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Carcano Italian Rifle

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Carcano Italian Rifle

In 1891 Italy produced their first modern military rifle replacing the Vetterli which has a 6.5 caliber Carcano. The rifle originated by Lt. Col. Salvatore Carcano and Col. Parravicino both who worked on the Torino arms factory in Turin. The main caliber propelled a 6.5 mm 162 grain bullet at approximately 2300 feet per second. For that time it was a decent load which compared favorably to 6.5's of the same period. Pressures were kept pretty mild around 38,000 PSI. approximately. Anyway they kept that chambering until shortly before WW ll once they went to the 7.35 chambering. That chambering fired a 128 grain slug at 2480 feet per second which in my experience was inferior. To me the 128 grain slug has less sectional density so wouldn't penetrate just as much as the 6.5 would. Be as it can certainly be the 7.35 came out but WW ll work off and they went back to the 6.5 due to supply considerations. The truth is some of the 7.35's was rebarreled for the 6.5 caliber. The 7.35 is only the 6.5 necked with no other changes to the case. The 6.5 is in no way the most common and famous. The rifle that shot J.F.K was a 6.5 Carcano at that time they could be bought over the mail for about $20. Ah the great ol days!

Carcano Italian Rifle

A fact not well-known to everyone is that some Carcanos were created in the 8 X 57 Mauser chambering for your African campaign. The logic Perhaps was to simplify ammo supplies together with the Germans. I am not sure just how many were made but they are not real common today out of the box the other 2 chamberings. I heard that about 50,000 of these rifles were manufactured. The 8 mm is seldom mentioned in references about the Carcano or in other references on WW ll weapons. If it's it's usually just a footnote. So far as I know it saw little or no or no actual combat use within Africa or anywhere else. I do believe Hunter's Lodge sells them, if you're interested, and occasionally they search at gun shows which can be where I obtained mine. They advertise from the Shotgun News which is a good source to have military rifles and supplies. Among the problems which plague this as well as some other military rifles will be the difficulty in getting a clip. It takes a special clip because the cartridge body is larger then either in the other Carcano rounds. Obtaining a clip would be like showing up in the lottery. You can try gunshows or Numrich Arms probably have one. Like the other Carcano chamberings it is usually fired single shot though rapid ejaculation a slow process. To fireside the 8mm single shot the bolt should be removed and a cartridge inserted to the bolt head and replaced inside the gun. Since I don't intend on picking a fight with a gang using this rifle single shot 's no major hassle. While possible it's not real easy to scope a Carcano. It might have to be a side mounted affair due to clip going through the top. It could be worth while to scope a 6.5 on the other hand would never do it towards the 8 as they aren't nearly as common.

Everyone knows that Carcanos usually are not as desirable a collector item as a few other military pieces. Some people consider them junk and should not be shot or kept for example. Of course that's nonsense. Anyone that has come to that conclusion hasn't taken enough time to shoot or check out the Carcano in any depth. Although it is not as strong as being a Mauser or Arisaka they are adequate if fed properly. No military authority is going to issue a piece of junk to their troops if they be prepared to win a war. The metal finish is decent though somewhat crude and the wood looks rough but serviceable. The rear sight is non adjustable except by way of a file but the samples I shot are fairly straight on at 50 yards. Like several Carcanos I have seen the caliber marking is merely in front of the front sight in cases like this it says 7.92. I wouldn't challenge anyone to a shooting match unless we were both using Carcanos because the sight is crude. They are handy to carry and fairly light, although magazine sticks out the lower and if on can be used for hunting. I have shot a lot of ammo in all 3 chamberings rather than had a malfunction. Obviously I didn't try and make a magnum out of any of them either. The bolt happens by pulling the trigger and pulling the bolt out as in the other Carcanos. The extractor is adequate and also the ejector located directly below the bolt seems pretty sturdy. The safety locks the bolt and sports ths firing pin and it doesn't seem particularly tough to use. To engage the protection push it forward or more. The locking lugs are most often a pretty decent size and the bolt handle also provides for a safety lug, to some degree, in case the other two fail. You will find there's small hole inside the bolt that may vent some gas in the event of a case failure. I'm not sure how good it would work however a ruptured case is unlikely especially using proper ammo as well as a gun in good shape. The trigger is easy and reliable being typical military. After shooting and examining these actions I don't see where they're so bad if proper ammo can be used. I did a project recently where I shot a lot of ammo in the 7.35 and never had problems of any type. The worst feature inside the Carcanos is trying to shoot it without having a clip. The clip does however work fine while i have a couple for the 7.35.

Having said all that I would not fire any 8mm military ammo inside it as it's almost certainly hot for that action. I have some military ammo that we chronographed in my 23" barrel 98 at merely about 2900 feet per second having a 150 grain bullet. I think of the pressures have to be around 50,000 PSI. possibly even which is way too much to the Carcano.

Loads for this gun ought to be kept mild. One source is using the minimum loads in loading manuals to the 8 X 57 Mauser. Here are some loads I have used and can recommend. If I would take this rifle deer hunting I'd probably use the Hornady 170 grain flat nose and tweak the load to shoot to the point of impact with the original sight and then use it as a single shot unless I discovered a clip.

10 X Unique 125 grain Hornady 1459 fair
50 X IMR 4350 150 grain Hornady 2379 mild
9 X Red Dot 165 grain cast 1241 accurate
10 X Unique 165 grain cast 1357 also accurate
47 X 748 170 grain Hornady 2374 favorite

The 8 mm Carcano is an interesting part of history even though it didn't play an important roll in the African campaign. Because i do shoot mine sometimes I consider it more of a historic relic to think about and show other interested folks.

I have already been writing about & researching military along with other obsolete weapons for many years.


Posted Jan 12, 2016 at 7:54am