I've been looking at buying one at the next gun show. Any particular one I should be after? IBM, Postal Meter, etc? I want it to be a shooter as well as a collectible, so I don't really mind if it went through a rearsenal for Korea. Any I should avoid?
Carbines are a really complicated field to get into. Prices have really soared in recent years. Lots of variations. Lots of "restored to original". Lots of out and out fakes, especially with the paratrooper models.
If you want a shooter get one of the imports in decent shape. There were 12 major contractors for USGI carbines. You won't find much difference in quality between them but you will find huge variations in price. Inland is the most common, Irwin Pederson the rarest.
Remember to buy the gun and not the story that goes with it. Virtually anything you look at well have been rebuilt. True originals are quite scarce. There's been a fad in recent years of restoring to original condition. In my book that does make it original, its just a rebuilt rebuild. I would not pay a premium for such a creature.
Also need to remember with twelve major contractors and hundreds of subcontractors there was a lot parts swapping between the companies. A carbine may "original" but a mixmaster.
Collectable and run thru the arsenal are almost mutually exclusive terms, collectors want rifles right out of the factory, not reworks. Collectors also pay extra for low production and rare versions and, for unknown reasons, the Winchester name on the receiver.
And, of course, an "import stamp" kills collectability for many.
Unit armorers didn't worry about the future collectability of these carbines so parts were swapped right up until the time these were pulled from National Guard armories in the 1960s and 1970s.
I have a darn near original Inland that I shoot all the time. Get a handful of extractors if you intend to shoot your's much, they shed them like my Golden Retriever sheds hair.
As tempting as it may be at the time, do NOT buy a non-USGI Carbine. You can see them for pretty cheap, compared to USGI, but they're not worth it at half the cost. USGI Carbine parts are all over, they're inexpensive (unless you are looking for soome rare only-3-made-by-Winchester, wackadoo part), and they're easy to repair.
Get extractors, as said earlier...and get a gas piston removal tool, along with an extractor removal/replacement tool. When you get it, remove the gas piston after you clean the rest of the rifle...and remove 50+ years of gunk and carbon behind it. That alone should make the rifle a lot nicer. (I have a Carbine that had NEVER had it's gas system cleaned, ever, since WWII. Took a day of soaking to get all the crap out, but wow...it works real nice now. Not many semi-automatic rifles can sit in 50 years of fouling in their gas system, and keep functioning like a Timex.)
i have to call bullshit on not buying a
commercial carbine. i have a plainfield
thats quite accurate, does not jam, and
i have not needed to replace the extractor
after 1000+ rounds. i think too many people
take a gun snob attitude towards commercial
carbines. universal has been dogged out
over and over again. i have owned at least
3 (that i can think of) universal carbines
that did not have any problems. also at least
twice that number of iver johnson carbines.
same thing .......no problems.
any jams or stove pipes etc. that i had could
be blamed directly on crappy old ammo or
by the way, i do have a very nice inland that
also does just fine
edited to add this pic of my last universal.
i sold it a few months ago. i wish i still