The Most Prolific Rifle of WWII: The M1 Carbine

The most used gun by US forces during World War Two was the M1 Carbine.

Made from 1942 to 1945 the M1 Carbine was provided to troops who didn’t need a full sized rifle, particularly support troops. It was a better choice over all other pistols and hand guns, except at short range.

A United States Marine equipped with an M1 Carbine in the Battle of
Iwo Jima, February 1945.[Via]

Audie Murphy [Via]

Famous World War Two soldier and actor Audie Murphy used an M1 Carbine. He was one of the most awarded US soldiers of World War Two when he single-handedly held off a whole division of advancing German troops. Among his arms was the M1 Carbine. He went on to re-enact his experiences in the Hollywood movie ‘To Hell and Back’ where the M1 Carbine made an appearance as well.

The M1 Carbine was also the gun of choice for the North Vietnamese during the Vietnam War.  They had entire divisions armed with the M1 and M2 Carbine guns. The North Vietnamese troops had come by the guns when they were left behind by French troops before they fled the country. As the war intensified the AK-47 became more widely used.

Ethiopian soldiers deployed with U.S.-made weapons somewhere in Korea, 1953. [Via]

The M1 Carbine was originally designed and made for airborne forces. It had a pistol grip and a folding metal stock and was made by a company called Inland. Around 140,000 were made for World War Two alone

Once the war was over and other guns began to become preferred a massive sell-off of M1 Carbines took place in the 1960s. Almost a quarter of a million were sold off by the US military for around $20 each, the American Rifleman reports.

The M1 Carbine was the first gun used by snipers who operated at night in the US Army. An infrared scope was attached to the gun as was used for night time operations particularly in the Pacific region when the US was fighting off the advance of the Japanese.


Many police forces across the US also took on the M1 Carbine including the NYPD. Today the M1 Carbine is a collectible, with fan groups and books written about the historic weapon.

Original M1 Carbines are hard to come by in good condition, but originals in poor condition can fetch around $700. But a few years ago an original M1 Carbine with evidence that it was used during the D-Day landings was sold at auction for over $20,000.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE