Carbine vs rifle

Discussion in 'Large-Bore/Small-Bore Rifle/Shotgun' started by Popeye79, Nov 28, 2012.

  1. Popeye79

    Popeye79 Former Guest

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    Exactly what differentiates a carbine from a rifle?
    Is it just barrel length?
    Or is it also related to the power of the cartridge?
    I always understood it was just barrel length, but a knowledgeable friend claims it also depends on the cartridge. But that does not make sense to me cause the M16 is a rifle and the M4 which uses the exact same cartridge is a carbine.

    So what's the "official" definition?
  2. CHW2021

    CHW2021 Member

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    In a nutshell it is the length of the firearm that makes it a carbine or rifle. There have been guns made as specific "carbine" models, but often there are long and short versions of the same weapon.
  3. twobit

    twobit Active Member

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    Yup it is basically about barrel length.
  4. Popeye79

    Popeye79 Former Guest

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    Length of firearm or length of barrel? Bull pup rifles (like the Steyr, FAMAS, and L85) have a full length barrel but an overall short length. Aren't these rifles and not carbines? Or are they considered carbines?
  5. Alpo

    Alpo Well-Known Member

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    Originally it was length of the barrel. Carbine is a corruption of the French word for "cavalryman", as it was just a rifle with a shorter barrel, and therefore easier for a horseman to use.

    Sometimes it is a specific model of gun. For example, Winchester made their lever guns in both "rifle" and "carbine" models. Rifles had longer barrels than the carbines, but they also had different buttstock shapes and the forearms and magazine attachments were different. Also the carbine barrel was always round, while the rifle barrel could be either round or octagonal. They, occasionally, made "Short rifles", which has the same barrel length as their carbines, but had stocks and barrel designs just like the rifles.

    Then we come to the M1 Carbine, which not only was shorter and lighter than a rifle, but was designed to use a smaller cartridge.

    Nowadays there are many "submachine guns that have been turned into semi-auto rifles" because of our gun laws. These are usually referred to as "pistol-caliber carbines".

    Bottom line - it's hard to say exactly what it is that makes a carbine a carbine.
  6. twobit

    twobit Active Member

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    Another example;
    I have a Remington 760C pump 30-06 made in the 60's. The barrel is stamped "CARBINE". The C in the model number also denotes it is a carbine. It has an 18 1/2" barrel. The other barrel length made for that firearm was 22". They called it a "rifle". In this instance, barrel length was the only difference in the two firearms. As noted in above post, Winchester rifles and carbines had additional differences, not just barrel lengths.
  7. Popeye79

    Popeye79 Former Guest

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    OK, I'm starting to get the idea now.

    Carbine is (usually) a generic term to denote a shorter/lighter version of the same model long arm. So the term can mean different things to different manufacturers. I was hoping there was a standard technical definition, but like so many many things in the firearms world, that seems to be too much to ask for.

    But thanks for the feedback.

    About the M1 Carbine. That gun looks a lot like a shrunk down version of the Garand but I understand it only looks similar. They are actually two independent designs with no parts interchangeable between the two, correct? Kinda like the Ruger mini-14. Similar in appearance to the M1A/M14, but actually a completely different gun.

    And about that M1 Carbine round. I was told it was a handgun round, but other than a few Ruger revolvers chambered for it, I'm pretty sure it was always a rifle round. correct?
  8. Alpo

    Alpo Well-Known Member

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    Yes, the Carbine is to the Garand about like the Mini 14 is to the M14. Looks like a "shrunk down" version, but no parts interchange.

    And, yes, the Carbine round is, quite often, called a "hot pistol round", but it was always a rifle round. Ruger makes their Blackhawk in it, and AMT makes/made an autopistol in it (the Automag II, I think), but it was designed for the rifle.

    'Course, the 44/40, 38/40 and 32/20, which nowadays most folks (that have actually ever heard of 'em) think are pistol rounds, were all designed for the 1873 Winchester rifle, and are all rifle rounds.
  9. Alpo

    Alpo Well-Known Member

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    And, just as chambering a rifle in 357 does not make 357 a rifle cartridge, so chambering a pistol in 45/70 (Contender, BFR) does not make it a pistol cartridge. And no matter how many pistols the 30 carbine is (or might end up being) chambered in, it is now, and will always be, a rifle cartridge.
  10. Popeye79

    Popeye79 Former Guest

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    That's what I thought. Thanks for confirming.
  11. Popeye79

    Popeye79 Former Guest

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    Speaking of the Ruger Mini-14 and the M1 Carbine, how do they compare? They're about the same size and weight and have very similar actions. I guess the biggest difference is in the cartridge. Which has the hotter round?
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