Sunday, October 23, 2011

I've got the B, the I, N, and G, now all I need's the O.

ShtLE Mk.III? Check.
Proper, un-shortened Mosin 91? Check.
Gewehr 98? Check.
Berthier M1907/15? Check.
Springfield M1903? Check.

...and yesterday at the gun show I stumbled across something you don't see every day: A Moschetto per Truppe Speciali Modello 1891 in nice condition. The stock had not been slathered in varnish nor had the fore-end been attacked by Bubba's hacksaw. The receiver was not drilled and tapped and, for a wonder, the cleaning rod was still in its slot. It looked just the way it did when it was dropped in 1943.

I can't remember the last time I saw an unmolested Carcano loose in the wild. The ratio of Bubba-ed examples to originals is higher than for almost any other rifle. What made this example even more intriguing was the fact that it was an original carbine and not a shortened rifle, and the date on the barrel was 1917.

The clincher on the deal was that the old guy selling it had three of the Mannlicher-style clips for the rifle, without which it is a balky single-shot breechloader, and one of them was even full of what looked to be surplus 6.5x52 ammunition. I already had the WWII-vintage Carcano carbine, and more clips are better clips...

The "quadrant" style sight is interesting, and quite the contrast to the crude, fixed notch on my later carbine. The leaf, with its wildly optimistic range markings reading out to 1500 meters, releases with a little tortoiseshell button and flips completely forward into a recess cut out in the handguard to reveal a fixed 200m battle sight.

With an 18" barrel and only 36" long overall and weighing well under seven pounds, this handy little carbine would have been the bee's knees for cannon-cockers and engineers and other people who couldn't do their jobs while lugging around one of the five-foot-long smokepoles that were otherwise the order of the day. (Incidentally, this is usually how you can tell late-19th Century carbines from shortened rifles at a glance: The carbines tend to have side-mounted sling swivels and bent bolt handles, unlike the infantry rifle's straight bolt handles and bottom-mounted sling swivels, since it was assumed that the carbines would spend most of their lives slung diagonally across their user's back and you didn't want the bolt handle catching on everything while he was trying to work.)

So now I have an issue longarm from most all of the major combatants in the Great War of '14-'18: Great Britain, France, the United States, Italy, Germany, and Russia. If I can just find an un-converted Steyr-Mannlicher M1895*, I'll have the whole set**!

______________________________________
*No mean feat itself, since the vast majority here in the 'States are stutzens: Rifles that were shortened to carbine length and rechambered from 8x50R to 8x56R after the war. I already have one of the latter...

**Already did the easier grouping of Garand, No.4, MAS 36, M91/30, kar 98k, Type 99, M38 Carcano...

23 comments:

Roger said...

You, sir are in desperate need of a 1917 Eddystone Enfield chambered in Gods own caliber .30 of 1906.
It will properly fill in your collection. That rifle was in fact more commonly used than the '03 Springfield. Mine, which is not for sale, which I rescued from Bubba shoots very nicely and accurately.

Tam said...

Already got one, actually. :)

I like it better than the '03 because while it is bigger and clunkier and feels like a railroad tie compared to the svelter Springfield, the sights are in the right place. It's enough to make me wish I hadn't sold my '03A3...

Borepatch said...

Channeling my kids from a decade ago:

"Berthier, I choose you!"

And maybe "It's super effective!"

;-)

og said...

Carcano gain twist rifling?

Tam said...

Og,

Yup.

Kristopher said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kristopher said...

Those 1500 meter sights aren't meant for aimed fire.

Google up "volley fire sights".

Or you knew that, and were just taking an unfair opportunity to snark at the designer?

Gewehr98 said...

Ahem. Dutch or Romanian turnbolt Mannlicher in 6.5x53R. Then your set is complete... ;-)

WV: Tentspol No, that's the French rifle.

RHT447 said...

My understanding is that early production of 1917 rifles used up existing stocks of 303 barrel blanks from prior contract with the Brits for P14's. 303 specs called for 5 grooves left hand (don't remember the twist rate) which my 1917 has. Shoots 308 diameter bullets just fine. Also has some red paint left on front wood, so spent some time on duty as a lend-lease rifle.

Nylarthotep said...

What about poor little Canada? You didn't mention the Ross. I would consider Canada a major participant in WWI. They had more military dead than the USA.

Of course, I don't think the Ross got much use compared to the Enfield in Canadian hands. Nor would I be very willing to fire one (I have a couple and I'm not that daring.)

Joe in PNG said...

"...while lugging around one of the five-foot-long smokepoles that were otherwise the order of the day."
I sometimes wonder if late 19th century generals were trying more for spears with the secondary ability to shoot. Then again, when the only tactic you know is "Do What Napolean Did", then 5' of rifle topped by 2' of bayonet kind of makes sense.

og said...

Og,

Yup.

This is my jealous face. 8|

Tam said...

Nylarthotep,

I've got a Ross, a Mk. II. I've put fifty or a hundred rounds through it.

There's nothing wrong or unsafe about the design, except that the Mk. III's use an interrupted-thread bolt lockup, unlike the Mannlicher-knockoff two-lug setup used by the earlier ones, and it's theoretically possible to put a Mk.III bolt back together with the bolt head 180 degrees out of time so that the bolt has zero lockup and goes through your grape when you pull the trigger...

Tam said...

Kristopher & Joe in PNG,

Re: Volley sights and outdated long rifles, see here. :)

Nylarthotep said...

Cool. I have a pair of MkII as well. The first was highly bubbatized and the lock rattles around a bit too much for my liking. The full mil config I have is much nicer, but I've never had much confidence in it since I've heard more horror stories than anything else. I've looked for the Mk III for a long time, but I just haven't found one I could afford.

I really like the straight pull rifles. I'd love to find a Winchester-Lee M1895 in the original Navy config. Another one that I haven't been able to afford.

Old NFO said...

Congrats on the 'new' acquisition!

Ed Foster said...

Didn't know about the oversized bores in early 1917's. Given how much bullet those five big lands displace, I'm not suprised they shot well.

The Carcanos and Stutzen '95's were oversized too. My buddy Eric found a Carcano in a garbage can once, that shot target frame sized groups at 100 yards with mil-surplus ammo. A hard cast bullet straight out of the mold at .267 made it shoot 2 to 3 inch groups.

The rifling on the M95's was "freshed out" to .326/.327 from .323 to allow pitted bores from battlefield pickups to clean up.

I still have a picture of a friend firing the heavy bullet GI load out of one of the carbines just before sundown. The muzzle blast was longer than the rifle.

Ed Foster said...

Do you have a Carcano actioned Jap Arisaka? A bunch of them seem to have hit the market in the last year. I gather the Japs gave them to their Manchurian allies, and they were surrendered without much of a fight.

The last three I've seen were suprisingly clean, and two of them had nice bores.

Vaarok said...

Want an Austrian M95 long? I've got four, so I can spare. One's even a Bulgarian lion-crest.

Thomas Smith said...

Holy crap! you own a Berthier Model of 1915????

I had one labeled model 1916, I endangered my life ( I found out later) shooting french Milsurp ammo. Among the problems. Smoetimes they went "click" sometimes "bang!" sometimes "click, 2, 3, 4, BANG!!"
powder sometimes degrades to an inert, sometimes nitro. and when disassembled I observed bullet cores sometimes rattled in the jackets. wouldn't make match grade today for sure.

Crowndot said...

In this day of Humvees and Strikers, I tend to forget that through the first part of the 20th century, "mounted" meant horses. Carbines spent time slung across the backs of officers and arty types, but also in saddle sleeves, butt-forward under the right leg of a horseman. Shorter length and bent bolt handles helped the mounted infantry of the day.

staghounds said...

I know you have Greece and Turkey represented too.

Actually you have forgotten Gallant Little Belgium! That could be an American made Mauser, too- a living proof that globalization is not new.

Michael Z. Williamson said...

I have a Ross 1905 in complete condition, and I believe my Steyr 95 is a carbine--side mounted swivels and stacking post.

I'd love to get my daughter on the 100 yard range with the Carcano, on camera, to slap the faces of the "a little guy like Oswald couldn't withstand the MIGHTY RECOIL of the Carcano*, and 100 yards is an impossible shot!" morons.

*"he trained on a Garand, but it's a gas operated rifle so it has less recoil."