Terril takes a brand new, out of the box, Fulton Armory M1 Carbine to the range.
USA –-(Ammoland.com)- The popularity of military-style rifles with the American shooting public indeed didn’t start with the AR-15.
In generations, previous, ex-service rifles like the Springfield Trapdoor, the Krag, and bring-back Mausers were a common sight. Before AR-15 prices came down to a reasonable level, a readily available offering was the M1 Carbine of World War II fame.
Despite its checkered service record, the M1 Carbine remains popular for recreation and hunting with some viability for self-defense. It is worth noting that the Carbine is still in production, something that isn’t true of many ex-military rifles. That must attest to the gun’s popularity, especially when faced with stiff, good competition today. It is no longer one of the few viable semi-auto carbines. We live in the era of the affordable, buildable AR-15. Advantages and disadvantages discounted, both systems are made by some companies, and not all are created equal.
My initial experiences with the M1 Carbine platform were disappointing. Some brands are notoriously unreliable so that a vintage World War II carbine would seem like the ticket. But I couldn’t fathom riding one of those hard and putting it up wet without some guilt.
Fulton Armory M1 Carbine
I heard about Fulton Armory out of Savage, Maryland and after seeing their wares, I decided to bite on their M1 Service Carbine.
When the rifle arrived, I was impressed by the scent of boiled linseed oil. The semi-pistol grip walnut stock was excellently finished with this oil—not the easiest and fastest product to work with. However, it has been the go-to since the days of muskets. The stock had no gooeyness or wet spots from a rushed job, but a smooth matte finish on a very refined piece of wood.
Through and through, Fulton’s rifle is an M1 Carbine. The butt plate is legitimate checkered steel. The sling studs are mounted right where they are supposed to, and a sling is included.
The action is a machined forged steel billet; heat treated to USGI specs. Pulling back the charging handle operates the rotating bolt out of its exposed locking surfaces. It glides smoothly, though there is no last-shot hold open. The bolt may be retracted to the rear, and a detent on the charging handle pushed down to lock the bolt.
Operationally, the Fulton borrows from the late-war produced carbines with an adjustable peep rear sight graduated out to from 100 to 300 yards with left-to-right adjustment accomplished by a knurled dial on the right side. It is mated to a shrouded front blade sight.
The magazine release is of a push button variety. The safety is a lever just behind the magazine release—a late war addition to replace a traditional cross bolt safety. With two buttons, it was common for soldiers to accidentally put the gun on safe instead of dropping the magazine, or vice-versa. The magazine, by the way, is the same neat fifteen shot stamped steel type common during World War II, though it will take thirty-round magazines as well. The addition of a bayonet lug is a nice touch, another late-war feature and sholud fit current bayonets like the OKC3S Bayonet.
Like its forbearers, the Fulton is chambered for the mild-shooting 30 Carbine cartridge, but barrel options do vary. The Carbine can either come with a standard barrel or one with a chrome-lined bore from Criterion—both eighteen inches in length and both made to National Match standards.
With a pedigree like this, accuracy wouldn’t be my primary concern. Reliability, which I questioned heavily in my previous experiences, was what concerned me. After stocking up on three hundred rounds of ammunition and a few extra magazines, I got to work—if you can call it that.
Fulton Armory M1 Carbine On The Range
I burned through those three hundred rounds through several range trips—part dumping ammunition to test reliability, part accuracy, and a small sliver of ballistic gel testing. Most of the ammunition used was PPU 110 grain full metal jacket ammunition with some Hornady Critical Defense mixed in.
With a Shoot-N-See silhouette at fifty yards, I stood off to the target, shoved a magazine into the carbine’s well, and retracted the bolt handle. I let go, and the handle flew forward, seating with a metallic clink. As I aimed, I was amazed that the sight picture was clear. The wooden handguard didn’t cover up the front sight—something I have seen on other replicas. The rifle fired with a loud pop, rather than a bang and the low recoil of the 30 Carbine didn’t rattle me or leave me off target for long for follow-up shots. The trigger pulled crisply with only a hair of take-up before a predictable break. I was out of ammo in no time, and I got through it without any malfunction.
A few more drills like this did finally produce a malfunction. One empty case caught between the bolt and the receiver on ejection on round 49. The show had to go on, and as it turned out, round 49 was a fluke. I had no malfunctions of any kind. No hesitation. No cleaning. The gun ran and is still running now.
Fulton warranties their rifles to shoot 3 MOA or 3 inches at 100 yards with Federal Premium 30 carbine ammunition. I approach such warranties with suspicion, and I was sure I couldn’t come close given my mediocre shooting ability and lack of Federal ammo.
As it turns out, my bottom dollar PPU ammunition could come close with some careful shooting and that Criterion barrel. My best effort at 100 yards from a rest measured out to 4 inches with most of my effort coming out to 5-6 inches. At that distance, the front sight blade covers up a fair amount of my target. At fifty yards, one to two inches is typical for me. All shooting was done at the lowest sight setting of 100 yards, and the rounds shot to the point of aim except for some limited shooting at 200 yards. Adjusting windage and elevation is a breeze, which made the initial sight-in easy.
Worth The Money?
The Fulton Armory M1 Carbine honors the originals to the tee. The Fulton is hand fit, and it shows in function and form, but also in its premium price. This quality is hands-down superior to other brands, but is the price tag worth it when you can get an original World War II rifle for less money? Aesthetically, the Fulton is spot on and can be a little more accurate. But when we get down to it, the M1 Carbine isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Match shooting, popping shots in the countryside, and hard use in the brush is hard on rifles, like driving will wear a car.
Those war-time guns are collectible now and worth preserving. In short, if you like the M1 Carbine and don’t want to feel wrong about using it, the Fulton Armory M1 Carbine is worth a look.
About Terril Hebert:
Terril Hebert is a firearm writer native to south Louisiana. Under his motto-Guns, Never Politics-he tackles firearm and reloading topics both in print and on his Mark3smle YouTube channel, where he got his start. Terril has a soft spot for ballistics testing, pocket pistols, and French rifles. When he is not burning ammo, he is indulging his unhealthy wildlife photography obsession or working on his latest novel. Scourge of God, published in 2017. See more from Terril on youtube under Mark3smle.