Fulton Armory Service Grade M1 Carbine 30 US Carbine


The M1 carbine was the most prolific U.S. weapon of the WWII era, with six-odd million made, and it’s still very popular today. It employs an anemic round by rifle standards, but—per its design—its cartridge is at least as powerful as most handgun rounds. Today’s buyer of a genuine WWII-era or Korean War era carbine will probably need to spend around a thousand dollars, give or take a few hundred, for a reasonable example. Gun Tests magazine saw prices on GunBroker.com from $750 to $1,400, depending on condition and rarity. However, if you’re qualified, and if you hurry, you may be able to get a decent carbine for about $420-675, through the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) sales. This outlet used to be called the DCM, Director of Civilian Marksmanship, run by the U.S. government, but that program is now in private hands. However, due to the nature of the program, the CMP carbines may be in very short supply.

Do you qualify for a CMP firearm purchase? Taking the CMP requirements straight from the website (www.TheCMP.org), “By law, the CMP can sell surplus military firearms, ammunition, parts and other items only to members of CMP-affiliated clubs who are also U.S. citizens, over 18 years of age and… legally eligible to purchase a firearm.” For more information, visit the website.

Gun Tests acquired four carbines for a test. The staff had on hand a Fulton Armory carbine, with an original Underwood barrel in near-perfect condition. But if you want a Fulton-built M1 carbine today you’ll have to get it with the new Fulton barrel ($1,300). All of the original mil-spec barrels are apparently now gone. Two of the carbines came from the CMP, both “Service Grade.” One was an Underwood (CMP-1, $565) and the other an Inland (CMP-2, $ 495). The so-called “Rack Grade” carbines are a bit less expensive. Finally, they acquired a new Auto-Ordnance AOM130 M1 Carbine ($899) with beautiful walnut stock and newly manufactured metalwork.

In the testing of four M1 carbines, they found many similarities and a few differences. There were two types of safeties. One was the swinging-arm or “flip” type, which requires pulling a small lever rearward to put the gun into the firing position. This is easily accomplished with the right index finger, by right handers, and fairly easily by the trigger finger of lefties. The second safety type was the crossbolt, similar to that found on many pump shotguns. This required pressing to the left to fire, which they found could not be done as easily by lefties.

They tested with three types of 30 US Carbine FMJ “ball” ammunition, all of it 110-grain loads. It was from Sellier & Bellot, American Eagle, and original U.S. Mil-Spec ball (head stamped LC71). Because the two CMP carbines came without magazines, they used an original Winchester 15-round magazine for all they testing.

Generally speaking, here’s what they think. Those who like shooting military type firearms really owe it to themselves to have an M1 carbine. They’re a lot of fun. Good ones need not break the bank, but in an era where the SKS rifles that used to go begging at gun shows for $85 now bring upwards of $400, the price of an M1 carbine is not outlandish, even at the over-a-grand mark. They suggest you act soon, particularly if you want one from the CMP. They’re going fast.

The carbine you can buy today from Fulton Armory features all of the attributes of the test rifle but one. Today’s Fulton carbine has a new barrel, made to G.I. specifications by Fulton. All the rest of the parts are genuine G.I., all tested and matched and carefully fitted as the gun is built. There’s a 30-day money-back guarantee if you are dissatisfied in any way. You can add various accessories, including a hand guard with scope mount, extra magazines, bayonet, and many more. Also, Fulton has a full line of M1 carbine parts, if you should need anything to repair your own. Check their website for details (www.Fulton-Armory.com).

While $1,300 for a carbine will open some eyes and close some pocketbooks, what you get will not require any replacement parts, or retesting, or special fitting, nor will it require a better-grade stock. The bolt will stay open when you push down on the little button, unlike many arsenal-redone carbines. The finish will be crisp, clean newly done Parkerizing, and the whole thing will not only work to perfection, it won’t take a back seat to any carbine, old or new, with the possible exception of some museum specimens. You’re paying for the careful hand fitting done by the folks at Fulton Armory, and you can take that to the bank.

The test gun came with a sling, oiler, and a magazine in a heavy, well-padded cardboard box. The flawless walnut stock had a linseed-oil finish. The operation of the weapon was noticeably slicker and crisper than any of the other three carbines. The test gun was fitted with the milled rear sight, and a bayonet lug. The magazine noted many collectors like to display the carbine with a bayonet attached. They said they’ve also commonly seen the two-magazine pouch on the stock. A 30-round magazine inserted into a carbine set up with the bayonet and two spare mags makes an impressive display.

On the range they had exactly no problems with the Fulton. The functioning was perfect, and accuracy was about as good as any of the others. They noted a slight preference for one type of ammo over another with all the carbines, despite its all having the same general specification. To their surprise, the Fulton and one of the CMP carbines did not like the old original Mil-Spec ball ammo at all.

The Gun Tests Team Said: They could not fault the Fulton, despite its high price. If you are lucky, you might be able to buy a decent rifle from the CMP, or may have to spend a bit more for either a commercial one, or for a decent sample from GunBroker or at a gun show, but you’ll never go wrong with the Fulton product. In their experience, they said, the company stands by its products, and their products are among the very finest in the business.


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