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Tucker 1371
January 5, 2013, 03:32 AM
A few days before Christmas I was perusing a gun shop down in my hometown in GA and came across an old M1 Carbine. The wood was well worn but matched and the markings said Underwood (memory is a little fuzzy and I can't remember where). It had a heat shield and what I'm guessing was a 15 round magazine. $400

I put it down and went on looking about but kept coming back periodically and fondling it. I feel compelled to buy this gun but I have no idea as to it's condition or mechanical soundness. Its looks almost certainly to be an old warhorse. What are some things to look for as far as shootability goes? It looks too worn to be any kind of collectors prize so I think it make a good shooter as opposed to a safe queen and just owning that kind of a piece of history has me drawn to it among other things.

Sport45
January 5, 2013, 06:43 AM
said Underwood (memory is a little fuzzy and I can't remember where)

What does it say on the receiver? That's where the name really counts.

amd6547
January 5, 2013, 07:33 AM
Even an "old war horse" could be worth a lot more than $400, if it is correct. The vented handguard is not original, but that may be the only thing wrong with it.
In any case, just about any non-import GI M1 carbine is worth more than $400.
Unless it is truly trashed and import marked, I would buy it...quickly.

grumpa72
January 5, 2013, 07:54 PM
There is a modern current production Carbine that uses a metal heat shield that often sells used near $400, iirc.

DnPRK
January 5, 2013, 09:47 PM
Stamped steel handguard and $400 price tag? I bet it is a Universal, not an Underwood.

If it is a Universal, I would pass on it unless it is one of the very early ones with USGI parts.

Doc TH
January 6, 2013, 12:04 AM
Look on the top rear of the receiver to find the manufacturer. Sometimes these may be hard to see as they can be partially obstructed by the receiver sight. No original carbines came with a metal upper handguard, although it is conceivable this might be a replacement for a cracked handguard.
If this is a genuine GI carbine, $400 is a very low price. So, either the seller is uninformed, or as other posters have suggested, it may be a commercially manufactured copy (e.g., Universal, Plainfield, etc.). If that is the case, you should know that these are generally believed to be questionably reliable and inferior to the originals. Personally I would not pay $400 for one of those.

Rondog
January 6, 2013, 01:59 AM
What they said. Make sure it's NOT a Universal brand. The early ones were supposedly OK, but the later ones were junk. If you can't tell the difference, pass. The later ones had a tendency to fire out of battery, so I've read.

Ridge_Runner_5
January 6, 2013, 05:01 PM
The top one in this pic is a Universal. Notice the colored safety selector markings, the way the charging handle wraps around the bolt lug, but doesn't cover it, and a small flip switch at the back of the charging handle track, which is the mechanism used to hold the bolt back, versus a simple push pin in the handle body on the USGI model.

http://i.imgur.com/Xktbrl.jpg (http://i.imgur.com/Xktbr.jpg)

You can click for a larger picture.

gak
January 6, 2013, 06:11 PM
Even it's an "import" (re-import) GI, $400 is worth it. The "import" (arsenal) mark can usually be seen on left or under side of barrel. Although they used to be derided for their largely unknown use/misuse/storage history--for good reason sometimes as many were in rough shape-- sometimes these GI "imports" can be nice finds, especially nowadays. I picked up a pretty nice '43 Inland a few years ago I swore was not an import 'til a smith going through it for me pointed out the marks in very tiny--much smaller than usual--font on the underside I'd mistaken for scrape marks. Like most, it'd been through the complete post war refit--with rotary safety switch, upgraded sight, bayo lug and (probably refit) late war '44-45 round bolt. It'd also been fit with a perfectly fine but obviously war issue (walnut) Underwood stock. Nice gun. I'd change that handguard out right away for a proper GI walnut item.

Tucker 1371
January 6, 2013, 08:45 PM
Like I said I'm very fuzzy on the locations of the markings but I'm almost certain the barrel said Underwood. I'll call the shop that had it and see of its still on the rack and see what he can tell me about it over the phone.

TomL
January 6, 2013, 11:17 PM
I would be very careful on making this purchase and I say so from experience. I have seen several and owned at least one that was a hodge podge of used parts mostly worn to the limit. Not to mention the sight dovetails were so loose it wouldn't hold a zero for more than 3 rounds. Needless to say its long gone. What I did and its well worth it is buy the book which ID's all the parts used on what manufacturer of the M1. There are several good ones written by Craig Riesch. I've also witnessed at gun shows guys with boxes of the carbine parts and they could put one together in a matter of minutes and pass it off as, well you get the picture. A good Winchester,Saginaw,RockOla that is 80% original and up will or did fetch +$700.00. TL

gak
January 7, 2013, 12:45 AM
TomL has stated some good cautions. Still, it's worth a look IMO. A lot of cosmetically rough carbines have turned out to be fine shooters nd even pride-worthy pieces after some clean-up/TLC.

All carbines were made, by specification and contracts/sub-contracts, to have interchangeability of virtually all parts, so by now it is not unusual to have a "mixmaster"--much of which may have occurred in the post war refits (the last "original" GI was aactually made in 1945) which subsequently supplied the Korean War and did service beyond including early Vietnam. Still, if the barrel and receiver both are Underwood there's a fair chance that it was a mostly un-messed-with example (even through refit) of it's major parts. As TomL would say, that still doesn't guarantee that someone didn't put a barrel on at some point to make it look "all original," but that's ok. (except for those intentionally misleading claiming truly all-original for collectors). Even so, keep in mind many carbines (and other weapons) received updates and various parts swaps in the field or new or re-issues underwent arsenal updates at times during the war. I have swapped some smaller parts into my mostly Inland example noted in my previous post--to make it even closer yet to an all-Inland strictly for my own entertainment. In fact, I'm in the hunt for a decent WWII-issue Inland stock. I swapped out the Underwood unit to someone needing that (for the same reason) and ended up with a post war/Korean War "potbelly" M2 stock--a legitimate military arsenal-issue but replacement and non-walnut piece. I'd like to get it back closer to original WWII issue.
...Or, as a nod to TomL, it could be completely worn-out junk!

amd6547
January 7, 2013, 09:31 AM
A loose dovetail is no big deal...a little two part epoxy, and that sight is going nowhere.

Tucker 1371
January 7, 2013, 03:33 PM
Just called the shop that had it, my memory failed me as I am told it is a Universal. It looked so beat up I figured it had to be a GI M1 but I guess it's just a really poorly taken care of Civi manufacture one.

gak
January 8, 2013, 04:56 PM
Never mind :)