Q. I want a rifle or a carbine to keep for self-defense, but since I am also very interested in World War II, I am considering either an M1 Carbine or an M1 Garand. Which would you recommend?

— John Simmons, via e-mail


Gun World ExpertA. Both are excellent weapons that earned their battle honors in World War II, Korea and later. As a line infantryman’s weapon, the Garand granted more knockdown power and greater range. However, for use in self-defense, I would recommend the M1 Carbine.


The M1Carbine is more compact and thus, handier to keep in a bedroom closet or, where legal, carry in a vehicle. If used as a home-defense weapon, it’s much handier for deploying or using in confined spaces. In addition, if your wife or older children will be taught to use the Carbine, its lighter recoil will make it much more appealing. Its safety is easy to operate, as is its magazine release, and its 15-round, detachable magazine may be kept separate from the carbine for safety, if so desired.


Although early World War II M1 Carbines that remain in original, unaltered condition can be quite expensive, those that were arsenal-refurbished for the Korean War may be found at reasonable prices. These often have the advantage of upgraded rear sights and a more usable safety switch. In some cases, they will have the reinforced magazine release for use with 30-round magazines. Note, however, that the 30-round magazine will fit with the original magazine release but may put strain on it when full. For home-defense use, the 15-round magazine is probably better, in any case, because it is less likely to catch going through doorways or when deploying if kept next to the bed.


Original carbine ammunition is loaded with full-metal-jacketed bullets, but better defensive ammunition is available, such as the 100-grain DPX load from Cor-Bon.

— Leroy Thompson

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