Thursday, January 08, 2009

Carcano notes...

Over at TFL, someone asked about a 6.5mm Carcano carbine he was thinking about buying.

I had to chime in:
The biggest drawback to the Carcano is the availability, or more accurately the lack thereof, of clips. Good ones are gold; bad ones turn the rifle into a jam-o-matic.

The other big drawback used to be ammo, but that's loosened up somewhat in the last few years. When I picked mine up in '04, the only source was Norma. I spent more on two boxes of ammo than I did on the rifle itself. The Carcano, at least the more common variants, is still one of the few surplus rifles whose Blue Book value is substantially affected by the number of rounds in the magazine...
...and that's assuming 6.5 ammo, which is actually fairly plentiful by comparison to 7.35 Carcano. (This is like saying snow cones are common in hell in comparison to banana daiquiris.)

Also, note that if you handload for your Carcano, feeding could be iffy with spitzer bullets, even if you have good clips. Hornady makes a 160gr round-nose interlock bullet which should give better feeding (and can be loaded to give a trajectory fairly similar to the military load, which is good because the fixed sights on my Carcano redefine "crude".)

The Carcano carbines frequently came with folding spike bayonets, but I'm not sure why. I'd be afraid to poke somebody with it, lest it break. The skinny, flat cross-section blade and the latch mechanism were not designed to inspire confidence in the user. This as much as anything else could explain the WWII Italian army's lackluster reputation for close-in fighting; if you were facing Gurkhas with khukris and sword-bayonet-equipped SMLEs and you were holding this thing, you'd drop it and run, too.

They're not bad or unsafe rifles, they just suffer from some of the same defects as the Mosin Nagant design, being of similar vintage and all. A little clunky and awkward to manipulate quickly, and feeding can be an issue, but generally serviceable rifles. Of the standard-issue WWII longarms, it would definitely be my last choice to carry on a two-way rifle range.

11 comments:

og said...

I have heard stories about Carcano rifles with gain-twist barrels. Any truth to this?

staghounds said...

Still a far better feeding system than its contemporary, the Krag. And the same year, the French adopted the Berthier, with just three in the clip.

Years ago I happened on a sealed case of 7.35 (in clips!) at a yard sale for $5. So of course I had to go buy an m38 ($20) to shoot it all up. Fun!

Tam said...

The original Mo.1891 infantry rifles did, but I don't know how long the practice was continued. WWII-production carbines show a lot of evidence of shortcut-itis.

Tam said...

Staghounds,

"Still a far better feeding system than its contemporary, the Krag."

Faster to reload, sure.

Actually, for civilian and "just walking around" use, I like the Krag magazine's ability to be topped off with one in the chamber.

DaddyBear said...

Never fired a Carcano. They seem to be pretty thin on the ground around here. What is it about the Mosin Nagant action that you don't care for? I've been shooting my 91/30 for a few years and never had any trouble.

Tam said...

I have a 91/30, as well as an M44, and three Finns (m/91, m/28, and m/39). Again, there's nothing particularly wrong with the design, it's just an example of a very early bolt-action military rifle.

Shooting one can involve a lot of beating on the bolt handle as well as the possibility of rimlock with the stubby, cone-shaped rimmed cartridge, as well as balky feeding.

Later rifles derived from the Mauser design and shooting rimless cartridges are just a lot smoother in operation. The Mosin is a serviceable design, but its age shows in a lot of ways...

jimbob86 said...

"A little clunky and awkward to manipulate quickly"

.....umm..... er..... didn't seem to slow Mr. Oswald down.... (waits for the conspiracy theorists to pile on....)

wordver: pilings

.... then again, just because you CAN drive a nail with a large pair of Vice-Grips does not make it the best tool for the job....

Jay G said...

Thanks for reminding me, Tam. I need to get my Carcano out to the range sometime soon.

You're not kidding about the ammo being pricey - until Prvi Partisan came out with moderately priced 6.5mm, your choices were limited to pretty much Norma hunting ammo at $35 a box of 20 - back when you could get 7.62X54mmR for $3 and .308 hunting ammo for $10...

Wolfwood said...

I'm almost positive that they use a Carcano on MythBusters (among other things, for "Shooting Fish in a Barrel"). Maybe it's hard to get much else in California, or maybe it's just something Jamie's dad gave to him lo those many years ago or something.

B.S. philosopher said...

Keep in mind with the Prvi Partizan Ammo that it's bullet is slightly undersized for the bore of the Carcano which is typically .268 dia. The nominal diameter of the Prvi stuff as well as most other commonly available 6.5 mm bullets is .264. Some folks suspect that this, as well as chopped off progressively rifled barrels on some of the late war carbines are why it got such a bad name for accuracy.

I like mine. It's not a SMLE or a Kar98 but it works OK.

Vaarok said...

FAST, FAST reload, low recoil, flat shooting, great penetration, and one more in the mag than contemporaries.

I like Carcanos. The Cav-carbines are kinda cheesy, but cavalry and paratroopers to whom they issued were supposed to assault positions with speed and grenades more than rifle-fire or bayonets.

The M-91, M-91/41, and M-38 are all great guns. The other carbines are second-string support-troop rifles, and not much can or should be expected of them.

The real reason the Carcano is held in poor esteem is the sight picture (front sight halfway up the notch, AND THEN a six o'clock hold!), and the .268 bore that so hates the smaller bearing surface of .264 spitzer bullets.