Object Title

Centrefire automatic carbine - M3

Centrefire automatic carbine - M3

Object Number



Gifted with the Pattern Room by the Ministry of Defence, August 2005.





OverallLength930 mm
OverallWeight2.79 kg


Serial Number 7461272


.30 in



A variant of the M2 carbine, retaining the select-fire functionality whilst adding an early form of infrared (IR) night vision optical sight. The sight operates using an IR spotlight, which is attached to the top of the scope. This projects IR light onto the target, which can then be viewed through the scope. The spotlight would be readily perceptible by an opposing IR optic, making the user highly vulnerable against those with technological parity. This differs from modern IR night vision optics, which are more sensitive and so do not require a dedicated IR light source to illuminate the target.

The power required to project this IR light resulted in the need for the operator to carry a large battery pack with the carbine. In addition, a foregrip was added both to steady the firearm as well as to serve as a mounting point for the light switch. This all greatly increased the weight of the carbine, which was initially designed to be a light firearm for rear-echelon troops.

These early night vision-capable firearms were first deployed during the Battle of Okinawa, then used by US and allied forces in limited numbers in the Korean War and the Vietnam War.


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