Auto-Ordnance M1 Carbine .30

There’s just something about the M1 Carbine that keeps it…


There’s just something about the M1 Carbine that keeps it coming back into the marketplace. From the 1960s, when a carbine clone first arrived on the scene, to the present day, the pint-sized rifle has come back for more.

About three years ago, Auto-Ordnance began production of a new line of M1 Carbines. Costing about two-thirds of the price of a new, low-end AR15, there was some question where A-O would be successful.

autoord2.gifThere was the nostalgia market, but there was also demand for a light carbine with some power that featured easily available magazines and ammo.

The AR15 had extremely cheap and readily available magazines (these things wear out and need to be replaced), and the 5.56x45mm round was commonly and cheaply available.

Since then, AR magazines have re- mained cheap, even newly manufactured magazines. But the ammo has skyrocketed to .30 Carbine territory.

As of last spring, it became apparent that the newly made M1 Carbine was here to stay. They are available for about half the street price of a low-end AR and their ammo is no more expensive.

Gun Details
The new Auto-Ordnance M1 Carbine is called the Tactical Folding Stock Model. The stock is a black polymer folder by Choate Tool, makers of such stocks at least since the 1970s. So equipped, the M1 Carbine weighs in at a feathery 5.8 pounds. It’s short, measuring at 36.5 inches open and only 27.5 inches folded. The M1 Carbine has an 18-inch barrel.

Before you read on, wondering—yes, the rifle will fire with the stock folded. We tried it. I don’t know why you’d want to, but it can be fired folded if the need arises.

A clone of the more recent US M1 Carbine model, the current A-O has a flip-style rear sight, a post front sight and a crossbolt safety. The magazine release is a push button. This requires some practice to prevent inadvertently dropping the magazine when you were trying to push the safety off. The top handguard is a ventilated metal unit. The gun is provided with a 15-round “stick” magazine. The finish is black oxide.

The A-O M1 Carbine is available with a walnut stock, for traditionalists, and with the folding paratrooper stock.
Our sample was the second A-O M1 Carbine I’d tried. The first was a classic M1 Carbine with the slide-adjustable rear sight, flip-style safety and round bolt. The current effort has the flip-aperture sight, crossbolt safety and flat bolt. I give the previous gun class points.

Shooting Impressions

As far as shooting, Carbine #2, our current sample, wins the sweepstakes. This time I had original M1 Carbine magazines, courtesy of newly promoted Lt. Chuck Haggard, of our local constabulary. This folding-stock modernized M1 Carbine was a shooter. It shot all the ammo we put through it without a stoppage or malfunction.

Ammo that chugged through the AOM160 (A-O’s designation for the Tactical Folding Stock Model) included Winchester 110-grain Hollow Soft Point, Remington 110-grain Soft Point, Winchester 110-grain FMJ and Federal 110-grain Soft Point Round Nose.

The sights, though not of the style I prefer, are very easy to use and are well fabricated. Like our previous sample A-O Carbine, this version is likewise very tight. The difference between the two is that the current sample has a much more robust recoil spring. The magazine is also much better and the fitting around the magazine well was flawless.

The stock is non-traditional and has that protruding pistol grip. I don’t always appreciate that protuberance. In this case, I didn’t like it until I shot it.

The straight nature of the stock makes the recoil feel different than the conventional carbine stock feels. It wasn’t worse, just different. From a durability standpoint, the Choate unit wins. Ditto from the position of shootability. Aesthetics go to the walnut stock of course as tried by colleague Matt Berger.

As ace armorer and firearms instructor, Mike Rafferty noted in our last evaluation of the Auto-Ordnance Carbine, the M1 Carbine has alot of features to recommend it as an urban carbine. While many people look down on the effectiveness of the cartridge, notable fighters like Jim Cirillo preferred the M1 .30 Carbine. Jim saw people shot with a range of cartridges and loads. He felt the velocity of the .30 Carbine gave it an edge.

The manual of arms for the AR-style carbine is simple for those who get patrol rifle training. The M1 Carbine is every bit as simple, perhaps more so. With the magazine out, lock the bolt to the rear with the lock button.

Look into the chamber and reach into the chamber with the tip of the small finger. The carbine is cleared as long as you don’t put it down or monkey with it.

The M1 Carbine is light, trim and fast handling. It can be used in close quarters or at distance. The fly in the ointment is optics; the flattop AR is king of that mountain. For sudden close engagements, the M1 Carbine will do.

As a former cop, the image of the M1 Carbine is important too. I’d prefer its look and profile as a graphic in front of the jury in the aftermath of a self-defense shooting. I’d do that just as the opposition would likely use the various libels against the AR/AK breeds of carbines if I used one of those in that hypothetical shooting. As long as it’s accurate and reliable, the M1 Carbine would be a safe choice.

For Lt. Chuck Haggard, shooting the M1 Carbine is like shooting a Daisy Red Ryder. Nevertheless, he tried it out. The muzzle barely moved in recoil. Rapid follow-up shots are easily accomplished with the little rifle.

Settling down over a bag at the range, I tried some of our test loads for groups. I found that at 50 yards, which is a practical limit for me without optics, the sample was enamored of Winchester ammo. Groups stayed under 2 inches with some barely going over an inch. The sample wasn’t a fan of the Federal load, which surprised me.

We’re not talking a precision rifle here. I’d be more likely to need the M1 Carbine in the 20 or so feet between bedroom door and front room or, out to 70 or so feet out to the back fence. With a proper low-power optic, I’d imagine you’d get 3- to 5-inch clusters out at 100 yards. I don’t know that you need more than that.

Final Notes
The Auto-Ordnance Tactical Folding Stock M1 Carbine is a nicely made, reliable and handy carbine. Great for the truck, the ranch or the range, it would fit nicely in a patrol car as well.

The changes they’ve made in the line are improvements. Still made tight, the sample chewed through our ammo supply and wanted more. It was reliable with GI magazines and the supplied magazine of new manufacture.

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  • mike james

    was in the Army late 50’s. just getting back to having a rifle, was trained on the M1 Gerand and the M1 carbine. have looked at some in local gun shows, they are at best, rough. my local gun dealer mentioned auto ordnance, how much do they cost?? and how long does it take to order one?. also purchasing a hand gun, some day, we might have a hard time doing so. thanks for the article and the responses. MJ

  • Tom

    I have had a couple carbines over the years with the last one being a Winchester that was NRA excellent. I am retired LEO and I shoot often with current officers one of which has the Auto Ordinance model with folding stock. He ended up putting on an adjustable sight as the flip L was not cutting it for accurate shooting. His action was gritty when first purchased and I was relieved when it smoothed out with shooting and seems to function fine. I prefer the military version and believe they are generally superior in quality. The front barrel band that holds the barrel to the stock on the AO model is lame. The trigger on his AO feels better than the one on my Winchester. The trajectory off the round is like a mortar at 300 yards. Realistically, it will do the job out to 200 yards. Sustained firing does not heat the barrel up nearly as much as the 223 which no doubt contributes to its reliability. The 30 carbine is easy to reload.

  • Lloyd

    @Gordon. A couple of the PD guys around here have some that they use as jeep guns up in the sierra’s that usually do double duty in their POV’s and homes. I keep a couple in the house that the GF can use (along with her SA-20 tactical 20 ga). I enjoy them and have since bought a few more for teaching newbies to shoot carbine with before taking them over to my AR’s or SKS. Everyone I talk to enjoy them and the newbies like starting with them. Usually after getting punished by the Nagants or dragunov I find them back plinking with these over the .22’s. All in all an amazing weapon and despite what people rant about absolutely devastating when loaded with federal half jacket soft-tips or winchester hollow points. Also even this model after adding an Ultimak rail and HWS “looks” nowhere near as “evil” to a jury in the Kommonwealth of Kalifornia. Good luck with you purchase if you decide to get one,


  • Gordon

    I’m an LEO and thinking about using an M1 Carbine as a suplimental long gun backup. I’ve had a carbine in the family for years, for reasons I still can’t figure out I sold my GI M1 about ten years ago (I kick myself often) I don’t know any LEO’s using this as a back-up: Everyone’s using AR’s or Mini-14’s…to expensive for my taste.
    Ya know anyone satisfied with their Law enforcement M1 Carbine