WWII American PDWs

M1 and Thompson
M1 Carbine and Thompson submachine gun

Hello Liberty Carriers, Jeremy here talking to you about firearms history. I am a WWII reenactor, performing this past August at D-Day Conneaut, the largest annual D-Day reenactment in the U.S.

I hail from the great state of Michigan and we take pride in our contribution to the Arsenal of Democracy. Detroit was a manufacturing industrial center in the 1940’s and ’50s, sadly today manufacturing and good jobs are gone, people fled to the suburbs or went elsewhere.

Most troops had only their standard issue M1 Garand or M1903 Springfield rifle available to them due to the lack of readiness of the American military. These were good weapons, but they were large and heavy, making them cumbersome for some jobs in the military.

The war department recognized this, and they immediately sought more portable weapons, especially tank and vehicle crews and paratroopers.

Believe it or not, during the war General Motors had a division that was designated as Inland Manufacturing that produced firearms!

They produced the M1 carbine, which had been finalized in October of 1941, only two months before the American entry into the war. The carbine fires an intermediate .30 caliber cartridge and in many eyes was actually the first personal defense weapon (PDW) that our troops used due to the development of a select fire variant that could fire automatically when the trigger was held down!

Inland mass-produced millions of carbines, earning profits while supporting the war effort. Production costs fell from the start of mass production in 1942 and ending in 1945, a testament to capitalism.

In total, Inland contributed the following to the war effort: (1,984,189) M-1 Carbines, (140,000) M1A1 Carbines, (500,00) M2 Carbines, and (811) M3(T3) Carbines.

There were other weapons that played similar roles and were compact in size compared to full-sized rifles. There were several different versions of  submachine guns (SMG) that were issued during the war including the Thompson, M3 grease gun, and the M50/55 Reising. SMGs are weapons that use pistol caliber cartridges and can fire automatically.

The most used SMG during the war was the Thompson but due to the high cost of the weapon, the M3 “grease gun” was produced as a cheaper alternative that was easier to mass produce. The M50/55 Reising was another alternative to the Thompson that was heavily used by the marine raiders in the aftermath of the Pearl Harbor raid. All three weapons were loved by the troops and were used throughout the war.

Soldiers also carried sidearms, the most compact weapon, operated by one hand, but only effective at close ranges. One of the most famous pistols of all-time was the American standard issue Colt M1911. Although contrary to popular belief, this was not the only pistol that was utilized by our troops. Many soldiers and Office of Strategic Services (OSS) agents preferred the M1917 revolver or the Colt Official Police to the 1911 because of their compact size and reliability. The most popular pistol cartridge of issue during the war was the .45 ACP although some soldiers did utilize .38 special.

I hope everyone has enjoyed this throwback to WWII weaponry. Stay safe out there everyone and remember to carry Liberty Carry style!