The United States developed the M1 carbine very quickly at the beginning of World War Two, once the German “blitzkrieg” made it clear that highly mobile enemy forces could threaten rear echelon troops in a modern war. The M1911 pistol was seen as a difficult weapon to use well, and a light carbine would offer much greater effectiveness with less training. It was estimated that 500,000 would be needed, and more than 6 million were eventually produced during the war. The M1 Carbine would equip drivers, artillery crews, mortar men, headquarters staff, paratroops, and many more.
The M1 Carbine was developed by Winchester, but they were not participants in the first round of trials, Instead, their design came about when Rene Studler (head of the Ordnance Department) saw Winchester’s “M2” rifle prototype, a lightweight .30-06 intended to compete with the M1 Garand. He urged them to scale it down for the light rifle trials then ongoing in 1941, and Winchester complied. The design used a Garand-like rotating bolt and a gas tappet system designed by David Marshall Williams for the .30-06 rifle. The new carbine was cobbled together in less than two weeks, and is a truly fantastic achievement.