If you have ever wanted an M1A1 Carbine but could not find one or just didn’t have the several thousand dollars that an original would probably cost, you’ll be pleased to know that Auto-Ordnance just introduced a realistic replica.
It’s called the Model 150 and has a folding stock just like Inland Manufacturing put on them back in World War II. A minor difference is the synthetic—instead of leather—cover on the cheekpiece, but Auto-Ordnance says it is working on finding a quality leather vendor to fix that little discrepancy. Like the original, though, the cheekpiece has a clamp on the right side that is designed to hold a tubular oiler.
There were about 6 million M1 Carbines built during the WWII, but only about 140,000 of them were M1A1s, which were identical to the M1 except for the pistol grip and folding wire stock that made them particularly useful for airborne operations. These guns—after major overhauls that often mixed parts from different manufacturers—went on to be used in Korea, Vietnam and even later, but finding an original M1A1 is very difficult.
These are nice-looking reproductions with oiled, low wood walnut stocks – a departure from the older high wood design because they are less likely to crack – that are clamped to the barrel with the early narrow barrel band that lacks a bayonet lug. The handguard has only two rivets instead of the four used in the updated originals, and, just like the original, the pistolgrip is a fat piece of walnut that has been bolted to the stock behind the triggerguard. The 18-inch barrel has four grooves and a 1:20 inch RH twist. The barrel, receiver, operating rod and trigger housing are made from investment-cast 4140 steel that has been CNC machined and then nicely Parkerized. The bolt is the old flattop version instead of the later round bolt, and the rear sight is the old double-aperture style that is dovetailed into the receiver with two range settings, 100 and 300 yards. Back up front, the blade sight is protected by two sturdy wings.
Controls are pretty simple. The safety, located just fore of the triggerguard, is the old-style push button that was later changed to a rotating lever because it was sometimes confused with the magazine release, a frightening experience if activated at the wrong time. The push-button magazine release is located farther forward, and the single magazine that accompanies the carbine holds 15 rounds. Also like the original, when the double-stack, double-feed magazine is empty, the bolt is not held to the rear, although there is a bolt hold-open button on the top side of the operating handle that, when pushed, engages a recess in the receiver.
The front sling swivel is located on the left side of the barrelband, while the rear swivel is found on the lower stock hinge, which is attached to the bottom of the pistol grip. The upper stock hinge is located at the rear of the receiver, and the two hinges allow the buttstock to swing left for stowage. When so positioned, the spring-loaded buttplate must be pivoted so that it will not mar the stock, just like the original.
This semiautomatic carbine, designed by the engineers at Winchester and later manufactured by a number of government contractors, uses the same short-stroke gas piston as the original designed by David “Carbine” Williams while he was in prison. Although the .30 Carbine round is not barnburner, it has enough energy to take small game with the right load. It’s also a very fun round to shoot, since it has little recoil. And some even use it for self-defense.
To determine just how well this war-baby replica performed, I gathered up what few loads of .30 Carbine were available and headed to the range. The cheekweld afforded by the folding wire buttstock was not optimal, but it served its purpose and the gun functioned without a hitch. Accuracy was adequate for plinking or small game. The gun’s light weight, great feel, low recoil and historic attributes made for a very enoyable range session.