Springfield Armory M1 Carbine BB gun: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

M1 Carbine
Springfield Armory M1 Carbine BB gun.

This report covers:

  • Me and the M1 Carbine
  • Crosman M1 Carbine
  • The real deal
  • NOT invented by “Carbine” Williams
  • The Carbine program
  • Firepower
  • Hundreds of manufacturers
  • Three principal variations
  • Springfield Armory M1 Carbine
  • Description
  • Small details
  • No disassembly
  • Overall evaluation

Today I start the report on the M1 Carbine from Springfield Armory. I normally don’t like making comparisons, but in the case of lookalike airguns I have to. So today I will tell you what I really think about how closely this BB gun resembles the firearm it copies.

Me and the M1 Carbine

When I was a kid, I saw my first M1 Carbine at a friend’s house. Until that moment I didn’t know this firearm existed. My friend’s father had purchased his Carbine from the NRA for the magnificent sum of $20. Of course in those days that was a lot more money than it is today. It was more like $100-$150.

We weren’t allowed to touch the gun that was high on a rack in their basement, but I could see through the plastic bag that it was very small and light. I then began looking into the M1 Carbine for the first time.

I held my first Carbine when I was in ROTC in college. Upperclassmen got to carry Carbines for drill, while the underclassmen carried Garands. I admired the light weight of the small guns, but their manual of arms was much different because the Carbine doesn’t function exactly the same as the Garand. That’s too bad, too, because an M1 Carbine “thumb” wouldn’t hurt much at all!

Crosman M1 Carbine

The Crosman Corporation was well-known during the 1960s through the 70s for their lookalike airguns, and none was more famous than their M1 Carbine. When it came out in 1966 it was the desire of every little boy. The first year it came out with a genuine wood stock, but the next year the wood was dropped in favor of Croswood — a realistic-looking synthetic stock. The synthetic Croswood stock looks better and more genuine than the wood one even today, though the wood does command a healthy premium for its rarity.

The real deal

I have also owned several genuine M1 Carbines and currently have a very nice S’G’ made by the Saginaw Steering Gear Division of General Motors. General Motors made more Carbines than any other company during World War II. They had two divisions at three separate locations devoted to manufacturing — Inland and Saginaw. Saginaw had two separate plants. Inland made the greatest number of Carbines by far.

NOT invented by “Carbine” Williams

The Carbine was not invented by David Marsh “Carbine” Williams, despite the rumors you may have heard. Winchester invented the rifle, but needed Williams’ patented short-stroke gas piston to make it work. Williams actually did invent a different carbine that he tried to submit to the Army, but they were already in development and refused to consider his proposal. Williams was under contract to Winchester for the development of the Carbine, but they had trouble handling him and eventually cut him loose.

The Carbine program

The M1 Carbine was a small rifle that was meant to replace the M1911A1 pistol, because the Army felt too many soldiers could not shoot the pistol accurately enough. However, because it was a long gun that also carried the moniker caliber .30 M1 (but is actually chambered for a much smaller cartridge than the Garand), soldiers mentally transferred the status of the Garand to the Carbine and tried to imagine it as a battle rifle. It never lived up to that, and was condemned by many as a failed rifle, when what it really was, was a unique replacement for a handgun.

At the same time they condemned it, many soldiers also loved it for being lightweight and easy to carry. A love/hate relationship formed. I personally believe that it is impossible to examine the jewel-like Carbine action and not to fall in love — with the mechanism, if nothing more.

Firepower

And I will tell you something remarkable that’s still true today — 80 years after it was manufactured. No company to this day has packed as much firepower into a 5-pound semiautomatic rifle as you will find in the M1 Carbine. Not that it can’t be done, because with today’s improved metallurgy it is quite possible. But it hasn’t been done. Ruger’s model 44 .44 Magnum carbine that is certainly more powerful weighs — well, Wiki says 6 lbs., but try to find one that light. Mine have always weighed more!

The Carbine production program was also highly efficient in WW II. Over 6 million rifles (the exact number is unknown) were produced in 38 months (June,1942 to August, 1945). That’s from startup to the end of the program. Only one company of the 10 prime contractors failed to deliver even one rifle that was accepted, and that was Irwin Pederson, a firearm manufacturer. But Saginaw stepped in and reworked Pederson’s rifles so a few with Pederson’s name on them were delivered. Saginaw Steering Gear (designated S.G.) took over the Pederson contract and plant in Grand Rapids, MI, and was designated S’G’, for that plant location (they had two locations). That’s where my rifle came from, though the serial number is in the 3 millions, so mine was made well after Irwin Pederson was out of the picture.

Hundreds of manufacturers

No one company made all the parts of the rifle. The production program was driving interchangeability, so all parts had to fit all rifles. That’s difficult to do when 10 primes and more than 100 subcontractors were involved. Try doing that when the telephone and telegraph are your only means of communication!

The 10 prime contractors included a typewriter manufacturer (Underwood), another business machine maker (IBM), a hardware maker (Quality Hardware) a firearm manufacturer (Winchester) and a furniture/jukebox maker (Rock-Ola).

Three principal variations

There are three principal variations of the M1 Carbine encountered. The first has an L-shaped rear peep that has a low and a high peephole for close and far targets. My Winchester carbine was one of those. Type 2 had the first peep sight that was machined from steel and had other small changes.

M1 Carbine L peep
This L-shaped peep sight was the first sight found on the Carbine.

M1 Carbine machined peep
The early machined peep sight is considered the most desirable.

Type 3 has a stamped steel rear sight and a bayonet lug for your Carbine, though putting a bayonet on one isn’t recommended. It’s more of a field knife that also fits on the rifle.

M1 Carbine stamped peep
The stamped peep was the third and final version of the rear sight.

M1 Carbine bayonet
The Carbine bayonet looks more like a knife.

Springfield Armory M1 Carbine

So, what does this BB gun copy? It’s closest to a type 3 Carbine because it has the stamped rear sight and the bayonet lug. It also has the later round bolt that required less machining than the earlier “flat” bolt.

I got the Carbine BB gun with the synthetic stock, because the wood stock isn’t out yet. But this would have been my pick in any case. I must say that visually it looks exactly like wood. It doesn’t feel like wood because it is so smooth. Let’s now look at a Crosman Carbine, this Springfield Carbine and my S’G’ genuine Carbine.

M1 Carbine three carbines
Crosman’s Carbine on top, the Springfield Armory Carbine in the center and the firearm Carbine at the bottom.

M1 Carbine rear sight
The rear sight on the BB gun is clearly a copy of the stamped rear sight.

Description

This is a CO2-powered BB gun that houses both the single CO2 cartridge and up to 15 BBs in the removable magazine. Carbine owners will recognize that 15 is the number of rounds a standard Carbine magazine holds, so there is more realism. Yes, there are banana mags that hold 30 rounds, but they were made for the select-fire M2 Carbine, not for the M1. That said, almost everyone carried a couple bananas in the field.

That airgun magazine houses the firing valve and weighs 1 lb. 2 oz., so it’s a significant part of the overall weight of the gun. When spare mags become available you can expect them to be somewhat pricy because of all they contain.

The test gun (the barrel is not rifled) weighs 4 lbs. 15 oz. My S’G’ Carbine weighs 5 lbs. 8 oz. for comparison. And the Crosman Carbine weighs 5 lbs. 2 oz. It’s true that over its production life the Carbine did gain about 8 oz. of weight. The bayonet lug and flash hider and responsible for most of this, and the round bolt adds a bit.

The overall length of the test gun is 35.8-inches with a 17.25-inch smoothbore barrel and a 13.25-inch length of pull. The rear of the stock has a cutout for the oiler that also serves as the rear anchor for the web sling. You can see that in the picture of the three Carbines, above. I measured the cutout and there is more than enough room for the oiler.

Small details

Lookalike airguns have come a long way since the 1960s. Today they have to do more and be more than just a shadow of the thing they represent. And this M1 Carbine does and is! It has blowback, which means each time the gun fires the bolt is blown open and to the rear, just like with the firearm. And this bolt unlocks with an ever-so-slight twist to the left that’s similar to how the firearm bolt opens, if less dramatic.

The safety is the same as well. If you know Carbines you’ll feel at home with this one.

M1 Carbine bolt open
All the controls operate exactly like they do on a Carbine.

Staying with the bolt, it has the same spring-loaded pin to lock it open if you need to get into the barrel. You’ll have to go in through the muzzle, but that’s true of the firearm, too.

The buttstock is in two pieces that are split down the center. The join line is pretty nice, but you can feel it. The upper handguard is a separate piece.

The mag release works the same as the one on the firearm, and, as heavy as this mag is, it should drop free readily. Regular Carbine mags often don’t come out on their own when they are empty, though loaded mags certainly do.

No disassembly

While this looks like the firearm it copies, there is no possibility for disassembly like we find with many lookalike air pistols. To be able to do that, this airgun would have to be made of steel and would be far more expensive.

Overall evaluation

The Springfield Armory Carbine is a very close copy of the firearm, And, when we talk about lookalikes, the appearance is of primary importance. This one looks better than the Crosman gun. You can see it in the pictures and it looks and feels the same close up.

36 thoughts on “Springfield Armory M1 Carbine BB gun: Part 1

  1. If this carbine is as accurate as my Gletcher moisin nagant m1944 , it will be a winner. BUT I often have to adjust the elevation when I change the size of the targets if I want my Gletcher to group in the center of the bullseye
    without using hold off or hold over. Ditto for different distances–5, 10, 15 meters. I am waiting for your full report re the non adjustable rear sight. ——Ed


  2. B.B.,

    This got posted early! Isn’t this for tomorrow?

    Siraniko

    PS Section The Carbine program First Paragraph first sentence: “The M1 Carbine was a small rifle that meant was to replace the M1911A1 pistol, because the Army felt too may (many) soldiers could not shoot the pistol accurately enough.”


  3. BB
    Wasn’t expecting a review on this so fast and spent the day at a doctors office and hospital. Ex may be having pancreatic problems again and be in need of another stint in there. Hope it’s no more than that. Therefore I have not been able to test my full-auto mod on my Airsoft wood stock version.

    Basically I just filed a notch in a very small 1/32″- thick washer to clear a raised pin on top of the trigger and slid it under what looks like a disconnector that rides on top of the trigger. It prevents the disconnector? from slipping off and down and disconnecting the pulled trigger. It works with manual operation and so far has stayed in place.

    Will try it tomorrow with CO2.

    The action with barrel can be removed from the ‘wood’ stock and should also with the plastic, cant see why not?
    Remove the wood screw from the retaining block behind the receiver top / rear sight, the fwd barrel / stock band and slide off the upper fwd section of the stock . There is another wood Phillips screw on the right side of the barrel under the stock top once exposed and it releases the assembly from the lower stock. It all lifts up an out as one unit exposing the trigger action.
    I installed the upper weaver rail unit in place of the wood and it mounts with two very small Phillips screws that were removed from, and with, a small barrel clamp about mid section. The wood upper is only held on with forward and rear tabs. If it works out in full-auto I’ll send pictures.

    Bob M


    • Might as well clear it up now. That’s a Picatinny Rail, not a Weaver. My Stepdad would turn in his grave. He worked in the Picatinny Arsenal for many, many years. They lived in Newton NJ.


  4. BB
    I would assume the two part plastic lower stock is glued together, not having any exposed screws and probably assembles the same as the wood stock. Everything just drops into the stock from the top. At least I hope so. I want to swap the wood stock on the airsoft rifle with the plastic BB version, But then again the wood really looks good so I may have it on both.
    If you want a cool looking sling retainer in the stock to replace the oiler that normally resides there I simply installed two empty 45cal. shell cases on each end of a wooden dowel. Nice brass look with the sling.

    Also remember there is not a full dovetail on this Airgun that would fit the weaver rail that would normally replace the rear sight.
    Bob M



  5. I’ll take the third one from the top thank you.

    Over the years I have had a couple of these little jewels go through my hands. I wish I had hung on to one of them. Ah well, I am sure someone out there is enjoying them.


  6. B.B.

    I think this posting may be a first. You and Dennis Adler of Airgun Experience have posted reviews for the same airgun on the same day. Too bad Pyramyd Air says the M1 is not expected to be available until May 22. I’m eager to get this one.


  7. Those bayonets make awesome camp/survival/fighter knives. The quality is top shelf. With a little work you can sharpen the false edge and put an edge on this knife that will cut you if you look at it wrong. They also made a version of this with a “normal” guard and pommel. If I am not mistaken they also made a version to fit the Mattelomatic.



  8. B.B.,
    Many years ago, back in my 20s, when I was a young engineer just starting out, one of our senior engineers told me that he had brought home two M1 Carbines from his service in the Korean War (he was a bit sketchy on how exactly they were “brought home.” =>). He said he always slept with one,fully loaded, by the side of the bed as his home defense gun; he noted that he felt confident with it after having shot it so extensively. When I told him I thought they looked cool, but that I had never actually shot one, he brought one in that Friday, and told me to take it to the range and play with it for the weekend. So I did, and man was that a cool little rifle! I’ve never owned the firearm version, but I did have a Crosman M1 for awhile; the wooden stock was badly warped, which I didn’t like; but it was all original, so I sold it to a collector. I periodically search for the latter version like you have, but this Springfield Armory version looks really cool; I’m anxious to see how it shoots. Thanks for another great report. =>
    Take care & God bless,
    dave


  9. B.B.

    “The rear of the stock has a cutout for the oiler” Huh?

    Did solders in the field need to bring 3-in-1 oil with them?
    Is this the gun that failed so many solders in Vietnam?

    If this was thought to be a replacement for a sidearm, why didn’t the military just commission a sidearm that was easier to shoot accurately? What pistol weighs 5 lbs?

    -Y


    • Yogi
      It was just a slim metal tube with a screw on dipstick. A clean well maintained firearm is a happy firearm !
      They could use it to store automobile oil in a pinch.

      It was the first edition of the M16 that failed the troops, triangular forearm. They were not being cleaned enough, had corrosion problems, gunpowder, ammo case and material flaws.

      The M1 was intended to be more accurate at the range they were intended for than a pistol. Good for paratroopers and non combatant support troops.


  10. BB
    If you ever want to ” Rock-N-Roll ” the semi-auto M1Carbine firearm is a very capable and user friendly candidate when fired from the hip. Unless of course you are totally uncoordinated 🙂 Quite a rush ! And now-a-days it will bring you just a little bit closer to the poor house.


  11. B.B.,

    Admin stuff first:
    Description
    “The bayonet lug and flash hider and responsible for most of this, and the round bolt adds a bit.” are in place of and may make more sense.

    M1 Garand Thumb – M1 Carbine Thumb! Lol! Drill Teams!!! smh!

    USM1911A1 replacement; what were they thinking….
    I recently read a piece about the SIG M17-18s and how for CQB the Army now feels a pistol is the answer and the SIG does it much better than the M9. The piece went on to explain the far better ergonomics should should allow them to be fired with either hand (US Army small arms training upgrades forthcoming?) by most of the troops. I guess I’m lucky that I have such big mitts that permit me to shoot a properly equiped 1911 with both hands equally well…although my SIG P320 X-FIVE certainly is a sweet shooter with both paws!

    Enjoyed the report but preferred the CAR-14…

    shootski


  12. BB
    FULL AUTO TEST M1 Carbine Airgun. (Airsoft for now)

    Well the first mag went great. Sounded like the DPMS SBR. Quite a slammer and would probably wear it out much faster in full auto. However the trigger locked up when I let go. Locked in the cocked position and the safety was frozen in place as well.
    Evidently the loose washer I used shifted and caused a bind. It resumed normal semi-auto operation after I removed it.

    I am convinced it can be adapted to full-auto with further work. Perhaps with the removal of the disconnector or a more permanent modification. Select fire? … Not too promising at this point. All or nothing!

    Now for some bad, or noteworthy, news.
    I read a review on this (Airsoft) M1 and the guy said the mag was junk. Every time he tried to charge the CO2 it failed to completely screw down and seal it, dumping all the CO2 out the screw in plug vent holes.
    Well the exact same thing happened to me. Two times. However just before it emptied on the second try it continued to screw down and seal. Got a few shots.

    On further investigation it seems like the CO2 cartridge jambs up on the seal retaining nut. Very little room for it to slide down onto the seal. Sure enough I tried a Swiss Arms CO2 cartridge in place of the Crosman and it screwed down all the way the first time and sealed without so much as a hiss.

    Did I get lucky with the centering? The Crosman CO2 cartridges simply did not work at all and the Swiss Arms did. I measured … and the Crosman cartridge is indeed wider where the metal seal is attached.

    A slight tapering of the nut retaining the seal in the mag might solve the problem and center up the CO2 cartridge as it seals but for now it is what it is. I am going to avoid using Crosman CO2 cartridges in this rifle.
    BobM



      • Chris
        I just looked at the way the trigger assembly works and figured if I can just stop that part from moving it should prevent it from disconnecting the trigger. It proved to work but obviously it turned out to be a temporary set up. So far as I know nobody has made the conversion yet

        Needs more refinement for a permanent change into F/A and if I complete the mod I need to check for any change in FPS. One way or the other.




        • Bob,

          Well, proof in concept is the first step! 🙂 With that done, in partial anyways,….. now you just have to perfect it and insure that it does not beat itself apart. I would think? that any full auto bb rifle is going to have to use something better in the way of steel/steel-ish parts. I do not think that sintered and cast pot metal parts are going to hold up to repeated/fast cycle poundings,… very long anyways. An interesting endeavor to be sure. Wishing you the best.

          Chris


          • Chris
            Conversion complete! Used a different method. More in BB’s next blog on it. Cycle is not superfast but yes you will be subjecting it to a lot of wear and tear much faster.
            If you really want a top notch replica go for the wood. Undetectable from the real thing. Plastic wood always looks like … well … plastic wood ! Not bad, but not wood.

            Two shots in a row is the slowest I can shoot it. Practice may get it down to a single shot per trigger pull.
            Bob M


            • Bob,

              Great! Looking forwards to hearing more about it in the future. Now, to come up with something that holds more than a few shots. Hopefully it will not self destruct in 500-1000 shots. Maybe replaceable buffer pads, of sorts, to keep the parts from hammering themselves apart?

              Congratulations,…. I had confidence that you would figure something out.

              Chris


              • Chris
                Hopefully I’ll remember to comment on the buffers. This is a substantial looking Airgun inside.

                Looks like Airguns that have solid metal mags holding the CO2 are less prone to FPS dropping with rapid fire cooling, although I will not be looking into this airsoft rifle for FPS or accuracy for that mater.
                I just may leave a future BB version in semi auto. Depends on the accuracy it gets. Airsoft is not great on accuracy.
                Bob M


  13. B.B.

    Nice little history lesson to go along with the BB gun review. I learned a few things from this blog today. I live only 30 miles from Grand Rapids, MI where the S’G’ plant was located.

    FYI, that section under “The Carbine program” still has the typo.

    “The M1 Carbine was a small rifle that meant was (was meant) to replace the M1911A1 pistol,”

    Geo


  14. B.B.,

    The photo you provided of the Crosman, Springfield air gun, and S.G. firearm was stunning for me to see. I was one who always had heard and read the Crosman was the same size and weight as a real steel firearm, but the furniture is so much more . . . svelte on the Crosman. That the S.G. is only 6 oz. heavier speaks well of the density of the Croswood. That is probably why even though many Croswood stocks have small chips at the thin edges, they rarely cracked or busted open over the decades.

    Michael


  15. Bob & Chris—- I had 4 G.I. carbines and I have seen and shot many more. They all had walnut stocks. The wood stock on the Air Venturi looks like cheap hardwood. ( in the photos that I have seen). I am going to get the plastic version. I have the original Crosman M1 (plastic stock) and a Gletcher Mosin Nagant m 1944. I have many military rifles in my collection. I am happy with these plastic stocks. In my opinion, the M1 carbine looks a lot better in the plastic stock.——-ED


    • Zimbabweed
      Remember I closed with, plastic looks good … but not like wood.
      I have the Mosin Nagant also, it’s the one with the scope in P/A’s customer images. I guess I could say it looks too good to be true. My only real complaint.
      I also have a really nice heavy Airsoft A&K 1894 Winchester Gas-op replica and a relatively cheap Airsoft M1 spring powered Carbine with really nice looking plastic stocks, but they had no wood option anyway.

      I will wait to see how they hold up to wear and tear. The grain does not seem to penetrate too deep.
      I’m sure you will be happy with the composition plastic stock, especially when you realize you saved a hundred bucks. They have come a long way in imitating a wood look. I was amazed the first time I saw it.

      The wood stock may not be on par with a real M1, who knows? But know this, my airsoft, M1 ( King Arms ) sort of has a blank pallet as far as the finish goes. There is none. It came with a sanding block in the box that you could use to distress the finish as you see fit before applying any type of finish you want and I’m sure that the grain will pop out very well once that’s done. It remains to be seen if the BB conversion retains that option. I have not applied any finish to mine yet. Leaning toward Linseed oil.

      What I meant to imply was that if you are a serious collector this Airgun is such a great looking copy of the real thing that you would not be disappointed in spending the extra money for the wood stock to further enhance it. A lot of people seem to be waiting for it.

      Same holds true with the Mosin Nagant in my opinion. If real wood was offered I would go for it. I also have an Airsoft K98 with real wood and a reproduction WWII sniper scope. Great replica and I do get serious with some rifles.
      I seem to recall the names Winchester, Inland and IBM on mine.

      Old shooters don’t die off …. They just switch to Airguns !
      Bob M


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