M1 Enforcer Carbine Pistols at RIA

There are rarely any truly original ideas in the gun world, and today’s “pistol” ARs and AKs are not among them. Back in the 60s and 70s, companies were marketing the “Enforcer” M1, a pistol version of the WWII M1 Carbine. Rock Island has two in their upcoming auction, one made of military surplus parts by Iver Johnson and one made of new-production commercial parts by Universal.


  1. Neat! Were the IJ carbines completely made up from surplus parts or did they include new IJ-manufactured parts that were made to MILSPEC? As I commented a good while back on the Iver Johnson book review, the IJ M1s (carbine and Enforcer) had a much better reputation for both reliability and surplus-parts compatibility than the Universals, who had a general shoddy reputation that was born out by the ones I’ve looked at – just had that “not well made” feel. (If I’m not mistaken, the rather problematic run of Universal carbines in .256 Winchester may have been the largest run of guns in that sadly neglected caliber – there was the Ruger Hawkeye and a hammerless Marlin lever action but not many of either were made and I think about 15K of the Universals were manufactured even though they didn’t work very well.) However I’ve shot several IJ carbines (including a couple of Enforcers) and they were solid, reliable little guns. But the muzzle blast from factory/ military ammo out of a 10″ barrel is memorable – definitely loaded for a 16″. The unburned-powder blast with factory ammo from a 7 1/2″ .30 Ruger Blackhawk is even more impressive, especially at night.

    • There were different versions of the Universal rifle made over the life span of the company. Some used surplus parts, some had copies of the military parts and some used others used new designed parts.

      A guy here swags his own 1/2 jacket bullets for his late model Universal M1(the ones that people say don’t buy). He has gone thru over one 5 gallon pail of bullets(no loaded rounds) and never has had a problem with the rifle. But he doesn’t use a maximum powder charge either.

  2. I recall at the time that basically nothing is mil-spec with the Universal, whereas everybody and their mother made carbines during WWII. The .30 cal. carbine cartridge isn’t much more than a long pistol cartridge anyway.

    • “The .30 cal. carbine cartridge isn’t much more than a long pistol cartridge anyway.”
      .30 Carbine is in case shape and round-nose FMJ bullet (“ball” in US Army parlance) similar to automatic pistol cartridge, however it must be noted that .30 Carbine can withstand much bigger pressure than automatic pistol or revolver cartridge.
      SAAMI specs http://www.leverguns.com/articles/saami_pressures.htm states that:
      .30 Carbine has maximum average pressure: 40’000
      .45 ACP – 21’000
      .38 Super – 36’500
      .357 Magnum – 35’000
      .44 Magnum – 36’000
      So as you can see it use pressure bigger even that “MAGNUM” revolver cartridges

      • I have an Enforcer and it hits hard! When I first fired it at my steel fall back shooting gallery I was surprised at the damage it was doing to it! I moved on to shooting other things and it was a blast to shoot, a lot of noise and large muzzle blast. So I looked up the ballistics, a .45 has about 400 foot pounds at the muzzle but that Enforcer has about 800! So it is my go to gun for home protection, 800 foot pounds times 30? How do you beat that?

  3. Back when dinosaurs ruled the earth (around ’68, I think), when I was a kid in Chicago, some guy shot one or more cops.

    A huge manhunt ensued. The local news interviewed a cop on the street who produced an Enforcer from the trunk of his squad car, remarking words to the effect of “I’m going to get him before he gets me.”

  4. “There are rarely any truly original ideas in the gun world, and today’s “pistol” ARs and AKs are not among them.”
    Sawn-off rifles were quite common during Russian Civil War and was called “Обрез” (Obrez) most common were sawn-off Mosin rifles, but older Berdan rifles also were used for such conversions.

    • Actually, those were cutdown “regular” carbines which the SLA had also converted to full-automatic fire. Both of which were, and are, highly illegal without a special permit that the SLA never bothered to obtain.

      In the old Encyclopedia of Firearms edited by Harold L. Peterson, the entry on “Guerrilla Guns” noted that cutdown .30 Carbines were a common weapon used by leftist guerrillas in Latin America and the Far East, largely because both the guns and their ammunition were commonly used by security forces (obtained via MAP) and were thus easily available.

      The most commonly “cutdown” version was the M1A1 “paratrooper” model with the folding stock. Cutting its barrel back to just in front of the forend (about 12″), and re-attaching the front sight made a very compact weapon which with its folding stock could still be fired from the shoulder with reasonable accuracy. Plus, it already had a wooden pistol grip, obviating the need to make one and figure out some way to secure it to the stock.

      One “cutdown” Carbine that used to be in the ATF “gun library” was a bit more involved. It had no wooden stock at all. The hobbyist who made it had fabricated a metal housing with a 1911-type pistol grip, resulting in a pistol not unlike a Mauser “Broomhandle” with an eight-inch barrel. He also mounted a muzzle-weight rail under the barrel and a High Standard target .22- style muzzle brake, complete with a HS front sight.

      Exactly what he intended to do with it I can’t say; it occurs to me that it would have been a nasty “rule-beater” in the centerfire matches at Camp Perry. The again, it may have simply been intended to be his own unique “plinker”.

      ATF were not amused. They confiscated it. It has probably been destroyed since then.

      I’ve often thought that an “Enforcer” would be an interesting basis for such a conversion. Since it’s already defined as a pistol, there would be no legal issues in doing it that way.



  5. I picked up a used Universal (full size) Carbine for cheap. With some good magazines, it’s actually been a gem.

    Imagine one of those pistols with a side folding stock and sling swivels: viola! Instant PDW.

  6. While the Enforcer does look somewhat formidable as a weapon that a cop could whip out from under a jacket, I’m pretty sure the wooden furniture should be cut down a bit more if only to make it look a bit more serious. Today some idiots might think the Enforcer is just some stupid movie prop because they would compare its appearance to the “war-like” look of a Kalashnikov. Is there a way to make this with a synthetic one-piece stock?

    Weapon of choice questionnaire:

    Given a choice of pistol caliber weapon while hunting for a serial killer near some spooky abandoned train yard or factory district, which would you take?

    1. Enforcer Carbine
    2. MAT-49
    3. Sterling SMG
    4. Reising Model 55
    5. Type 100 SMG with bayonet fixed
    6. Thompson, any Thompson
    7. Carl Gustav M/45
    8. PPSh-41
    9. Steyr-Hahn Doppelpistole M.12 or Mauser M712 Schnellfeuer
    10. Danuvia 39.M or 43.M
    11. Experimental Soviet LAD light machine gun chambered for 7.62×25 Tokarev.
    12. Screw this! Fire up an armored train and chase the killer down the railroad tracks of doom!
    13. Add your favorite toys to this list!

    Disclaimer: the questionnaire is for entertainment purposes only. You are not required to respond to it if you do not wish to do so. Please keep any criticism of this post humane and within boundaries of civil conversation.

    Thank you.


    • My HK 51 with a few X-products drums and night vision gear. Short enough to be handy at close quarters and in 7.62 NATO will turn cover into concealment pretty quickly. I’d also bring a chainsaw in case he was one of those “horror movie” serial killers that kept getting up after being shot. I figure if I dismembered him, he couldn’t get up and stab me after I dropped him with a mag dump.

    • As Keith’s Third Law says, never bring a pistol to a rifle fight. A train yard is the definition of “rifle fight” territory.

      (TIA; my grandfather, a “railroad bull”, was murdered in one in 1910. He was at least partly the basis for the protagonist of the short story “The Second Challenge” by Mackinlay Kantor; the gun and holster described in the story, and the dog, were identical to his own.)

      The lightest thing I’d take into such a situation would be a Thompson. I’d rather have a .30-30 Winchester, unless I could lay my hands on a BAR .30-06, preferably the Colt Monitor version.

      BTW, you’re unlikely to find a “serial killer” in a railyard. And PS- Jack the Ripper apparently never really existed;


      There’s a good chance that Zodiac fell into the same category. A combination of random street killings and a “mail hoax” by one or more journalists.

      Needless to say, this probably doesn’t sit too well with the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit, since those were Case Zero and Case Zero Alpha for defining “serial killer profiling”.

      It probably doesn’t please Criminal Minds fans, either.




          • Oh, yeah, I forgot that there were several abandoned or derelict trains sitting in the rail yard… Too many places to hide oneself….

          • CD;

            Now you’re getting it.

            Statistically, people who get run over by trains while on foot fall into three categories;

            1. Drunks or others too oblivious to get off the track (stoned, etc)

            2. People injured, unconscious, or otherwise physically unable to get off the track

            3. Suicides who don’t want to get off the track.

            The latter account for over half of all “pedestrian” deaths caused by trains.

            This is how the old Hollywood cliche’ of “OMG! The heroine’s foot is caught in the switch!” came about, along with the Snidely Whiplash-style villain tying said heroine to said track. There’s really just no other way for someone to get hit by a train while on foot and conscious. Because all they have to do is just step off the track.

            BTW, one of the very few known real-life incidents of “foot in the switch” was related by Robert A. Heinlein. A woman was caught that way crossing a track, and her husband and another man tried to free her. All three were killed when the train struck them.

            The other man…was a hobo.

            As Heinlein said,

            “He could have saved himself, but he didn’t. The woman’s husband didn’t leave; it was his place, and his proud duty, to live and die with his wife. But the tramp owed them nothing. Nevertheless, he stayed, and died, trying to the last to save someone he didn’t even know.

            “That is how a man dies.

            “That is how a MAN- lives!”

            Trains make very poor weapons unless the intended victim is either unusually cooperative… or terribly unlucky.

            Facts are stubborn things. Something Hollywood has yet to learn.



    • The MAT 49,Sterling,Carl Gustav and the Danuvia’s would be my choices. I don’t like the Papasha’s or Thompson’s rate if fire. The Danubia’s were fast as well, however. If available, I would probably take a Walther MPL.

  7. I remember coming across a couple of sawn-off US carbines in Vietnam many years ago. One was in the hands of some suspicious-looking American characters near Xuan Loc ?Phoenix team, the other was with some US MPs that I got to know. I guess they must have worked OK. Sadly, many years later, a maniac killed 8 people in an office building here in Melbourne(Aust)using a sawn-off M1. He had sawn the barrel of so far back that the gun would not cycle, so he had to operate it as a straight-pull action. Obviously still worked, tragically for those involved. He was pushed out of a window (8 floors) by a brave staff member!

  8. Being in the Movie Gun trade, I would like to explore the “Enforcer” concept further….Did IJ make any in the “M2” configuration for LE use? I note the slotted M2 type woodwork on the example shown?
    I agree, Universal Carbines are a bit of a crap-shoot…some are OK, others are Krap. I have sufficient M1 Carbines of “Common Makers” (Inland, Saginaw, Winchester) to sacrifice a couple to make a Pair of Enforcers for my Movie Inventory (with collapsible/removable butts, sling, etc )
    I remember back in the late sixties, an article about use (private) of an Enforcer by a Helo Pilot in SVN…his CO eventually told him to “Lose it” and carry an M16 or a Colt .45). That guy (the Pilot) was before his time. Of course, as .30M1 Car. Ammo was on general Issue in SVN (ARVN and US), he had no re-supply problems.
    BTW, anybody got Blue-Prints ( Engineering designs with specs) for M2 Parts???

    Doc AV

    AV Ballistics Film Ordnance Services
    Brisbane Australia

  9. I kept a Universal Enforcer as a “house and car” gun back when I was in college. I got it as payment for helping out on a roofing job. It was an early ’60s model w/wooden handguards. Fun shooter and a pretty good defensive weapon at close range. It’s been sitting in a safe for a long time, but I always wanted to do a registered SBR conversion with an M1A1 paratrooper stock. I doubt I’ll ever get around to it. One of the old NOPD majors I know said they were quite popular with the cops back in the 60’s and 70’s. He called it an “alley sweeper.”

    • In The Tunnels of Cu Chi, one ex-“tunnel rat” noted that a cutdown M1 Carbine was one of their backup weapons. They called it “the cannon”, and used it when heavy firepower was needed. It was more maneuverable in the confines of a tunnel than even an XM177, and unlike the 5.56mm weapon it didn’t deafen you quite as much when it went off in close quarters.

      Even the .45 automatic was considered too “loud” for use in the tunnels. The most common “rat” pistols were .38 Special revolvers, which were easily obtained from stores because they were standard issue for pilots in all U.S. service branches.

      Frankly, the most often-used “rat” weapon was a sheath knife. Any sheath knife.

      In tunnel warfare, its “range” was more than long enough.



  10. I personally like the .30 carbines in M1 and M2 iterations. I have owned a few and shot a lot. If reloaded right you can reproduce the ballistics of a .357 or even a .44 mag. I once gave Wife one for Christmas and it is her favorite. I like to use twin 30-round clips taped together for a total of 60 rounds which would do fine in the train yard scenario posed by Master Cherndog above. W. H. Womack of Shreveport, LA once converted one to a cut-down and blown our .22 mag case and it was fantastic. I shot it several times before and after he installed a selector and liked it a LOT more than any version of the M-16. I always wanted one in semi-auto but never got around to having it built. I still have the Maple/Black Walnut laminated thumbhole stock for one in the safe that is not inletted yet. I may use it for one of my Rem. 600s some day…

  11. Another of my fantasies is an M2 with a drum mag like the the Thompson or the PPSh 41 “Burp Gin”. A “battle spec” scope would be nice as well. This should have more rounds due to the weight differential/round and a more controllable weapon in Full-Auto.

    • You would probably have liked the experimental Thompson M1928 in .30 USC that Colt built in 1942. It had its own modified Thompson magazines instead of Carbine mags, and IIRC the modified .45 50-round “L” drum held 75 rounds or thereabouts.

      I’ve always thought that the best ‘all-around’ caliber for the “Tommy” would have been .351 WSL. Most obviously because its cartridge profile should have fed very reliably through the Thompson magazine and action. And it reached out farther and hit harder than even the .45.



    • There was also the Kimball pistol in .30 Carbine that was supposed to replace the 1911. While good in theory, it was equally dangerous on both ends! AMT also made the “AutoMag III” in that caliber. I’ve never owned or fired one, but from what I could gather, they were “hit and miss” like most AMT firearms. You could get great one or a stinker, depending on which day of the week they were assembled. My FIL has one of the Ruger Blackhawks, and it is quite a “blast” to shoot. He uses it to zap coyotes on his ranch. All in all, I really like the .30 carbine and I have a few. A buddy of mine has a registered M2, and that, I think, is where the gun and cartridge really come into their own. It’s light, accurate, controllable, and when fired in bursts, it is a hard hitting little weapon that gives better power and ergonomics than most SMGs of the era.

    • Daniel,

      The carbine thing you’re thinking about was built and promoted by Melvin Johnson.

      He built them in 30 carbine and 5.7 Johnson spitfire. His version also sports an insanely compact and simple deployable stock that doubled as a foregrip when folded. Unlike pretty much every other enforcer type m1 carbines, his was at least nominally concealable.

      If I remember right, Johnson actually originated the enforcer type cut down m1 carbine concept and came up with the name too.

      As is almost always the case when it comes to Johnson, he did it first and his version was superior to any of the guns built after his.

      It’s truly a shame how pitifully few firearms enthusiasts even know who he was, and truly shameful that so many who are aware of him have nothing positive to say about Johnson EVER.

      It’s especially sad because his designs, ideas, and etc are the foundation that the modern American firearms world depend on to stay solvent!

  12. I had a good friend from high school that ended it by letting a train hit him when he was in his early 20’s. I was in college at the time and hadn’t seen him for a couple of years.

    I hadn’t thought about him in a few years until today. He was one of many friends that I had that were killed, one way or the other, before they reached the age of 25. Just seems such a shame that he had a choice.

  13. I’ve searched the interwebs for a photo of a cut down carbine in service but haven’t found one yet. Supposedly they were popular with advisors in the early days of Vietnam. I have a photo of Norman Schwarzkopf helping a wounded soldier. He’s armed with an M1A1 but since the barrel is behind his body you can’t tell if it was standard length or not.

    From what I could gather the “Advisors Gun” was modified in theater and consisted of a cut down M2 in an M1A1 stock. It would not be difficult to make a legal SBR along the same lines form an Enforcer pistol.

    My favorite version of the carbine is just the standard wood stock with a 30 round magazine and the 2 mag pouch on the stock. This is a very handy setup to have a carbine and 60 rounds of ammo ready to go.

  14. Mr. eon:
    I agree on all points. I fell in love with the Thompson even before I knew who Ann-Margret was. I have several friends who owned and/or own various models and have shot a LOT of ammo through them. You are also right about the Winchester .351 Self-Loading round being a prime candidate for an alternative to the .45 ACP. A version of this was built and tested in 1919 but nothing ever came of it. The reasoning was that many law enforcement agencies were armed with the Winchester Models 1905 and 1907 rifles. In fact, this was the main weapon of choice for the agents hunting and finally killing “Bonnie and Clyde” in north-central Louisiana. (The next favorite was the BAR.) The reasoning was that the .351 would have more power, be more controllable and reduce the disparity in ammo supplies. As usual, you have the uncanny insight of seeing alternatives that were probably not apparent to those present at the time or they did not have the vision of your obvious experience. As Werner Von Braun once told me, “The first prerequisite to invention is imagination; first you must imagine it before you can build it.” (Cape Canaveral/1957:ATLAS ICBM Program)

  15. I have seen a few full-auto Enforcers.
    One was on sale on Commercial Row at the old Second Chance Bowling Pin Shoot.
    I was intrigued but broke. A not uncommon condition in my case.

    It has been quite a few years since I’ve seen one for sale.
    Pretty sure there are a few still out there.

  16. Not absolutly sure but I think that there is a picture of a cutdown carabine being held by US advisers in Vietnam in a Paladin press book by either Truby or Minnery

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