Carcano M91 & M91/38

Carcano is the frequently used name for a series of Italian bolt-action military rifles. Introduced in 1891, this rifle was chambered for the newly-developed rimless 6.5x52mm Mannlicher-Carcano cartridge. It was developed by the chief technician Salvatore Carcano at the Turin Army Arsenal in 1890 and called the Model 91 (M91). Successively replacing the previous Vetterli-Vitali rifles in 10.35x47mmR, it was produced from 1892 to 1945. The M91 was issued in both rifle and carbine form to most Italian troops during the First World War and Second World War.

History

Although this rifle is often called "Mannlicher-Carcano" especially in US parlance, that name was never official, as little as the even less correct moniker "Mauser-Parravicino." Its official designation in Italian is simply Mod. '91 ("il novantuno"). The name Mannlicher-Carcano is also misleading because the rifle's bolt action was based on a German Mauser-style bolt action, not the Austrian Mannlicher-style. The taxonomically misleading Mannlicher designation comes from the fact that the rifle depends for proper usage upon a magazine system using en bloc charger clips developed and patented by Ferdinand Mannlicher, but the actual and superior variant used in the Carcano is derived from the later non-Mannlicher German Mod. 1888 commission rifle.

 

M91/38 Carbine

A short rifle variant in carbine length called the M91/38 was introduced in 1938, jointly with a new 7.35x51mm cartridge. The new caliber, however, never replaced the old one, and in 1940, production switched back to the 6.5x52mm cartridge. In 1941, the military reverted to a long-barrelled infantry rifle again (slightly shorter than the original M91), the M91/41. Military surplus Carcano ammunition is no longer readily available, but civilian loadings are offered by Hornady, Norma and Prvi Partizan.

Sniper versions never existed, but in World War I, a few rifles were fitted with telescopes (World War II scoped rifles are prototypes only). A number of Moschetti M91/38 TS (special troops' carbines) were chambered for the larger caliber German 7.92x57mm Mauser ammunition. The reasons for this conversion are still not clear; one batch was already converted in World War II (around 1941), but never saw troop service, while most were converted after 1945, and were exported to Egypt, where they served as drill and training carbines. The occasional model designation "Model 1943 (M43)" is wrong, and was never applied to either 8 mm gun.

German forces captured large quantities of Carcano rifles after Italy's capitulation in September 1943. It was the most commonly issued rifle to the German people's militia Volkssturm units in late 1944 and 1945.

After World War II, Italy replaced its Carcano rifles first with British Lee-Enfields and then with the US .30 caliber (7.62 mm) M1 Garand semi-automatic rifle which the Italians labeled the Model 1952 (M52.) Large quantities of surplus Carcanos were sold in the USA and Canada beginning in the 1950s. In the Polizia di Stato the rifle was abandoned only in 1981.

The original Carcano cartridge, 6.5x52mm, was also used in World War I era machine guns. However, in 1935, the 8x59mm Breda cartridge was adopted for this purpose, and was used in a number machineguns during World War II (rechambered Fiat-Revelli, Breda M37, Breda M38).

Variants

* Fucile di Fanteria Mo.1891 (long infantry rifle Model 1891, adopted in 1891)
* Moschetto Mo.91 da Cavalleria (carbine, adopted in 1893)
* Moschetto per Truppe Speciali Mo.91 (or M.91TS, carbine for special troops, adopted 1897)
* Moschetto di Fanteria Mo. 91/24 (carbine, modification of the original Mo.1891 with shortened barrel and altered rearsight blade, adopted in 1924)
* Moschetto di Fanteria Mo. 91/28 (newly constructed carbine, adopted in 1928)
* Moschetto di Fanteria Mo. 91/28 con Tromboncino (modified version coupled with a 38,5 mm grenade launcher)
* Fucile di Fanteria Mo. 1938 (Model 1938, modernized version adopted in 1938 in the 7,35 caliber)
* Moschetto di Fanteria Mo. 91/38 (Model 1938 carbine in the original 6,5 caliber)
* Fucile di Fanteria Mo. 91/41 (long infantry rifle, similar to the original Mo.1891, adopted in 1941)

 

Military Guns