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

Worcester, Massachusetts

Website Under Construction


Auto-Ordnance - The Early Years

Auto-Ordnance Corporation was incorporated in Queens, NY in August 1916. The company was founded my an ex U.S. Army Ordnance officer, John T. Thompson. The company has been best known for the submachine gun that was named after the company's owner. In 1939 Auto-Ordnance was acquired by businessman Russell Maguire. In 1940 Auto-Ordnance moved to Bridgeport Conn. [New York and Conn. Corporate records; Shotgun News, October 2007]


WWII, the U.S. M1 Carbine, and Auto-Ordnance

In October 1940 U.S. weapons manufacturers were given notice of the basic specifications for a light infantry rifle that the War Department was interested in having developed. In response to this opportunity, Auto-Ordnance Corporation submitted two models of a light rifle for U.S. Army Office of Ordnance preliminary trials in May-June of 1941. An improved version was submitted for the final trials in September 1941, but lost out to a design submitted by Winchester. The Winchester design quickly evolved into what we now know as the U.S. Carbine caliber .30 M1.

Government contracts for the production of the U.S. Carbine caliber .30 M1 were granted to ten primary contractors. The final two contracts were granted in January 1943, to Saginaw Steering Gear and International Business Machines. The M1 carbine, at that time, consisted of 87 different parts. None of the ten primary contractors manufactured all of their own parts. Each required the assistance of various subcontractors. In March 1943 Auto-Ordnance was subcontracted to manufacture all of I.B.M.'s bolts and slides, and 50% of all of I.B.M.'s receivers. The bolts and slides manufactured by Auto-Ordnance were marked with the letters AOB. The receivers show the name I.B.M. above the serial number, with the letters AO stamped in the receiver bevel below the serial number.

During 1943 Auto-Ordnance was unable to fulfill their contract for I.B.M., due to a variety of internal problems related to the management at Auto-Ordnance. The situation became critical enough that the Office of Ordnance relocated an I.B.M. management team to the Auto-Ordnance facility along with Ordnance officers. As a result, Auto-Ordnance management changes were implemented, a second subcontractor was used for bolts and another for slides, and other issues were addressed so that by the end of 1943 Auto-Ordnance was able to meet it's revised quotas. Between August 1943 and the cessation of production in May 1944, I.B.M. produced a total of 346,500 M1 carbines. [War Baby! The U.S. Caliber .30 Carbine by Larry Ruth pp. 191-195]


1945 to 1999

Ownership of Auto-Ordnance changed hands several times between 1945 and 1951, when it was acquired by Numrich Arms of West Hurley, N.Y., later known as Gun Parts Incorporated. Numrich Arms Corp. specialized in selling gun parts, and often bought up the remaining inventories of defunct gun manufacturers. Included in their purchase of Auto-Ordnance were a large number of parts for the Thompson Submachine Gun. In February of 1999 Auto-Ordnance was sold to Kahr Arms of Blauvalt, N.Y. [Shotgun News, October 2007]

Kahr Arms was founded and incorporated in New York in September 1994, by the Reverend Sun Myong Moon of the Unification Church. Kahr Arms was a subdivision of the Saeilo Group (pronounced "Say-low"), also founded by the Reverend Sun Myong Moon and incorporated in Queens, NY in September 1981. Kook Jin (Justin) Moon, 4th son of the Reverend Moon, has been the CEO of Kahr Arms since the beginning. Justin Moon was born in South Korea and educated in the United States. He is a graduate of Harvard University and the designer of a number of the semi-auto pistols manufactured by Kahr Arms. Justin Moon is justifiably recognized as the driving force behind Kahr Arms, and as a very capable gun designer. [New York Corporate records; The Rise Of The House Of Kahr by Massad Ayoob, American Handgunner magazine, November & December 2001, p.58-67]

Birth of the Auto-Ordnance M1 Carbine

Israel Arms International (IAI) of Houston, Texas had contracted with SMI-MA Inc. (Saeilo Manufacturing Industries Inc., Massachusetts) for the manufacture of barrels and receivers for the M1 carbines being sold under the IAI name in 2002/2003. IAI filed Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Texas in August 2003. The court documents list SMI-MA Inc. as one of the creditors IAI owed a substantial sum of money. [U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Houston, TX, Case #03-42315 August 29, 2003]

At the annual Shooting, Hunting, and Outdoor Trade Show (S.H.O.T. Show) January 2004 in Las Vegas, Nevada, the Kahr Arms booth displayed an M1 carbine the company planned on manufacturing and marketing under the Auto-Ordnance name. The Editor-In-Chief of The American Rifleman magazine, Mark Keefe, convinced the management present, including Justin Moon, that the carbine they should manufacture "is a gun that looks just like a World War II gun, a D-Day gun. If you have to make new parts anyway, you might as well make parts that guys want." With the assistance of the NRA's National Firearms Museum and a number of people knowledgeable about the original U.S. M1 carbines, Kahr Arms ala Auto-Ordnance redesigned their M1 carbine. The end result began appearing on the shelves of retailers in the Winter of 2005. [The Return Of The M1 Carbine, by Mark A. Keefe, IV, Editor-In-Chief, American Rifleman, May 2006, Pages 50~51, 76~78]

The carbines that actually appeared in the Winter of 2005 were the Model AOM110 & AOM120, which featured a birch stock, metal ventilated handguard, adjustable rear sight, rotary safety, and barrel band with bayonet lug. Except for the handguard, which was never used on a GI carbine, this would be correct for an M1 Carbine manufactured in late 1944, 1945, or rebuilt after the war. Not until they introduced the Model AOM130 & AOM140 sometime late in 2006 did their carbines feature the characteristics of a GI carbine on D-Day. The American Rifleman authors advice as to what people would rather own was correct. Auto-Ordnance carried all four models for about a year then discontinued the AOM110 & AOM120.

Kahr's corporate headquarters is located in Blauvelt, New York. Production and assembly operations are located in Worcester, Massachusetts.


The Carbines

Auto-Ordnance appropriately refers to their carbines as "replica M1 Carbines". They look like an M1 Carbine, feel like an M1 Carbine and function like an M1 Carbine. The stock and hand guard are the main difference between each of the different models. The carbines inside the stocks are all the same. Some carbines have an adjustable sight, some have a flip sight adjustable for elevation only.


Auto-Ordnance Model AOM110 with birch stock, ventilated handguard, late barrel band with bayonet lug, adjustable rear sight, and rotary safety.
[this photo and the 14 photos below showing the markings, receiver, barrel, recoil system, and trigger housing group were provided courtesy of Bruce Fenstermaker, who also provided assistance in clarifying the models and changes made]


Auto-Ordnance Model AOM130 with standard walnut stock, walnut handguard, early GI type barrel band, flip sight, and push safety.

Markings

The markings on the receiver ring are part of the casting die. The "CAL 30 ML" is a trait carried over from the carbine receivers manufactured for IAI. The mold appears to be the same mold used to manufacture the late IAI receivers. The company name and serial number are stamped after the receiver is machined but before it is hardened.

The Receiver

The Auto-Ordnance receivers are made from 4140 steel by investment casting and machined using CNC machines. The lug on the bottom of the receiver that mates with the front of the trigger housing has a web on the front side (2nd photo below). This web is a "genetic link" initiated by Plainfield Machine in the 1960's and continued by Iver Johnson when they took over Plainfield Machine. IAI's first receivers were surplus left over from Iver Johnson and Plainfield Machine. When the surplus ran out the tooling used to make the IAI receivers was formed from the Iver Johnson mold. When IAI went bankrupt Auto-Ordnance inherited the tooling and the web has continued on the Auto-Ordnance carbines.

The Barrel, Recoil System, and Trigger Housing Group

The operating slide and trigger housing are also investment castings. The barrels are manufactured for Auto-Ordnance by Green Mountain Barrels, and have four-groove rifling with a 1:20" right-hand twist and a 45-degree chamfer at the muzzle.

The Auto-Ordnance Models

The Model AOM110 & AOM120

The first carbine introduced by Auto-Ordnance was the Model AOM110. The carbine first appeared on their website in June 2005. In August 2005 the website added the Model AOM120. Both models featured a birch stock, ventilated metal handguard, barrel band with bayonet lug, adjustable rear sight, and rotary safety. The Model AOM110 came with a 15 round magazine, the Model AOM120 came with a 10 round magazine. These two models no longer appeared on their website as of November 2007.

The website dates should not be confused with the date a particular model first became available or was phased out. Websites are marketing, not operations. According to the above article in the American Rifleman the first Auto-Ordnance carbines appeared on the shelves of retailers in the Winter of 2005. These would have been the Model AOM110. The Model AOM120 was added for states with laws limiting magazine capacities to ten or less. These two models were replaced by the Models AOM130 and AOM140 sometime in late 2007.

Auto-Ordnance
Model AOM110 & AOM120
M1 Carbine
Caliber: .30 carbine
Barrel: 18 inches
Length: 35 3/4 inches overall
Weight: 5.4 lbs
Construction: steel receiver, round bolt, stamped metal handguard with holes
Finish: parkerized
Sight: Blade front sight, aperture type rear sight, adjustable for windage and elevation
Stock: birch
Features: (AOM110 comes with one 15 round mag, AOM120 comes with one 10 round mag)
Warranty: 1 year


The Model AOM130 & AOM140 GI style Model

By popular demand, Auto-Ordnance replaced the birch stock, ventilated handguard, barrel band with bayonet lug, adjustable rear sight, and rotary safety of the Model AOM110 & AOM120 with a walnut stock, walnut handguard, early GI type barrel band, rear flip sight, and push safety to make their carbine consistent with the early GI WWII carbines. This carbine was designated the Model AOM130 & AOM140. The AOM130 comes with a 15 round magazine, the AOM140 with a 10 round magazine.

The Auto-Ordnance website listed the Model AOM130 & AOM140 for the first time in August 2005. It appears they first became available to buyers in the Fall or Winter of 2006.

Most people prefer the look of a stock made from walnut over one made from birch. Walnut was the standard for the GI M1 carbines during WWII. As walnut became less available, especially after WWII, birch was used. As far as function and durability, it made no difference if the stock was made from walnut or birch.

While appearance sells carbines, appearance is no indication as to what functions best and why. The adjustable sight, rotary safety, and barrel band with bayonet lug found on the later GI carbines served a purpose. If a person is interested in owning a carbine for appearance, these part upgrades would be irrelevant. If a person is interested in owning a carbine for function and accuracy, the adjustable rear sight and rotary safety are convenient. The barrel band with bayonet lug, on the other hand, was a definite improvement for carbine accuracy. The carbine was not designed with accuracy being a primary objective. However, hitting what you're aiming at has it's benefits. The barrel band with the bayonet lug holds the barrel to the stock much more securely than the early thin barrel band. The difference in accuracy can be significant. For general plinking, the thin barrel band is adequate.

Auto-Ordnance
Model AOM130 & AOM140
M1 Carbine
Caliber: .30 carbine
Barrel: 18 inches
Length: 35 3/4 inches overall
Weight: 5.4 lbs
Stock: walnut stock, walnut handguard
Sights: blade front, flip style rear
Finish: parkerized
Features: (AOM130 comes with one 15 round mag, AOM140 comes with one 10 round mag)
Warranty: 1 year


Model AOM130 & AOM140


Auto Ordnance User's Manual


The Model AOM150 "Paratrooper Folding Stock Model"

The Model AOM150 "Paratrooper Folding Stock Model" was introduced in 2008. The stock is commercial version of the stock used on the Model M1A1 U.S. carbines during WWII.

Auto-Ordnance
Model AOM150
Paratrooper Folding Stock M1 Carbine
Caliber: .30 carbine
Barrel: 18 inches
Length: 25 3/4" folded, 35 3/4 inches overall
Weight: 5 1/2 lbs
Stock: walnut folding stock, walnut handguard
Sights: blade front, flip style rear
Finish: parkerized
Features: comes with one 15 round mag
Warranty: 1 year


Model AOM150 "Paratrooper Folding Stock Model"
stock Auto-Ordnance photo

(Note: better and more detailed photographs will be added when I can obtain one of their current manufacture carbines.)


The Model AOM160 "Tactical Folding Stock Model"

The Model AOM160 "Tactical Folding Stock Model" was introduced in 2008. The stock is a black polymer folding stock manufactured by Choate Machine & Tool Inc. of Bald Knob, AR. The handguard is a matching black ventilated metal.

Auto-Ordnance
Model AOM160
Tactical Folding Stock M1 Carbine
Caliber: .30 carbine
Barrel: 18 inches
Length: 27 1/2" folded, 36 1/2 inches overall
Weight: 5 lbs 13 oz's
Stock: polymer stock, ventilated metal handguard
Sights: blade front, flip style rear
Finish: parkerized
Features: comes with one 15 round mag
Warranty: 1 year


Model AOM160 "Tactical Folding Stock Model"
stock Auto-Ordnance photo

(Note: better and more detailed photographs will be added when I can obtain one of their current manufacture carbines.)

Auto-Ordnance Carbine Parts

Auto-Ordnance maintains an online parts ordering system or parts can be ordered by downloading their M1 carbine parts catalog (pdf format).

Before buying any of these parts, you should be aware they are manufactured specifically for the Auto-Ordnance carbines, not a GI M1 Carbine or any of the commercial variations manufactured by companies other than Auto-Ordnance. Many of the parts are NOT interchangeable with other carbines.

Notice the warning and disclaimer under "Parts may need to be hand fitted"...

"IMPROPER FITTING PARTS MAY RESULT IN A DANGEROUS MALFUNCTION, DAMAGE TO THE FIREARM, AND INJURY TO THE SHOOTER AND OTHER PERSONS."

"It is the responsibility of the purchaser to be absolutely certain that parts ordered from the factory are correctly fitted and installed. The purchaser and installer of parts must accept full responsibility for the correct adjustment and functioning of the firearm after such installation."

Known Issues with the Auto-Ordnance Carbines

Anytime a company introduces a new product, they find out from their customers what their research & development people missed. Auto-Ordnance began retailing their carbines during the Winter of 2005. During the first year there were a number of complaints about feeding problems, the fit of the parts with one another, improper headspace, and at least one report of an out of battery discharge that destroyed the rifle and hurt the owner.

Quality Control

Reports so far have indicated Auto-Ordnance has been very responsive to anyone that has an issue with one of their carbines. However, a consistent reoccurring pattern with these carbines has been issues related to quality control. Some of the issues are small, some have been worse. Some of the carbines work without problems, sometimes owners have had to exchange their new carbine once or twice to get one that doesn't have issues. The issues vary and are inconsistent. What is consistent is their parts and carbines do not appear to undergo a consistent inspection for function. Many of these issues have been so obvious it's left a number of owners wondering if Auto-Ordnance inspects every 10th carbine instead of all of their carbines.

If you plan on buying an Auto-Ordnance carbine, inspect the entire carbine for fit, obvious signs of manufacture problems (i.e. adjust the rear sight, operate the action, turn the carbine upside down and shake it), check the stock and parts for obvious flaws, and don't wait months to test fire it.


For most manufacturers, and especially carbine manufacturers, a knot is usually cause to reject a stock.
Plugging the knot to keep it from popping out works, but. This stock was a brand new carbine by Auto-Ordnance.


One of the most critical areas on even an M1 Carbine replica is the recoil plate and it's fit to the stock and receiver. This fit significantly effects accuracy. The carbine on the left is an Auto-Ordnance carbine with the proper fit for the recoil plate, stock, and receiver. The stock cut for the recoil plate on the Auto-Ordnance carbine in the photographs center and right, does not allow the recoil plate to fit the stock or receiver properly, causing a gap between the recoil plate and receiver if the receiver is forced down into the stock. The stock center and right is a different stock than the one with the knot plug.

Auto-Ordnance replaced both of the above stocks promptly. However, you decide, should these stocks have left the factory in the first place? These are just two examples of what to look for.

Parts

If you want parts for an Auto-Ordnance carbine you need to buy them from Auto-Ordnance. While this works great for Auto-Ordnance, when and if Auto-Ordnance stops making their carbines, those who own them will have trouble finding parts.

If these parts are exchanged amongst carbine owners, because they are not identified as having been made for the Auto-Ordnance carbines and look like the parts of an M1 Carbine, someone will inevitably use them on a carbine other than the Auto-Ordnance carbines. Depending on which part it is, this has the potential of making a carbine unsafe to fire. Auto-Ordnance's own waiver should indicate to them their parts should be marked in some manner so they're not mistaken for parts manufactured to the specifications established by U.S. Ordnance during and after WWII. A collector will probably know the difference, but the average carbine enthusiast won't.