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 or 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 failed 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 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”.