POTD: Battle of the Carbines! – Turner 1941 2nd Model Prototype Light Rifle
Welcome to today’s Photo of the Day! Here we have a really cool piece of history in the form of a prototype Turner 1941 rifle. This rifle was one of many that were submitted to United States military trials for the standard-issue “light rifle” design that would ultimately be the M1 Carbine. The Turner 1941 was a very promising rifle and its inventor, Russel Turner, was a regular, old average-Joe and not a designer from a big company. His rifle used a side locking bolt and safety similar to the M1 Garand.
It worked well and showed a lot of promise in the first trial tests. The Winchester M1 Carbine; however, did not! Because of this, it is commonly accepted that Winchester used its pull with the government to issue an ammunition adjustment that would better suit their rifle. The result? The Turner rifle barely functioned! Mr. Turner could have easily modified his rifle to work with the ammunition change, but opted not to since he felt that the folks in charge of the trials already made their decision.
“Pictures of Turners 1st and 2nd Carbines can be seen on pages 19 and 25 of “M1 Carbine Design, Development & Production” by Larry Ruth, with this example clearly following the 2nd Model pattern, with some mild differences in stock and magazine well configuration. Sighting is by a fixed blade and peep arrangement, with no maker’s or proofmarks save “TURNER/BUTLER PA/1941″ on the barrel socket, with a M1 Garand-style safety switch in the front of the trigger guard, a spring loaded thumb lever magazine catch, and a serrated cocking knob on the bolt carrier. Mechanically, the rifle is gas driven, with the port just ahead of the forearm projecting off to the right and the rod concealed by the stock, which also doubles as 3/4ths of the magazine well. Internally, the components are very simple, and again a resemblance to the Garand can be seen in the arrangement of the disconnector, and are easily accessible via a large side plate retained by a spring loaded latch and the magazine catch. The stock is smooth, with a contoured forearm and pistol grip, a cut-through sling groove in the buttstock, and a smooth alloy buttplate. Overall, the rifle shows its hand-made nature, with the receiver and carrier showing machining lines, the interior showing a few remnants of Prussian blue and similar guide marks, and the barrel and operating rod channels of the stock showing hand-cutting and remnants of pencil marks.”
Lot 3427: Russell Turner 1941 2nd Model Prototype Light Rifle. (n.d.). Rock Island Auction Company. photograph. Retrieved June 22, 2022, from https://www.rockislandauction.com/detail/69/3427/russell-turner-1941-2nd-model-prototype-light-rifle.