Here’s an NRA “I have this old gun” video on the Johnson Spitfire, with all the usual suspects (Phil Schreier, Martin K.A. Morgan, Mark A. Keefe IV, etc.) and a little of the history we discussed yesterday. There are also some clear pictures of the folding stock variant.

“Yes, it’s a footnote to the history of the M1 Carbine,” says Morgan. “But it’s a darn interesting footnote!” We agree.

This entry was posted in Rifles and Carbines, The Past is Another Country on by Hognose.

About Hognose

Former Special Forces 11B2S, later 18B, weapons man. (Also served in intelligence and operations jobs in SF).

17 thoughts on “The 5.7 OG, Video Follow-Up


I have a soft spot for the ‘Lil M1’ carbine, it is a very practical carry rifle if you aren’t seeking trouble. Small recoil and report, kicks its empties right next to you, light and handy and accurate enough for ranges inside 100 yards. A lot to like about it.

I have no experience with the Ferret round so cannot comment good or bad about it. Thanks for post about it.


Well, crap….something else to look to buy…. Thanks for trying so hard to spend my money. I love my M1 Carbine and this would make a fun addition.

Boat Guy

My thought exactly. I resisted the M1 Carbine for decades and finally acquiesced; only to find I really like the little guy – and this cartridge looks like an improvement. Wonder if anyone makes dies?


MidwayUSA has everything needed to reload the 5.7 Johnson. They aren’t cheap but it would be a neat little gun to shoot.

On a side note I first found out about this round back in the early 90’s when someone asked me if I could reload for it. I had never heard of it so did and found the dies in a Huntington Die Catalog . I sure wish I could of bought the little carbine from the owner at a reasonable price.


Did Bill Ruger capitalize on this idea?


That reloading press about the 1:22 mark is intriguing me. It had an in-line feed like the larger automated presses but it was manually operated. The first press seems to be a cast bullet sizer/lubricator and the second seems to be showing a progressive process, focusing on seating. That’s a unique case feed I’ve never seen before save for the big industrial jobs. Every progressive I know of has had a rotary deal. Neat.


***5.7×33…………..sounds like something that could have developed from 7.92×33. ***

I’ve been going the other way, necking the 7,92×33 case UP to 10mm, to take advantage of a reasonably wide range of jacketed 135-200 grain bullets [which don’t require gas checks as my lead 8mm/125s do] and which avoids the scarcity of Hornady 125-grain softpoints, about the only bullet commercially available for the Stg/MP round. The M1 carbine bolt has been opened up to use 9mm cartridge base rounds, mostly 9mm Para and 9mm Largo, but anyone who has tried hotter loads or heavier bullets with the parent .30 case can tell you how quickly the carbine bolt’s bolt will drop a locking lug or otherwise fail if hot-rodded excessively. The carbine was meant to be what it was, and not much more, and it is pretty good at what it is, right up to the point that it’s used for something it isn’t.


Anyone else think MMJ looks a bit like LBJ?

Cool caliber; you small-bore wildcatters are wacky!


John M.

Anyone else think MMJ is medical marijuana?

-John M.


It will certainly cure a 40-55-grain mineral deficiency!


That press looks like a C&H Straight-Line press. It’s a progressive press that advances the case in a straight line as opposed to the Star that had a rotary progression like the Lee, RCBS and Dillon. It’s a very fast working press once you learn its little foibles as all you do is put the projectile on the case at the end position and pull down the lever. Each stroke advances the case one position. The cases feed from a drop tube that holds about fifteen cases IIRC. A friend rigged mine(.45ACP) up to feed the cases using a six tube rotating feeder. The slowest part of the operation was filling the six tubes with cases; that and maybe keeping the primer tube filled. It’s also somewhat easier to work on if something screws up, as everything is up front in a straight line, heh, heh.


Thanks for the heads up! Apparently there were a couple; RCBS Green Machine that had some teething issues and the CH Auto Champ. The concept is great in that it puts all operations front and center to the operator instead of around a carousel. I have a Dillon 1050 that is a juggernaut but once something gets wonky it’s a bear to clear out.

As for the case tubes, the Lee case collator deal fills those tubes fast but nowadays I’d rig up an electric feeder of sorts. My Hornady LnL progressive had for a spell the ugliest, ghetto’est, Bubba-made-after-a-rack-of-beers case feeder that despite its looks worked swimmingly. I made it out of old plastic cutting boards and a few hardware store springs and in essence used the camming action of operating the press to feed the cases. The mock up was to see if I could do it and work out the kinks before going back to church it up in a cleaner, machined Delrin, but, it ended up working so well I left it as-is. Once I saved up enough Cabelas points I replaced it with a factory unit. I’ll have to see if I saved a picture of that thing, so ugly but standing proud after feeding a couple thousand 9mm and 380.


I seem to be having a hard time finding external ballistics information other than the published velocity and energy. I am interested to know if anyone has found information on what is happening at 100y and 200y with regards to velocity, energy, and drop.


Try the Vortex LRBC. If you know the BC of the bullet you intend to use and the velocity it’ll get you in the ballpark. Well, closer than the ballpark as one of its features is selecting your shooting bench off Google maps so it also pulls the environmentals for your range card. It’s my favorite ballistics calculator.


In the 1990s I had a Plainfield enforcer carbine *pistol* in 5,57. Muzzle flash at night was spectacular, and for that and a couple of other reasons I replaced it with a more useful at the time piece, a Mauser C96 *broomhandle* in 7,62×25. [7,63, for the purists]

I wish Mr. Johnson had stuck around to see the adoption of the M855 ball ammo and 1:L7 twist barrel on the M16A2 rifle; with a 1:9 twist and the light metal/soft vest penetration capability of the 62-grain GI bullet, I might have hung onto the thing and tinkered with it more than I did. And there are now an awful lot of other very nice .224 bullets suitable for the cartridge not around when it was originally developed.


Reputedly the M1 Carbine has always had reliability problems, both with its magazine and the action. Not so surprising given how quickly it was developed and adopted, but the Army never went back and tried to improve it. Did Johnson’s Spitfire work ever improve on that?

The 5.7mm is very cute, but to fill the M1 Carbine (5.2 lb) niche today, you’d probably be better off with a Kel-Tec SU-16C (4.7 lb, .223). Or a semi-custom lightweight AR-15 of course, but that’s much more expensive; apparently 3.5 lb is feasible: