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 estimated at 1500.
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.
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 1014. The highest is 2453. It appears the serial numbers started with s/n 1000 or 1001.
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.
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.
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.
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
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