Museum Minute: Who Really Designed The M1 Carbine

Jul 30, 2018

The M1 Carbine is a short, lightweight rifle that was introduced during World War II and then used throughout most of the rest of the 20th century. The army developed the rifle as an alternative to their big and heavy M1 Garand rifle, which was close to nine or ten pounds.

Due to the movie “Carbine Williams”, it’s generally thought that the M1 Carbine was designed exclusively by a man named David Marshall Williams. But it turns out the movie took some liberties.

According to Ashley Hlebinsky, the curator of the Cody Firearms Museum (CFM), it was more of a collaborative effort. The CFM has the two prototypes created before the M1 Carbine and the M1 Carbine itself.

The first prototype was designed by a series of people, which did not include Williams. But they were using some of his designs. For the second prototype, Williams was actually put in charge of the project but he was so difficult to work with that he was eventually pulled off the project. However, he was called back at the very end of the project and he made some final changes to the gun.

Williams was a very colorful character in history so it made it more interesting to portray him as the creator of the M1 Carbine.

“A lot of people give him a lot of credit on making this gun,” said Hlebinsky. “And certainly there were components that he played a large role on and certainly he helped with but it wasn’t all him.”