M1 Carbine Magazine Maintenance: Keep Your Mag Clean!

M1 Carbine Magazine Maintenance: Keep Your Mag Clean!

Nov 18th 2021

The M1 carbine and its variants, which were officially in United States service from 1942 until 1973, served with distinction in the hands of U.S. troops throughout several critical engagements, including World War II, Korea, and Vietnam.

There are a million things that could be said about the M1 carbine, but today, we’re going to go with a very basic one. They’re old. If you have one, it’s probably been around the block a few times.

If it still fires, then either you or someone before you kept that thing clean. If it wasn’t maintained, fouling, dirt, moisture, and oil would have corroded the barrel, gas system, bolt, and probably the trigger assembly over time.

A clean gun will last for decades if not longer and will continue to fire faithfully.

But did you remember to keep your M1 carbine magazine clean?


There are so many shooters that will spend a day at the range, bring their rifle home, take the bolt out, the barrel off, and drop the trigger assembly out, scrubbing them thoroughly until not the least speck of fouling remains, and the inside of the bore gleams like the reflector inside of the Hubble telescope.

Then, they put the gun back in the case or the safe, without so much as a second thought for the M1 carbine’s magazine.

Wait, What? Why Do I Need to Clean an M1 Carbine Magazine?
Your gun won’t feed or fire if the parts are dirty and corroded, right? Well, doesn’t your M1 carbine magazine have moving parts and sensitive internals, too?

It does, and magazine failure is a real thing. Springs fatigue, fouling accumulates and jams the internals, and followers can crack or fail.

Keeping the mag clean is the first step to ensuring that your gun will feed smoothly the next time you bring it to the range.

Here’s what you need to do.

1.Periodic cleaning: Follower and exterior
Luckily, after most trips to the range, you really only need to provide cursory maintenance to your M1 carbine magazine. Basically, brushing off the exterior should keep everything in order unless you suspect there is an excess of fouling or dirt inside the mag.

Wipe down the outside of the magazine, and use a soft nylon or brass cleaning brush to lightly clean the follower. If it’s dry, you may be able to use compressed air to dislodge any present debris. Just make sure it doesn’t bypass the following and get forced down into the mag’s inner works.

If it does, you’ll need to do a deep clean.

2.The deep clean
Every few hundred or few thousand rounds (or at least once per year) you should give your M1 carbine magazine a deep clean that will require disassembly.

For a deep clean, you’ll need to take the magazine apart so you can clean out the internals.

Disassembly is, fortunately, easy. Slide the bottom plate out (you can use a screwdriver for leverage, just be careful not to bend anything), holding it securely before removing it. Keep the bottom of the mag covered with your hand before removing the plate because the spring will want to shoot out once you remove the bottom plate.

Remove the spring and follower. Clean these with a mild fouling solvent if they are coated, then use an abrasive brush to remove any fouling or oxidation that has accumulated on them. You can wipe down the inside of the magazine at this point, too.

Before reassembly, make sure that every component is clean and dry before reinserting them in reverse order (follower, then spring, then bottom plate). If you apply oil, apply it very sparingly because excess oil traps dirt and grime and is a magnet for new fouling, which you don’t want to attract after you’ve just cleaned the mag!

(Pro tip: This is also a good time to replace the M1 carbine magazine spring if it is old and fatigued.)

3.In between: Get a magazine brush!
In between deep cleanings, you may find that some special magazine brushes can help you reach down inside the magazine to coax out dirt, dust, sand, fouling, and excess oil. These magazine brushes typically have stiff but soft bristles and a long, flexible tip that can be used to reach into tight spaces.

Call Us for Help!
Looking for tips on how to keep your M1 Carbine in tip-top shape? Looking for a high-quality, replacement military surplus magazine? An original 15 round magazine that’s compatible with the platform? Get in touch with us and we’ll help you out, whatever it is you need, even if you just have questions that need answering.

You can reach us at 610-250-3960 - but be sure to check back in our blog periodically for more tips, tricks, and interesting historical information!