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Model 1941 Carcano 6.5x52mm Rifle



Barrel marking on M41 rifle denoting a high standard of accuracy (crossed rifles and target)
The Model 41 Carcano in 6.5x52mm is a shortened version of the older Model 91. An interesting feature of this rifle is, after they stopped using adjustable sights on their Carbines and Short Rifles they reverted back to an adjustable sight. This rifle has the crossed rifles and target mark. Out of each 100 rifles the sight in inspector selected one rifle to stamp this marking on. The accuracy stamped rifles were used by the best marksmen in each unit. This is the closest thing the Italian Army ever used as a sniper rifle during WW1 and WW2.



Japanese Type “I” Naval Rifle 6.5x50mm

The Japanese Type “I” rifle was made for the Japanese Navy starting in 1937. The general consensus of opinion is that the Italians supplied Carcano actions and the rifles were completed in Italy. The Japanese Navy had problems obtaining rifles because the Japanese Amy had the production in the arsenals in Japan monopolized. The Japanese Navy ordered 120,000 rifles from the Italian Government. The only difference between the Italian Carcano action and the Japanese Type “I” is, the Type “I” has a Arisaka (Mauser) staggered  magazine with a hinged floor plate.

There is one more rifle I want to mention, although it is not of Italian manufacture. In 1871 the Dutch adopted a bolt action single shot rifle the named the Beaumont after it's designer. It was chambered in 11X52R. In 1888, the Dutch Beaumont Model 1871 was converted to a repeating rifle using the Italian Vitali magazine system. It was then designated Model 1871/88 Beaumont. An interesting feature of the design is, the bolt handle is hollow and of two pieces. It houses a "V" spring that actuates the firing pin. This mainspring system seems fragile but I have never observed a Beaumont rifle with a broken mainspring.



A Dutch Beaumont 1871/88 in 11x52R. The bore in this rifle was mint and we fired it with formed cases, made from 28 GA brass shotgun shells. We used .457” 535 GR RN hand cast bullets



Barrel shank showing P. Stevens (the manufacturer) and Maastricht, the city where it was made in Holland

NOTES ON SHOOTING, ACTION STRENGTH AN QUALITY OF CARCANO RIFLES

As I said earlier, the Carcano rifle has received a bad rap from American shooters.  In the book “Small Arms of the World” by W.H.B.Smith, the author retold a story of a 6.5mm Carcano blowing up and killing an American soldier. No one ever verified this yarn. When Edward Ezell rewrote and updated the book, he did not remove the report from it. The truth is, the Carcano action is very strong and is as safe as any other military rifle. It is capable of being re-barreled to .222 and .223 Remington. Another feature that surprised me is, the bolts from 99.9999% of all Carcano rifles will interchange and headspace properly in any Carcano rifle made from 1891 until 1945. Our Springfield and 1917 Enfield rifles have barrels and bolts individually fitted to each rifle.

When I was 17, I bought a nice Model 1941 Carcano. Norma did not market ammo for the 6.5x52mm as yet and I wanted to shoot the rifle. W.T. Grants Department Store sold military rifles and ammunition. My Mother went with me to buy the 6.5mm ammo because I was too young to legally buy it. I bought 100 rounds of 6.5mm ammo for $6.00. It was marked BR-1939 on the head stamp and the ammo was loose without boxes.  When I fired the first round at the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Range I got a big surprise. .
The rifle blew powder and brass in my face. I looked like I had been shot in the face with .22 RF rat shot. I could not open the bolt, even with a hammer handle. I was later told by my Friend Earl Eason that the ammo was for a Breda aircraft machine gun and it was loaded to extreme pressure (120,000 PSI). I wrapped the rifle in newspaper, rode the City Bus and took the ammo and rifle back to W.T. Grants (with my Mother with me) and showed the manager of the sporting goods department the wounds on my face and the wrecked rifle.  He apologized and took the 6.5 Italian ammo off the shelf. He gave me a mint condition Eddystone Model of 1917 US Army Rifle in .30-06 ($29.95) and 500 rounds of .30 M2 Ball ammo made by WRA  in 1955 ($35.00).  I was a happy camper. I used that rifle to deer hunt and kept it for many years.

My Model 41 Carcano was scrapped by me and I was grateful the rifle action was strong enough to hold together with the high pressure of the surplus ammo. This experience taught me one thing, do not use surplus ammo unless you know the serviceability of it. I have seen people wreck a lot of rifles with surplus ammo. I prefer to reload the ammo I use in the military rifles I own. I believe, the US  1903 or the  Model of 1917 would have come apart, if a round with this much pressure was fired in them. The US Ordnance Corps normal proof load for .30-06 rifles was only 70,000 PSI. It attests to the strength of the Carcano Rifle.
 





Top photo shows a clip being inserted in the rifle, It is pressed in until it latches. Bottom photo shows the empty clip falling out the bottom of the magazine. The button on the inside of the trigger guard is the clip release.

One of my pet peeves in guns is people calling a magazine a clip. The Carcano uses a clip in it’s Magazine.



All 3 cartridges used in Carcano rifles. From top to bottom:
7.92X57mm, 6.5x52mm and 7.35 Carcano
 

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Good read, Doug.  While I've never been very fond of the Carcano rifles, they were and are serviceable arms and, as you said, stronger than they have a reputation of being.  I have never had one, though, that I thought gave particularly good accuracy; that might be a function of my less than great eyesight combined with their rather rudimentary sights.  :)
 

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Thanks another Great poasting !!!
 

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Great articles Doug. I've seen a few of these in pawn shops over the years and have not paid any attention to them. I'm going to have to start looking more carefully at them. I'm going to print this article and pictures and keep in my truck for when I find one.
 

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That was the very first milsurp rifle I ever owned ... actually sold it for a little of nothing because I could not find ammo for it!!  Wish I had it back!!

I would always tell everyone this was the type rifle that shot Kennedy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I have no way to re-size these old photos from Great Southern Arms. I plan on printing the next set of photos vertically, so the muzzles will not be cut off. It may look strange but it will show the whole rifle or pistol. I would change the Italian post to vertical but the file might have to be split into 3 parts and it would be a lot of trouble to change it.





Here is what the vertical photos would look like. What do you think I should do?
 

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Good read! Like 22lrfan, I will have to give these a second look. Why did you say they are a good candidate for .222 family barrel? Bolt face size?
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
oldguns said:
Good read! Like 22lrfan, I will have to give these a second look. Why did you say they are a good candidate for .222 family barrel? Bolt face size?
The only problem using a Mannlicher style bolt rifle is, they have a split receiver bridge and they are difficult to mount a telescope on. Also, there are few accessories available such as triggers, etc. The magazine is not compatible for anything but 6.5x54mm Mannlicher - Schoenauer based cartridges. The bolt face has to have a ring installed and the extractor lengthened. I have seen this done and the rifle was made single shot with a trigger guard only, no magazine box.
 

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Enjoyable article Doug. Thank You! :)
I admire the elegance of the 1891 Carcano. I understand most of the 6.5mm rifles are sweet shooters.
Not doubting the action strength either. Looks like the Russian Mosin with the bolt knob root acting as a huge backup to the forward locking lugs.
I have seen the Carcano's at gun shows with low asking prices & I always pass them over.
Just not wanting to pursue another obscure cartridge.
 

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Whence the Carcano?

GunBroker.com has Carcanos and ammo for auction. Stiff ammo prices.  Bayonets expensive, as well.  Got 2 rifles that way.  It's the place to get Finn 7.35.
 
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