In our first installment of History Handed down we left the 1943 M1 Carbine soaking in a lovely bath of Slip 2000’s Gun Cleaner 725. It was about 70 years over due for that cleaning based upon the amount of dirt and grime clinging to the metal surfaces of the rifle. Before we dig into a lot of before and after pictures I want to take a minute to explain to you exactly how caked it was with carbon and grime.
The wood of the carbine was in surprisingly good shape for something that was older than my father by nearly five years. The stock was free of any significant cracks, gouges or fading, It showed all the signs of having been left in the hallway closet or under my grandfathers bed. This was a pleasant surprise
When we began the take down of the rifle I honestly had very little idea on how it was suppose to break down. My first attempt at a complete break down was on a rainy Friday morning with a cup of Black Rifle Coffee in in my hand I cracked the spine on what would be my bible of the M1 Carbine, a book by Scott Duff and Larry Ruth entitled The M1 Carbine Owners Guide. This book would be no further than two feet away from me for the next week.
With a large gulp of coffee it began, the moment of no return with the voice in the back of my head screaming at me that I will screw this up, I began to remove the front barrel band, slowly and gingerly as to make sure the wood wouldn’t get banged up. The project would require something I generally lack, Finesse and Patience, but on I went following the steps as outlined by Scott Duff & Larry Ruth. No surprises crept up on me during the entire tear down. Honestly it was anti climactic and I went into engineer mode, laying things out carefully and putting like parts together into bins and making notes.
The stock and all the wood components were in fantastic shape, which is even more shocking considering this rifle had what is known as an “Early” 2 rivet upper hand guard and were often prone to breakage. The metal however was not exactly a mess but defiantly gave me some cause for concern the more of it I exposed and looked over. It appeared free of pitting or cracks but it was covered with what appears to be some sort of varnish or shellac. It was everywhere, even in spots I never thought of like the inside surface of the operating rod. The profile picture shows you a small sample of the coating. During this part Don Adams and I just shook out heads and knew it was going to take time and patience to do this restoration correctly.
Elbow Grease and Long Hours
Don Adams and I spend hours working on this rifle, using the generous package of supplies sent to us by the Steve Tapia at Slip 2000. When we reached out to them for suggestions on what to use on this project, they surprised us by sending us a huge array of Slip 2000 products. We used the Carbon Cutter and the 725 Gun Cleaner to break down decades of grime and grit. The Slip 2000 wipes and liquid lubricant helped bring this old WWII era rifle back from the scrap heap.
We used all the tools we had at our disposal, from dental picks and pipe cleaners to solvents and my ultra sonic cleaner. The part of this whole process that Don Adams and I were most worried about was trying to clean the rifle and get the varnish off but not wear away the finish or damage it. The goal was a clean yet original M1 Carbine for me to enjoy for years to come. As I said in the previous post, this rifle was going to be used again and enjoy, not sit in a safe.
The results were far better than anything I expected. We took our time, looked at the diagrams and even double checked them all in the hopes to keep the M1 Carbine operating correctly. I wish I had a picture of the pile of rags and wipes that covered my work bench, but I was coated with slime and not about to touch my Nikon at that moment. All of the 70 year old varnish came off with a little work and some of it did leave a stain but I’m ok with that, connects it to the way it was for decades.
The Operating rod was probably the most difficult part to get clean, even harder than the bolt. I’m not exactly sure why it was so hard to get clean, especially the underside of it. Another nagging area was the area from the trigger guard to the magazine well. It’s a large open space and I assume was assaulted with a brush full of brown sticking coating at one time over and over.
The bolt was almost the easiest part to clean, aside from the stock. Over and over we scrubbed the years of dirt off to reveal metal that was in much better condition that I expected. The M1 Carbine project was heading towards completion and we had yet to run into any problems. Everything came apart without any difficulty, all the way down to the fire control group. Reassembly was just as easy, even installing new hammer and recoil springs. I’ve had more problems reassembling a Ruger MkII than I had on this project. A quick wipe down of the stock with lemon oil was the only thing that was done to the wood, I did it just as an alternative to using a spray on type cleaner.
We used Slip 2000’s Extreme Weapons Grease to lubricate the slide rails and the springs of the M1 Carbine while we were reassembling it. There is a lot of talk and screaming on the internet wether it is some form of gun heracy to use grease on old military rifles. My thoughts on it are as follows: This gun was designed and spec’d to use grease, so I use grease, end of story.
There will be a Part III to this, a full range session with this rifle, we are currently waiting for a generous donation of 110 grain .30 carbine ammunition to arrive from Armscor to complete the overhaul and testing of this relic of a bygone era. I know there are some out there that despise the .30 carbine and will denounce it’s man stopping abilities, and that’s fine. There are also some out there that may have carried and used this handy little rifle, and if you are reading this please contact us we would love to hear your story involving the M1 Carbine.
This project has shown me that with a little time, research and patience that almost any firearm restoration project can be done. I was extremely anxious about doing this project and I hope someone reading this will be inspired to start their own restoration project.
I want to take this change to say again Thanks to Don Adams for his help and Steve Tapia of Slip 2000, who’s generous contribution that he did voluntarily has helped make this project happen without damaging a family heirloom. If you would like to see the entire photo catalog they are on my Official Facebook Contact in the photo section labeled Before and After