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At first glance, the relatively straight, rimless case of the .30 Carbine may lead unknowing shooters to believe the ammunition was designed for a pistol. Afterall, it looks more like a handgun round than one made for a rifle, but that’s not the case.

No, the 7.62x33mm round was created as a light rifle cartridge originally requested in 1938, and would eventually become the most produced small arm for the U.S. Military during the Second World War.

The .30 caliber cartridge features a round nose lead bullet with a diameter of 7.62mm, or .308 inch. The slightly tapered case has a neck diameter of .331 inch and a base diameter of .354 inch. The case has a length of 1.290 inches and an overall length of 1.650 inches.

Designed by Winchester, the ammunition features a small rifle primer and has a maximum pressure of 38,500 pounds per square inch (psi). In its original form, .30 Carbine ammo has a 110 grain full metal jacket (FMJ) bullet that reaches a velocity of 1,990 feet per second (fps) and an energy of 967 foot pound (ft·lb) force.

Although it’s most often referred to as the .30 Carbine, shooters may also come across the ammo labeled as:

.30 M1 Carbine
.30 SL (where SL stands for self loading)
.762x33mm
.30 Cal ammo
.30 Cal Carbine ammo
M1 ammo
.30 ammo

The Development of .30 Carbine Ammo

It was 1938, and the U.S. military had received a plethora of reports from the field. The M1 Garand rifle, the standard long-gun of the Armed Forces, was simply too cumbersome. It was large. It was heavy. And it got in the way of soldiers, impeding their mobility.

The Army needed a carbine, something that proved to be a better warfighting tool, specifically for its ammunition carriers, machine gunners, mortar crews, and administrative and communications personnel. It needed more range and power than the M1911A1, the Army’s standard issue .45 ACP pistol, and it needed to be lighter than the M1 Garand.

It was this need that led to what has become known as the “light rifle project.”

Finally, in June of 1940, then US Secretary of War Henry Stimson ordered the development of a lighter rifle. The request included that the carbine weigh five pounds or less (which was about half the weight of the M1 Garand rifle and Thompson submachine gun) and fire a bullet with a diameter of at least .27 caliber. At 300 yards, the bullet should remain effective and have a mid-range trajectory ordinate of 18 inches or less.

While different firearm manufacturers set out to create the new weapon, Winchester was contracted with the job of creating the ammunition.

Edwin Pugsley, a designer at Winchester (and, irrelevant to his ammunition career, the inspiration for the Addams Family character, Pugsley), took the self-loading .32 Winchester cartridge, turned the rim down, and used it as the base for the new cartridge. He fitted the rimless case with a round nose .308 caliber bullet. Like the military issue full metal jacket ammo for the .45 ACP, the lead bullet was covered in copper.

The ammo, from its first production, propelled a bullet weighing 120 grain (gr) at a velocity of 2,000 fps. The first 100,000 rounds were head stamped with “.30 SL” for self loading.

This lighter bullet, which contained more modern powder than its predecessor, traveled 600 fps faster and was 27 percent more powerful than the .32 Winchester self-loading ammo.

From .30 Caliber Ammo to M1 Carbine

While Winchester was focusing on .30 Carbine ammunition, the company was also working on its Model M2 Rifle chambered in .30-06 for the military. Because of these projects, the firearm manufacturer didn’t provide a prototype for the U.S. Ordnance Department’s “light rifle project.”

Even though multiple carbines were tested, none of the prototypes made the cut. Some failed in accuracy, while others didn’t come close to meeting the requested five-pound weight limit.

Army Colonel Rene R. Studler, who was also the Chief of Research and Development of Small Arms, convinced Winchester to modify its current project, the .30-06 Model M2, and scale it down for the new .30 caliber cartridge.

Winchester did. And 13 days later, the company showed up with its prototype. It was a success, and the M1 Carbine was officially on its way to manufacturing.

Initial Army testing began in August of 1941. After proving its effectiveness, mass production of the M1 Carbine began. And over the next few decades, over six million M1 Carbine firearms were manufactured.

Although Winchester created both the ammunition and the firearm, they weren’t the top producer of the M1 Carbine. On December 8th of that same year, the U.S. military joined the war in the Pacific. Three days later, on December 11th, Germany declared war on the U.S., entering the nation into the European battle. The country was officially a part of World War II.

Entering into the war meant more guns were needed – more than any one gun manufacturer could create. Industries all over the country set aside their products and started providing weapons the military needed, including the M1 Carbine.

The Inland Division of General Motors was the top producer of the light rifle, Winchester the second. Other notable M1 Carbine manufacturers included IBM, Underwood Typewriter Company, and Rock-Ola Manufacturing Corporation, which was made famous for its jukeboxes.

The M1 Carbine was issued to infantry, machine gun, artillery, and tank crews, paratroopers, and line of communication soldiers. The semi-automatic Carbine was issued with a 15-round magazine and featured a wooden stock.

The M1A1 Carbine was made specifically for paratroopers and featured a folding stock and a leather cheek piece. Although the stock wasn’t as strong as it could be, the M1A1 Carbine provided a compact and easy-to-carry firearm for airborne units.

Another version, the M2 Carbine, looked and functioned just like the M1, but offered selective firing (soldiers could use the gun as either a semi-automatic or fully-automatic). The M3 Carbine, the final military version of the weapon, included the set-up for the infrared Sniperscope instead of the traditional iron rear sight. The M3 became the first night vision firearm used by the U.S. Armed Forces.

The U.S. Army’s Weapon Naming System

It can be helpful to have a basic understanding of how the Army names its weapons. Starting before WWII, Army weapons were classified by types – such as rifles, carbines, pistols, and tanks.

The official name of each weapon starts with its type, followed by a model number. So, there’s Carbine, Model 1, which is often referred to as the M1 Carbine. There’s the Rifle, Model 16, that’s called the M16 Rifle.

An A is sometimes added to the name, M1A1 Carbine, which means alteration. In this case, it’s the Carbine, Model 1, Alteration 1, which was specifically designed for paratroopers. Some weapons may have an E, for experimental, which is used for modifications that are still in the testing stage and not yet accepted.

The Navy, and therefore the Marines, use a different weapon classification system.

.30 Cal: An Ammunition Designed for War

The U.S. military used the M1 and M2 Carbine in wars from the early 1940s through the 1970s, including:

World War II
Korean War
First Indochina War
Vietnam War

The rifle did not fare well during the Korean Conflict, as it was said to function poorly in the cold. Bullets from the .30 Carbine struggled to penetrate the Chinese and North Korean soldiers' heavy winter clothing and soldiers were less effective in battle.

Yet, even with these limitations, the U.S. military continued to use these carbines until replacing them with the M16 and its variants in the 1970s.

Performance of .30 Carbine Ammo

When shot from the M1 Carbine with an 18-inch barrel for which it was designed, a 110 gr bullet can be expected to travel at 1,990 fps with an energy of 967 ft·lb force. It doesn’t come close to reaching the performance status of the .30-06 cartridge for the M1 Garand Rifle, which shoots a 152 gr bullet at a velocity of 2,805 fps with an energy of 2,655 ft·lb force.

The .30 Carbine wasn’t meant to reach those standards. What it does come close to is a .357 Magnum bullet shot from a carbine with an 18-inch barrel. Its performance with an 110 gr bullet is as follows: the projectile can reach a velocity between 1,718 and 2,092 fps and an energy of 720 to 1,215 ft·lb force.

With today’s standards, the .30 Carbine reaches about half the muzzle energy as a .30-30 deer rifle and about one-third of the energy of a .30-06 rifle.

Today’s Uses for the .30 Carbine Ammunition

To a moderate degree, civilian shooters have adopted the .30 Carbine. It’s grown popular with collectors, hunters, sports shooters, and re-enactors. Hunters use it for small- and medium-sized game and large varmint including coyote, fox, and javelina.

As a hunting ammunition, the .30 Carbine has a range up to a 150 yards and handles similarly to a .357 Mag lever-action rifle. Although it has significant power, it provides inadequate energy for hunting whitetail deer.

Although it can harvest smaller species of deer, hunters should check local ordinances before using this ammo, as some states prohibit its use on deer.

The .30 Carbine has also become popular as a home-defense round. To improve its effectiveness, ammunition manufacturers have created self-defense and protection rounds in the caliber, including hollow points and ballistic options.

The M1 Carbine

By far, the most popular firearm chambered for the .30 Carbine is the M1 Carbine issued to the American Armed Forces. Officially called the United States Carbine Caliber .30, M1, this semi-automatic small rifle has been used not only in the U.S. military, but also by armed forces around the world, including the:

British Army
German Army
Japanese Army
French Army
South Vietnam Army

Although archaic by some standards, there are many places the M1 Carbine is still in use as a military-issued carbine. This includes Bolivia, Brazil, Israel, Italy, and South Korea, among others.

In 1963, the U.S. government released M1 Carbines to civilians. Most of these weapons were sold through the National Rifle Association (NRA) to its members. The carbines sold for $20 each, which included shipping and handling.

Other Firearms Chambered for .30 Carbine Ammo
Several other rifles and pistols have been chambered for this cartridge. In 1944, Smith & Wesson created a hand-ejector revolver that fired .30 caliber ammunition. Although it reached 1,277 fps and produced 4.18-inch groupings at 25 yards, the military wasn’t interested. It was simply too loud.

But other firearms followed, including the:

Marlin Model 62
Thompson Center Contender
Plainfield Machine Enforcer
Ruger Blackhawk Revolver
AMT Automag III
Taurus Raging Thirty

Types of .30 Carbine Ammo

Aguila, Federal, Magtech, Remington, and Winchester are some of the more prominent manufacturers to offer .30 Carbine ammunition today.

Bullets most commonly weigh 110 grains and leave the muzzle traveling about 2,000 fps. Bullet configurations include:

Full metal jacket (FMJ): The full metal jacket round features a lead bullet covered, or jacketed, in a harder metal, most often copper. This copper allows the bullet to keep its shape as it travels toward its target.

Soft point: The soft point round features a lead projectile, covered in the copper jacket, much like the FMJ. But at the ammo’s tip, the lead is exposed. This “soft point” allows the bullet to expand on impact, reducing penetration and increasing stopping power.

Hollow point: The hollow point .30 Carbine cartridge features a jacketed bullet. But instead of being spherical in shape, the bullet has an inverted point that reaches to the inside of the projectile. This creates a massive and uniform expansion in the bullet, making it more deadly, while decreasing the risk of over-penetration.

Flex Tip Technology (FTX): Designed and manufactured by Hornady, FTX bullets are the modern shooter’s hollow points. Using new ballistic technology, these bullets combine consistency and performance to bring shooters the best in self-defense and hunting rounds. They’re designed to have a high velocity and to create deep wounds.

Cheap .30 Carbine ammunition can be difficult to find at a local gun store, where rounds typically cost between 40 and 60 cents each. Military surplus .30 Carbine ammo is sometimes available. Some specialty loads cost considerably more.

Handloading .30 Carbine cartridges provides a good alternative and allows shooters to create specialized wildcat cartridges based on the round.

Since its beginning through today, the .30 Carbine has proven itself a cartridge that functions as a jack of all trades. The bullet is large in diameter, travels at a moderate velocity, and is effective for protecting the home and hunting most game of small to medium size.

Many rifles and pistols are chambered for .30 Carbine and come in a variety of different action types. And since the .30 Carbine generates mild recoil and is adequately accurate, its features make this cartridge a great choice for new shooters or those who want a fun centerfire cartridge for plinking.

FAQ

What is 30 Carbine ammo?

The .30 Carbine is a light rifle cartridge that was the most produced small arm by the U.S. military during World War II and is still popular today. It features a round nose .308 inch diameter bullet. In its original formation, the .30 Carbine had a 110 grain full metal jacket projectile that could reach a velocity of 1,990 feet per second and an energy of 967 foot pound force.

How can you reload .30 Carbine ammo?

The .30 Carbine is reloadable and many handloaders are fond of making wildcat rounds out of the light rifle cartridge. With soft point bullets, hand loaded rounds can come close to reaching the ballistics of .357 Magnum cartridges. And at short range, some wildcat .30 Carbine rounds can equal the performance of the .223 Remington for small game and varmint hunting.

What is the availability of .30 Carbine ammo in the future?

Although the .30 Carbine had its most fame during World War II, it is still popular today and ammunition is readily available. Many popular ammo manufacturers produce .30 Carbine rounds, including Federal, Prvi Partizan, Tula Ammo, and Sellier and Bellot. Starting at $0.45 a round, the .30 Carbine is cheaper than .30-06 and .45 Long Colt ammo.

What NATO ammo is equal in size to .30 Carbine ammo?

The NATO version of the .30 Carbine is the .30 M1 Carbine. The round can also be seen listed as 7.62x33mm, especially in European markets.

What guns use .30 Carbine ammunition?

The most popular firearm that’s chambered for the .30 Carbine is the U.S. Military’s M1 Carbine. Other guns for the .30 Caliber include the Marlin Model 62 and the Thompson Center Contender. Although the .30 Carbine is a light rifle round, it has found its way into the handgun market with the Ruger Blackhawk Revolver and the Taurus Raging Thirty.

30 Carbine Ammo originally appeared in The Resistance Library at Ammo.com.


We believe arming our fellow Americans – both physically and philosophically – helps them fulfill our Founding Fathers' intent with the Second Amendment: To serve as a check on state power.
 
Posts: 100 | Registered: January 10, 2020Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Freethinker
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Thanks for these articles. They are informative.
This statement, however, is an old claim that surfaces from time to time, but really is just silly:

quote:
Bullets from the .30 Carbine struggled to penetrate the Chinese and North Korean soldiers' heavy winter clothing and soldiers were less effective in battle.


Tests of everything from much less powerful cartridges than the 30 Carbine and much heavier clothing than the Communist soldiers were issued in Korea have demonstrated time and again that the claim that the clothing was stopping the bullets has no basis in fact.

Could a 30 Carbine bullet have been stopped by clothing at extreme ranges? Sure, that would be possible of any bullet. Admiral Kimmel was reportedly struck in the chest by a spent bullet that didn’t penetrate his summer uniform during the attack on Pearl Harbor. That doesn’t mean, however, that the typical ammunition being fired from Japanese machine guns or American guns were so underpowered that they weren’t effective at normal ranges. No one in Korea would have been using a carbine and expecting to score effective hits on enemy soldiers at ranges that the bullets would have been traveling so slowly that they couldn’t penetrate the quilted winter clothing of the Communists.

At closer ranges consider what something like a 9mm training ammunition bullet from a short pistol barrel is capable of penetrating. Typical muzzle energies of such ammunition are in the 300+ foot-pound range, or about a third of the 30 Carbine’s energy. Anyone care to put on three or four Carhart coats and take a 9mm to the chest? Not more than once.

Many people, including me, believe that the carbine’s poor effectiveness in Korea was due not to the failure of its bullets to perforate clothing, but to two genuine factors. The first is that soldiers in combat fire a lot of ammunition that doesn’t hit their targets—and regardless of what they may believe. In addition to the state of the Army’s post-WW II training that didn’t help things, engagement distances in Korea were often much farther than in the Pacific or even the European theaters. There were of course plenty of exceptions, but not always.

The other factor I believe was probably the basis for the idea that the bullets were being stopped by heavy clothing was the poor wound ballistics of the 30 Carbine cartridge. A stubby round-nosed FMJ .30 caliber bullet at a middling velocity for a rifle round doesn’t have nearly the wounding effects of something like a typical main battle rifle cartridge such as the 30-06 Springfield used in the M1 Garand. Such bullets do of course produce a temporary cavity in flesh, but the cavities are smaller and the bullets tend to penetrate deeply before beginning to tumble and transfer more energy to the target. In short, I believe that even when the tough enemy soldiers in Korea were hit by 30 Carbine bullets, they weren’t affected as much and that probably contributed to the belief that the bullets were being stopped by their clothing. The psychological conditioning of troops in battle can have a significant effect on their reaction to wounds that aren’t physically incapacitating, and that was no doubt true of the carbine bullets.




“The most common reaction to a life-or-death situation is to do nothing.”
— Amanda Ripley, The Unthinkable: who survives when disaster strikes and why (New York: Three Rivers Press, 2008)
 
Posts: 42843 | Location: 10,150 Feet Above Sea Level in Colorado | Registered: April 04, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
In short, I believe that even when the tough enemy soldiers in Korea were hit by 30 Carbine bullets, they weren’t affected as much and that probably contributed to the belief that the bullets were being stopped by their clothing. The psychological conditioning of troops in battle can have a significant effect on their reaction to wounds that aren’t physically incapacitating, and that was no doubt true of the carbine bullets.


That's a really good point. Brings to mind how the Moro warriors were so tough that the Army upgraded from 38 caliber to 45 ACP, or how the 458 SOCOM was developed in part because enemy combatants in Mogadishu were so jacked up on Khat.


We believe arming our fellow Americans – both physically and philosophically – helps them fulfill our Founding Fathers' intent with the Second Amendment: To serve as a check on state power.
 
Posts: 100 | Registered: January 10, 2020Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Good stuff .... fun read.

Yeah, about Korea, I had an uncle that fought over there (he left me a mint M1 Carbine btw and I later bought an M1A1P (Paratrooper) from an 82nd ABN guy I served with at Bragg, I still have both) ... but Uncle Harry always told me that the KPA troops and the CCP PLA troops that fought with them would wear heavy layers of clothing. One of their outer layers would be waterproofed oil cloth and then they would add even another layer over that and soak it down with melted snow/water .... and that it was so cold that the saturated outermost layer would freeze solid ... supposedly acting as a bit of a protective barrier kinda like a makeshift protective vest I guess.

He said they would find dead NKs and Chinese with 110 fmj pills not fully penetrating those layers.

His older brother, my oldest uncle who fought in both WWII and Korea always said they could never be sure if those ice tricks were true because by the time they started counting enemy dead their bodies would always be frozen solid anyway ... but he did confirm that the 30 Carbine pills did not always penetrate through all the clothing. He also said they would always charge from a distance and it was suicidal on their part. But he said the Cal 50 Ma Deuces and BARS were wicked against charging (insert pejorative here because they both hated Japanese, North Koreans and Chinese until the day they died.)

I suspect that is where those stories originated from (he was 11th Airborne) ... and he told me those stories in the 60s and 70s. Now he also told me they would stuff human bones and layers of leather in there as chest plates ... and I later read that the Chinese were the first to make protective vests that worked against muskets and some modern revolvers of the day, etc .... made those vests out of silk and bamboo. (I wanna say the first ever bullet proof vest made here in the US was made by a Catholic priest who had spent time in China if I remember correctly.)

So who knows.

I took a nice doe with my Inland that he left me using Federal 110 grain JSPs and it damn sure got the job done from about 50 yards out. That same Inland M1 is my wife's go-to home defense Carbine. She loves the thing as much as I do. It's one of those NRA M1 Carbines that he bought for $20 ... a 1944 production with all matching numbers and incredible furniture and an original oil can. The sling I had to replace because it was almost completely dry rotted. I'll try to upload a picture and post it. I reload the heck out of 30 Carbine ... I even cast boolits for the thing. They're just great little guns.

What's amazing is how many wax paper wrapped original issue mags there are still available out there. I've got some I've never even unwrapped.

ETA: This picture doesn't do the furniture justice...



___________________________________________________________
In a nation where anything goes ... everything eventually will.
 
Posts: 24 | Location: South Carolina | Registered: September 18, 2020Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Freethinker
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Interesting ideas that I have never seen mentioned in the many books I’ve read about the Korean War:

One of the coldest winters there on record and their clothing was the only way most Chinese soldiers had of keeping warm—no tents or sleeping bags, and probably not a lot of leather sheets or extra layers of clothing that might have been more useful to keep from freezing to death. But to add a little bit of supposed personal armor protection, pour water on ones’ clothes thereby reducing the insulating value to essentially nothing ….

Soldiers who were poorly equipped and fed otherwise might nevertheless have been issued body armor made of silk and bamboo, and which was possibly capable of stopping a ball from a smoothbore matchlock musket, but which was never used by the Chinese army in any other conflict involving modern weaponry ….

War stories. I’ve heard others about other conflicts, but perhaps those particular ones were true. Who indeed knows?




“The most common reaction to a life-or-death situation is to do nothing.”
— Amanda Ripley, The Unthinkable: who survives when disaster strikes and why (New York: Three Rivers Press, 2008)
 
Posts: 42843 | Location: 10,150 Feet Above Sea Level in Colorado | Registered: April 04, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Fighting the good fight
Picture of RogueJSK
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quote:
Although it has significant power, it provides inadequate energy for hunting whitetail deer.


I know a number of hog and deer hunters who will disagree with you. .30 Carbine with a modern defensive/hunting bullet is perfectly fine for shorter range deer/hog hunting (150ish yards and in), similar to other shorter range hunting rounds like .357 Magnum, .30-30, .300 Blackout, or 7.62x39.

quote:
What it does come close to is a .357 Magnum bullet shot from a carbine with an 18-inch barrel.


With .357 Magnum carbines also being a popular hog and deer hunting option.

Besides, .357 Magnum out of a shorter pistol barrel with an even lower velocity is widely accepted as a good "man stopper", with humans being bigger and hardier than even whitetail deer.

quote:
The .30 Carbine has also become popular as a home-defense round.


Waitaminute... "Significant yet inadequate" for a 100-150 pound deer, but meanwhile good for self defense from an aggressive 150-250 pound human? Wink


To be honest, the article seems a bit inconsistent. Almost as if been cobbled together from a number of pieces from several separate sources, without an understanding of how they interact with or contradict each other.
 
Posts: 26264 | Location: Northwest Arkansas | Registered: January 06, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Agree. Lots of repetition, I think cut and pasted from several articles on the same subject.

A clanger early on impaired my confidence:
quote:
The .30 caliber cartridge features a round nose lead bullet with a diameter of 7.62mm, or .308 inch.


7.62mm = .300" exactly. That is the bore diameter, not to be confused with the Internet Bore Diameter which is really the groove diameter.
 
Posts: 2897 | Location: Florence, Alabama, USA | Registered: July 05, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Thanks for that info. Good read especially since I just got myself a Quality Hardware Carbine...
 
Posts: 298 | Location: Virginia | Registered: October 10, 2012Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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