Hello and welcome back to another edition of The Rimfire Report! This ongoing series is all about the rimfire firearm world and its many different types of guns, ammunition, shooting sports, and history! It’s probably pretty obvious at this point that I’ve had a recent habit of browsing GunBroker.com a bit too much in my free time. Just a few weeks ago we checked out a pretty rare takedown rifle that may have been novel for its time but has since been surpassed by modern versions of the concept. Last week we talked about the really cool H&K P7K3, which all of you really seemed to enjoy. I actually share the sentiment that a lot of you had – H&K should really put the P7K3 back into production, or at least, give us a dedicated 22LR P7 that does away with the hydraulic buffer system altogether but still keeps all the other odd quirks of the P7. It’s probably too much of an ask, but a man can dream. This week we’re back at it again with another GunBroker.com auction that has since ended without being sold – this time the very rare Iver Johnson M1 Carbine 22LR – Iver Johnson’s dedicated 22LR replica of the .30 Carbine M1 Carbine first introduced to the US Armed Forces in WWII.
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The Rimfire Report: Iver Johnson’s Rare M1 Carbine 22LR
Sometimes guns are simply favored for being evocative of a specific era or memory. The M1 Carbine is one that often elicits memories of the Second World War for many and for being a rifle that many servicemen in the post-war years probably remember having issued to them all the way up until 1973 when the rifle was retired from service with the US Armed Forces. The Iver Johnson M1 Carbine chambered in .22LR was introduced to the market around 1986 and only kept in production until about 1989 making these guns pretty rare. The Iver Johnson M1 Carbine is a homage to history with a near-perfect replication in form and function – just in 22LR.
- Model Number: U.S. Carrinbe .22 Model EW.22HBA
- Caliber: .22 Long Rifle (.22LR)
- Action: Semi-automatic
- Overall Length: 35.4″
- Barrel Length: 18 inches
- Weight: 5.6 lbs
- Magazine Capacity: 10 and 15-round magazines
- Typically comes with a detachable box magazine holding 10 rounds, though Iver Johnson still sells new-production 15-round magazines
- Sights: Aperture Rear adjustable for windage and elevation, blade front with strong sight protector
- Stock: Walnut
- Operating System: straight blowback
History of the IVer Johnson M1 Carbine 22LR
Iver Johnson’s version of the 22LR M1 Carbine replica can actually trace its roots back to West Germany and the introduction of the Erma Werke Model EM1 Training Rifle. Basically, the United States dumped an absolute metric ton of military surplus rifles on West Germany and this meant that the native Germans now had to learn how to effectively use American weapons. One of the most prevalent weapons was of course the U.S. M1 Carbine which West Germany was provided with 34,192 rifles according to records from the U.S. Department of Defense Military Assistance Program.
Upon Erma Werke’s acquisition by a company called Fiberglide in 1961, plans were already in progress for the manufacture of the EM1 Carbine replica in .22LR primarily intended as a training rifle. The EM1 immediately found adoption within the Austrian Gendarmerie. This organization had acquired over 10,000 U.S. M1 Carbines and desperately needed a more cost-effective way to train new recruits. The exact quantity of EM1 rifles produced and utilized by the Austrian Gendarmerie remains undisclosed.
In 1986 Iver Johnson Arms introduced the Model EW.22HBA in .22 LR (the E M1 with a longer barrel) and the EW .22MHBA in .22 WMR (an ESG 22). Both of these rifles were manufactured by Erma Werke in Dachau, West Germany for Iver Johnson. The Iver Johnson name replaced the name of Erma Werke on the left side of the receiver. “Made in West Germany” was placed on the right side of the receiver, the Iver Johnson owl trademark was added to the top of the receiver near the proof marks, and the Iver Johnson’s import mark was located on the right side of the barrel. However, aside from the proof marks and barrel length, the US imported rifles and the native German ones were more or less perfectly identical.
Like most 22LR replica rifles, the Iver Johnson 22LR carbine wasn’t capable of replicating the gas-operated system of the original M1 Carbine. While there is probably some really complex solution allowing the comparatively anemic 22LR cartridge to use a short-stroke piston with a rotating bolt, Iver Johnson made the economical decision to use the much simpler and less expensive straight blowback method.
Unlike the Ruger 10/22, the Iver Johnson Carbine was capable of holding the bolt open after the last round was spent but this capability like most LRBHO (last round bolt hold open) designed 22LR rifles is entirely reliant on the magazine being seated in the gun. This meant that even if the bolt was locked back, the second you removed the magazine, the bolt would close. Once again, this usually comes down to a cost and complexity issue. The rifle featured a safety just forward of the trigger and just behind the magazine release. The safety on the Iver Johnson 22LR reproduction perfectly mimics the original with a 90-degree throw with up being safe and 90° being fire.
While the original M1 Carbine usually fed from a 15 or 30-round magazine, the Iver Johnson only ever saw 10 or 15-round magazines. These magazines are predictably faux magazines with most of the bulk being made up of a shell that houses a much smaller internal steel magazine. The one that the 22LR M1 Carbine uses seems quite similar to other semi-auto 22LR rifle designs.
A rifle worth reviving?
In conclusion, the Iver Johnson M1 Carbine chambered in .22LR stands as a testament to the enduring legacy of the M1 Carbine. Embracing the aesthetics of the iconic M1 Carbine while embracing a more accessible caliber, this reproduction offers a tangible link to history while catering to the joy you get from shooting a classic rifle design. Now, the Iver Johnson 22LR, much like its predecessor, serves not only as a collector’s item but also as a practical platform for training and recreational shooting if you’re lucky enough to get your hands on one. If you own one of these rare Iver Johnson rifles, we’d love to hear your experiences and thoughts on them! Let us know what you think of the Iver Johnson M1 Carbine 22LR in the comments and we’ll see you next week for another edition of The Rimfire Report!