Tag Archives: historic firearms

Firing Review — The new Inland .30 M1 Carbine


.30 Inland M1 Carbine, 1945 version with oiler and sling

.30 Inland M1 Carbine, 1945 version with oiler and sling

About a month ago I gave you a first look at the new .30-caliber M1 Carbine, 1945 version.  You can read that first look review here:

Firearms Review — First Look at the new Inland M1 Carbine

Seldom have I experienced as much anticipation in advance of test firing a weapon as with the new Inland.  I simply could not wait to get it out to the range, and I finally had an excuse when a friend asked me to instruct him in firearms handling following his first gun purchase.  So, I loaded up my two Beretta Cheetahs (Monday’s review), my Colt M1991A1 .38 Super +P (Wednesday’s review), and the recently acquired Inland M1 Carbine and headed to the indoor shooting range at my second favorite local gun store — Sportsman’s Elite.

The new Inland M1 Carbine — A faithful reproduction of a WWII classic firearm

The new Inland M1 Carbine — A faithful reproduction of a WWII classic firearm

I saved for last the firing of the Inland, and I was not disappointed.  This is, quite simply, one of the most fun centerfire rifles I’ve ever had the pleasure to shoot, coming in right alongside the fantastically fun Beretta CX4 9mm Carbine.

This is attention to detail

This is attention to detail

I took with me this day four 15-round magazines — the one that came with the rifle, two after-market Korean-made KCI magazines, and another Inland magazine.

Inland oiler/sling brace installed into slotted butt stock

Inland oiler/sling brace installed into slotted butt stock

I initially set the target out to 25 feet and ran the magazine that came with the Inland.  The rifle functioned flawlessly, and the aperture peep sight proved far too good for so short a range.  Recoil was incredibly mild, with the rifle experiencing negligible muzzle rise.  Target reaquisition was very rapid, and followup shots could be conducted on target in fractions of a second.  Try that with a 30.06 Garand!  It’s no wonder many G.I.s in WWII found creative ways to “lose” the M1 Garand when they came across the much lighter, faster to shoot, higher capacity M1 Carbine.

Barrel band and sling swivel

Barrel band and sling swivel

My friend ran the target out to fifty feet.  Same result — incredible accuracy with a free-standing, unbraced hand hold.  Groups for both of us measured under two inches even though neither of us were firing for accuracy and were more interested in function checking the weapon.  No adjustment was needed to achieve this on the fully adjustable rear sight.  This was out-of-the-box accuracy like you wouldn’t believe.

Fully adjustable aperture peep sight

Fully adjustable aperture peep sight

Now a word about magazines, and the one sour note on the range:  The included Inland magazine and the two KCI Korean magazines all functioned flawlessly.  The second post-purchase Inland did not.  Despite repeated attempts to chamber a round from the fully loaded Inland magazine, nothing worked.  I later read that another reviewer had a similar problem, but he had it narrowed down to a specific side.  He pin pointed the problem as occurring when a round was being chambered from the left side of the magazine, which just so happens to be the side upon which a cartridge sits in a fully loaded 15-round magazine.  I’m going to see if this happens when loading a cartridge from the right side . . . unless I can get Inland to exchange this magazine first.  Until then, watch out on magazines.  The KCI magazines from Korea ran flawlessly, whereas the Inland magazines were .500.  That’s an unacceptable batting average for a firearm.

Rear sling buckle

Rear sling buckle

Trigger review:  The Inland trigger is stiff, but no more so than other personal defense carbines such as the Beretta CX4.  It’s more than adequate for the intended purpose, which is hitting your target inside 100 yards.  Indeed, the trigger did not adversely affect either of us in staying on target and inside the bulls-eye.  I suppose I could get it worked on and improved, but why bother?  The rifle is probably more accurate than I as is out to probably 150 to 200 yards, but that test will have to wait for an outdoor excursion.

Traditional wood upper hand guard

Traditional wood upper hand guard

My rating:  The new Inland M1 Carbine is a winner in nearly every regard.  It’s pricey, but in my view the price of admission ($1,079 MSRP; an even $1,000 through my local favorite gun store) is worth having a faithful reproduction of the original GM Inland M1 Carbine.  At 5.3 pounds, 15+1 rounds of .30 carbine (muzzle energy equivalent to .357 Magnum), in a compact, easy to maneuver package makes this a great rifle for everything from ranch to a home defense alternative.

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Firing Review — The stainless Colt M1991A1 .38 Super +P


Colt M1991A1 .38 Super +P

Colt M1991A1 .38 Super +P

You may recall that I gave a first-look review of this intriguing weapon and caliber before.  I had no intentions of firing that weapon, and still don’t as it’s a pre-bankruptcy example of the venerable Colt M1911 design in a somewhat rare caliber.

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What’s in the box

Fortunately I satisfied my itch to try the M1911 in .38 Super +P by acquiring a second copy.  As with the first copy, this one is also a Model 1991A1 in stainless, and outwardly it’s identical.  The only difference appears to be the included magazines, as the firing example came with rubberized footings screwed onto the bottoms.  See below for a comparison:

Rubberized footing on magazines

Rubberized footing on magazines

Previous magazine footplate

Previous magazine footplate

So, finally, I got around to firing this incredible combination — the classic Colt M1911 chambered in the powerfully exquisite .38 Super +P cartridge.  For an explanation on how this combination came about in 1929, and a brief history on the .38 Super +P cartridge, read my first-look review by clicking on the link below.  I’m sure you’ll find it both informative and entertaining.

The Prancing Horse

The Prancing Horse

Being the M1991A1, today’s Colt has the  Series 80 trigger.  For an explanation on that and a comparison with the Series 70 trigger go to these links:

Starboard view

Starboard view

And since I’ve covered the trigger on the Colt M1911 in those past articles, I won’t cover that again here today except to say that it’s what you’d expect from the M1911 design.  In a word — Superb.

Slide locked back

Slide locked back

As I’ve stated previously in the above articles, the Colt M1911 was originally designed around the .45 ACP cartridge.  Only in 1929 — when law enforcement had trouble going up against Depression-era desperados in thick steel-bodied cars and wearing body armor impervious to the .45 — did Colt get around to putting a bit more oomph through the Colt M1911.  That resulted in what is basically the forerunner to the Magnum load — the .38 Super +P, which would for six years reign as the most powerful handgun cartridge until the advent of the .357 Magnum revolver in 1935.  The .38 Super +P still beats the .40 SW, and even compares favorably with most commercial loads of the .357 SIG.

Slide forward

Slide forward

Considering the increased muzzle energy and higher velocity of the lighter .38 Super +P round, one would expect more recoil over an M1911 chambered in .45 ACP.  In actual practice it turns out just the opposite.  M1911 recoil with the much slower, quite heavy .45 ACP is very controllable, but it does have a “push” to it that gives some muzzle rise.  I refer to this recoil as a “push” because that’s the best way to describe what you feel.  If you read my article on firing the .45 ACP M1991A1 at the link below, you’ll find this description:

“In my opinion the 9mm has a sharper, quicker recoil whereas the .45 ACP imparts a steady, even, thrust-like reaction.  Recoil management is thus easy to accomplish and target reacquisition is very quick.”

Cocked and locked

Cocked and locked

If anything, the .38 Super +P feels more like the recoil one experiences when firing a standard locked-breech 9mm Parabellum when shot from a SIG P229.  The recoil impulse feels quicker than with an M1911 firing a .45 ACP, but the muzzle rise seems less and reacquisition on target is about the same.  There is one difference, however.  That’s in muzzle flash.  I shot this M1991A1 .38 Super at an indoor range with somewhat dim lighting.  The flash was . . . impressive.  Not .357 Magnum-out-of-a-two-inch-barrel impressive, but you’ll definitely notice a flash coming out of the muzzle.

Port view

Port view

My impressions after firing the .38 Super +P is that this is probably my new favorite handgun shooting round, and the M1991A1 in stainless is now my new favorite hiking piece except in brown bear country.  For that I’ll rely upon bear spray and shop around for something even more powerful as a backup to the spray, perhaps a Smith & Wesson .500 revolver with ported barrel.

Colt M1991A1 .38 Super +P in stainless — A real winner

Colt M1991A1 .38 Super +P in stainless — A real winner

Yep, the Colt M1991A1 is simply that fun to shoot.  This is also an incredibly accurate combination in an very controllable package.

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Comparing M1 Carbines — The new Inland vs. the 3rd Generation Universal


Today we compare the new Inland Manufacturing M1 Carbine:

Inland M1 Carbine with oiler and sling (both sent free after registration)

Inland M1 Carbine with oiler and sling

to the third generation M1 Carbine produced by Universal Firearms:

Universal M1 Carbine — 3rd Generation

Universal M1 Carbine — 3rd Generation

The new Inland M1 Carbine (discussed on Wednesday’s blog article) is a true copy of the original M1 Carbines manufactured during World War II.  Indeed, all parts going into Inland Manufacturing’s new iteration are compatible with U.S.G.I. (U.S. Government Issue) examples made by Winchester, the original Inland division of General Motors, Rock-Ola, IBM, and others.  After the war many returning servicemen longed for M1 Carbines for their own, as the rifle was lightweight, suitable for hunting medium-sized game, and easy to shoot with remarkably light recoil.  And so it was that surplus M1 Carbines were released by the government onto the civilian market, but demand eventually outstripped supply.  At this point various civilian manufacturers stepped forward to fill the void, most often using leftover parts to assemble new M1 Carbines, or to refurbish older ones.  These companies included Bullseye Gun Works; ERMA; Global Arms; H&S; HOWA (Japan); Johnston-Tucker Arms; Millville Ordnance; National Ordnance, Plainfield Machine; Rowen, Becker Company; Steelville Manufacturing, Tiroler Sportwaffenfabrik und Apparatenbau (Austria), Tri-State Tool & Die; William’s Gun Sight Company; and, of course, Universal Firearms.

Universal M1 Carbine with metal handguard

Universal M1 Carbine with non-U.S.G.I. metal handguard

Universal began producing their Universal M1 Carbine using surplus parts, but as supplies dried up they began manufacturing in-house.  Unfortunately, in-house means increased cost.  Universal thus redesigned the basic M1 Carbine to cut manufacturing cost, resulting in a reduction in quality, reliability, and according to some, safety.

Inland with U.S.G.I.-style wood handguard

Inland with U.S.G.I.-style wood handguard

An abject lesson for the uneducated gun collector: Stick with what you know, and research what you don’t.  I’ve always wanted an M1 Carbine, so when I found the Universal 3rd Generation pictured here at what I thought was a good price, I snatched it up.  Yes, it was a good price . . . for a U.S.G.I. original.  For a Universal it was not.  After I took it home and began researching M1 Carbines, I found that the 3rd generation Universals bore little in common with the original design, and even far less in quality and reliability.

Universal M1 Carbine front sight lacks protective "ears"

Universal M1 Carbine front sight lacks protective “ears”

There are of course the little things, such as the use of a metal handguard rather than the more expensive wood piece of the original.  Then there’s the front sight, which lacks the protective “ears” characteristic of military weaponry of the era.

Inland front sight protective "ears"

Inland front sight protective “ears”

This is not to say that the M1 Carbine design was perfect straight out of the starting gate.  There was room for improvement.  For instance, the original design had a push-button safety.

Inland with original push-button safety disengaged

Inland with original push-button safety

Soldiers in the field hated it, because in the heat of battle it was too easily mistaken for the nearby magazine release.  In a firefight it’s just considered bad form to drop you fully loaded magazine onto French soil when you’re supposed to be firing your weapon.  Pretty embarrassing, actually.

Inland push-button safety (depressed) next to the magazine release button

Inland push-button safety (depressed) next to the magazine release button

Later M1 Carbines substituted this push-button with a flip-lever, and this is the design incorporated on the Universal.

Universal flip safety

Universal flip safety

Other changes really don’t make any sense, at least to this manufacturing novice, and one would think some changes would actually increase manufacturing costs.  One example is the slide lock.  On the U.S.G.I. this is a simple push-button mounted atop the slide.

Inland push-button slide lock

Inland push-button slide lock

Universal decided to replace this simple, effective, and cheap system of locking back the slide with a lever mounted behind the slide directly onto the receiver.

Universal M1 Carbine lever-type slide lock; also pictured are the slotted slide and bolt lug

Rotating bolt, bolt lug, and slotted slide from a Universal M1 Carbine

Other cost-cutting measures seem too trivial to have warranted implementation.  Take for instance the slide at the point were it mates up with the lug on the rotating bolt.  On the U.S.G.I M1 Carbine this is a solid piece.  Universal thinned out this area, which resulted in a slotted slide wherein the connection to the bolt lug is clearly visible.  You can see this slotted slide-and-bolt lug configuration above, and here below is the Inland with it’s true-to-the-original slide:

U.S.G.I. button-type slide lock

U.S.G.I. solid slide

Some parts appear relatively unchanged.  The U.S.G.I. had a rear sight that was fully adjustable for both elevation and windage.

Inland fully adjustable rear sight

Inland fully adjustable rear sight

This is one feature retained on the later versions of the Universals.

Rotating bolt, bolt lug, and slotted slide from a Universal M1 Carbine

Universal adjustable rear sight

As for the wood furniture, the Universal example pictured here has a relatively shiny finish, as you can see in the closeup image below of the forestock and Type-2 barrel band/sling swivel:

Universal M1 Carbine barrel band and sling swivel

Universal M1 Carbine barrel band and sling swivel

The new Inland Manufacturing, however, pride themselves on not only retaining the matte finish, but even matching the wood grain and the stain of the original to duplicate as close as possible the look of the guns that came out of the old Inland division.  Even the U.S. Armory Ordnance cartouche is replicated on the stock.

Inland M1 Carbine with oiler and sling (both sent free after registration)

Inland stock duplicating the original Inland’s grain patterns and stain.

One last difference that I find particularly unnecessary and even galling, and I don’t even know if this was original to the Universal or if this change was made by a previous owner.  That would be the screw used to tighten the barrel band around the handguard and the forestock.  On this copy the screw is a hex-head, which is something one would never find on a combat weapon as it makes disassembly and cleaning dependent upon a tool that would normally not be available to the soldier, or otherwise easily lost.

Universal M1 Carbine Type-2 barrel band with hex-head screw

Universal M1 Carbine Type-2 barrel band with hex-head screw

The U.S.G.I. barrel band was tightened into place with a flat-head, which could easily be turned using anything from a coin to the lip of a spent cartridge.  Below is an image of this barrel band screw on a barrel band that has been loosened and moved forward in preparing to remove the handguard.

Flat-head screw on barrel band

Flat-head screw on a loosened barrel band

To my gun followers, I hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s look at two very different versions of the .30 M1 Carbine.

As for my travel friends, starting next week I’ll be presenting a closer-to-home road trip into an area of New Mexico I’ve not yet presented — the area around Silver City, into the Gila National Forest, and along the famous Cat Walk.  Also in that upcoming series we’re going to review a charming hole-in-the-wall gourmet restaurant with a twist — not only must you make reservations in advance, you just also go online at least a day in advance to peruse the chef’s ever-changing daily menu and place your order at that time.

Until then, have a great weekend.

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