Beauty, Beholder, Eye Thereof

Somewhere on my meanderings through Teh Intarwebz, I stumbled on this photo, which depicts the typical G.I. squad weaponry of World War II.

For those unfamiliar with Ye Olde Weaponrie, they are from the top: M3 submachine gun, Colt 1911-A1 pistol, Thompson 1928-A1 submachine gun (standard and “commando” versions), M1 Carbine, M1 Garand, M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR). All in manly chamberings like .45 ACP , .30 Carbine and .30-06 Springfield, and there’s not a single piece of plastic to be found anywhere: just wood and steel and death and stuff.

I’ve fired every single one of them, of course, and loved the experience more than is proper to discuss in polite company.

Feel free to tell me why I shouldn’t feel a sense of longing for the Good Old Days.

(Yes, I know the M3 could be altered to fire the silly 9mm Parabellum Europellet, but like dear old Uncle Ernie who liked to fiddle all about, we just don’t talk about such wickedness.)


  1. Yep, I like wood & steel too. I have guns that in all those cal. .45, 30 Carbine, and 30-06, no full auto, and my 30-06 is bolt action. I appreciate the features of the black guns but the old guns just feel right and that might be because I am an old man who wore our Uncle Sam’s green clothes in the, steel & wood, good old days when men were men and women were women and we knew the difference.

  2. Whoever owns this just broke my Envy-ometer®. I know where the full-auto neighborhood is, I just can’t afford to play there.

  3. I was trained up on the M-3 and 1911A1 (among many others) at U.S. Army Small Arms Repair School in Aberdeen, MD (mid 70’s). Taught myself how to build and repair M-1 Garands and Carbines in later civilian life. Still have all my tools and am in the DFW area. Let me know if you ever need a hand.

    So far, no joy on the Thompson SMG or BAR, but I’m still breathin’, so who knows?

  4. IIRC, the top Thompson is a M1928, but the bottom one is an M-1 – and I would gladly own either (though the ’28 has the added advantage of accepting drum-mags).

  5. I suppose it depends on what kind of longing one is talking about. As range toys, sure. I’d rather play with a 1911A1 or Garand than, say, a M9 or M4. But I’d be no where near insane enough to trust my life to them in battle given what modern weaponry is capable of in terms of weight, reliability and firepower.

  6. At one time or another I’ve played with all of them. Always have liked the 1911; handloaded for mine during my IPSC years. I have my father’s bring-back M1 Carbine. Went through Basic with the Garand. Had an M2 Carbine in 1954/1955 in S. Korea. The Chicago Typewriter is easy to use, and is quite accurately on target once you get used to it. The good thing about the BAR is that it’s easy to hold on target; it’s weight makes it quite controllable.

    At bayonet distance, I do believe I’d prefer a Garand over an M4/M9. (Smiley)

  7. I have a Tommy gun with the 30 round stick magazines (recently manufactured semi-auto, not he original, alas). Took it to city hall when they were doing a roaring twenties fundraiser for the local museum as a prop for my boss in his ’39 Caddy Series 62 Convertible Coupe. I was holding it when my boss introduced me to the Boca Raton mayor. I said “Don’t worry. I didn’t bring any ammo.” Without missing a beat, he responded “I’m relieved. I didn’t bring any bodyguards.”

  8. I do believe this is the very first time I’ve ever seen the .30 Carbine described as “manly”. I had a .30 Carbine many moons ago and loved the thing, but “manly” is not the term I’d use for that round. Nonetheless, the only thing I can say about this picture is, “I’ll have the lot!”

    1. The .30 is only a wussy compared to the .30-06. When fired from the M1 carbine itself, it’s roughly the equivalent of a .357 Mag cartridge fired from a revolver. Nobody ever accused the .357 Mag of not being manly… and I have to say, when I used to shoot the .30 from my Ruger Super Blackhawk, it “felt” like a much bigger cartridge than it was. The 18″ muzzle flash alone was worth the price of admission.
      As one of my buddies once said when witnessing a night-time shoot (don’t ask): “That’s the stuff! If you can’t kill him with the bullet, then set his clothes on fire and let him burn to death.”

  9. At the Lucky Gunner ammofest in Tennessee a few years ago, I got to shoot a full-auto Thompson and a BAR.

    All I have to say is that the soldiers and Marines who carried those into battle were MANLY men. I had wondered why anyone would willingly trade a beautiful Thompson for a stamped-steel M3 Grease Gun. Holy crap, the Thompson is a solid chunk of steel with just enough milled out of it to let the moving parts work. If you run out of ammo, it makes a perfectly adequate mace (the kind you beat people to death with, not spray them in the eyes.) The BAR? You could use it as a lever to pry up an M4 Sherman. I can’t imagine carrying one of those and a full bandoleer of magazines through a steaming jungle. But both of them left me with a big smile on my face after shooting ’em.

  10. Exceptional taste in firearms!!

    i’ve tried all of them and liked the grease gun a lot. The Thompson was nice but heavy. The M1 carbine and rifle are both a joy to shoot. The BAR is heavy and probably not the best light machine gun it sure can be effective. The only problem with full auto options is the cost to feed and maintain them. I’m happy with the semi auto arms.

  11. I seem to recall that the M1928 was only issued in very limited numbers and the drum magazine was not commonly issued either, due to weight/bulk and the fact that it was difficult to keep functioning in the typically dirty, dusty, muddy environments that combat always seems to occur in.

    As for the “wood vs plastic” thing, meh. They used what they had at a time when the plastic industry wasn’t nearly as well developed as it is now. If they’d had plastics of the type we have today they’d have used them. A weapon is a tool, it either does the job or it doesn’t. Despite the plastic, modern weapons have proven themselves to be very efficient killing machines.

    I also think by fawning over the more successful weapons you are glossing over the duds. The Riesing SMG and the Johnson rifle and light machine gun, to name two, were notoriously problematic for the military, especially for the Marines in the Pacific theater.

    1. Staff, you will note that there were no copies of the Riesing and Johnson in the pic… or else I would have been equally dismissive of them.

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