The M1 Carbine has many unique qualities about it and it was a carbine I sought for years. Several years ago I was able to pick an Underwood M1 Carbine up at an estate sale for $350 and instantly feel in love with the gun. Though it comes from the era of “wood and metal” firearms; the M1 Carbine is an extremely light and handy firearm (even if it is sporting an 18″ barrel). When I got my hands on my M1 Carbine it looked like this:
After shooting the gun some and admiring it in its original state I decided to bring the gun into the 21st century so that it would fit my needs for a lightweight carbine that was a bit more PC in nature. And this is what I came up with:
As you can see; the heart of the carbine hasn’t been changed. The stock, action, trigger assembly, and barrel are all the same. They work well for me as is, so why change something if its working for you, right? Now let’s take a look at what I have changed.
Up front is where most of the changes took place. The first thing I did was ditch the original handguard and replace it with an Ultimak rail. I made this change to provide myself with real estate for mounting the other accessories that you see in the picture. Installing the Ultimak was pretty straight-forward as it simply clamps to the barrel. I did have to remove a tiny bit of wood on the inside of the stock to get it to fit, but that took about 20 minutes with some sandpaper. According to Fulton Armory the Ultimak is supposed to drop straight in to USGI stocks, so that may save others some work in the future.
Once the Ultimak was installed it was time to start adding stuff to the gun. The first thing I added was a M2 model Aimpoint Red Dot Sight (RDS). The addition of the M2 permits faster target acquisition and greater ease of use in low light encounters. I have the M2 in an older low mount I had sitting in a parts bin. Even with the optic as low as it is; I’m still unable to use my iron sights in the case of an emergency. Its a trade-off I’m willing to make on this gun.
The next thing I added was a 9 volt Surefire light in a VTAC offset mount. The light is used for threat identification purposes and gives me ample output for most situations this gun can handle. The VTAC mount is light and puts the light in a position where I can operate it with either hand. An added plus is that it is extremely cheap.
The last thing to go on the rail was my sling mount. Normally I would use the factory sling mounts that come on the gun. Unfortunately I have an issue with the handguard retainer slipping forward so I’m using an old sling to keep tension on the sling swivel to keep the retainer in place. Its a small pain, but not a deal breaker by any means. To mount a sling, I decided to use a Magpul RSA QD rail mount. This mount puts a QD socket at a 45 degree angle for sling attachment. When I placed a QD swivel in the socket, the swivel was catching on the M2. Even when I tried moving the M2 back, I still lacked enough space to make the QD swivel work. At this point I got creative and routed a Blue Force Gear (BFG) Universal Wire Loop (UWL) through the socket. This permitted me to get the sling away from the carbine slightly and prevent any future optic/sling hang ups.
Back here the changes remained simple. The only thing I replaced in this section of the gun was the magazine release. The carbine came with a standard magazine release so I installed a M2 release which serves to aid in reliable use of 30 round carbine mags. 30 round mags aren’t a requirement; but having them sure beats having to carry twice the number of 15 round mags to get the same number of bullets.
At the rear of the gun the only thing done was to route a second UWL around the “stabilizing” sling so I would have a place to anchor my BFG VCAS sling. The sling is an adjustable 2 point sling designed by Larry Vickers and is my go-to sling for all my long guns.
And that pretty much wraps up what has been done to the carbine. Am I happy with it? You bet I am. Are there any drawbacks to the carbine? Yes there are. The carbine lacks a bolt hold open on the last shot, it has a fixed length of pull, and the safety is the old push button style. The only one of these three issues that I plan to fix is the safety. I’ll soon be adding a lever style safety, but there is nothing wrong with the functionality of the push button one; it’s simply a bit more involved to re-engage after shooting.
Oh; notice that I didn’t mention the caliber as a negative to the gun. That’s because with proper application of functional marksmanship and a quality projectile (like the Speer Gold Dot .30 Carbine load or the Federal 110gr JSP) the gun has been proven to be a fight stopper.
If you guys like the carbine; be sure to look for it at future DCNC carbine courses. It will certainly be making an appearance or three.