I’M a long-time fan of the M-1 Carbine and have written a couple of S.W.A.T. columns on the usefulness of this World War II veteran.
When I got my first M-1 Carbine during the Johnson Administration, surplus ammo was still available at good prices, and I shot it a lot. Virtually all M-1 Carbine ammo was non-corrosive (as long as one avoided that made in France). Unfortunately, the price of Carbine ammo has risen along with other ammunition, and it is no longer inexpensive to shoot the M-1 Carbine.
Not counting AR-15s, the Carbine remains perhaps the most popular U.S. military long arm among many shooters. I’ve known a couple of shooters who only owned an M-1 Carbine, and some who owned other rifles or carbines but carried the M-1 in their vehicles. It’s light, handy, accurate to 100 or even 200 yards in the hands of a good shooter, and fed by either 15- or 30-round magazines. But as mentioned, it is expensive to shoot these days. I thought an understudy to the M-1 Carbine would be very useful both for training and fun.
LEGACY SPORTS .22 M-1
The Legacy Sports .22 M-1 looks very much like the late war/post-war overhaul M-1 Carbine. By that I mean it has the adjustable rear sight, lever safety, and bayonet lug. Operation is the same as a standard .30 Carbine except instead of the rotating bolt, it uses a blowback bolt. Magazines hold 10 rounds instead of 15 or 30, and it is supplied with two magazines. Versions with wood or synthetic furniture are available. I chose the one with wood because it more closely resembles the traditional G.I. M-1 Carbine.
Although M-1 Carbine collectors prefer the early war guns that have the flip-up sights, cross-bolt safety, and no bayonet lug, I like the overhaul version, which the Legacy Sports model mimics.
Overall length for the Legacy .22 is 35 inches, just a shade under the G.I. M-1 Carbine’s 35.6 inches. Weight of the Legacy carbine is 4.7 pounds empty, about a half pound less than the G.I. Carbine. With a loaded magazine, the difference in weight will be more noticeable, as the G.I. gun carries at least 15 rounds of heavier ammunition. But for the most part, it feels very close to a G.I. Carbine in the hands.
When my first test gun came in, the top handguard had come off the gun and the safety lever, which appears to be plastic, was broken off. I don’t know that this indicates particular fragility, as UPS has managed to damage quite a few guns I’ve been sent or have returned to the manufacturer lately. Durability is especially important in a .22 rifle, since it tends to be a “knockabout” gun that sees a lot of use. On the other hand, most contemporary .22 rifles have a lot of plastic parts.
I returned the carbine to Legacy Sports and they immediately sent a replacement.
For testing the M-1 .22, I used mostly CCI Blazer plus some CCI Mini-Mag. The first 50 rounds with Blazer .22 LR functioned and fired reliably. Somewhere approaching 100 rounds, I had a couple of failures to extract or feed. I squirted a little oil on the bolt, worked it a few times, loaded a new magazine, and functioning was fine again.
After another 75 to 100 rounds, as powder residue built up, I got a couple more malfunctions. I didn’t want to squirt more oil because I felt that would just start gumming up the action, and after 200 rounds is usually a good time to clean and oil a .22 rifle anyway.
Because of the tighter tolerances with most .22 firearms, I don’t expect total reliability past 100 rounds or so without cleaning. When I get it, I’m pleasantly surprised. I have also found that most .22 LR self-loading rifles or pistols I test will normally function most reliably with CCI Blazer or Mini-Mag, so operation with these loads is a good indicator.
Worn in after firing a couple hundred rounds and being cleaned and oiled, the Legacy Sports M-1 .22 continued to function well.
Accuracy was good with the M-1 .22. I shot a three-shot group into the ten-ring on a bullseye target at 50 yards. I did have to adjust the rear sight a bit, but as with the G.I. Carbine, all I had to do was turn the knob on the right side of the sight for windage and slide the aperture forward or back for elevation. A friend had brought some indoor training targets that at 25 meters present targets as they would appear at 100, 200 and 300 meters for practice. He did quite well, only pulling one shot slightly on the 300-meter target. I was quite satisfied with the carbine’s accuracy.
Since one of my favorite aspects of the M-1 Carbine is how fast it handles, I did a lot of shooting on hanging plates and pepper poppers between 15 and 50 yards. In some cases I started from the low ready to work the safety, and I did two magazine changes. Like other .22 trainers, the bolt locks back on an empty magazine but goes forward when the magazine is withdrawn. Moving fast among the targets, I hit virtually every time. I’m used to the M-1 Carbine’s sights and safety, so found I could handle the M-1 .22 very quickly.
The Legacy Sports .22 makes a good understudy to the M-1 Carbine or just an enjoyable lookalike .22 rifle. It would make a dandy boy’s or girl’s starter .22 rifle, especially for someone with an interest in military weapons. If it were going to be used as a plinking or smallgame carbine, I’d consider getting a G.I. surplus sling so it could be carried more readily. It comes with a sling swivel in front and the cut in the stock for the oiler, which acts as the rear sling attachment point. The oiler is not provided, so one would have to be found to allow use of the sling. I just checked Ebay and found them for as low as $5.
The suggested retail price for the wooden stock rifle is $399.00 and $349.00 for the synthetic stock version. The savings in shooting .22 long rifle rimfire instead of centerfire ammunition will cover that quickly. The fact that the M-1 .22 comes with a spare magazine— many of the other military lookalike .22 rifles do not—also makes it more of a value.