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What was the ubiquitous carbine before the AR15?

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by DMK, Nov 20, 2016.

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  1. Conformist

    Conformist Member

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    I agree that the 30-30 lever and the 30-06 bolt rifles were most likely the "AR-15" of the day. I had a 30-30 Marlin I bought at a dept. store and my friend had a 30-06.


    As for the Thompson, the first one I ever saw was at the Neville Public Museum on a school trip ~1963. It was beautiful and had the drum magazine. That was when it was across the street from the County Courthouse and the Press Gazette building on the other side. Not the fancy building in the link below.

    http://go360media.com/browncounty/museum/flash/vt_museum.html
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2016
  2. Kendal Black

    Kendal Black Member

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    The lever .30-30 is still one of the best light rifles; it is handy, quick and versatile. It is a leading option in locales where a modern sporting rifle is impossible to obtain or impractical to own. While perhaps not ubiquitous, it is and was very numerous. I do not think it ever had the broad-based appeal I see the AR-15 enjoying, for the strength of that weapon is its endless adaptability and bench top rebuildability to do just about anything a small rifle can do.

    But, as to the .30-30, you can do several things with it. As a thick woods deer gun it needs no apoplogia, for it has knocked off whitetails very reliably for more than a century. As a home defense gun, Col. Jeff called it the "Brooklyn Special" because it was a useful rifle that flew under the radar of the authorities. He suggested ghost ring sights but that was his usual refrain. The rifle is light, trim and well balanced, pointing quickly and naturally.

    If you look at the numbers, the .30-30 was an intermediate rifle cartridge before that term was invented, about on all fours with the 7.62x39 Rooskie. Every big game species in the Americas has been taken with .30-30's, but not all of that was well advised.
     
  3. DustyGmt

    DustyGmt Member

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    I think maybe the Ruger 10/22 might hold a place in the running, not sure if somebody beat me to it yet but I'm recalling an issue of G&A I read not too long ago where (and it might have even been titled "most ubiquitous carbine of our time" lol, hailing the Remington Nylon as the crowned king.
    I remember the next issue had feedback from readers calling out the author to the effect of "in what world do you live in, the ruger 10/22 is the most commercially successful carbine on the planet".
    I remember agreeing with that sentiment and I know a good many people look fondly on the ol' ruger and this thread made me think of that article.
    The OP gave us a pretty open criteria in which to deliberate so it's official, I enter the Ruger 10/22.......
     
  4. Kendal Black

    Kendal Black Member

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    Tagging onto illinoisburt's remarks, I think the most ubiquitous gun previously was the 12 gauge pump. Quail, deer, bandits, you were pretty much good to go, perhaps with a two-barrel set.

    Maybe something becomes ubiquitous by being versatile. The AR-15 is certainly that.
     
  5. kBob

    kBob Member

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    Growing up in the 1960s in North Florida bolt guns were no where near as common in the back windows of pick'em up truck as Lever Action carbines. Marlins were less common in my neck of the woods than Winchesters for whatever reason though the rifles of either make might well have been store branded. When your typical shot on Bambi's dad is between 40 and 125 yards there is not a lot of need for more power than Thutty-thutty or .32 Winchester. The perception (and observation on my part) was that the lever guns offered a faster second shot, and in close woods you don't get a lot of time for second shots.

    M-1 carbines were no where near as common as lever guns.....even in rural sheriffs departments. Our own local PD in out little town only really began to change to M-1 Carbines from Winchester 94s in the fall of '68. Police Sales listed the '94 as there most popular patrol carbine at least as late as 1970 when they sold brand new to PDs on the tax free form for $74 and change.

    Having been involved in the AWB fight on the good guys side at both state and federal level I will say "yes sales of "black Rifles" went up after the first AWB......But they were nothing to sneeze at a decade earlier. One of our local "big gun shops" got its start building ARs from kits in the dinning room at home in the early 1980s and they sold them about as fast as they made them. There were a couple of AR parts out fits with "everything to build on your lower" in the early 1980s as well. I believe old Sarge (even offered 6mm barrels and briefly a 7mm) was arounf in '79 or so. Colt and their srewed together front pivot was not your only option.

    During the first round AWB fights in California, Florida and The city of Boston (the bills had entire sections word for word) well before the federal AWB one could still get numbers from federal agencies.......thing by then 4 million SKS and nearly 2 million AKs in the country. One gun rag estimated about 3 million ARs in private hands by that time based on numbers lower manufacturers gave them.

    And that was before panics and such.....

    I miss the days of being able to survey gun ownership by looking at the back window of pick'em up trucks...........

    -kBob
     
  6. redneck2

    redneck2 Member

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    At least where I grew up in the 60's, very few if anyone had nearly the number of firearms that are common now. If someone had a LOT of guns, it was maybe 6-8 total. Everything you had fit in a glass front cabinet in the living room.

    If there was anything in the category of the AR, it might have been a .30-30, but those were very scarce, at least in Northern Indiana. Today AR's are a "cool to own" gun (I have three), but not a necessity. Back in the 40's/50's/60's you bought guns to use, not to collect. Every farmer I knew had a .22 and a shotgun. Guns were a tool, not an obsession.

    As for the altered milsurp, again they were bought to use, not fondle. All my neighbors fought in WW II. Those rifles were stacked like cord wood, selling for maybe $5-$10.
     
  7. d2wing

    d2wing Member

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    30-30 Winchester 94 hands down. Just about everyone had one in the 50's. Remember things were different then. Few people had rifles for self defense, a defensive weapon would be a pistol or shotgun. Rifles were for deer hunting. My dad had a Remington 141 pump in .35 Remington, my uncles who were all woodsmen had 30-30's and also Springfield 30-06 rifles. Although commercial bolt actions were popular too. in the late 50's surplus British .303 were very common and widely home sporterized. But still the 30-30 Winchester was pretty standard. later the commie guns were somewhat popular but were more range toys and kids guns due to lack of range and power. I wouldn't say they replaced the 30-30. They were more a new category, the new standard of self defense and survival. The AR has truly supplanted the 30-30 because it is a viable hunting gun where legal for deer and a good varmint gun and our population is now more urban and fewer gun owners are hunters. And now that people own rifles for self defense they are tops. Commie guns are still popular too as defense weapons but they are not a bargain anymore, the ARs are now cheaper and a better gun in most peoples opinion.
     
  8. d2wing

    d2wing Member

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    In my area M-1 were a novelty and not legal power wise for hunting. A guy at the pool hall had one. Nobody else did. As far a Bubba guns, I take issue with that. they were cheap and plentiful. Nobody cared about collecting beat up war guns. You may not realize but military rifles are not good hunting rifles. They are heavy and bulky. It was normal to strip off excess guards and reshape the stock into something more presentable and handier. Most people weren't able to spend money on guns or much else. They made do with what they had and made better things out of whatever was at hand. And many of those guys were talented. In that sense an AR is a gun that everyone tinkers with just as their handier forefathers did with old surplus weapons.
     
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  9. ugaarguy

    ugaarguy Moderator Staff Member

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    Immediately preceding AR type rifles, it was the SKS. The SKS didn't have enough "bad" cosmetic features to be outlawed under the AWB, and I remember gun shops having crates of them in the mid '90s. Then the cheap surplus SKS supply dried up, and they slowed down a bit. Not long after that the AWB sunset in '06, and AR type rifles took off. With multiple manufacturers now owning component tooling that's paid off, it's hard to imagine that another rifle of equal quality will be able to be sold at the current $650+/- price range of AR type rifles.
     
  10. ScrapMetalSlug

    ScrapMetalSlug Member

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    I don't think there was a "ubiquitous" rifle carbine before the ar came along. I think it is mostly a modern thing. Sure some people had nice lever carbines, but not enough to call them "ubiquitous". I think a 12 gauge was the closest to something you would call a ubiquitous home defense carbine. From what I think I know, I doubt few people in bygone years had entire closets full of guns. A home defense rifle, plinking gun, hunting gun, small game, large game, brush gun, match shooting, looks cool, collector, etc. I think a lot of people had one firearm that did everything for them, at least here in my neck of the woods that would most likely be a shotgun of some type.
     
  11. Dr.Rob

    Dr.Rob Moderator Staff Member

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    All you have to do is look back through old issues of Gun Digest or Shooter's Bible. Before the 1980's there just wasn't much offered in the way of semi automatic carbines. There were M1 carbines, yes but they never sold in the numbers they were issued. The Mini 14 was once lauded as the most expensive plinker on the market. Before the A-Team was a TV show very few were sold compared to the Colt semiautomatic rifles. Both were very expensive in comparison to lever guns.

    By comparison, there were dozens of models of lever action rifles from Winchester, Marlin, Savage and Browning in an array of rifle and pistol calibers.

    The semi auto craze has been almost 40 years in the making. Embrace it. But don't pretend it's always been there.
     
  12. Tentwing

    Tentwing Member

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    Not trying to create an echo in here, but growing up in North Georgia every farm out there had lever action hanging over the fireplace.
    1. Marlin 336 30-30
    2. Winchester 94 30-30
    3. Marlin 336 35 Remington
    4. 30 carbine
    In that order there were a lot of WW2 veterans in the community so 1903 Springfield's were not uncommon. Of course each house also had some form of 22lr and a shotgun as well.

    Tentwing
     
  13. Tirod

    Tirod Member

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    Once the lever actions were selling after 1894 they were the most plentiful and also sold the most every decade thereafter. In .30-30 more of them took deer in America and they are highlighted as the firearm that nearly drove them to extinction.

    Some military firearms that were sold cheap made the list but not often. Springfield 03's became common once they were surplused but there is that difference in weight and handling that puts the choice back to a lever. Garands? Not until after the M14 was issued. Rare enough for hunting or keeping loaded around the ranch. M1 carbines? Not so much, a gun show item just before the Mini 14 was offered. The MIni? Sold to a newer generation who saw their dads, uncles, and grandfathers lever guns as being that generations' iconic firearm and they wanted battle rifles - which weren't available. You settled for the Mini because there wasn't much else like it. And traditionalists were still buying lever guns buy the truckloads.

    When I first started deer hunting in the early 70's I saw more lever actions in pickup windows than anything else. A lot of guys carried bolt actions but it was nominated as the "deer gun," what they carried in the truck daily was something along the lines of an older Winchester or Marlin. It was the suburban generations who expanded the go-to guns to include things like AK's. There were and are far more rural traditionalists who carried levers than those suburbanites toting AK's to the range on Saturday.

    Now? AR15. Far more options and accessories than the lever. Levers you shoot as is. AR's you modify to use as you want, not Winchester or Marlin. Winchester is out of business in the US, an imported custom Japanese rifle for high end users. Marlin is just hanging onto the remnants of the older market. You want go to these days, a $550 AR sells well against a $550 AK which has fewer accessories and is intrinsically less user friendly for a number of ergonomic reasons.

    Then, it was the lever carbine, now, it's the AR15 in many shapes and sizes.
     
  14. DougW

    DougW Member

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    I looked at a Colt AR15 back in '81, the $450 price put it out of resch. Had a Winchester 1300 as the go to, along with a Ruger Security Six (still on HD duty here) and a 1911. Figured at the time I was well armed. Today, more than one Glock 9mm and AR.
     
  15. Browning

    Browning Member

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    It depends on what year you're setting the clock back to and if you're excluding anything based on type.

    If the period you're looking at is in the late 80's and early to mid 90's I say the SKS.

    If you're looking at semi-auto Military rifles in between the late 50's up until the early to mid 80's I'd say the M1 Carbine followed closely by the M1 Garand.

    If manually operated civilian made carbines aren't excluded by type then I'd mention Marlin and then Winchester 30-30's. Numerically in some parts of the country there were more of those than any Military produced carbine and they're light and handy.

    The Ruger Mini-14 would probably get an honorable mention even though I believe it would get beat out by both the M1 Carbine and the M1 Garand.

    So my list of carbines based numerically by guesstimate would probably go something like ...

    1. Winchester (Win 94 - 6,500,000 were made) 30-30
    2. Marlin 30-30's (all types but especially the Model 336, listed as the 2nd most produced behind the Win 94)
    3. M1 Carbine (over 6.5 million were made, but I'd guesstimate that only a couple million were in civilian hands including civilian copies. From the 50's up until the 80's they were obviously far more common in civilian hands than the SKS as well as somewhat more common than the M1 Garand)
    4. M1 Garand (6,250,000 million were produced in total, but again I'd guesstimate that less were in civilian hands than the M1 Carbine).
    5. SKS (15 million in total were manufactured by Russia, China, Yugoslavia, East Germany, North Korea, Albania, Romania etc according to Jane's, but guesstimating how many actually made it into the US is a difficult task. Based upon my own experience I've run into far more SKS's than Ruger Mini-14's though. Almost every gun enthusiast I know either owns at least one, owns several, or has owned at least one in the past. They've always been less expensive than the Ruger Mini-14 and they were imported by the boatload). They weren't all that numerous until the 80's and 90's though, so it depends at what point in time we're talking about.
    6. Ruger Mini-14. At least 1 million. Less numerous than the SKS, but still very common and at one point they were less in price than the AR-15 which increased their popularity. Plus they weren't banned in many parts of the US the way AR's were. Most had a wood stock, weren't usually equipped with a flash suppressor and bayonet lug from the factory and came with a 5 rd mag. If we wanted a magazine with a capacity above the 5 rd hunting mag that came with it shooters were kind of screwed because up until fairly recently OEM Ruger Mini-14 20 rd mags were Law Enforcement Only in the US and shooters had to rely on aftermarket 20-30-40 rd mags that were of varying quality.

    At any rate that's my list based up the number of carbines produced in total and my guesstimate of carbines imported into the US based upon the number I've run into and seen in my lifetime.

    ---

    One thing's for sure though and they're all getting beat out by the AR-15. Here in Dallas virtually every single gun owner I know owns an AR. If they own a gun they all own an AR (sometimes that's the only gun they own).
     
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2016
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  16. Sistema1927

    Sistema1927 Member

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    Why do people keep bringing up the Garand? In what universe are they considered a carbine?
     
  17. Browning

    Browning Member

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    Probably because of the question asked in the OP.

     
  18. Sistema1927

    Sistema1927 Member

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    The word "rifle" was used only once, whereas the title specifies carbine and the two examples that he used are both carbines (.30-30 and M1 Carbine). If we are opening it up to all rifles, then pretty much the answer is a bolt action repeater.
     
  19. Panzerschwein

    Panzerschwein member

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    I would say the M1 carbine if we're talking "defensive" guns and either the Marlin 336 or Winchester 1894 if hunting guns.
     
  20. Browning

    Browning Member

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    You asked. That's the reason. :Shrug
     
  21. DMK

    DMK Member

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    The OP is asking about carbines, not full size rifles. ;)
     
  22. 1stmarine

    1stmarine Member

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    Way way back the Remington model 8/81 provided firepower never seen before specially with the 35 Remington heavy loads.
    This is what lead to the conversion to the police / patrol version. Never understood why this gun didn't make it to any units during WWI.

    for those curious, enjoy...

    Remington was not the first American manufacturer to introduce a center-fire semi-automatic rifle. But, the gun that became the Remington Model 8 was a fully realized semi-automatic rifle capable of reliably cycling powerful center-fire cartridges.


    Originally introduced as the Remington Autoloading Rifle in 1906, (and its European counter part the FN 1900 which wasn’t produced until 1910 by Fabrique Nationale) the name was changed to the Remington Model 8 in 1911, even though the rifle itself was essentially unchanged. The saying goes “no two model 8’s are the same”.

    Remington-Model-81_001.jpg

    Designed by John Moses Browning while he was working on his first semi-automatic shotgun, eventually the Browning Auto-5; the new rifle used the same long-stroke recoil operating system as his new shotgun. It had a 22” jacketed barrel, five-round fixed box magazine that could be filled by means of five-round stripper clips (for the 25, 30, 32 Remington and four rounds for the 35 Remington) just like military rifles of the day. Additionally, four unique rounds for the Model 8 were introduced…first it was chambered in 35 Remington, followed by the 30 Remington in 1907 (called the 30-30 Remington at first) then the 32 Remington and the 25Remington (called the 25-35 Remington at first) were developed for the Remington Model 8.


    Remington model 8 on top. M1 carbine below.
    m8woodall-verschneidercarbinevsm1ca.jpg



    Model 81


    After about 69,000 or so Model 8’s were produced, Remington felt the old workhorse needed a facelift and in 1936 introduced the Model 81…basically the same gun with a few minor cosmetic differences such as a heavier pistol-grip stock and more robust fore-end. As well, the gun was initially offered in a different range of calibers: .30, .32, (dropped after World War II) and .35 Remington.

    model_81.jpg


    In 1940, .300 Savage was added to the lineup to make the 81 more competitive and give it “close to .30-06” performance. Named the Woodsmaster (a moniker that would also be given to Remington’s follow-on Model 740 and 740A autoloaders), like the Model 8 the 81 came in different grades: the 81A Standard with a plain stock and fore-end; 81B Special with checkered select wood; 81D Peerless sporting a bit of scroll engraving and fancier checkering; 81E Expert with more engraving yet and better checkering; and the top-of-the-line 81F Premier.

    Although they are a little different than the Model 8 on the outside they are very similar on the inside with many interchangable parts. I have had a ton of 81’s and I have enjoyed them almost as much as my Model 8’s. I hope you have enjoyed this brief introduction to the Model 81.

    Remington model 8 FBI

    In mid 1938, Remington and the Federal Bureau of Investigation worked together to develop a replacement for the Winchester Model 1907’s that were then in service. The FBI had become dissatisfied with the .351 Self-Loaders and sought Remington to come up with an alternative service rifle that could produce similar ballistics but function more reliably. The Model 81 FBI rifle was Remington’s answer. This rifle, in actuality, was only a slightly modified version of Remington’s production Model 81 rifle. An excellent history and production development of these rifles can be found in John Henwood’s “The Great Remington 8 & Model 81 Autoloading Rifles”. Two basic versions of the FBI Model 81 were manufactured.



    Videos (must see)








     
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  23. lysanderxiii

    lysanderxiii Member

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    In 1974, $200 was worth the same as $1000 today.

    In 1934, $200 was worth the same as $3600 today.

    ARs and Minis haven't changed price much in real terms.
     
  24. MTNSTRYDER

    MTNSTRYDER Member

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    Growing up in WV and Vermont every house had one or more 30-30,s and someone who was a crackshot with one.I have a 56 year old winchester shoots strait always shoots,Like my Grandmother used to say “What do you mean antique it still works fine”
     
  25. Elkins45

    Elkins45 Member

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    Until the recent AR explosion the most common centerfire rifle around here was unquestionably a 30-30 lever gun, with bolt actions in 30-06 probably second. In the mid-90s there were a lot of SKSs sold, but I doubt the total numbers are anywhere near a century of Marlins and Winchesters.
     
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