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Old June 7, 2002, 06:17 AM   #1
Lone Star
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Universal carbine, Cal. .30

My father, who is 83 and wanted a rifle of light weight and little recoil, bought a Universal .30 carbine. Quality seems higher than I'd have thought, really pretty good. (I have little experience of "off-brand" guns.)

He's lost the magazine. Will GI carbine magazines fit? Will those made for Plainfield guns? Are GI 30-round "bannana clips" selling for ridiculous sums these days? Who makes new commercial magazines; GI ones are getting pretty old...maybe Universal is still in business? The receiver shows them in Hialeah, FL. A price reference book I have shows only a Universal in Arkansas, now out of business.

Anyone here have any experience with these Universal carbines?

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Old June 7, 2002, 06:44 AM   #2
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I had one many years ago. As I recall, they will take any USGI (or aftermarket) .30 carbine mag. Fit and function were really pretty good on the one I had.
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Old June 7, 2002, 07:30 AM   #3
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I've had my Universal M1 carbine going on 10 years now. The recoil springs seem to be tired (Bolt catches to the rear, grease will not clear up) but overall it's a wonderful little carbine. It will use GI issue mags just fine.

As you may know by now, the Universal doesn't incorporate the tappet gas system that was found on GI issue M1 carbines. However, this doesn't seem to be a problem for those who don't intend to take the Universal M1 into sub-zero temperatures.

One aspect about the Universal I find so surprising it the accuracy. I still cannot get over how accurate these little rifles are within 100 yards.

I don't know what they are fetching these days, I paid $160 for mine with an old Marlin 60 in trade in '93.
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Old June 7, 2002, 09:01 AM   #4
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M1 Carbine magazines are some of the most prolific and least expensive "regular capacity" magazines out there. You can typically pick up a 15-rounder for $10 or less, and a 30-rounder for around $20.
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Old June 7, 2002, 10:18 AM   #5
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Gunshow, bought one, went to range, purchased 500 rds of ammo, cleaned, fired, around #400 charging handle tried to disassemble itself and my face. POS, don't buy one, get an IAI, they're very nice.
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Old June 7, 2002, 01:32 PM   #6
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I picked one up not to long ago, fit and finish are very good, shoots extremely accurate, and no problems that I could find. A fun gun to play with, would buy another one.

What do you all know about the National Ordinance Carbines?? any opinions
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Old June 7, 2002, 02:48 PM   #7
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My Universal is horrible. Reciever metal seems soft, often jams, the operating handle actually came out of the rails one time and I had to hit it as hard as I could to get it back. Some sort of safety......or single-shot mode switch consistently gets thrown on, so the rifle doesn't cycle. Accuracy is pretty non-existant.

Steer clear and buy one of the IMI carbines, IMO.

On another note, 2 30 round GI magazines I have don't cycle worth a damn. I've tried them in the Universal and another Plainfield. Are 30 rounders usually lacking in feeding reliablity?
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Old June 7, 2002, 04:54 PM   #8
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Got one, Love it...But...

It's accurate out to 100 yds. takes GI mags and with an old Aimpoint Red Dot sight bolted on, is a very handy little trunk gun.
My only complaint is the metal top handguard It seems like no matter how hard I bolt in on, recoil shakes it off It dosen't interfear with the functioning of the gun, but it's disconcerting to have the handguard falling off during firing The clipthingy that holds the barrelband on and likewise the front of the handguad works loose after a few rounds.
Haven't decided how to remedy the problem yet, but the little rifle is too much fun to shoot to let it disassemble itself whenever shot for more than 5 rounds
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Old June 7, 2002, 05:55 PM   #9
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I have the Universal Enforcer Pistol. Shoots POA. It does have it's fair share of jams. No matter, I still enjoy shooting it. The rear sight is removed, red dot scope on top.
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Old June 7, 2002, 07:16 PM   #10
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I don't know what generation of Universal you guys have, but mine is the first, with the single recoil spring or action spring.

Mine is in good shape, and is also accurate out to 100 meters, never tried it farther than that.

I have no problems with any of my magazines, 10 20 rounders of various makes, and 5 30 rounders, also of various makes.

I say keep it, shoot it and most of all enjoy it.
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Old June 7, 2002, 10:20 PM   #11
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GI 30 round mags work fine in GI carbines. Trouble is that so many 30 rounders are repros; some good, some junque.

As to Universal carbines, there were two basic models. The first used almost all GI parts except the receiver itself. The later model was redesigned and used a lot of different parts, many of which were of very poor quality. The Universals did use the short stroke piston, but the setup is different from the GI carbine.

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Old June 8, 2002, 11:02 AM   #12
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Lone Star,

Buying a Universal carbine today is like buying an orphan gun anytime. But I bought mine new around 1981 or so, and it has worked flawlessly. It came with a 5 round plastic magazine whose spring has long since worn out. But GI magazines work in Universals as well as they do in USGI carbines. Good mags work, bad ones do not.

I also have a USGI (Saginaw) carbine. The USGI carbines go for around 2-3x of what Universals do (maybe $200-300 versus $400-up), although my tendency would be to rescue a GI model rather than buy an orphan. But if money is an object, a Universal may work. Sounds like your father's does work, just needs a magazine.

Old June 8, 2002, 04:31 PM   #13
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If your Uni has the dual recoil springs and the skeletonized op-rod, run, run away as fast as you can! These are the ID traits of the later Universals. They are not compatible with USGI, earlier Universals or Plainfield.

My Uni was a KB waiting to happen. I never had any problems with it, but one time when I took the action out of the stock and retracted the op rod I got quite a shock!

The gas piston is not captive like the GI version, and mine was battering the barrel lug. This lug had fractured and was about to break off. If that happens, the piston comes out and you get the full force of the escaping gasses right there with the force of a M-80. The handguard will blow off the top of the gun and the stock forarm will shatter, right where your support hand is! The 'smiths I talked to said to junk the gun since you can't get parts for Universals. None of the parts on the later Universals are compatible with USGI. The trigger group is different, The stock, the op rod and bolt are different, the barrel, the gas piston.... About the only thing that is compatible is the magazine!

I took a chop saw to my barrelled action. I have the other parts if any one is interested including an absolutely beautiful stock!

I have since acquired a nice USGI carbine to satisfy my carbine itch.
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Old June 8, 2002, 06:12 PM   #14
Lone Star
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Cougar, et al-

THANKS! I'll get Dad to check his rifle and see if it has the telltale characteristics of a KB waiting to happen!

I wish he'd consult me before buying guns, but sometimes, someone offers what seems to be a "deal" and...

Goes to show that you get what you pay for. (Well, these days, you do if you're lucky...)

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