Post WWII Commercially Manufactured M1 Carbines (U.S.A.)


The Vulcan

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Introduction

The Universal Firearms Model Vulcan 440 pump action carbine in .44 Magnum appears in the Universal Firearms brochures from 1963-1967. While the rear half remained similar to the M1 Carbine, the front half was redesigned to accommodate the larger .44 Magnum cartridge by eliminating the short stroke gas piston and converting the action from semi-automatic to pump. The carbine also uses a larger barrel.

The total number produced is not known. It is estimated at 2300-2500.

The Vulcan was born out of an interest in a carbine using a cartridge more powerful than the .30 caliber carbine cartridge, which was the subject of much experimentation in the 1960's. The Vulcan was never intended as a replacement to the M1 Carbine. It was primarily designed for hunting, at ranges suitable for the carbine barrel length using the .44 Magnum cartridge.

The M1 Carbine has survived for various reasons, the most common being they are just plain fun to shoot. The Vulcan takes the fun to a higher level, in spite of being a pump action instead of semi-automatic. All of the owners I've spoken too so far really enjoy their Vulcans. I evaluate a lot of carbines and cannot afford to keep them all. Every once in awhile one comes along that's a keeper, and my Vulcan is one of them. My son having joined me the first time I used it, shares the same opinion. This carbine stays in the family. It's not a sniper rifle, but you don't want to be the target.


Universal Firearms Model Vulcan 440
Caliber:.44 Magnum & .44 Special
Barrel Length: 18 1/4 inches
Rifling: 6 lands & grooves
Overall Length: 36 7/8 inches
Weight: 6 lbs
Stock: Walnut
Sight Options:
  • Front: Williams Guide series, sporting ramp with gold bead
  • Rear: Williams Guide series, adjustable for windage and elevation
  • Scope & Scope Mount

Note: some Vulcans have no fixed sights, some Vulcans are not drilled and tapped for a scope mount

Magazine: 5 shot, Lexan


Universal Firearms Vulcan Manual - Download (12.8 MB)

Manual provided courtesy of Classic Firearms in Chichester, NH


Earliest Advertisement


Shotgun News October 15, 1963
(see ammo section at bottom of page regarding "all other .44 caliber ammunition")


Markings & Serial Numbers

The lowest serial number observed so far is 1044. The highest is 2272. A prototype with s/n 4357 has also been observed.


Left side of barrel towards top, approx. 1 1/2" forward of receiver.


Serial number was located on left side of receiver forward of bolt opening through at least s/n 2097.


Serial number was relocated to the left side of the receiver behind the bolt opening, between s/n 2097 and s/n 2199.


On the left side of the receiver parallel to the breach the letter V is followed by a number. The V indicates the receiver is for the Vulcan.
.30 Caliber Carbines manufactured during the same time period show a similar set of numbers that are believed to correlate to the month of production.
These numbers have only been recorded for a few of the Vulcans seen so far and they are insufficient to assess their meaning. If you own a Vulcan,
sharing this information would be greatly appreciated.


The Carbine


Roll Pin in left side of receiver serves as ejector pin

Roll Pin ejector fits in slot machined in bolt


Note the Recoil Plate was made as an integral extension of the rear of the receiver


Oversized lug that accommodates both the trigger housing and the threaded rod that guides the pump action.


Trigger Housing Group is interchangeable with complete GI Carbine Trigger Housing Group


Slot in wood depicted by arrow isn't a crack, it's an expansion joint that secures the Stock Cap to the front of the stock


Forward movement of U.S. GI Hammer is retarded by extension on left side that impacts trigger housing. Vulcan's use of hardened
steel Hammer with aluminum Trigger Housing required redesign of Hammer and addition of Hammer Rebound Spring & Pin to stop Hammer's forward movement.
If Vulcan entire Trigger Housing Group is replaced with a GI Carbine Trigger Housing Group, Rebound Spring & Pin are no longer necessary.


Note Bolt has two lugs at front and an extra third lug on the right rear.


Extractor can be replaced with a U.S. GI .30 Carbine extractor but may require a slight opening of the arm that grasps the empty casing
to accommodate the .44 magnum casing. Extractor Spring and Plunger are interchangeable with U.S. GI carbine equivalents.


Shape of rear of Bolt prevents Hammer from striking Firing Pin until Bolt lugs have rotated into the locked position.


Ejector position in relation to the bolt.


U.S. GI Carbine gas system has been eliminated due to the pressure generated by the .44 Magnum cartridge. Slide handle has been
removed and tube extension attached to front of slide for manually operating Slide and Bolt as a pump action rifle.


Parts

With the exception of the stock, fore grip, and parts interchangeable with the .30 caliber carbine parts, Vulcan replacement parts are virtually non-existent. However, of the Vulcans examined to date (2011), those that have required replacement parts were parts disassembled and misplaced.

(1)Stock with Recoil Pad (12) Barrel (23) Trigger Guard Pin** (34) Magazine Lock Retaining Spring*
(2)Firing Pin Spring (13) Slide Rod (24) Trigger* (35) Magazine Lock Spring*
(3)Firing Pin (14) Slide (25) Sear Spring* (36) Magazine Lock Spring Plunger*
(4)Extractor* (15) Stock Cap (26) Sear* (37) Magazine Lock*
(5)Bolt (16) Forend (wood) (27) Trigger Pin** (38) Magazine Assembly
(6)Ejector Spring + (17) Rear Sight Complete (28) Hammer Spring* (39) Trigger Spring*
(7)Extractor Spring Plunger* (18) Forend Cap (29) Hammer** (40) Hammer Rebound Spring Pin**
(8)Extractor Spring* (19) Slide Spring (30) Hammer Rebound Spring** (41) Safety*
(9)Ejector + (20) Front Sight Ramp (31) Hammer Spring Guide* (42) Hammer Pin**
(10)Rear Action Retaining Bolt*** (21) Front Sight Ramp Screws (2) (32) Trigger Housing** (43) Rear Action Retaining Nut***
(11)Receiver (22) Front Sight (33) Magazine Lock Retaining Spring Plunger (2)*    
 
* Interchangeable with GI Carbine equivalents. Extractor may require slight filing for the lip to better engage the larger casing.

**The entire trigger housing group may be replaced with a GI trigger housing with all GI components. The Vulcan Hammer (29), Hammer Rebound Spring (30), and Hammer Rebound Spring Pin (40) are not
necessary when using a milled or stamped GI trigger housing with a GI hammer. The Vulcan's Hammer Pin (42) and Trigger Pin (27) are wider than their GI counterparts, to fit the thicker
Universal Trigger Housing (32). If a GI Trigger Housing is used, these pins and the Vulcan Trigger Guard Pin (23) should be replaced with a GI Trigger Housing Pin and the hole in the
receiver lug enlarged slightly to accommodate the larger GI Trigger Housing Pin.

***If Rear Action Retaining Bolt (10) is replaced with a GI recoil plate screw, the Rear Action Retaining Nut (43) may need to be replaced with a GI Escutcheon Nut (careful not to crack the stock).

+ Ejector Spring (6) and Ejector (9) are part of the drawing, but the ejector was redesigned and moved out of the bolt. It's not yet known if these were actually used on any of the Vulcans.


Stock & Foregrip

As you can see in the pictures above, the walnut used by Universal varied substantially in color and grain quality.

An after market replacement stock and fore grip is offered for sale by Numrich Gun Parts. A set was ordered based on their advertisement, which shows both to match in color. When they arrived it was found the fore grip was a light colored wood, the stock was a dark colored wood, and neither showed a nice grain pattern. In an attempt to obtain a matching dark walnut fore grip for the stock, telephone contact was made with Numrich. They advised they could not guarantee a matched set or the wood finish, as the foregrips were stored in one location and the stocks were stored elsewhere. They were unwilling to compare them to one another even though they were shipped in the same box. Both items were returned for a refund. Given the price they may be of interest to someone who doesn't mind refinishing the stock and fore grip so they'll match.


Magazines for the Universal Vulcan Carbine

The .44 Magnum cartridge will fit in a .30 caliber carbine magazine but it will fail to feed. Universal redesigned the magazine so it could be used with both the .44 Magnum and .256 Winchester Magnum cartridges by narrowing the interior of the magazine so the cartridges were less offset than the .30 caliber carbine cartridges, added a flat follower, and redesigned the lips at the top of the magazine to accommodate the larger casings. The redesigned magazines are not identified by the caliber.

The easiest way to identify these from the .30 caliber carbine magazines is by examining the outside walls of the magazine and checking the orientation of the Universal Firearms name on the rear of the magazine.

In the photographs below, the Vulcan .44 Magnum/.256 Winchester Magnum magazine is on the left, the .30 caliber carbine magazine is on the right.

Vulcan
followers are flat

.30 caliber carbine
followers are grooved


Vulcan
sides are straight vertical

.30 caliber carbine
mags are wider on bottom than top


Vulcan
Universal Firearms name is vertical

.30 caliber carbine
Universal Firearms name is horizontal

All of the magazines for the Vulcan .44 Magnum were made of Lexan plastic and available only in one size, which held 5 rounds of .44 Magnum
or .44 Special. Their .30 caliber carbine magazines were made from Lexan plastic or metal and available is several different sizes.

Numrich Gun Parts arranged for a replacement magazine made of Lexan with a black body and light gray floor plate. They are normally out of stock.


after market magazine offered by Numrich Gun Parts


A Note about Ammunition

Advertisements for the Vulcan claimed it could be used with any .44 caliber cartridge. This wasn't, and still isn't, true. Director of Marketing, Paul Bines, was confronted with this fact by George Nonte, who authored a review of the Vulcan for the May 1965 issue of Shooting Times magazine. Bines indicated he was aware of the error and efforts were being made to correct the this in future sales brochures and advertisements. Unfortunately Nonte's evaluation involved only test firing the rifle as opposed to a serious evaluation of it's accuracy. Nonte claimed he could produce a 3 1/2" group at 100 yards fired from a seated position on the ground. Nonte's only objection to the Vulcan was the opening between the stock and fore grip.

The Vulcan should be used with only the .44 Magnum and .44 Special cartridges.


George Nonte of Shooting Times Magazine
May 1965 issue