World War II Weapons: The Italian Carcano rifle

Carcano Modello 1891 infantry rifle



Carcano is the frequently used name for a series of Italian bolt-action, magazine-fed, repeating military rifles and carbines. Introduced in 1891, this rifle was chambered for the rimless 6.5×52mm Carcano cartridge (Cartuccia Modello 1895). It was developed by the chief technician Salvatore Carcano at the Turin Army Arsenal in 1890 and called the Modello (model) 91 or simply M91. Successively replacing the previous Vetterli-Vitali rifles and carbines in 10.35×47mmR, it was produced from 1892 to 1945. The M91 was used in both rifle (fucile) and carbine (Moschetto) form by most Italian troops during the First World War and by Italian and some German forces during the Second World War. The rifle was also used during the Winter War by Finland, and again by regular and irregular forces in Syria, Libya, Tunisia, and Algeria during various postwar conflicts in those countries.

Carcano Model 1891 TS Carbine


The Type I Carcano rifle was produced by Italy for the Japanese Empire prior to World War II. After the invasion of China, all Arisaka production was required for use of the Imperial Army, so the Imperial Navy contracted with Italy for this weapon in 1937. The Type I is based on the Type 38 rifle and uses a Carcano action, but retains the Arisaka/Mauser type 5-round box magazine. The Type I was used primarily by Japanese Imperial Naval Forces and was chambered for the Japanese 6.5×50mm Arisaka cartridge. Approximately 60,000 Type I rifles was produced by Italian arsenals for Japan. A Carcano was used in the 1963 assassination of John F. Kennedy.

Carcano Model 189138 short rifle (Fucile di Fanteria) with a 4-power Ordnance Optics scope used by Lee Harvey Oswald to assassinate John F. Kennedy


Carcano is an official designation in Italian is simply Modello 1891, or M91 ("il novantuno"). The magazine system uses en bloc charger clips which were originally developed and patented by Ferdinand Mannlicher, but the actual shape and design of the Carcano clip are derived from the German Model 1888 Commission Rifle.

Carcano Model 189138 Carbine


Until 1938, all M91 rifles and carbines were chambered for the rimless 6.5×52mm Modello 1895 cartridge, using a round-nose metal case bullet of 160 grains weight at approximately 2,000-2,400 ft/s muzzle velocity, depending upon barrel length.


Model 1891 Cavalry Carbine


the Italian government was unable to successfully mass-produce the new arms in adequate quantities before the onset of war. Approximately 94,500 7.35mm Modello 1938 rifles were shipped to Finland. German forces captured large quantities of Carcanos after Italy's capitulation in September 1943. It was the most commonly issued rifle to the German Volkssturm ("People's Militia") units in late 1944 and 1945.

Model 91 Bayonet


(Left to Right) 7.92mm Mauser, 6.5mm and 7.35mm Carcano

In 1941, the Italian military returned to a long-barrelled infantry rifle once again (slightly shorter than the original M91), the Carcano M91/41. True sniper versions never existed, but in World War I a few rifles were fitted with telescopic lenses and issued for service use (World War II scoped rifles were strictly prototypes).



Sources

http://web.archive.org/web/20160203100301/http://personal.stevens.edu/~gliberat/carcano/models.html

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