Carcano: safe to use or not?

This is a discussion on Carcano: safe to use or not? within the General Firearm Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; I have a Carcano 6.5mm that was given to me. I've read somewhere that they are unsafe and in other places that there is nothing ...

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Thread: Carcano: safe to use or not?

  1. #1
    New Member Array brozgrimm's Avatar
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    Carcano: safe to use or not?

    I have a Carcano 6.5mm that was given to me.

    I've read somewhere that they are unsafe and in other places that there is nothing wrong at all with them.

    Does anyone have any experience using a Carcano? As the ammo is expensive, I don't want to bother buying any unless it's safe to use.

    --d

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  3. #2
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    I had one years ago.They are a bit sloppy.
    It is an old gun and like any other old military gun you should have it checked out first for head space issues. The bolt lockup is not known to be very strong,so it doesn't have the margin of safety that other designs had.

    After you do get it checked out and its given a clean bill of health,
    as long as you use ammo specifically for it, you shouldn't have any problems
    with it.

    I remember the first box of Norma ammo I got was more than the gun itself.
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    But seriously, like any other unknown surplus firearm, have it checked over by a smithy. I've got a couple of them and they function fine. I'd be more worried about finding clips for it than the ammo itself. I lucked out and found a couple somewhere. And the ammo is 6.5 Carcano, make sure you get the right stuff!
    Last edited by pgrass101; December 7th, 2008 at 02:46 PM. Reason: Quoted deleted post
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    Do not put a .243 in it and shoot it.

    Just because it will fit doesnt mean it should.

    A guy bought one to the range and was shooting .243 though it. He had a leather mallet that he would beat the bolt open with. I walked over to him and saw what he was doing and questioned him about it. I was the Range Safety Officer at the time.

    He said he couldnt find any ammo for it and one of his friends told him about the .243. He was luckly that he didnt eat the bolt. I made him stop shooting it as it was a danger to the other people at the range. He didnt like it, but complied.
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  6. #5
    Senior Member Array Rob P.'s Avatar
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    The weapon is as safe or unsafe as any other mil surplus firearm. As has been said already, have the headspace checked by a smith and get an OK before you use it. Most barrels are dark by now and pitted due to the corrosive powder in the ammo.

    Any smith could rebarrel the action but the cost of doing so will exceed the value of the weapon even without any bluing. If you choose to rebarrel, DO NOT go larger in caliber. Some people have successfully rebarrelled the action in 30.06 but I would NEVER recommend it. The metallurgy in the action is soft and the lugs will not sustain the recoil over time. (There is some discussion that the action was "proofed" with a large caliber [8mm?] and shown that it could hold up but I do not trust such discussions as proof that the action is strong enough to lock up securely under modern big bore calibers and loadings. I have drilled and tapped my Carcano action and I know how soft the metal is.)

    You can get reloading dies for the Carcano in both chamberings (6.5 and 7.35). 6.5 bullets are easily available but the larger 7.35 cal have to be custom made. (DKS has them.)

    The difference between the two chamber sizes is the bullet diam. The brass has the same rim & shoulder specs (IIRC) but the case mouth and over all length is different. I raise this point to show that the ammo clips are interchangeable between the 2 sizes. NORMA has brass and the clips are easily found at gun shows. In it's day, the Carcano was very popular with the farming community so they are everywhere.

    The guns are fun to shoot and are effective training weapons for new shooters. They look good hanging on the wall too. If you decide to buy the weapon and can't find ammo or clips, I have a couple clips I could let go as "spares." However, most boxed mil surp ammo comes with the clips.

    Speaking of ammo, the mil surp ammo is corrosive and uses jacketed ball bullets. If you choose to use the mil surp ammo, for hunting, you should buy reloading dies and re-load the cases with modern hunting bullets. Also, be warned that the mil surp ammo is usually sloppy in crimp and sometimes the bullets can actually be pulled with your fingers.

    Good luck.

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    New Member Array brozgrimm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HotGuns View Post
    He said he couldnt find any ammo for it and one of his friends told him about the .243. He was luckly that he didnt eat the bolt. I made him stop shooting it as it was a danger to the other people at the range. He didnt like it, but complied.
    Why is too small not good/why did the bolt stick so he had to beat it?

    As far as finding ammo for it, I've seen Carcano ammo listed with several vendors brand new. It's not cheap but it is available...

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    He had to beat the bolt because the .243 is a much higher pressure cartridge. When he shot the gun, the case swelled up to the point that it was very hard to extract. Since the case dimensions were'nt exactly right, it fireformed itself to the chamber.
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    I had a 6.5 Carcano many years ago and it functioned and fired fine. It wasn't one of the most accurate military rifles I ever fooled with though it had a sparkling bright bore and I used pricey Norma ammunition in it. I always thought the gain twist rifling was not conducive to good accuracy but have since read that many dedicated Carcano users claim fine accuracy from their rifles.

    I have more respect for the design after reading the above post about the nitwit shooting .243 Winchester in his Carcano. That amounts to a proof load for certain! Proper 6.5 Carcano ammunition will give no trouble if the action doesn't come unhinged after the mistreatment of firing an ill-fitting cartridge that is designed to operate at a significantly higher pressure than the 6.5 round.

    The Mannlicher Carcano was converted to German service 7.9mm during World War II. It's generally not considered prudent to fire these modified Carcano rifles. Still, the action must have at least been nominally adequate for such a conversion. Military establishments have no reason to equip their soldiers with dangerous rifles that cause self inflicted casualties to the troops.

    The Carcanos were always cheap and have long been held in contempt by a prejudiced American shooter. Perhaps they were better values all along.

    I'd like to have one to play with.

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    New Member Array brozgrimm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bmcgilvray View Post
    The Carcanos were always cheap and have long been held in contempt by a prejudiced American shooter. Perhaps they were better values all along.
    Might the contempt come in some measure from one such gun having been used to assassinate a president?

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    Quote Originally Posted by brozgrimm View Post
    Might the contempt come in some measure from one such gun having been used to assassinate a president?
    Actually, the way I heard it, most American's don't have a high regard for the weapon because the Italians lost the war.

    The Carcano's are fine weapons. They are as accurate as open sights at battlefield distances would normally require. They can certainly hit a human-sized target at 200 yds or less as evidenced in Dallas.

    The gain twist rifling causes the rifle to kick like a VERY LARGE mule considering the calibers used. The steel buttplate doesn't do anything to minimize this effect either. The nice thing about them is that the Italians did a very fine job in bluing the metal. The weapons I've seen have mostly stood the test of time and still look very good. This makes them look excellent as part of a collection. They are very eyecatching and the pass-through design of the action makes them unique in that regard.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob P. View Post
    Actually, the way I heard it, most American's don't have a high regard for the weapon because the Italians lost the war.
    Rob is correct and the poor quality of the demaorlized Italian troops that the US encountered in WWII who did not upkeep their weapons in Tunsia or Silicy.
    “You can sway a thousand men by appealing to their prejudices quicker than you can convince one man by logic.”

    ― Robert A. Heinlein,

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    I bought one when i was a teenager (7.35) because it was cheap and I needed a deer rifle. Somebody had done a real hack job on the stock. I hunted with it for several years. A local gunsmith pulled the ball bullets and loaded me some soft tips in their place, the rifle always shot well and was reliable for me.
    One winter when I needed a project I restocked it completely, still have it and it stiil goes to the woods regularly, even though I now have "better" rifles.

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