View Full Version : M1 Carbine stopped firing

January 4, 2010, 02:30 AM
I recently acquired a fantastic looking M1 Carbine from my grandfather-in-law and decided to take out for a spin. It had been in a case for years, but decided to run a few patches through it anyway. Not a thorough cleaning, just a check & lube; everything looked good.

Out at the range, I emptied the first mag (pic below - wife even got the ejected casing in the shot). Wow - what a rifle! A few minutes later I go for the second mag, pull the trigger and "click". Dropped out the mag and ejected the live round, which was chambered just fine. The back of the round was clean, no marks. I left that one out and tried again. Same click like a dry fire. Changed ammo, changed back to the original mag, no dice. Lots of clicks, noooo bang.

The dry fire action now feels the same as it did right after I cleaned it. Obviously something's broken or stuck. Any ideas?


Bill DeShivs
January 4, 2010, 03:14 AM
Firing pin.

January 4, 2010, 04:12 AM
Not a hard fix if you have a bolt disassembly tool. Might be worth it to have a GS do it so he can check the rest of it out for ya.

Great pic- please tell me you do some yote hunting out there!

January 4, 2010, 12:09 PM
Shucks, I was hoping for something other than having to take to the local gunsmith - but figured as much. Thanks, guys.

Oh, no coyotes... I was hunting soda cans!

January 4, 2010, 12:21 PM
Google for disassemble instructions and do it yourself,its easier if you have the tool for it,but i doubt that every G.I. that carried an M-1 had it too.Take your time ,do it right,and dont tear anything up.A friend swears you can take anything apart with vice grips.

January 4, 2010, 01:28 PM
Forego the vice grips. Read through this sticky on the CMP's M1 Carbine forum for how to clean and inspect a carbine:

http://www.thecmp.org/forums/showthread.php?t=2967&highlight=firing+change (http://www.thecmp.org/forums/showthread.php?t=2967&highlight=firing+change)

The CMP also has a general takedown set of instructions to go with:


January 4, 2010, 08:27 PM
Yup, almost certainly a broken firing pin. See the instructions above. Disassembly and reassembly is a pain. Mostly because you need 3 hands if you don't have the tool. I would recommend buying one when you get the firing pin. Most places that have one will have the other.

You can do it manually with some small punches. Be careful though. And do it somewhere where, when the tiny little ejector spring flies out and bounces off your eyeball, you will be able to find it.

January 6, 2010, 08:32 PM
Is the bolt disassembly tool I would use for the M1 Carbine a universal tool that I could use on another firearm or is it specific to this one?

January 6, 2010, 09:07 PM
It's specific to the M1 Carbine. The M1 Garand has a similar but not interchangeable tool. Larger.
Here's the tool:
You can usually find them on Gunbroker too.

And here are instructions on doing it without the tool. Seriously though, do it somewhere where you can find tiny parts that go flying.

January 6, 2010, 09:43 PM
I like to keep a sheet of plastic window glass substitute for this kind of job. Cut two arm holes in one side of a cardboard box, set the plastic sheet on it for a lid and do your disassembly inside it. When stuff takes off the cardboard stops if from crossing the room.

January 7, 2010, 02:10 AM
OK wow. I thought you guys were kidding about the springs flying. I'm not going to try to disassemble this beautiful rifle if I have to do it in a damn NASA vacuum chamber! I'll just take it to the local GS. I have a Marlin 22 rifle that I was cleaning and the trigger assembly pretty much expanded into a thousand pieces and now it's in a Ziploc bag. Would hate to have that happen with this one too.

Thanks again for the info!

January 7, 2010, 03:23 AM
Everything mentioned is possible.

In addition,if a carbine's bolt is not fully rotated into battery,the hammer will strike the bolt,not the firing pin.
What can cause that?Ammo with the case length a bit long,causing a tight head clearance condition.Using cast bullers,that are shaving lead onto the case mouth crimp issues,some hard stuck gunge in the chamber,gunge in the slide's bolt cam.Another spot to look for some trouble,gas cylnuts sometimes back out.

I second the idea of the box and flying springs.Been there!!

The bolt tool and a gas cylinder lock wrench are worthy tools to own.

If you will be using 30 rd mags,I highly suggest an M-2 mag catch.

Your mags will last longer.

January 7, 2010, 08:25 AM
Get the bolt tool mentioned. It really is not as hard as it may sound to take the extractor and firing pin out and using the tool makes it very easy. You can find them on gunbroker or gun shows.

4V50 Gary
January 7, 2010, 09:04 AM
Another vote for doing it yourself. Use the cardboard box to keep it from competing with NASA.

January 7, 2010, 12:10 PM
Hmmm... I suppose as long as I don't lose any parts, if I do it myself and can't get it back together, in theory it shouldn't cost me any more for the GS to reassemble it. There's a gun show this weekend I'm going to; if I can find the tools there then I'll give it a shot and will report back.

How do you like that flip-flop? Good thing I'm not a politician! haha

January 8, 2010, 08:16 PM
Having the bolt tool is a good idea, but first take the bolt out and see if the firing pin is, in fact, broken. As HiBC said it could just be something not letting the bolt rotate into full lock.

T. O'Heir
January 9, 2010, 03:14 AM
Give it a serious bath before you do anything else. Drop the bolt into a vat of solvent and leave it there for 24 hours. Chances are that the firing pin is fine, but the bolt is full of crud. Kind of odd that it'd fire one mag then stop though.
"...gas cylinder lock wrench..." Not required. The gas cylinder was never removed for normal cleaning.

January 9, 2010, 09:15 PM
Attempting to pull it apart now and I'm stuck (literally) on step 18 of this doc:


Seems that the bolt will NOT pivot away from the slide to be able to come out. Anyone have experience doing this?

DID IT!! Jesus that took two people!

January 9, 2010, 09:40 PM
What kind of ammo were you using? I shot some MagTech in my M1 carbine, and had a couple instances of spent primers falling out of the fired case...One fell into the action and prevented the bolt from closing.

January 9, 2010, 09:55 PM
I'm not sure what you are having trouble with.Generally,US service weapons are made to be field stripped easily.

When working on them,do not force parts.If force is required,stop,look,think.

At the , end of the recoil spring nearest the muzzle,draw back the spring and guide .

Note the groove in the side of the reciever the slide rides in.there is a notch in that groove just behind that square corner of the opening in the top of the receiver.If you pull the op handle back tothat notch and lift up and out,it will come free easily pull the bolt forward,up,and to the right,and it will lift right out.

On the underside of the barrel,note the notch through the groove on the nautical port side of the rifle.That notch allows the slide to roll off couterclockwise.

Look over these pieces and see the features,Understand how they work,and it all gets very simple.

A test many,if not all,troops learned ,is to be able to fields strip and reaasemble their weapon in under 1 minute,blindfolded.

If you have some plain old tan lubriplate automotive grease,put a little on that cam where the bolt and slide fit together,and on the rails where the slide fits the barrel.A little oil in the spring ang guide is good,just generally look at where metal rubs metal and lube a little.

But,not in the gas cylinder under the barrel.

I suspect your carbine has no broken parts,it just needs good ammo,good mags,and to be clean and lubricated.

There are repro army field manuals available ,and there is one for the carbine.

January 9, 2010, 09:59 PM
Got it allllll disassembled. With some help from the wife (USAF Security Forces), who has disassembled many-a-weapons! I'm happy to report no broken parts. The small parts of the bolt were filthy, but the firing pin looked quite clean when removed from the bolt. Wish us luck putting it back together.

As far as the ammo, amd, it was given to us along with the gun, so I'm sure it's pretty old. UGH - I hope that wasn't the problem because I will feel DUMB. It's JHPs and on the back it has "L C 54" on most and some others have "WCC 53". What's that mean anyway?

January 9, 2010, 11:34 PM
The markings on the brass indicate it is military brass,which would never be loaded originally with hollow points.

That says these are reloads of unknown origin.I do not shoot those.

It is an indication it is possible your problem could be ammo related.Something else to check,

Military brass comes with a crimped in primer.This crimp must be removed before reloading.If everything is not just right,the crimp makes it more likely a primer would not be fully seated.Look at your primers,feel with a thumbnail.Are any of them high?
This can keep the bolt from fully closing.

My suggestion,maybe if someday you take up reloading you can pull bullets,and use some components,but just put that ammo in a coffee can,label it "unknown reloads" and set it aside.

Buy some new ammo.PMC,Fiocchi,or some USA brand and try it.

January 10, 2010, 01:48 AM
I'm sorry, I don't know what I was thinking... they are not JHPs, I meant FMJ. That said, if the markings indicate Military brass, then it's definitely quite old.

That aside, it's all reassembled now and I think the problem was that the ejector mechanism was so fouled that it wasn't lifting and allowing the round to seat down against the bolt, thus not allowing the firing pin to ever reach the back of the round. This explains why the "misfired" rounds didn't have any dings. I'm sure that everything's fine now that it's been properly cleaned and oiled - but unfortunately I cannot simply step out into my backyard and fire off a few as I live in the city.

Back to the ammo... is age a factor? Grandpa got this gun in 1967 and said he only fired a few rounds from it, which tells me the ammo could be nearly 40 years old!

January 10, 2010, 04:09 AM
Well, one thing is in your favor: No American loaded carbine ammo was ever corrosive.

January 10, 2010, 07:10 AM
Just out of curiosity, have you taken the bolt out and pushed the firing pin as far forward as possible with your finger? If you see a nice- rounded end of the pin protrube from the bolt face then you were correct in it (and possibly the chamber) being dirty or otherwise excessively funky.

January 10, 2010, 10:54 AM
Military 30 carbine ammo is great...I just wish some importer would discover a warehouse full of spam cans in Korea and bring it in cheap. As it stands, the best choices in 30 carbine ammo right now are S&B, PRVI, and Remington. Aguila is available, but a bit underpowered. Wolf makes steel case carbine ammo, but I have never tried it.
I mainly shoot PRVI and S&B, and keep Remington soft points for home defense use. Remington is too expensive for range blasting.

January 10, 2010, 12:24 PM
I did a little more research and it seems that the LC 54 means that the ammo was indeed Military grade, manufactured in the Lake City Ordinance Plant, 1954.

Despoiler, gunandgame.com Senior Member
FC = Federal Cartridge Co
LC = Lake City Ordnance Plant + year
SL = St Louis Ordnance Plant + year

And... WCC = Western Cartridge Company

There seems to be some inconsistency on the corrosive aspect. However, it makes sense to me that the Military would not have ever made corrosive .30 ammo for any gas operated firearm.

January 10, 2010, 05:39 PM
You got it right on the headstamps. WCC is also military ammo, 1953 by the stamp. Also non-corrosive. Since it's FMJ and has been with the rifle for years, it's probably actual milsurp. But better than 50 years old, not 40! Not a problem though, it will shoot fine. I'd use it it mine.

January 10, 2010, 05:49 PM
The military made plenty of corrosive ammo for the Garand. Didn't stop until about the time your ammo was made. For some reason they never found the non-corrosive primers reliable enough for the .30-06 ammo? Probably because it was also used in machineguns. Carbine ammo, however, started out non-corrosive and stayed that way. The old brown military bore cleaner removes or neutralizes corrosion.

The only thing you have to worry about is that old non-corrosive ammo was mercuric. That makes the cases unreliable to load, as mercury residue weakens brass. I don't know if yours have mercuric primers? I'm thinking non-mercuric non-corrosive primers started trials between WWII and Korea, like around 1947, but I'm not sure on that score? Perhaps someone who knows will chime in?

Somewhere around 1953 all U.S. military primers went non-corrosive with the exception of one run of early .308 match ammo from Frankford Arsenal in the late 50's, which were corrosive. But that's all that I am aware of? I don't know what carbine primer formulations were in effect when?

January 10, 2010, 06:07 PM
The military went with non corrosive for the carbine because the gas piston is not meant to be cleaned routinely.
Some LC marked brass is chinese and is corrosive, berdan primed. I have never seen any, but I have read about it.

January 10, 2010, 06:16 PM
Do you know about the mercuric / non-mercuric switchover? I wish I had dates for that. I heard the mercuric primers didn't store well, but that's all. It'd only be an issue for reloading the cases and for not exposing youngsters to the smoke or the cases, I suppose?

It makes sense about the gas system. The Garand was designed to handle M1 ball from reserves accumulated between the wars, so that was corrosive, of course.

January 11, 2010, 05:46 AM
All US made M1 Carbine ammunition is non-mercuric and non-corrosive. It was that way when they used the small rifle primers from a private company, the larger primers were still mercuric at the time, as up to the development of the M1 Carbine all military rifle primers were large. As AMD said be careful though because some LC52 and LC53 can be Chinese crap, and it is corrosive. The Chinese junk never came on stripper clips and was in cardboard boxes, who knows if it is loose though.

January 13, 2010, 02:41 AM
Found an excellent little piece of history to go along with my Carbine...
Elmer Bjerke was promoted on January 6th, 1947 to Forman of small arms inspection at Rock Island Arsenal. He was responsible for the final inspection of new and overhauled small arms. He served in that capacity until 1958. All small arms inspected under his supervision bear the markings "RIA" for Rock Island Arsenal and "EB" for Elmer Bjerke.

And if you happen to have FK on yours...
Frank Krack was Assistant Foreman of the Inspection Division at Rock Island Arsenal from September 17, 1941 until he retired on July 19th, 1946. During that period all small arms inspected under his supervision would be stamped with his initials "FK" as well as those of the Rock Island Arsenal "RIA".