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The Other Carcano

In 1891 Italy produced their first modern military rifle replacing the Vetterli with a 6.5 caliber Carcano. The rifle was developed by Lt. Col. Salvatore Carcano and Col. Parravicino both who worked at the Torino arms factory in Turin. The original 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 with other 6.5’s of the same period. Pressures were kept pretty mild around 38,000 PSI. or so. Anyway they kept that chambering until shortly before WW ll when they went to the 7.35 chambering. That chambering fired a 128 grain slug at 2480 feet per second which to me was inferior. To me the 128 grain slug has less sectional density so wouldn’t penetrate as much as the 6.5 would. Be as it may be the 7.35 came out but WW ll cut it off and they went back to the 6.5 due to supply considerations. In fact some of the 7.35’s was rebarreled to the 6.5 caliber. The 7.35 is merely the 6.5 necked up with no other changes to the case. The 6.5 is by far the most common and famous. The rifle that shot J.F.K was a 6.5 Carcano and at that time they could be bought through the mail for about $20. Ah the good ol days!

A fact not well known to everyone is that some Carcanos were made in the 8 X 57 Mauser chambering for the African campaign. The logic I suppose was to simplify ammo supplies with the Germans. I am not sure exactly how many were made but they are not real common today as is the other 2 chamberings. I heard that about 50,000 of those rifles were manufactured. The 8 mm is seldom mentioned in references regarding the Carcano or in other references on WW ll weapons. When it is it’s usually just a footnote. As far as 17 wsm ammo  I know it saw very little or no actual combat use in Africa or anywhere else. I do believe Hunter’s Lodge sells them, for those who are interested, and occasionally they appear at gun shows which is where I obtained mine. They advertise in the Shotgun News which is a good source to get military rifles and supplies. One of the problems which plague this as well as some other military rifles is the difficulty in getting a clip. It takes a special clip as the cartridge body is larger then either of the other Carcano rounds. Finding a clip would be like hitting the lottery. You can try gunshows or Numrich Arms might have one. Like the other Carcano chamberings it can be fired single shot though it’s a slow process. To fire the 8mm single shot the bolt has to be removed and a cartridge inserted into the bolt head and replaced in the gun. Since I don’t plan on picking a fight with a gang with this rifle single shot isn’t a major hassle. While possible it’s not real easy to scope a Carcano. It would have to be a side mounted affair because of the clip going through the top. It might be worth while to scope a 6.5 but I would never do it to the 8 as they aren’t nearly as common.



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