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 shorter-barreled 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
Winter War by Finland, and again by regular and irregular
forces in Syria, Libya, Tunisia, and Algeria during various postwar
conflicts in those countries.
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
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
6.5×50mm Arisaka cartridge. Approximately 60,000 Type I
rifles were produced by Italian arsenals for Japan.
Carcano Model 91/38 was used to assassinate US President John F.
4 Kennedy assassination rifle
5 See also
7 External links
Although this rifle is often called "Mannlicher–Carcano", especially
in American parlance, neither that designation nor the name
"Mauser–Parravicino" is correct. Its 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
Carcano clip is derived from the German Model 1888 Commission
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. At least one small arms
authority noted inconsistencies in powder types in arsenal-loaded
6.5×52mm military ammunition, often with different powder types and
ammunition lots intermixed within a single clip of ammunition. The
practice of intermixing powder types and ammunition lots in clipped
rifle ammunition was generally avoided by arsenals of other nations,
as it generally resulted in varying bullet velocities and excessive
bullet dispersion on the target.
After reports of inadequate performance at both short and long
ranges during the campaigns in
Italian North Africa
Italian North Africa (1924-1934),
Second Italo-Abyssinian War
Second Italo-Abyssinian War (1934), the Italian army
introduced a new short rifle in 1938, the Modello 1938, together with
a new cartridge in 7.35×51mm caliber. In addition to the slightly
larger caliber, Italian ordnance designers introduced a spitzer-type
bullet for the new cartridge, with the tip filled with aluminum to
produce an unstable (tumbling) projectile upon impact in soft tissue
(a design most likely copied from the
.303 British Mk VII bullet).
However, the Italian government was unable to successfully
mass-produce the new arms in adequate quantities before the onset of
war, and in 1940, all rifle and ammunition production reverted to
6.5 mm, but no 7.35 mm Mod. 38 rifles nor carbines were ever
re-barreled to the old 6.5×52mm caliber. Some Italian troops serving
on the Russian front were armed with 7.35 mm Mod. 1938 rifles,
but exchanged them in 1942 for 6.5×52 mm arms.
(Left to Right) 7.92mm Mauser (also called 8mm Mauser), 6.5mm Carcano,
and 7.35mm Carcano
Model 91 Bayonet
Approximately 94,500 7.35mm Modello 1938 rifles were shipped to
Finland, where they were known as
Terni carbines (from the
with the royal crown, the logo or seal of the Regia fibbrica d’armi
Terni arsenal where they were manufactured). They were primarily
used by security and line-of-communications troops during the Winter
War of 1939–1940, though some frontline troops were issued the
weapon. According to reports, the Finns disliked the rifle. With
its non-standard 7.35 mm caliber, it was problematic to keep
frontline troops supplied with ammunition, and its non-adjustable rear
sight (fixed for 300 m) made it ill-suited for use in precision
shooting at the varied ranges encountered by Finnish soldiers during
the conflict. Soldiers also complained that the ammunition
demonstrated excessive bullet dispersion on the target. Whenever
possible, Finnish soldiers discarded the weapon in favor of rifles
acquired on the battlefield, including standard models of captured
Mosin–Nagant rifles. The latter was more accurate and
had the advantage of using commonly available
By the outbreak of the Continuation War, Finnish Army headquarters had
got the message. The remaining Mod. 1938 7.35 mm rifles were
issued to the Finnish Navy, as well as anti-aircraft, coastal defense,
and other second-line (home front) troops.
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
World War I a few
rifles were fitted with telescopic lenses and issued for service use
World War II
World War II scoped rifles were strictly prototypes).
Since the 1980s, several lots of Moschetti M91/38 TS (special troops'
carbines) chambered for the German 8×57mm Mauser sS heavy ball round,
have appeared on the surplus markets. Two small batches of Moschetti
M91/38 TS carbines shows barrels marked 1938 and 1941, but they were
not used at these times with any Italian forces, and their peculiar
serial numbering suggests that these might just be rebored unused
surplus barrels that were converted with other ones after 1945. Many
Carcano carbines were apparently exported to
World War II, where they served as drill and training carbines.
Several also bear Israeli armed forces markings. The occasionally used
model moniker "Model 1943 (M43)" for these converted 7.92mm rifles is
wrong, as they were never so designated by the Italian military.
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
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
Finland sold all of its approximately 74,000 remaining
7.35 mm M91/38
Carcano rifles on the surplus market. As a
consequence, large quantities of surplus Carcanos were sold in the
United States and Canada beginning in the 1950s. In Italy, the Polizia
di Stato retained the rifle, retiring it from service in 1981.
Carcano rifles were used by Greek forces post-war, with
ammunition supplied by U.S. Western Cartridge Co. Some were also
converted to 6.5×54mm Mannlicher–Schönauer, one of the standard
cartridges of the Greek military at the time.
Carcano Modello 1895 cartridge (6.5×52mm), was also used
in World War I-era machine guns in the Modello 30 light machine gun;
the latter was employed in Abyssinia and in
World War II
World War II by Italian
troops until the Armistice. In 1935 the 8×59mm Breda cartridge was
adopted for some Italian heavy machine guns (rechambered Fiat-Revelli,
Breda M37, Breda M38); its longer range and heavier projectile proved
much more effective in combat, particularly against motorized troops.
During the Libyan Civil War in 2011, many rebels went into battle with
their personally-owned weapons, including old bolt-action rifles and
shotguns. Of these, Carcano-style rifles and carbines have been the
most frequently observed style of bolt-action rifle. They were
predominantly used by rebels in the Nafusa Mountains. These old
weapons saw combat once again due to the rebels' limited access to
modern firearms. Additionally, some Libyan rebels preferred to use
their familiar hunting weapons over the more modern, yet unfamiliar,
assault rifles available. According to Al-Fitouri Muftah, a
member of the rebel military council overseeing the western mountain
front, as many as 1 in 10 rebels in the region were armed with World
War II-era weapons.
All variants used the same
Carcano bolt action, fed by an en-bloc
clip; the rifles and carbines had different barrel lengths and
differences in stocks and sights depending on barrel length.
As noted in the introduction, the word moschetto means literally
"musket" but was used generally by Italian arms makers as a descriptor
of Italian 20th century rifles, often shorter-barrelled rifles in the
carbine style meant for other than regular infantry uses. Regular
length infantry rifles are named as fucile models.
Fucile di Fanteria Modello 1891 (infantry rifle Model 1891, detachable
knife bayonet, adopted in 1891 in 6.5×52mm caliber) 30.7 inch
Moschetto da Cavalleria (cavalry carbine) Mod. 91 (6.5×52mm carbine
with integral folding bayonet, adopted in 1893) 17.7 inch barrel.
Moschetto per Truppe Speciali Mod. 91 (or 6.5×52mm M91 TS, carbine
for special troops; TS = Truppe Speciali). These included machinegun,
mortar and motorcycle crews, adopted 1897) 17.7 inch barrel. Both
sling swivels are mounted below the stock and barrel ring, where they
are visible from both sides of the rifle.
Moschetto di Fanteria (infantry carbine rifle) Mod. 91/24 (6.5×52mm
carbine, modification of the original Mod. 1891 with shortened barrel
and altered rearsight blade, adopted in 1924) 17.7 inch barrel.
Moschetto per Truppe Speciali Mod. 91/28 (lightly altered M 91
6.5×52mm carbine, adopted in 1928) 17.7 inch barrel.
Moschetto per Truppe Speciali con Tromboncino (con Tromboncino, with
grendade launcher) Mod. 91/28 (modified 91/28 coupled with a
38.5 mm grenade launcher) 17.7 inch barrel.
Fucile di Fanteria Mod. 1938 ("infantry rifle" Model 1938, adopted in
1938 in 7.35×51mm caliber, fixed sights, detachable folding knife
bayonet) 20.9 inch barrel.
Carcano Model 1891/38 Infantry rifle
Moschettos (carbines) Mod. 1938 (folding bayonet) and Mod. 1938 TS
(detachable bayonet) carbine versions of Model 1938 short rifle in
7.35×51mm, 17.7 inch barrel.
Fucile di Fanteria Mod. 91/38 (Model 1938 "infantry rifle" chambered
in 6.5×52mm caliber since 1940). The barrel is the 20.9 inch barrel
of the earlier 7.35 mm caliber, but now changed to 6.5 mm.
Unlike the slightly shorter and lighter TS Moschetto, it also has both
sling swivels on the left side of the stock, not visible from the
right side of the rifle, identifying it as a Fucile di Fanteria type.
This is the model (stamped "1940" to show manufacture date) owned by
Lee Harvey Oswald
Lee Harvey Oswald and determined to be the John F. Kennedy
assassination rifle. From 1940, the Moschetto Mod. 1938 and Mod. 1938
TS were also made in 6.5×52mm.
Fucile di Fanteria Mod. 91/41 (6.5×52mm "infantry rifle" adopted in
1941, adjustable sights), 27.2 inch barrel.
Type I Rifle
Type I Rifle (6.5×50mm infantry rifle, produced for export to Japan,
Austria-Hungary: Captured during World War I, about 49,500 were
converted to use the available 6.5×54mm Mannlicher–Schönauer
Kingdom of Bulgaria
Independent State of Croatia
Kingdom of Italy
Italian Social Republic
Empire of Japan
Republic of China
Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes: In 1921 the Kingdom had
about 11,000 Italian M91 rifles in stock. In the start of the 1920s it
was proposed these be exchanged for Mauser rifles with the Kingdom of
Italy. The proposition was declined in 1922 and these rifles remained
in Yugoslav hands until 1941.
National Liberation Army (Libya)
Kennedy assassination rifle
John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy assassination rifle
Carcano Model 1891/38 short rifle (Fucile di Fanteria) with a 4-power
Ordnance Optics scope used by
Lee Harvey Oswald
Lee Harvey Oswald to assassinate John F.
In March 1963,
Lee Harvey Oswald
Lee Harvey Oswald purchased a "6.5 [mm] Italian
carbine," later improperly called a Mannlicher–Carcano, through mail
order, for $19.95 ($155 in 2015 dollars). The advertisement only
specified a "6.5 Italian Carbine" and actually shows a
M91 TS, which was the 36"
Carcano carbine model sold through the ad
when it was originally placed. However, from a time 11 months before
Oswald placed his order, the Chicago sporting goods store from which
he purchased it had been shipping the slightly longer (40.2") Model
91/38 under the same ad, and this is the weapon Oswald received.
Official reports have concluded that Oswald used this weapon to
assassinate U.S. President
John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963. The
rifle, made in the
Terni arsenal in 1940 and bearing the serial number
C2766, was equipped for an extra $7 with an inexpensive new 4x18
Japanese telescopic sight, on a sheet metal side mount. It was later
scrutinized by local police, the FBI, the U. S. Army, and two federal
commissions. Shooting tests, conducted by those groups and others
using the original rifle or similar models, addressed questions about
the speed and accuracy with which the
Carcano could be fired.
Following lawsuits over its ownership, the rifle ended up in storage
at the National Archives. The assassination was one of the factors
leading to passage of the Gun Control Act of 1968, which banned mail
order sales of firearms.
List of common
World War II
World War II infantry weapons
^ Dunlap, Roy F., Ordnance Went Up Front, Samworth Press (1948), pp.
47: Dunlap, a small arms ordnance expert serving with the Foreign
Weapons section in the Royal Ordnance Corps, broke down many Italian
6.5×52 mm cartridges, and sometimes found different components in the
same rifle clip—up to four different types of smokeless powder,
using different size flash holes for the primer in an attempt to
regulate the burning speed and resultant velocity.
^ Dunlap, Roy F., Ordnance Went Up Front, Samworth Press (1948), pp.
47-48: The 6.5mm
Carcano had reportedly proved inadequate in stopping
charges of native tribesmen for a number of years, prompting various
stop-gap solutions such as brass-jacketed multiple projectile or
frangible explosive bullets, apparently for use against tribesmen in
^ Weeks, John,
World War II
World War II Small Arms, New York: Galahad Books, p.
47: the 6.5mm's blunt bullet and relatively low velocity also gave
poor long range performance in machine guns, compared to the
cartridges used by most other nations.
^ a b c Miller, David. Fighting Men of World War II, Volume I: Axis
Forces--Uniforms, Equipment, and Weapons (Fighting Men of World War
II). Stackpole Books. p. 369. ISBN 0-8117-0277-4.
^ a b c d e f g The Finnish Army 1918–1945: Rifles, Part 6 Three
Mausers and One
Terni Jaeger Platoon Website
^ a b Yelton, David. Hitler's Home Guard: Volkssturmman. Osprey
Publishing. p. 62. ISBN 1-84603-013-7.
^ حد ثوار جبل نافوسه يستعمل بنذقية جده
الايطاليه وعمرها اكثر من 100 سنة
^ Chivers, C.J. (April 20, 2011). "Inferior Arms Hobble Rebels in
Libya War". The New York Times.
^ Smith, David (July 12, 2011). "Libyan rebels make gains against
Gaddafi forces in western mountains". The Guardian. Retrieved August
^ W.H.B. Smith, Small Arms of the World, Stackpole, 1966, 8th ed.,
pages 476, 477.
^ See also this guide
^ a b c d e f "The Italian
Carcano Rifle". Archived from the original
on 2011-09-24. Retrieved 2012-09-26.
^ Julio S. Guzmán, Las Armas Modernas de Infantería, Abril de 1953
^ a b c Walter, John. Rifles of the World. Krause Publications.
p. 273. ISBN 0-89689-241-7.
Carcano Rifles Captured by Austro-Hungary". hungariae.com.
Manowar. 28 Dec 2010. Retrieved 21 Feb 2015.
^ Vladimir Brnardic.
World War II
World War II Croation Legionaries: Croation
Troops Under Axis Command 1941—45. p. 9.
^ Chinese Warlord Armies 1911-30 by Philip Jowett, page 22.
^ Bogdanivić, Branko (1990). Puške: dva veka pušaka na teritoriji
Jugloslavije. SPORTINVEST, Belgrade. pp. 110–123.
^ W. Darrin Weaver (2005). Desperate Measures: The Last-Ditch Weapons
of the Nazi Volkssturm. Collector Grade Publications. p. 61.
^ Old Italian Carcanos Used by Rebels in
Libya Revolutionary Program,
July 7, 2011
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Carcano.
Carcano Model Identification
Italian page on Carcanos
Carcano M38 cal.7.35x51mm shooting (video); close-up (video)
Italian firearms and light weapons of World War II
Bodeo Model 1889
Rifles and carbines (fucili e moschetti)
Fucile da Fanteria Mod. 1891
Moschetto Mod. 91 da Cavalleria
Moschetto per Truppe Speciali Mod. 91
Fucile Mod. 1938
Fucile Armaguerra Mod. 39
Machine guns and other larger weapons
Fiat-Revelli Mod. 1914
Fiat Revelli Mod. 1935
Breda Mod. 1930
Breda Mod. 5C
Breda Mod. 1937
Breda Mod. 1938
Fucile Controcarro 35(P)
OTO Mod. 35
OTO Mod. 42
SRCM Mod. 35
Breda Mod. 35
Breda Mod. 42
Mortaio Brixia Mod. 35
Mortaio da 81/14 Mod. 35
8×59mm RB Breda
Austro-Hungarian infantry weapons and equipment of World War I
M1870 Gasser (limited)
Gasser-Kropatschek M1876 (limited)
Rast & Gasser M1898
Mauser C96 (purchased)
Dreyse M1907 (purchased)
Werndl-Holub M1867 (limited)
Kropatschek M1886 (limited)
Mannlicher M1890 Carbine
Mexican Mauser M1912
Berdan rifle (captured)
Ottoman Mauser (in Ottoman Empire)
Mosin-Nagant M1891 (captured)
Carcano M1891 (captured)
Type 30 (captured)
Type 38 (captured)
M15 stick grenade
M17 egg grenade
M17 stick grenade
Perino M1908 (captured)
Maxim M1910 (captured)
Fiat-Revelli M1914 (captured)
Villar-Perosa M1915 (captured)