Modern Firearms - Carcano M91
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Paraviccini - Carcano M91 rifle (Italy)

6.5mm Carcano M91 long rifle.
 6.5mm Carcano M91 long rifle.

 

6.5mm Carcano M91 Moschetto da Cavalleria (cavalry carbine).
 6.5mm Carcano M91 Moschetto da Cavalleria (cavalry carbine).

 

6.5mm Carcano M91TS Moschetto per Truppe Speciali (Special Troops carbine).
 6.5mm Carcano M91TS Moschetto per Truppe Speciali (Special Troops carbine).

 

7.35mm Carcano M38 short rifle. Note fixed rear sight.
7.35mm Carcano M38 short rifle. Note fixed rear sight.

 

Carcano cartridges in clips: left 6.5x52mm ammo, right 7.35x52mm ammo.
 Carcano cartridges in clips: left 6.5x52mm ammo, right 7.35x52mm ammo.

 

  M91 rifle M91 carbine M38 short rifle
Caliber 6.5x52 mm 6.5x52 mm 7.35x52 mm
Overall length 1295 mm 952 mm 1015 mm
Barrel length 780 mm 450 mm 540 mm
Weight, empty 3.8 kg 3.4 kg with integral bayonet 3.4 kg
Magazine capacity 6 rounds in en bloc clip

 

The M1891 Paraviccini-Carcano rifle, often misleadingly referred to as the Mannlicher-Carcano, has been adopted by the Italian army in 1891, along with the rimless 6.5x52 mm ammunition. The rifle was developed by the team, led by M. Carcano, under supervision of the government commission, led by the general Paraviccini, at Terni state arsenal. Name of the Ferdinand Ritter Von Mannlicher, noted Austrian arms designer, is often used in conjunction with this rifle because M91 uses modified Mannlicher-type magazine with en bloc clip. All other features of Italian rifle are quite different from Mannlicher designs.
M91 rifle was available in several modifications, including long infantry rifle (Fucile di Fanteria Mo.1891), short cavalry carbine (Moschetto Mo.91 da Cavalleria, adopted in 1893), and carbine for special troops (Moschetto per Truppe Speciali Mo.91, or M91TS in short, adopted in 1897). These rifles served as a standard with Italian army until 1938, when it was decided to replace 6.5x52 ammunition with more powerful 7.35x52 ammunition, based on the recent experience in North Africa. New pattern of the short Carcano rifle, adopted in 1938 as M38, was technically similar to M91 rifle, but had shorter barrel length, chambered for 7.35mm ammunition, and had fixed rear sights, set to 300 meters range. Since 1938, many of the 6.5mm M91 long rifles were shortened to the M38 length, which was much more convenient to carry and maneuver. With the outbreak of the Second World war Italy was unable to supply enough 7.35mm weapons and ammunition, so, in 1940, it was decided to return back to the 6.5x52 ammunition as a standard. Consequently, many of 7.35mm M38 rifles were rebarelled to the 6.5mm.
Some of the M38 rifles, issued to the African corps, also were chambered for the German 7.92x57 Mauser ammunition.
After the WW2 Italian Army replaced its Carcano rifles with American M1 Garand semiautomatic rifles, initially supplied from US and then produced in Italy under license. Many of surviving Carcano rifles were subsequently exported from Italy and sold as military surplus.
One historical note regarding Carcano rifles is that one such rifle, sold as surplus in USA, and fitted with 4X telescope sight, was apparently used by someone Lee Harvey Oswald to assassinate President of USA J. F. Kennedy on November 22nd, 1963, in Dallas, TX.
The Carcano M91 rifle is a manually operated, rotating bolt action rifle. The solid bolt has two opposite lugs at the front, with the base of the bolt handle serving as a third safety lug. Modified Mannlicher-type magazine held six rounds in en bloc clip. Empty clip is automatically ejected through the opening at the bottom of the magazine as the last round is chambered. Carcano clip is different from original Mannlicher clip by not having particular "top" and "bottom" sides, so it can be loaded into magazine either side down. Non-empty clip can be ejected from the magazine through the opening at the top of the receiver, with the bolt in open position, by depressing the clip catch inside the triggerguard. Manual safety is located at the rear of the bolt; it is turned counterclockwise (up) to put the rifle on safe, and clockwise (down and to the right) to fire. Original M91-type rifles and carbines had gain twist barrels, a feature of doubtful usefulness; this feature has been dropped since 1938 as a money-saving measure. Another money-saving feature was the fixed 300-meters rear sights on the 1938 pattern rifles, while early pattern rifles has adjustable tangent rear sights, marked from 100 to 1000 meters. Most of the rifles were fitted with bayonet lugs and issued with detachable knife bayonets. Cavalry carbines (Moschetto da Cavalleria M91) were issued with integral folding spike-shaped bayonets.