Peacetime Killed Smith & Wesson’s Nine-Mil Carbine

WIB history February 13, 2017 0

Photo via ‘Small Arms Review’ 1945 was a bad year to offer a new weapon by MATTHEW MOSS In May 1945, Smith & Wesson submitted a prototype...
Photo via ‘Small Arms Review’

1945 was a bad year to offer a new weapon


In May 1945, Smith & Wesson submitted a prototype carbine to the U.S. Army Ordnance Corps for testing and evaluation. The prototype, chambered in nine-by-19-millimeter, fed from 32-round STEN magazines.

Five years earlier in 1940, Smith & Wesson had developed the Model 1940 Light Rifle for the British. But the Model 1940’s receiver cracked from firing British ammunition.

The newer weapon was better-made but still failed to find a buyer.

The ’45 carbine had a traditional wooden stock that was similar to the M1 Carbine’s own stock, and a safety at the front of the trigger-guard like that on the M1 Garand. Interestingly, the weapon used a recoil-operated, inertia-locked breech system. The bolt-locking piece cammed out of position after traveling 3/8 of an inch.

The weapon was strictly semi-automatic, although historian Frank Iannamico suggested that a select-fire version was in development. The weapon was 30.5 inches long and weighed 6.5 pounds.

The prototype performed reasonably well during testing at Aberdeen Proving Ground. The extractor and firing pin fractured during the endurance test. Still, the Ordnance Corps’ report praised the carbine’s simple design and construction and concluded that it would be cheap to manufacture.

As the carbine was chambered in nine-by-19-millimeter rather than the U.S. military’s standard .45 ACP pistol cartridge, Smith & Wesson most likely meant to market the weapon to American allies that used used the nine-millimeter cartridge.

Smith & Wesson probably submitted the weapon for Ordnance Corps tests in order to have the design independently evaluated. However, with the end of the war Smith & Wesson lost the opportunity to sell new designs. The ’45 carbine faded away.

Originally published at Historical Firearms.

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