If there is an oft told tale of US service rifle failure more common than the myth of the M16 being UN-reliable, it is the tales of the failures of the M1 carbine in the Korean war, to penetrate the thick coats worn by communist soldiers. Anyone who is interested in US ordnance history of its use has no doubt hear or read about it some where.  Stories of some GI or another in Korea shooting  charging human wave commies in the winter wasteland with his M1 carbine and after the small around failing to penetrate the coat, throwing it away and getting himself a real man’s gun like the M1 Garand.  Firearms boards in the internet thrive on telling each other these stories and they are no doubt popular campfire fodder.   So the .30 carbine has in the past, suffered from a reputation of being a poor performer.   On a side note  I have always been amused by the same people who say the 357 mag is a never fail manstopper also declaring the 30 carbine useless when they are  very similar.

After getting a T&E rifle from Inland, the maker of brand new very high quality original spec M1 carbines( full review to come) and showing it to some fellows, the old chestnut about failing to penetrate thick coats was brought back up. I determined to shoot the M1 into some thick padding to see what I could see before serious testing and evaluation of the M1 got started.


Being August, I could not manage sub freezing temps, but I did set up a cardboard target behind a very thick pad that I added extra clothing by stuffing it inside to make it even thicker.  I set up from 200 yards away and fired.


The military FMJ round had no problem punching through the thick clothing and padding just as I knew it would.


Even from 200 yards the carbine and its ammo said by “experts” to be puny. not only went through the padding with ease, it zipped through the wood and damaged it more than I expected.  But it was not done yet.


It traveled another 10 yards and tore into the dry hard packed dirt and rocks behind   several inches deep with little deformation to the short stubby 110 ball rounds.

The 30 carbine is not in the same class as a  7.62 or even a 5.56. But, it is better than given credit. With quality hollow points, it is not much different than a 357 magnum. A round few people complain about being under powered.   Those vets who claimed lack of power simple missed or made shots in non-vital places on the body or glancing blows.  We all know everyone is a perfect shot that never misses so any problem has to be the gun.  And no red blooded American military fighting man would ever be anything but a perfect crack rifle shot so it has to be that lowest bidder crap!

A great little story Howard often says illustrates this well.

“When a  Soldier or Marine  is shot multiple times and tough it out to carry on the fight and prevails, he is a bad-ass napalm eating super soldier hero. When an enemy soldier  takes multiple hits from US troops and continues to fight beyond what is normally deemed possible, the issue gun sucks is underpowered and is lowest bidder garbage”.




  1. 24and7 says:

    The French Foreign Legion loved the m1 carbine and proved it was very deadly at close ranges..It caused massive wound cavities in the gut areas…some people complain about everything…shot placement matters..


  2. BAP45 says:

    I forget where I read it, maybe weaponsman, but it was discussing the velocity changes in ammo at different temperatures. Made me wonder how much velocity was being lost at negative a witches tit.
    Im sure there would still be enough to penetrate but it maybe could have lead to some of the claims. They’re aiming right at the guy but now the rounds are hitting the dirt or some such.


    1. Shawn says:

      if there was that much change in velocity, the weapons would have been having trouble cycling. I tihnk it was simply poor marksmanship


      1. BAP45 says:

        yup, these guys did a similar test years ago too and again had the same results


  3. Wild, wild west says:

    A short list of Carbine fans:
    Besides the aforementioned French in Viet Nam, the VC and ARVN.
    John George, high power rifle competitor and author of Shots Fired in Anger, in Burma.
    Jim Cirillo of the NYPD stakeout squad.
    Omar Bradley
    and some little sawed-off runt from Texas who the Army didn’t think would ever amount to anything named Audie Murphy.


  4. COtt says:

    I don’t think it was an issue with penetration from the 30 carbine round that was the issue. The issue was that most of the Chinese and Korean troops were given some sort of meth concoctions that let them shrug off bullet wounds until lack of blood/blood pressure put them down. I had a buddy whose dad was in Korea, issued a carbine and had something similar happen to him, in that he emptied the mag on this crazy little chinese man that kept running at him during an attack and the guy finally died within a feet before reaching him. He fought with the carbine for the rest of the nite, but the next day, picked up a Garand and turned his carbine in in exchange for some 30 cal for the Garand. That’s the story i got, and I find it a bit more credible when you factor in some sort of drug use by Chinese/Korean soldiers.


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