I am currently looking for a semi-auto rifle and I have always adored the m1 Carbine. The reason behind this is because of video games like Day of Defeat...among others made me research the gun a bit. Now I'm not a gun wiz at all and this will be my first rifle purchase. I was thinking about getting a .22 for a while since the ammo is cheap but while the rifles are good and all I was something with a little more kick to it since I won't fire my rifle a lot anyway. Today I went with my father to a place called Mark's Outdoors down here in Alabama and I happened upon 2 M1 Carbines there...and something else that impressed me by the looks of it. The 1st M1 carbine had very dark wood and featured a heat shield on it. I can't really find much information on heat shields on m1 so I suppose you guys can fill me in on the ups and downs of it. I will be going back possibly on Friday or Saturday of this week to look upon it some more to get the serial code and all that stuff but then again I'm not a gun whiz so I don't really know much about guns. The 2nd Carbine had very light colored wood and did not feature the heat shield upon it and it looked fairly wared down...decent but not to eye catching like the first one that had hardly a scratch on it and was stable as hell. On both of them the wood seem pretty stable on them and felt well in place but the one with the dark wood was fairly nice and I liked the sights on it. The first carbine was marked down from 600 bucks to 395 dollars and he said it was chambered in .30-30 (which makes no sense because I think that all are chambered in .30 carbine so I think that guy didn't know what the hell he was talking about.) The 2nd one was only 350 but I'm leaning more to the 395 one because it looked much much better by the looks of it. Now for the third gun. A Ruger Mini-14.....this one I saw first because I was like "Man that looks like a good rifle...reminds me of the m1 almost." And then the guy showed me those previous 2....now the Ruger...man that thing had a scope with it....and just look fan****ingtastic and was on par with the dark wooded m1 in my eyes. Chambered in .223 I believe he said and man....I just loved the way the thing looked.....the light colored wood contrasted with the shining silver metal parts of it and just looked fabulous and was about 600 bucks.... He tried to sell me ARs and an MP5 knock off but that wasn't my taste. So in conclusion can someone tell me what to look for in m1 carbines and Ruger's in particular? This includes the average price of ammunition and serial codes I should look for and manufacturers. Particularly about the Heat Shield as well since that just made the m1 carbine more modern looking and nice looking...I loved it....I almost bought it right then and there....I mean 395 bucks? That's cheap for me lol.