The U.S. Army was searching in the late 1930’s for a better warfighting tool for their ammunition carriers, machine gunners, mortar crews, and administrative and communications personnel. They wanted something with more range and power than the M1911A1 .45 ACP pistol. The M1 Garand, though a fine rifle for its intended purpose, was too large and heavy for this task. Henry Stimson, the U.S. Secretary of War, ordered the development of a lighter rifle for this need in June of 1940. The M1 Carbine rifle was developed as a result of this order, and the M2 Carbine rifle followed soon after.
The US Military used the M2 Carbine in wars from WWII to Vietnam. The rifle did not fare well during the Korean Conflict, as it was known to function poorly in the cold. Even worse, bullets from the .30 Carbine could not penetrate the Chinese and North Korean soldiers' heavy winter clothing. Even with these limitations, the US military continued to use the M2 carbine until replacing it in the 1970's with the M-16 and its variants.
Winchester developed the .30 Carbine according to Army specifications. Some of these include: the caliber must be larger than 0.27 inches and needed to be effective out to a distance of 300 yards. Edwin Pugsley of Winchester took their self-loading .32 Winchester cartridge, turned the rim down and used it as the base for the new cartridge. The rimless case held a round nose .308 caliber bullet, which was like the military issue Full Metal Jacket ammo for the .45 ACP. The ammo from the first production propelled a bullet weighing 120 grains at 2,000 feet per second.
Civilian shooters to a moderate degree have adopted the .30 Carbine. They use the cartridge for small and medium sized game including coyote, fox, and javelina. Several rifles and pistols have bee chambered for the .30 Carbine. Aguila, Federal, Magtech, Remington and Winchester are some of the more prominent manufacturers to offer .30 Carbine ammunition currently. Bullets most commonly weigh 110 grains, and leave the muzzle traveling about 2,000 feet per second. Bullets configurations include full metal jacket, soft point and hollow point. The rounds typically cost between 40 cents and 60 cents each, though some specialty loads will cost considerably more.
The .30 Carbine is a cartridge that functions as a sort of jack of all trades. The bullet is large diameter, and it travels at a moderate velocity. The cartridge is effective for hunting most game of small to medium size. Many rifles and pistols are chambered for .30 Carbine and come in a variety of different action types. The .30 Carbine generates mild recoil, and is adequately accurate, two feature that make this cartridge a great choice for new shooters or those who want a fun centerfire cartridge for plinking.