That is also my observation with the presumed “original issue” M1A1 carbines. The vast majority that I have seen also had Type A, Variation 3 safeties, with a few exceptions that had the rotary safety. Some that were overhauled overseas possibly had the upgrade, since overseas facilities that were part of the Inspect and Rebuild Operations were directed by the Ordnance Department not to put any markings on the weapons that serviced.
It’s just unfortunate that there is no known serial numbers documentation to indicate which Inland carbines were originally procured under the M1A1 contracts, no different than my M1A1s or other M1A1 collectors. Maybe one day that documentation will surface (doubtful), that is if it still exists. I’m sure if it does surface one day, there will be a lot of happy owners, and on the other hand, a lot of unhappy owners. We also have to consider a lot of the original M1A1s were lost, destroyed or other, but we’ll never see them. Some books estimate that number as high as 50% of the total M1A1s that were produced.
I’m sure you’ve thought about some of the things I’m going to mention, I know I have. I also have M1A1s and they are certainly one of my favorite weapons and I’ve heard and seen so many debates about if a particular M1A1 is original or not, and really without solid provenance/documentation, nobody can say with complete certainty, so I’m in the same camp as most M1A1 collectors. Most of this info you probably all ready know but I thought I’d post it in case some of the other members may be interested in the dynamics surrounding the M1A1 carbine. This post got longer than I intended it to be but the subject is interesting, at least to me, plus it gave me a chance to dust off a few books I haven't opened in a while.
Basically an Inland M1 with the same action within the same serial range could be dropped in a M1A1 stock and now we have a M1A1 and instantly increased its value by a huge amount. We know this kind of stuff happened in the field, as well as in the depots, plus actions from the other manufactures were put into M1A1 stocks, and some of those have been documented in some of the CCNLs. Not to mention the people who knowingly dump a M1 action into a M1A1 stock and there are a lot of these impostures out there. Here is an example someone bragged about on a forum. I won’t mention the forum or the member’s name but here is his actual post, and there is a lot of this stuff that happened. Some did it with no ill intension; they just wanted to have a M1A1, while others did it for sheer profit, knowingly deceiving people.
“I'm setting here looking at the receipt for mine (M1 Carbine).
Ordered Feb 21 1965.
Shipped from Red River Army Depot, Texarkana TX, on April 20, 1965.
Price was $17.50 + $2.50 Packing & Handling.
It turned out to be a pretty nice Inland.
It now resides in the M1-A1 stock I bought for another $15.00 at a gunshow, inside the GI web gear jump case I bought for $5.00 at another gun show.
The days of $20 buck Carbines and $40 buck M1-A1's were a long time ago folks! :D”
Then we have the issue of many M1A1s that were rebuilt/overhauled outside of the US as part of the massive Inspect and Rebuild Operations under the management of U.S. Army Ordnance, and this occurred post WWII and again at some facilities after the Korean War. There were several but the two that most are familiar with is FN in Belgium (June 1945 – June 1946), and at Howa Machinery in Nagoya (~1947-1949).
These Ordnance Inspect and Rebuild operations were prohibited from placing any marks on the small arms they serviced, pursuant to a U.S. Army Ordnance directive indicating no facilities outside of the US were to place markings indicating they had overhauled U.S. Carbines. So, we have procured M1 actions as they rolled off the line in M1A1 stocks and vice versa, plus some in M2 stocks. Not to mention some SOF units put M2 actions into M1A1 stocks in the field. In my view this is why M1A1 serial number data is so valuable to the collectors but I’m doubtful we’ll ever see it surface. Whether it got destroyed, lost or other is anybody’s guess, but it would sure solve the mystery.
Then there are other factors to consider. During and after WWII, any M1A1 needing service or repair at any point in time may have been serviced by U.S. Ordnance field personnel anywhere in the world. The parts used depended on the availability of replacement parts. Absent replacement parts, the carbine was simply placed into a full sized stock as a Model M1 or possibly a Model M2 conversion. While the M1A1 was not built as a select-fire carbine, GI's have long been known for a variety of field expedient conversions of various types. Specialized units with special needs had the ability to modify weapons to meet their needs. During the Korean War, a number of M1A1's were converted to select fire and unofficially referred to as M2A1's.
Then there is the Lend-Lease Program to take into consideration. During WWII, U.S. M1A1 Carbines were supplied to allies under this program and dropped to resistance fighters in Europe by the Office of Strategic Services (O.S.S.) and their British counterpart, the Special Operations Executive (S.O.E.). Post WWII the Military Assistance Program provided M1, M1A1 and M2 Carbines to many nations as military assistance. Replacement parts were often included and a number of nations utilized local sources for replacement parts.
Finally, police departments throughout the world have used M1A1's, including the Detroit Police Department during the 1960's. Replacement parts were sometimes obtained by cannibalizing existing stocks.
I assume you have Cook’s book but from that we know between the two stock contractors, S.E Overton and Springfield Armory, they produced 247,055 M1A1 stocks (Overton 239,747 [1942-45] and SA 7,308 [1945-46]). The last shipment of M1A1 stocks made by Overton was shipped to Inland in January 1945, a month after Inland had completed its second run of M1A1 Carbines (December 1944). That shipment contained 4,529 M1A1 stocks. The author breaks down those numbers, as well as the stock parts, but the point is that there were significantly more M1A1 stocks produced than required by the Inland factory during production and the normal stock replacement percentages. We know and I recall as well (several decades ago), brand new complete surplus M1A1 stocks and surplus stock parts being sold at various surplus stores and vendors, and they were the real deal. So if we assume maybe half never made it back, to include lost, destroyed or other, and we had about a quarter-million stocks, we are fairly certain there are more M1A1s in circulation now, than what’s realistically possible. That being said, a lot out there are not the same serial numbers that rolled off the line in M1A1 stocks.
Also, a lot of these “original” M1A1s look like they never saw any combat action, as they look unmolested. That makes me wonder were these weapons stored in some armory or used as security weapons, or other. Paratroopers used the vast majority of M1A1s; so obviously one would think these weapons got dinged up and have considerable wear. I know I see a lot more of the “original” M1A1s with little to no wear. We expect the arsenal rebuild/overhaul M1A1s to be in good condition and the majority of these rifles were refinished. One would think that the rifles that escaped the rebuild/overhaul programs should show considerable wear, unless like stated earlier, that were locked away somewhere or minimal used for whatever reason.
I’m sure you recall the General Batte (LTC at the time) M1A1 that went for over $20K in 2008. That M1A1 had excellent provenance and documentation. It had a few parts that were replaced (presumed field changed), and showed consider wear. The finish and stock were heavily worn and the furniture had several dings, dents and scratches. I’ve only seen a handful with that level of provenance but with those we know they are the real deal. Today, this would probably go for $30K or more, and that is the difference between provenance and no provenance, about $25K maybe.
I believe without the serial number data and solid provenance, it is what it is, maybe completely legit or possibly not, but owners can’t know for sure unless they created a M1A1 in their basement. So in the M1A1 collector community, if everything is correct for the particular timeframe, in the correct serial range and shows even wear throughout, collectors lean on the side of presumed to be original, unless otherwise proven to be fake or an imposture. Either way these are rare sought after rifles, with good reason, but until the actual M1A1 serial numbers surface, a M1A1 stock is the only thing separating M1A1s apart from M1s in the correct serial number range (assuming correct parts). The prices will continue to rise as these are scarce, and that’s good news for the collectors that own these rare historic weapons.
Our M1A1s fall in this category and I have no reason to doubt the authenticity of any of them, be it original as issued or rebuilt. Obviously there is a higher price point for the original as issued M1A1. The one I depicted in this post has a 10-44 barrel date, with a 6300x serial number. I do have the original receipts, know where it came from stateside, and what arsenal did the rebuild/overhaul, but that doesn’t answer the question of if that same serial number was one of the procured contract M1A1 carbines that rolled off the Inland line.
A lot of stuff to digest here that I’m sure you already know and have seen it discussed in depth but this post is really intended for others that may not be aware of the dynamics with the M1A1 carbine and have an interest in the weapon.