The U.S. Caliber .30 Carbines - Model M3

The U.S. Carbine Caliber .30

Model M3



M1E7 & T3



Right click on the image to view the model

The U.S. Carbine Caliber .30, Model M3

The T3 carbine was approved 17 Feb 1944 as Limited Procurement type, a classification used for items undergoing research and development (Ordnance Technical Committee item #22910). On 7 May 1945 Headquarters Army Ground Forces recommended the T3 carbine be standardized as one of the main components of the Sniperscope M2, which would change the classification of the T3 carbine to approved as a standardized weapon. This recommendation indicated the basic weapon to be either an M1 carbine or an M2 Carbine modified to fire semi-automatic only out of concern for the sensitive scope parts during full auto fire. It was further recommended each carbine supplied for use with the sniperscope be equipped with the T23 Flash Hider. [File 474.5/337(c) dated 7 May 1945]

After further testing the Corps of Engineers reported on 18 Jun 1945 tests showed no appreciable difference between the effects of automatic and semi-automatic fire on the electrical or optical components of the Sniperscope M2. The Corps of Engineers therefore recommended the Carbine Caliber .30 Model M2, modified for mounting the telescope 230 (telescope of the Sniperscope M2) be standardized as the basic weapon for the Sniperscope M2 providing both automatic and semi-automatic fire. HQ Army Ground Forces concurred. [File 474.5/3354(c) dated 18 Jun 1945]

On 25 Jun 1945 the Ordnance Sub-Committee on Small Arms recommended to the Ordnance Technical Committee that the Carbine Caliber .30 M2, modified essentially in accordance of the stock and receiver design of the Carbine Caliber .30, T3, complete with T23 Flash Hider be adopted as Required type, Adopted type, Standard Article and be designated the Carbine Caliber .30, M3. Storage, issue and maintenance was to be assigned to the Ordnance Dept. with the source of supply indicated as the Winchester Repeating Arms Company. Estimated cost of quantity procurement was $75 each. [Ordnance Technical Committee Minutes 25 Jun 1945, Item 28356]

U.S. Carbine Caliber .30
Model M3

    Number of Parts
    Barrel Length
    Overall Length
38" (with Flash Hider)
5 lb. 10 oz.
    Trigger Pull
5-7 lbs
    Stock Material
Select Fire (semi and fully automatic)
* weight without scope, mount and related items
Data extracted from:
Drawing # F7265697 dated June 9, 1950
Carbine cal. .30, T3 External Views
Dept. of The Army
U.S. Army Weapons Command
Rock Island, IL

In a meeting on 3 Jul 1945 the Corps of Engineers indicated the ongoing development of the Sniperscope M2 permitted the light assembly and switch to be assembled as a unit and mounted on top of the sniperscope instead of under the stock. Therefore the T3 carbine stock was no longer needed. This was formalized in a letter dated 19 Jul 1945 from the Chief of Ordnance to the Chief of Engineers recommending the use of the current M2 stock instead. The letter also indicated the mount on the M3 carbine receiver would be machined integral with the receiver and not brazed on as originally on the T3 (Inland) Carbine. [Ordnance Technical Committee Minutes Item #29284 dated 20 Sep 1945]

Preparing for the upcoming Ordnance Technical Committee approval of the Carbine, Caliber .30, Model M3, instructions for the preparation of drawings and specifications appear in an Ordnance document dated 4 Aug 1945. These include the following.

Drawings and Specifications for 15,000 Carbine, Cal 30, M3
4 Aug 1945
  • Receiver D7162131 shall be used instead of D44004A
  • M2 stock
  • Flash hider
  • Receiver shall be marked "U.S. Carbine, Cal .30, M3", manufacturer's name and serial number
  • Assigned serial number block 8,069,662 through 8,084,811
  • [ref 474.5/319 letter from the Chief of Ordnance to Springfield Armory dated 6 Dec 1945]

    On 16 Aug 1945 the Ordnance Technical Committee followed the recommendations of the Ordnance Sub-Committee on Small Arms. The Carbine Caliber .30 M2, modified to include the stock and receiver design of the Carbine Caliber .30, T3, complete with T23 Flash Hider, was designated as the Carbine, Caliber .30, M3. [Ordnance Technical Committee Minutes Item #28782 dated 16 Aug 1945]. The approval neglected to include the use of the M2 stock instead of the T3 stock. This omission was corrected after the end of the war and is discussed further below.

    Japan had announced their surrender the day before the M3 carbine was adopted. On 02 Sep 1945 Japan signed the articles of surrender followed the next day by the cancellation of all weapon contracts by U.S. Army Ordnance.

    The U.S. Carbine, cal. .30, Model M3
    as adopted by
    U.S. Army Ordnance Technical Committee
      SniperscopeModel M2
    with the following parts being components for the Model M2 Sniperscope
      CarbineCaliber .30, Model M2 (select-fire)
      ReceiverPart # D7162131 (T3), milled from forged steel, mount integral with receiver (not brazed)
      Markings "U.S. Carbine, Cal .30, M3"
      Serial Number from 8,069,662 through 8,084,811
      Manufactured byWinchester Repeating Arms
      StockModified T3 stock - the M2 stock was an omission corrected a few weeks later
      Flash HiderT23

    Backing up a Bit

    A constant theme with everything related to the infrared sniperscopes was they were on a fast track that often preempted normal testing, logistics, etc.

    Winchester was manufacturing T3 carbines from their first contract when Japan signed the articles of surrender on 02 Sep 1945. On 03 Sep 1945 Springfield Ordnance District canceled all of Winchester's ordnance contracts ending all production.

    Winchester's second T3 carbine contract (W-19-059 ORD-3109) was for 15,000 T3 carbines. At the time the contract was awarded the M3 carbine had yet to be adopted. After the end of the war a Winchester employee prepared an internal document detailing the canceled contracts with the quantities completed and quantities canceled. Page 36 of this document indicates contract W-19-059 ORD-3109 was for 15,000 caliber .30 "M2-T3" carbines with all having been canceled. [Winchester contract documents, McCracken Library, Cody, WY]

    These were to be the 15,000 M3 carbines referred to in the "Drawings and Specifications for 15,000 Carbine, Cal 30, M3" dated 4 Aug 1945.

    The Story Continues...

    Of the 5000 T3 carbines contracted under Winchester's first T3 contract they had completed only 1,108 when Springfield Ordnance District canceled the contract. Winchester's final shipment to ordnance of the T3 carbines they had completed was on 7 Sep 1945.

    Three weeks later on 28 Sep 1945 Winchester was awarded a contract to change 1,108 T3 carbines to M3 carbines at a cost of $15.00 each [Winchester contract documents, McCracken Library, Cody, WY].

    On 4 Oct 1945 the Ordnance Technical Committed adopted the recommendation for the use of the M2 stock instead of the T3 stock on the Carbine, Caliber .30, M3. (Ordnance Technical Committee Minutes Item #29284 dated 20 Sep 1945)

    On 6 Dec 1945 the Chief of Ordnance authored a document to the Commanding General of Springfield Armory indicating on 6 Jul 1945 he had requested Springfield Armory prepare the drawings for the Carbine, Caliber .30, Model T3. This was not accomplished before the war ended. He directed Springfield Armory to prepare the drawings along with specifications, heat treatment and finish requirements along with a list of all parts. He included copies of Ordnance Technical Committee standardization items #28782 of 16 Aug 1945 and #29284 of 4 Oct 1945. He directed the drawings for the T3 carbine should be revised to indicate the M3 carbine. [74.5/319 dated 6 Dec 1945]

    Springfield Armory responded to the request 15 Dec 1945 requesting information on the scope to assist in preparing the drawings. The Chief of Ordnance responded 5 Jan 1946 the M3 carbine is a weapon without scope or equipment pertaining to it and is a component part of the Sniperscope M2. He indicated that not even an outline of the scope should be included as the Sniperscope M2 was classified "confidential" and the M3 carbine was unclassified. To assist Springfield Armory he included a copy of document 474.5/319 dated 11 Apr 1946 "Drawings and Specifications for 15,000 Carbine, Cal. .30, M3" as detailed in the chart above on this page.

    On 11 Apr 1946 Springfield Armory provided the Chief of ordnance with documents he had requested for the M3 carbine. Unfortunately these documents were not attached as indicated when the records were photographed at the National Archives in preparation for this website.

    Drawings below obtained from Dept. of Defense records
    and provided courtesy of Eric Nicolaus of

    The original drawing date of 10 Apr 1945 was the date of the original drawing of the Winchester T3 receiver
    F7265697 (far left) is the drawing for the M3 carbine

    Note the original drawing date of June 9, 1950. When the drawings of the M3 carbine were requested
    from the Dept. of Defense this drawing was among them. It's not known why this drawing was originated in 1950.

    Note the presence of the selector switch for changing from semi-automatic to full automatic fire.

    So What Happened to all the M3 Carbines?

    What follows is significant and important when reading an Army publication and/or manual related to any of the .30 caliber carbines.

    When the Ordnance Technical Committee standardized a carbine model the model number to be indicated on the receiver applied to the manufacturer(s) only. The model number was not altered on any carbines converted to a different model. Ordnance and the U.S. military did not identify a carbine by the model number on the receiver. They identified the carbine model based on the characteristics of the carbine.

    For example we'll use the Carbine, Caliber .30, Model M2. At the time the Ordnance Technical Committee approved the Model M2 carbine 14 Sep 1944 (item #25106). They also directed all existing M1 carbines should be equipped with a select fire kit when the opportunity to do so presented itself. Ordnance also indicated the model number on carbines to which the select fire kit was added was not to be changed or altered. Carbines having the select fire kit were deemed Model M2 carbines based on the presence of the kit regardless of the model number indicated on the receiver. Likewise when a carbine did not have the select-fire kit it was deemed an M1 carbine regardless of the marking on the receiver.

    When the Winchester contract for what was to become the Carbine, Caliber .30, Model M3 was canceled and no manufacturer was subsequently contracted to manufacture the M3 carbine the M3 marking was never used. Instead of renewing Winchester's contract to manufacture the M3 carbines on 28 Sep 1945 Winchester was awarded a new contract to change 1,108 T3 carbines to M3 carbines at a cost of $15.00 each. The T3 marking on the receivers of these carbines was not changed or altered. If a T3 carbine had a select-fire kit it was an M3 carbine. Absent the select-fire kit it was a T3 carbine.

    To Ordnance and the Army the configuration of the carbine dictated which model number it was.

    In keeping with this protocol Ordnance manuals and other military documents referred to the carbine model numbers assigned to the particular configuration.

    A good example is SA-ITM-S201 Ordnance Inspector Training Manual, Carbines, Cal .30, M2 And M3 dated 1 June 1951. It's discussion of the development of the Model M2 and Model M3 carbines is based on the particular configuration and intended use. The manual goes into great detail as one would expect with an inspector training manual. Nowhere does it indicate which model number should be on the receivers or verifying the parts match up with the model number on the receiver.

    So the Carbine, Caliber .30, Model M3 existed but none had the M3 model designation on their receivers.

    Confusion created by ATF

    Use of the model number alone to determine if a firearm is a machine gun was created by ATF in their interpretation of the 1968 Gun Control Act. Since then we have become accustomed to the model number designating the firearm. While this is true for some firearms, in the case of the .30 caliber carbines the firearm designated the model number. Select-fire or semi-automatic fire did not require a new receiver, new carbine design or any alteration to an existing carbine. It was as simple as field disassembly and including the select-fire kit during reassembly.

    Absent the select-fire kit the .30 caliber carbines with receivers having the M2 marking were legal to own from 1945 until ATF's interpretation of the 1968 Gun Control Act. Unregistered full automatic fire weapons termed machine guns were illegal well before WWII. The wording of the definition of a machine gun in the current U.S. Code is the wording in the 1968 Gun Control Act with the second paragraph amended by the 1986 Firearm Owner's Protection Act. Both were very specific that their intent was not to make legal firearms illegal. Their wording clearly indicates a machine gun is defined by its ability to fire multiple shots with a single pull of the trigger.

    This topic will be discussed in a bit more detail on the page devoted to the M2 carbines.

    Should you have questions, assistance is available on our Discussion Forum.

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