for plinking than for serious target shooting.

It had an Underwood-marked barrel, and beneath that was the date, 1-44, and beneath that was a winged-bomb ordnance mark. The receiver was by Standard Products Co. (STD.PRO). The sling was original, as was evident from the old green corrosion on the brass snap. Unfortunately, the sling snap had slightly marred the forend wood during shipping, but this didn’t detract from the overall totally authentic look of this remanufactured carbine. We’re sure many “new” carbines had slight packing damage on their stocks as well. If anyone were offended by this, it could easily be fixed with sandpaper and linseed oil. This stock had the later “pot-bellied” forend, and you can see the difference by comparing its profile with that of the Winchester, with its flatter, earlier, stock-forend profile.

Some of the details we discovered in the “The M1 Carbine Owner’s Guide” were that Standard Products Co. was the third rarest manufacturer of carbines, producing just a few more than Rock-Ola and Irwin-Pedersen. Also, Underwood barrels were considered to be the finest of all, even better than Winchesters. So our Fulton carbine was, in many respects, a doozy. The barrel interior was one of the finest we’ve seen, including the latest, most modern match-rifle barrels that have come our way.

The trigger pull was creepy and broke at a consistent 6.4 pounds. At the range, the first round was reluctant to chamber. We tried it again and from then on it was all smooth sailing with never a bobble, no further malfunctions whatsoever. The Fulton struck the center of point of aim at 50 yards. It did its best with mil-surplus ball, averaging 1.2-inch groups. It didn’t like the American Eagle ball as well, and averages were over 2 inches. Caveat ammo!

Gun Tests January 2003

This example had a STD.PRO receiver and new-condition original Underwood barrel. The trigger pull was creepy but authentic.

Gun Tests Recommends: Fulton Armory Service Grade M1 Carbine, $1,000. Our Pick. If we had a desire to own an M1 Carbine that was as close to what GIs were issued during WWII or Korea, we would not hesitate. We’d choose the Fulton remanufactured version and be glad a company cared enough about this country’s history to provide one of the more compelling bits of firearm technology in exactly the form it was originally intended, with no investment-cast compromises, no matter how good the castings might be. We liked this original looking one a whole lot, and think you will, too. No other M1 Carbine we’ve seen had the authentic look and feel of this one by the folks at Fulton Armory. Their care in building it was reflected in its performance and handling qualities. We felt the overall high quality of the package thoroughly justified its price.

Comments (32)

I too have a Universal. Nice little gun.

Posted by: Cecil B | June 14, 2012 8:34 PM    Report this comment

great information. I just bought a Universal M-1 Carbine slightly used and it's a dandy. I couldn't get one from CMP and can"t afford Fulton. rbixler

Posted by: rdbixler | June 14, 2012 5:57 PM    Report this comment

From GR Admin--

W. Clint McKee, Sr, President of Fulton Armory, sends along this info re: the company's M1 Carbine:

War Baby: A Great American Story.

Intended for officers and rear echelon troops, designed by a North Carolina
Moonshiner, a Canadian immigrant and a prominent firearms company, produced
by an awakened “sleeping giant” in greater numbers in a shorter period of
time than any other small arm in history, “drafted” into distinguished
service like so many millions of American men, and after 70 years the U.S.
Carbine, Cal. 30, M1 still captures the hearts of nearly everyone who
handles her.

Using original WWII receivers and our new receiver machined from solid 4140
billet and original U.S.G.I. and true mil spec parts, along with our new
match quality barrels and hand selected, hand oiled American walnut stocks,
Fulton Armory painstakingly resurrects the magnificence, beauty and legacy
of the War Baby back to where she belongs.

From the standard issue M1 to the Paratrooper M1A1 to our 21st Century
version of the M3, every Fulton Armory M1 Carbine is truly a “rifle for
life”, an heirloom to be passed down for the ages. Safe. Durable.
Extraordinary. May we present, 70 years later, the Fulton Armory M1 Carbine.

Posted by: woody-dingo | June 7, 2012 6:53 PM    Report this comment

And some additional comments from Clint:

Some additional factoids:

Every Fulton Armory M1 Carbine includes some original USGI parts that saw
WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and/or other historic venues. True legacies.

The M1 Carbine's cartridge, Cal .30 Carbine, is a handgun cartridge,
comparable to a .357 magnum, but with an 18" barrel. Max effective range is
about 200 yards.

Our M3 Carbine includes a Picatinny handguard for red dots or scout/handgun
scopes. This approach keeps scope down low for superb ergonomics.

For 25 years Fulton Armory has specialized, exclusively, in USGI government
issue gas operated rifles of the 20th century and they are still built by
hand on a bench by only 2 men with over 40 years experience. Exclusive, and
built to order, our handcrafted rifles are not mass produced.

For over a quarter of a Century we have attended The National Matches, Camp
Perry, OH., and we'll be there again this year from July 25 through August
5. Check out the M1 Garand Match, and, The M1 Carbine match. The two most
popular matches at the Nationals. We'll have many of our rifles on display
and a very limited number available for sale.

Our website, has all of our models and pricing.

Thank you all for your very kind consideration.

Posted by: woody-dingo | June 7, 2012 6:53 PM    Report this comment

Jestpickin - Prices have risen since GT did the report almost 10 years ago.

Posted by: PVB | June 7, 2012 1:13 PM    Report this comment

Maybe it's my tired old eyes, but I couldn't find an M1 on Fultons web site for less than $1,500. Am I missing something ?

Posted by: Jestpickin | June 7, 2012 10:56 AM    Report this comment

Maybe it's my tired old eyes but I couldn't find an M1 on Fultons site for less than $1,500. Am I missing something ?

Posted by: Jestpickin | June 7, 2012 10:53 AM    Report this comment

Do these have steel trigger groups and magazine wells, or aluminum like all other copies? Also does anyone have a 5.7mm barrel they would like to part with?

Posted by: tdarnett | May 31, 2012 9:34 PM    Report this comment

I passed up a very nice one at a gun show in 2009/10 for $450. I still regret not breaking out the plastic, but it was almost Christmas and I was trying to be a good little boy. Damned responsibility!

Posted by: PVB | May 31, 2012 9:15 PM    Report this comment

Thanks for that link PVB. Man they are proud of their stuff. I am getting old.

Posted by: Cecil B | May 31, 2012 7:43 PM    Report this comment

Living in California is no fun for gun owners, but remember how low prices for guns in the sixties, as guns are as good as gold , as long as they do not take our guns away.

Posted by: Myron C | May 31, 2012 7:14 PM    Report this comment

Thanks for everything.

Posted by: Jim Fett | May 31, 2012 6:23 PM    Report this comment

I hope that some day I own one if I can find it at the right price. My Dad had one and it was quite a rabbit and coyote getter and my brother got a nice buck with it in the woods and heavy brush, up in Oregon.
God Bless America and Our Troops Past Present and Future.
Keeping to My Oath Locked Loaded and Keeping My powder Dry.
Get the US Out of the UN and the UN Out of the US.

Posted by: bear1 | May 31, 2012 5:58 PM    Report this comment

Iqualified with the .30 carb in basic USAF training abs scored expert or sharpshooter. A sweet little rifle! I own an M1A1 from Inland with a CMP replacement folding stock (not a replica) and a nice Winchestwer. Both shoot very well.

Posted by: rglcarbaf | May 31, 2012 5:08 PM    Report this comment

Canovack - scoop... Sorry, that's slang from another lingo. It's in the Urban Dictionary though! ;)

Bayman, I'm not sure about 500 yards with a carbine. That bullet starts falling really fast by the time it reaches 200. A scope can help with aging eyes though!

Posted by: PVB | May 31, 2012 5:08 PM    Report this comment

@canovack, I think it determines how good a shooter you are as to having a scope on a M1. Maybe not 1000 yards, but I believe that 500 yards is not stretching it, IF your good.

Posted by: Bayman | May 31, 2012 4:56 PM    Report this comment

Cecil, if I were you, I'd leave it alone. To me, a scope on an M1 carbine is as useful as tits on a boar. I've seen scopes mounted on them, but since the carbine was always intended to do the work of a pistol, I'd figure that your range is going to be pretty limited anyway.


Posted by: canovack | May 31, 2012 4:29 PM    Report this comment

Looking to buy a decent Mi carbine if resonably priced.

Posted by: Frequent shooter | May 31, 2012 4:23 PM    Report this comment

I have a total of four M1 carbines. One Winchester, one Underwood, one National Postage Meter and a Saginaw. Love shooting any or all of them. I've promised each of my three daughters a carbine of their own when they are grown.

Posted by: Sealcatcher | May 31, 2012 3:49 PM    Report this comment

I have 2 M1 carbines. The first I bought at a pawn shop for $200. It's all Inland, 1-44, all matching, even though it has the arsenal refurbish and bayonet lug. A beautiful shooter, capable of hitting bowling pin heads consistantly at 75 yards. The other is a Rock-ola barreled Inland reciever, also arsenal refinished, that's just as good. I think the barrel is 1943, but I don't know the reciever's date. I love to shoot them, and so does my wife and daughter. Both though are picky on ammo, and the further from mil-spec, the more finicky they get. UMC is what the prefer, but Aguila is good too. I wanted one ever since I was a kid, and now that I have them, it would be a very cold day before I let them go.

Posted by: Stephen A | May 31, 2012 3:39 PM    Report this comment

I kick myself for not getting a carbine in the 60s when they were practically giving them away, but I just couldn't see any use for one then. The carbine was my personal weapon for most of my time in the Army and I looked forward to qualifying with it because it was just fun to shoot. I'd have wanted a Garand though if I'd gone into combat.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 31, 2012 3:29 PM    Report this comment

LIke many here, I fell in love with the M1 Carbine years ago, but only acquired one - then a second - in the last 5 yr. One is a complete IBM and the other a Quality Hdwe with Underwood barrel. Sent both to Fulton for tune up and couldn't be happier. Buying their completed version would have been cheaper/better but....
IMHO, the ultimate home defense weapon, in that any member of my family could use it effectively.

Posted by: techfan | May 31, 2012 3:29 PM    Report this comment

I have a Universal and am thinking about mounting a scope. I have the mount but can't figure out how to remove the rear sight. Any ideas guys? Or should I just leave it alone.

Posted by: Cecil B | May 31, 2012 3:26 PM    Report this comment

Perhaps obviously, I was thinking about picking one up, just in case my IJ is unrepairable. Thanks for the gouge canovack & reptileman!

Posted by: PVB | May 31, 2012 2:56 PM    Report this comment

PVB, my Auto Ordnance is nicely made and finished and shoots nicely. I haven't tried to quantify the accuracy, but I feel like it will do whatever I ask it to do.

Posted by: canovack | May 31, 2012 2:29 PM    Report this comment

I do have an Auto Ordnance M1 and it is a well made dandy shooter,love to shoot it. Maintains super tight patterns.

Posted by: Reptileman | May 31, 2012 2:14 PM    Report this comment

I also would love to have a .30 M1 Carbine as well as an M14 and a Garand M. As a U.S. Marine I trained with the M14 at Parris Island, then the Garand M1 at ITR, them the M1 was my T.O. rifle in the Marine detachment, USS Forrestal '63-'65 then back to FMF and the great M14! I know the M16 has the kinks all worked out and very accurate but I'll take a 762X51mm anyday. Preferably an AR in .308/7.62!
An enemy just does not get back up and run off after being hit with a .30 round!
~Semper Fidelis~ Sergeant Anthony Yates [0311] USMC~veteran~

Posted by: sgtyates | May 31, 2012 1:31 PM    Report this comment

in 1957 0r 1959 i was 21 years old and i saw an ad on the back cover of a magazine for surplus m1 carbines fo $20.. prepaid. my curiosity made me purchase one. much to my surprise i thought it was going to be a rough model, but no, it was still wrapped up in the oily paper and was brand new. after investigating it thouroughly, on the barrel was the stamping general motors inland. in the years passed i have refinished the stock 1st class and never touched anything else but fire this weapon many, many times without any hangups at all. the grouping was right on. i would not sell this mi carbine for any amount.

Posted by: eshap2 | May 31, 2012 1:16 PM    Report this comment

Canovack - no word on the National Ordnance. How do you like the Auto Ordnance carbine?

I have 2 - an Iver Johnson that is off to Fulton to see if it is repairable, and a government purchase that came freshly refurbished from MCAS Cherry Point.

Posted by: PVB | May 31, 2012 11:56 AM    Report this comment

M1 Garand, M1 Carbine, M1 Abrams. I have run into many others, just can't think of them right now. One would think the army would like to reduce confusion.

Posted by: Mister E | May 31, 2012 11:51 AM    Report this comment

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Posted by: ttwoodard | May 29, 2012 9:03 PM    Report this comment

Ever since I saw the M1 Carbine in an early war movie, I figured it was a neat little package. When I finally got my hands on one in college ROTC, it confirmed everything I thought about the little piece, and when I qualified with it in basic training, I fell madly in love with it.

I have owned several of them over the years, and I wanted one of recent manufacture to be used strictly as a shooter. I have an Auto Ordnance M1 and I also picked up a National Ordnance M1. I have heard that the National Ordnance pieces may have some problems associated with premature ignition. Has anybody had any experience with them, or known somebody who has?

Posted by: canovack | May 29, 2012 7:57 PM    Report this comment

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