Photos by Michael Anschuetz
The Soldiers M1 Carbine remembers the troops who landed on the beaches of Normandy by sea and air D-Day. On its left side, Auto-Ordnance engraved the newspaper headlines announcing to the world that the invasion had begun, followed by a selection from Gen. Dwight Eisenhower’s famous address to his gathered forces. The buttstock features images depicting the beach landings, while the patches of U.S. Army divisions and paratroopers in their drop gear are engraved on the right side. A map of the landings is shown in part, as are commemorative dog tags for Operation Overlord. Each D-Day M1 Carbine is finished in Cerakote Patriot Brown applied by Outlaw Ordnance.
Based on photographs taken near Normandy on D-Day and shortly thereafter, it’s generally accepted that M1 Carbines had Type 1 barrel bands with either I-cut or oval-cut highwood stocks, and a flip-aperture rear sight. An interesting observation: putting buttstock pouches to carry spare magazines didn’t become vogue until weeks after the landings.
There were many requests for a lightweight alternative to the M1 Garand, including those from support troops tasked with carrying equipment. Commanders noted that the Garand impeded the mobility of these troops, while the U.S. Army requested a compact infantry rifle for its new airborne troops. Specifications called for a small arm that weighed no more than 5 pounds and had an effective range of 300 yards. A formal requirement for the light rifle was approved in 1940.
Readers may already know a version of the story featuring David Marshall “Carbine” Williams, hired by Winchester to help design a short-stroke gas piston after serving a prison sentence. With Williams’ help, prototypes were developed to include a Garand-style rotating bolt and operating rod. By October 22, 1941, the M1 Carbine had been standardized, as was the .30 Carbine cartridge.
With more than 6 million various makes and models, the M1 Carbine became the most produced American military small arm during World War II. The M1, along with its cartridge, was also one of the more cost-effective designs to make.
The Auto-Ordnance brand was not among the long, original list of M1 Carbine manufacturers at the time. Under the leadership of Kahr Arms, Auto-Ordnance began production of M1 Carbine replicas in 2005, first basing it off of the 1944 M1, sans the barrel band and bayonet lug, and adjustable rear sight. (Auto-Ordnance did produce parts for the M1 Carbine during the war, which were supplied to IBM.)
Though produced in record numbers at one time, original M1 Carbines have become a scarce and expensive rifle. Collectors hoard them for the many variations, creating a rise in demand and interest for M1 Carbine replicas.
Made to modern quality control standards, Auto-Ordnance M1 Carbines enjoy a reputation of being as reliable and accurate as wartime originals. With the affordability and availability of magazines ($40), the M1 Carbine proves to be a fun and still-practical firearm that’s meant to be shot and modified without fear of hurting the history of a veteran specimen. Since the launch of Auto-Ordnance’s M1 Carbine, the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) recreated the M1 Carbine Match in 2006. (Visit thecmp.org.)
Auto-Ordnance The Soldiers Carbine Specs
- Type: Short-stroke gas piston, rotating bolt, semiautomatic
- Caliber: .30 Carbine
- Capacity: 15 rds. or 20 rds.
- Barrel: 18 in.
- Overall Length: 35.75 in.
- Weight: 5 lbs., 7 oz.
- Stock: Walnut, fixed; laser engraved
- Length of Pull: 13.375 in.
- Finish: Cerakote and Parkerized
- Trigger: 7 lbs., 2 oz. (tested)
- Sights: Post, fixed (front); dual aperture (rear)
- Safety: Crossbolt, button
- MSRP: $1,391
- Manufacturer: Auto-Ordnance, 508-795-3919, auto-ordnance.com