.30 Carbine

A GI Buddy From A Misspent

By John Taffin

After graduating from high school in 1956 and trading my paper route for a real job, I had enough money to allow me to get serious about shooting. In those days WWII surplus firearms were easily available. A friend of mine had a .30 M1 Carbine and I found it thoroughly enjoyable. But I simply never got around to getting one of my own.

But now I’m not getting any younger, so this year I decided to look for a reasonably priced specimen. I found one offered for sale on Gary Reeder’s Forum and I immediately called Gary to make sure he had my credit card number

John’s Catch-Up Couple

That could’ve been the end of the story. As so often happens in situations like this, within a week another one showed up. I walked into Buckhorn Gun and there was a Plainfield M1 Carbine also at a good price. So I now have two carbines. The latter has standard military sights, however, the sporter has an adjustable Williams peep and a gold bead on the front. There was one problem for me: the stock itself has a high comb for scope use and it is a problem for me to get down far enough on the stock to use the sights without being very uncomfortable. Since I had elevation adjustments in the rear sight, I was able to have a taller front sight installed and my problem was solved.

I’ve loaded the .30 Carbine for years for the Ruger Blackhawk. Many of the loads I’ve used also work quite well in the M1 Carbine and I also added some others.

The lines we love! A pair of peaches that kinda fell into John’s lap: Plainfield military-style
.30 M1 Carbine (top) and sporterized military one (bottom).

Smooth Cycling

Just as for the Blackhawk, I load the .30 Carbine cartridges on the RCBS Pro 2000 Progressive Press. However, I added one extra die to the standard RCBS Carbide 3-die set — a Lee Precision factory crimp die. I use the RCBS seating/crimping die for seating only and then the fourth stage for the Lee Factory Crimp die. It didn’t take me long to realize it is much easier to load perfectly performing cartridges for the carbine than for the Blackhawk. Occasionally cartridges will misfire in the Blackhawk. But I’ve had no problems whatsoever with any of these loads in either carbine.

Left to right: John’s easy-shootin’ favorites — .30 Luger, .32 Magnum .32-20 and .30 Carbine.

Key Components

My powders of choice are the typical ones used for magnum sixgun cartridges, namely #2400, Accurate #9, H110 and 4227. I also have a good supply of hard-to-find H108 — an excellent choice, even though it isn’t generally available. All are primed with CCI #550 Magnum Pistol Primers and assembled in Winchester brass. Yes I know, some say #2400 should be used with standard primers, but I’ve tried it both ways and had no problems.

Bullets for the .30 M1 carbine are those in the 100- to 110-gr. weight range. Even though this was originally a military cartridge it is not a good choice for big game, but it works well for small game and varmints. Originally the M1 Carbine was to be used by mostly back-up personnel and those not on the front lines, even though it did find favor with a few units such as paratroopers. Its purpose was to provide an easier-to-shoot weapon than the issue 1911, especially for those who have very little experience with firearms. The M1 Carbine doesn’t have much more recoil than a 22.

John’s go-to components for his .30 M1 Carbine loads.

Real-World Tips

In loading, overall length must be such it will fit easily into the magazine and also feed and chamber flawlessly. Any time I load for any semi-auto rifle or pistol, the first step is to produce a few dummy rounds to make sure they load into the magazine and chamber with no problems. For bullets I go with the Remington 110-gr. JSP, the Sierra 110-gr. JSP, the Speer 110-gr. JSP, and the Speer 100-gr. Plinker (a lead bullet in a copper cup). I also have the supply of bulk-packed 110-gr. RNFMJ bullets that work well.

I like to use factory loads as my guide. Buffalo Bore offers both 110-gr. FMJ and SP .30 Carbine loads just under 2,100 fps. The former shoots exceptionally well with groups just over 1″ for four shots at 42 yards. My most accurate loads in the Plainfield Carbine were the Remington 110-gr. JSP over 12.0 grains of #2400 (1,860 fps), the Sierra 110-gr. JSP with 14.0 grains of H110 (1,842 fps/1-1/8”), and the Speer 100-gr. Plinker over 13.0 grains of #2400 (1,950 fps/1-3/8”).

My most accurate load turned out to be one assembled with H108. With this powder, 13.0 grains under the Speer 110-gr., JSP, groups are right at an inch with a muzzle velocity of 1,825 fps. Of all the loads assembled, the slowest clocked 1,750 fps while the fastest was over 2,050 fps. All loads — no matter the bullet or the velocity — chambered and performed flawlessly. With the unknown “bulk,” 110-gr. RNFMJ performance was excellent with 13.0 grains of Accurate #9 (2,000 fps/1-1/2″).

I haven’t shot sporterized carbine as extensively yet. The most accurate loads (4 of 5 shots at 42 yards in 1-1/8″) are the Remington 110-gr. JSP over 13.0 grains of H108 (1,850 fps) and the Speer 100-gr. Plinker over 14.5 grains of H110 (1,985 fps). This Speer is one of the easiest to find and also one of the least expensive.

These targets fired with the military .30 M1 Carbine are proof-positive it likes Remington’s 110-gr. JSP.

Lightweight Love

I’ve spent much of my life shooting big-bore rifles and I now find it much more relaxing to shoot the lighter recoiling ones — lever actions in .25-20, .32-20, .32 Magnum and .327 Federal. To these I can now add the .30 M1 Carbine. It’s certainly not the best choice for a self-defense rifle, but I wouldn’t feel all that under-gunned with a 110-gr. JSP at 2,000 fps.

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