Best M1 carbine makes


July 24, 2009, 06:17 AM
I am looking into buying my first M1 Carbine and i am wondering if their is a diffrence between any diffrent makes (e.g. Saginaw, winchester, national postal, or Inland) from CMP? I am looking into a service grade Saginaw. Will rack grade perform better than a service grade saignaw? or could i get a rack grade inland and save some money and spend it on ammo? I am looking for a plinker that i can have fun with at 50-100 yards.

I recently bought an M1 garand and am in love with it. I wanted to add to the family and add its little brother the M1 carbine to my rifle collection. I am delaying an AR lower purchase to buy a piece of history due to the limited quanity of these relics. I am a history buff so buying an M1 carbine really appeals to me.

I recently looked at Auto Ordinace M1's and it just didnt have the same appeal to me. I understand surplus may be less accurate but then agan an M1 is not a precision weapon like an AR.

So any suggestions? All opinions welcome and all help is apprciated. I attempted to search this topic and had to many hits to possible sort through.

I will not be able to go to one of the cmp stores due to the fact I live in california and it would be a long drive and is simply not feasible at this point.

My concern over rack vs. service grade, is that i dont want a gun that will not be properly headspaced. I am still new to rifles but it is my understanding a bad headspace makes the firearm inoperable/unsafe. So its worth paying more for a gun that i can guarentee i can go shoot without worrying about a kaboom. i figure at some point i will have to replace the barrel on any surplus weapon considering im still in my early 20's and have a lot of shooting left, hopefully, and i see dings and scratches in the wood as a an omage to the history of these firearms. I am less concerned about the wood as I am about the metal. And the fact that they are mix masters does not bother me.

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July 24, 2009, 07:23 AM
I believe all of the WW II military guns were made to the exact same specifications and held to the same quality standards. Collectors have preferences due to the number made by particular manufacturers rather than because of quality (which is all the same). I think any of the various makes will be the same in fit and function.

July 24, 2009, 07:28 AM
you can't go wrong with a CMP rifle, also its worth the trip to be able to go pick one out of the racks in either camp perry or anniston if you are ever are within a a days drive of either store.

July 24, 2009, 07:37 AM
Hope you know that CMP has no ammo for the carbines, now they say they have no idea when they can get anymore. Service Grades will be in better shape, but that doesn't mean a Field Grade won't be a good shooter.

Dave Markowitz
July 24, 2009, 08:46 AM
Any shooter-grade GI gun is going to be a mixmaster at this point, so make doesn't really matter for quality, only from a collector's standpoint.

July 24, 2009, 08:49 AM
In my opinion the Inlands, they made some many of them. I have an IBM, Q.Hardware, Standards Products, S'G' and Inland. I shoot the Inland, the most accurate of the bunch.

July 24, 2009, 09:08 AM
Hope you know that CMP has no ammo for the carbines, now they say they have no idea when they can get anymore. Service Grades will be in better shape, but that doesn't mean a Field Grade won't be a good shooter.
they have some new production brass cased aguila at 150 bucks per 500rds but its like 6 months wait right now

July 24, 2009, 09:19 AM
An original Winchester(receiver) M1 Carbine with a Winchester barrel w/o import markings is the most desirable carbine in my opinion but I am not a collector. :)

July 24, 2009, 09:28 AM
I bought a service grade inland in late december, delivered a couple months ago, and I wouldn't really have wanted a rougher gun. I took a half dozen pictures of the thing, stock both on and off from various angles that I will email to anybody who wants to see what service grade actually looks like. PM me with your email if you want to see them.

July 24, 2009, 10:28 AM
As you can imagine, the thousands of rifles in the CMP inventory will be in various states of condition. They try to group them in general categories but within the categories will be found examples with widely varied levels of finish and wood quality. When you order a CMP rifle there is a bit of the "luck of the draw" involved. Part of the fun, actually. The alternative is to travel to the store and pick out your rifle in person.

This is a Service Grade Inland that I received last Monday. First photo is how it looked out of the box. Second is after I spent about one hour cleaning up the stock that was stained and grungy but bore no real damage. For $517.50 delivered to my door I am not unhappy with it. It's not new. It looks like a rifle built in December of 1943 and used to fight one, maybe two wars.

Ammo is a problem right now. All ammo is in short supply and prices are too high because of high demand caused by panic buying and stockpiling. We hope this situation will change in the near future. I reload and have a couple hundred rounds on the shelf and can make more if I can find primers which can be more elusive than loaded ammo in some cases. At the last local show I bought some Aguila 30C ammo at $23 per box of 50 including sales tax. High, but at least it is available.

July 24, 2009, 11:41 AM
I don't believe there's a "best" make as far as function. They're all made to the same specs with interchangeable parts. A testament to the genius and productivity of American manufacturing capability.

What happened?:mad:

Some manufacturers sell for more simply because of the name or because they're rarer.

I'm partial to Inlands...and Springfield Garands... there are more of them so, condition being equal, they're generally cheaper.:)


July 24, 2009, 12:16 PM ammo for carbine at least at the North Store.....7-14-09.."Do you have .30 ammo for the carbine?" N.Store...."No, we have no ammo an do not know when we will be getting anymore."

I guess this makes me worried if the 6 month wait is going to be alot longer....?

July 24, 2009, 12:35 PM
I agree, the quality is the same from manufacturer to manufacturer . I have an Inland that has been arsenal rebuilt and is basically brand new. I put an UltiMak rail on it and a red dot sight. I always thought they were kind of like Ak's as far as being accurate, which is not very. But much to my delight I found out that with handloaded ammo it is righteously accurate. Of the bench at 100 yrds. I can shot groups that are 2.5 inch or less. So don't kid yourselves. I think the ammo is the biggest factor in the reputation of these little gems not being accurate.

July 24, 2009, 12:53 PM
My dad has an IBM-- not all matching, but still shoots well and an Underwood (very good condition, my last name is Underwood, my dad wanted one) which we have shot, but don't take it out much. We also have a Universal (?) that my dad bought in the 70s-- it has a wierd stock and looks more sporty-- which shoots well enough, but just doesn't have the character of the WW2 vets--

I really want a CMP or just a WW2/Korean vet M1-- they seem the best out there quality wise-- made back when out grandad's were making them, and Americans cared about the "Made in the USA" tag....

July 24, 2009, 01:09 PM
The "best" M1 is the one with the best bore. It may be any of the original makers with the exception of Irwin-Pedersen Arms Co which did not meet USGI stadards (few were made and are thereby worth a small fortune). I would stay away from the commercial carbines because their quality varies from bad to horrible with only a few that are good shooters. I have always longed for a IBM for whatever reason...but wouldn't turn down a good deal on any especially one with a paratrooper folder. :)

July 24, 2009, 01:32 PM
From what I've read, the most POPULAR carbine with the G.I.'s, was the Rock-Ola, in part due to it's scarcity (3.7% of production), but mostly because of it's association to jukeboxes and memories of a better time.

July 24, 2009, 01:41 PM
CMP has their grading standards clearly written in their website, generally at the bottom of the page of available rifles. The grades are determined by remaining original METAL finish, the degree of throat erosion, and the extent of muzzle wear. They make a general statement that each succesive grade will have fewer wear or use markings to the wood but they worry over that the least. It's quite possible to receive a lousy looking rifle that has a very good bore in Service grade and a better looking rifle with a much more worn bore in field or rack grades.

Within the grades it's luck of the draw, which is also clearly stated within their site.

The carbines are more mixmastered than the rifles, if that's possible to imagine. Writing in 1957 Larry Ruth said that "there is probably no such thing as a correct M1 Carbine anymore". It's 2009 now folks.

July 24, 2009, 01:48 PM
darkknight, do you plan to travel to CMP or order? If you are going to the store, you can sort through the rifles to find the one with the best bore and overall finish. That is what I plan to do if I can ever make time to shoot an Appleseed. :)

July 24, 2009, 01:54 PM
You might check your local gunshops, nice to hold and check over what you might buy. Bring an appropiate cartridge to check the muzzle, stick the bullet into the muzzle and if it goes about 3/4 to 2/3 in and does not touch the brass case then your decent. A small light to check the bore, common sense stuff. Might find something very nice at a fair price plus you can haggle over the price. Reload for your milsurps, its cheaper in the long run and more conveniant. CMP is a good organization but its not the holy mecca for and only source of U.S. guns, keep it in perspective. Its your money, so look around for a decent gun. I shoot an Inland that I payed 300 for about 3 years ago from a 3 war veteran I knew, there are deals out there.

July 24, 2009, 02:45 PM
I've got to say that I agree with shuvelrider. It used to be that really nice rifles that had been in United States service only came out of the old DCM and the earlier CMP but what CMP has any more are the dregs of third world surplus, or close to it.

The Greeks didn't do a lot to take care of their weapons if the Greek return guns are any indication and we all pay the price in beat up mismatched birchwood stocks and big ugly stampings in assorted places. My last three Garands were bought as Danish returns without wood at all. I bought nice stocks for them even before they arrived, and I rebarreled all of them once they were here. I did buy one "Correct Grade" HRA that IS all original in it's metal and it's stock but for the money the stock was somewhat disapointing. That was my last CMP rifle. At $995. in correct grade it should have been pretty fine, I thought, and that's why I sprung for it but it looks like it must have been issued to Beetle Bailey. :)

Also, ever since CMP started their auction program they've been weeding out all the best that they find and auctioning it off. They seem to like money as much as they like supporting shooting programs. I don't know who the buyers in those auctions are (although I am registered to bid in there) but the prices they're paying are ridiculous. They've got a 1903a4 in there right now - everybody watch it get bid to $6K or more. I have two of those rifles bought many years ago and I'll be happy to beat that price if anyone wants one of them for $5K. Just send a pm, eh? Mine even have scopes on them, slings too. :)

July 24, 2009, 03:49 PM
Plus, you can buy their replacement wood with a CMP cartouche, as if thats supposed to add value or provanance to the rifle. My view is that CMP is riding on their name now and becoming more of a shyster quick dollar place.

Bwana John
July 24, 2009, 05:09 PM
Is the finish on Winchester Carbines rough like the finish on Winchester Garands?

I have seen VERY roughly finished M1 Winchesters compaired to other WW2 manufactures (fit and function were the same as other WW2 manufactures)

And the Winchester M1 Garands still command higher prices:rolleyes:

I had a Winchester M1 Carbine that had a worn out op-rod raceway:mad:, but I dont remember the finish being rougher than others.

July 24, 2009, 06:07 PM
There's one BIG advantage to buying from CMP, shuvelrider, and that is that they won't sell a rifle rewelded receiver. It's really pretty amazing how many rewelds are ot there and the better jobs may have been fired without trouble for years.

July 24, 2009, 06:15 PM
Bring an appropiate cartridge to check the muzzle...

And, the appropriate cartridge is a .30-06 M2 round. Why? Because the ogive of the '06 is better suited to showing various degrees of muzzle wear.


July 24, 2009, 06:24 PM
And, the appropriate cartridge is a .30-06 M2 round.Would also be good to test for chamber wear...if it chambers, it is probably sightly out of spec...or a Garand. :uhoh:

July 24, 2009, 06:43 PM
My view is that CMP is riding on their name now and becoming more of a shyster quick dollar place.

I couldn't disagree more.

Their non-auction prices are still almost always below market, their quality (we're talking about 60+ year-old rifles) is excellent, and if there is a problem, their customer service is unmatched.

Yeah, the wait is long but that's due to circumstances totally out of their control.

I've bought Garands, Carbines, an 03A3, many spam cans of Greek .30-06, Federal .223, and Aguila .30 Carbine from them, including this year. In my book CMP is still the best value going for US milsurp rifles and ammo.

They also support countless American shooting programs, and are doing a great job of getting these rifles out into the hands of American citizens where they belong.


July 24, 2009, 07:43 PM
I found a 1943 Underwood for sale in a gun shop. Looks to be in very good shape at first glance, but is priced at $720. Comes with sling and oiler, five 15-round mags, and a GI two-magazine sleeve on the buttstock. Could it be worth that much? Or is it far too high? I just can't force myself to order a rifle from the CMP sight unseen, and wait 6+ months for it.

July 24, 2009, 08:13 PM
I've always heard Winchester was the only MFG that made ALL the parts in one place.

But I think a Rock-Ola would just be kind of 'neat.'

July 24, 2009, 11:34 PM
I guess it all comes down to individual experiance, I would still search locally for a sleeper deal but thats the fun of it for me. I,ll retract my shyster remark, just get tired of hearing CMP everywhere I go when looking at guns. I,ve managed to find at good prices or trade to build my collection. Still like to look and hold before buying. I realize the CMP has done alot for the shooters and collectors and thats commendable, but its all about the search for some of us rather then just send money/send gun.

July 24, 2009, 11:45 PM
"...stay away from the commercial carbines..." Except Plainfields made by PMC. They're the best of the commercial carbines.
"...exception of Irwin-Pedersen Arms Co..." Yep. Plant as bought by the Ordnance Dept and operated by Saginaw.
"...Any shooter-grade GI gun is going to be a mixmaster at this point..." All of 'em are 'mixmasters'. Any alleged correct/original carbine was made that way by somebody with a lot of time and money. 99.99% of all carbines were Arsenal rebuilt after W.W. II.
Your maker options from the CMP are rapidly getting smaller. They're accepting Service Grade orders for 5 makers only.
Order time for ammo, not that it's a big deal, is 120 to 180 days. They were talking June in the Spring. Something nutty is going on.

July 25, 2009, 07:21 AM
I've made two 7 hr trips to CMP, Al this year for six carbines each trip. Nice part was being able to pick and choose from a good quantity on the racks. Admittedly, theres a lot there thats seen some hard times, mostly the wood more so than the metal, but you can also find some decent ones. I've enjoyed trading parts, buying a few, to make mine as nearly correct as possible without changing late war/rebuild additions of adj sight, bayonet fixtures, etc. I've refinished all the stocks to some extent mainly to freshen them up...not trying to make like new.

Have a mix of Inlands, Underwood, Saginaw, Nat. Postal Meter (my favorite shooter), and IBM. Still have several Inlands that I haven't shot yet but just started reloading and will test them out soon.

I've heard from a friend in AL who goes there frequently that the selection is getting poorer; that is, quality wise. And one of the folks at CMP said on the forum not long ago that the carbines would prob be gone sometime next year.

So, if theres anyone from central NC that wants to make a trip down soon, let me glad to have some company and help driving for this old codger.

July 25, 2009, 08:01 AM
rondog:"I found a 1943 Underwood for sale in a gun shop. Looks to be in very good shape at first glance, but is priced at $720. Comes with sling and oiler, five 15-round mags, and a GI two-magazine sleeve on the buttstock. Could it be worth that much? Or is it far too high? I just can't force myself to order a rifle from the CMP sight unseen, and wait 6+ months for it. __________________

Ron...........the only answer to your question can be "It depends". On the face of it that is a great price for an all USGI rifle in good shooting condition and with an issue walnut stock. If the accoutrements - the mags, sling, mag case, oiler, etc. are also issue equipment then so much the better.

However, it takes someone who is well familiar with the rifle and able to identify some of the excellent reproduction equipment as such - reproductions and not original. I'm not talking about the ability to recognize the myriad of internal markings that appear on almost every part as being original to the maker or to the time of manufacture. I only mean someone with a developed sense of what is and what is not the real deal accurately.

It can take many years to gain the dubiously valuable skill of assessing old items accurately and without that ability it may be better to place your trust in the fact that whatever you receive from the CMP will be genuine military issue (if not necessarily genuine UNITED STATES military issue).

The number of parts that were manufactured by other countries (other than Italy who did manufacture entire Garand rifles and later modified that design into a quite workable removable box magazine version of that rifle) for their use in our rifles is, in general, limited to the stocks and a limited number of Danish barrels which shoot quite well in the Garand.

Because of the way you ask your questions about the carbines it's my opinion that you ought to get over your hesitancy to order from CMP. If you really can't do that then if I were you I'd schedule a drive to Ohio and trust the folks at the North Store to set you up with a rifle for under $500.

There are a lot of ripoffs, rewelds, things not as they seem in the world of guns. If you don't know the rifles yourself no one can tell you that the rifle you found isn't one of those in an internet chatboard. The CMP will not steal from you by selling you something of that kind.

Tim the student
July 25, 2009, 11:06 AM
If CMP is a schyster quick dollar place, what are the other ones? Dicks, Gander, Scheels? Uber schyster super quick dollar places?

CMP is doing great things, and offering quality that they stand behind, all while being cheaper than every where else.

July 25, 2009, 09:41 PM
Hey, shuvelrider, I know what you're saying about the fun of the search. And I don't mean to always be going on about's just that they've always treated me well and that breeds loyalty.
My local gun dealer talks about CMP all the time, too.
"%(+@# *&%^&% #$%^@" is what it sounds like he's saying.

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