• 1941 Model 1891/41 Carcano Infantry Rifle (marked for accuracy)

    1941 Model 1891/41 Carcano Infantry Rifle (marked for accuracy)
    (Modello M91/41 Fucile Tiro a Segno Nazionale)

    (Click PIC to Enlarge)

    Caliber: ........................ 6.5 x 52mm Carcano
    Rifling & Twist: .............. 4 groove, right hand twist.
    Barrel Length: ............... 27.2 in. (692mm)
    Overall Length: ............. 46 in. (1168 mm)
    Weight: ........................ 8.5 lbs. (3.9kg)
    Magazine Capacity: ........ 6
    Qty Mfg: ....................... Armageurra Cremona - 240,000
    .................................... Fabbrica Armi di Terni - 580,000

    Source: ....................... The Carcano: Italy's Military Rifle by Hobbs, Richard J. C1996, 2nd ed. 1997, surplusrifle.com
    Carcano Model Identification

    1941 Model 1891/41 Carcano Infantry Rifle

    (53 picture virtual tour)

    Observations: (by "Claven2")
    Note: Pics of rifle provided courtesy of Milsurps.com moderator Claven2.

    Following France's adoption of the Model 1886 Lebel and its accompanying revolutionary small-bore, high velocity 8mm Lebel cartridge, the whole of Europe (and indeed the world) jumped into an arms race to replace their huge inventories of older, often single-loaded, large caliber, low velocity arms. Italy was no exception. In the late 1880's, the Italian were mostly equipping their armed forces with the venerable M1870 and M1870/87 Vetterli(-Vitali)s and they were no match for the newer high-velocity repeating rifles. Sensibly, a replacement was sought and a commission was formed to exhaustively test proposed replacement arms.

    In 1891, the commission decided to combine an Italian state factory rifle model made by the Torino factory with the German Mod. 1888 charger-loaded central magazine of Mannlicher origin and to pay Ferdinand Ritter von Mannlicher the appropriate royalties (300,000 Lire). The new Modelo 1891 Fucile incorporated a gain twist barrel to reduce throat erosion when using Cordite and the early Dynamit Nobel propellants which burned excessively hot. Improvements in propellant design would render this feature unnecessary on future models.

    At the time of its adoption, the Carcano was a revolutionary rifle. It had, at the time, the smallest caliber of any military rifle and held six shots in a rapidly changeable charger clip, while most of its contemporaries used either a tubular magazine of a 5 round charger clip. It was robust and the bolt could be disassembled without any tools. The Carcano M1891 gave excellent service throughout the First Word War where Italy participated on the Allied side, fighting mainly against Austria.

    By the time of the Second World War, not much about the Carcano had changed. Some shorter versions of the Carcano rifle were in service and the rapid onset of the war had shelved Italy's plans to update the rifle's caliber to 7,35x51. Despite the fact that the older M1891 infantry rifle was mostly being replaced by M1891/38 series carbines, performance in North African campaigns convinced fascist Italy to begin manufacturing the longer type infantry rifle once more. This led to the adoption of the M1891/41 Fucile as pictured above. Aside from a more compact rear sight, standard non-progressive rifling, and a barrel slightly shorter than the older infantry rifle, the 1941 adaptation is little changed from the pre-WW1 era weapon - it was even issued with the same bayonet.

    Unlike in the first world war, Italy did not issue scoped sniper rifles during the Second World War for sniping. Instead, those rifles demonstrating above average accuracy were stamped with the Tiro a Segno Nazionale marking consisting of two crossed rifles superimposing a bulls-eye target stamped on barrel. The best marksmen in Italian units were able to select from these more accurate rifles to act in the sniping role in the field. The above rifle is one such example and the marking can be seen in the gallery on the barrel shank.

    Two patterns of sling were commonly issued with the 1941 version of the Infantry rifle. The first pattern is virtually identical to a WW1 era sling with tear-dropped shaped eye holes and brass stud keepers. The second type is a close copy of the German K98k sling as depicted on the above rifle.

    The M1891/41 rifle was only manufactured at two arsenals, R.E. Terni (aka Terni, FAT) from 1941 to 1945 and Armaguerra Cremona from 1941 to 1944.

    Collector's Comments and Feedback:

    1. Most of the Carcano 1891/41 rifles encountered on the surplus market today were imported to North America in the 1960's. After the Second World War, Italy refurbished most of the rifles in store only to surplus most of them without ever being re-issued when they adopted the M1 Garand and various modifications of that rifle based on NATO calibers. Unscrupulous importers and dealers in those years sold many Carcanos as "axis mausers" and bent the bolt handles to more closely resemble German rifles of the WW2 era. Many, if not most Infantry Rifle Carcanos encountered today will have these bent bolts. A bent bolt in an Infantry Rifle is not a desired trait by collectors. Carbine versions of the Carcano, however, usually had bent bolts and should not be seen as detrimental to value.

    Most carcanos refurbished in the later years of service in Italy will be a mixed bag of parts with blonde looking stocks, poor blueing jobs, and many markings scrubbed out. Earlier and even late war refurbished rifles, however, often retain most of their original parts. Sometimes, as is the case with this rifle, the original stock was retained and re-stamped matching over the old serial numbers after refurbishment. Dark stain was applied to the beech-wood to make the stock less visible in the field and most original markings are still visible. Such rifles are invariably more sought after than the later, more crudely refurbished examples. Unrefurbished Carcanos are really quite rare rifles and will command a premium over refurbished examples if the condition is good. Most unrefurbished rifles encountered, however, will show considerable wear and abuse.

    Rifles should be examined for the Tiro a Segno Nazionale marking mentioned above. Such rifles are exceedingly uncommon compared to a normal infantry rifle and are the closest thing to a scoped sniper rifle that Italy issued in the second world war. While Carcanos in general are not generally expensive surplus rifles today, future markets will certainly dictate a large premium for the TSN marked examples.

    Despite gunshow lore, the Carcano is/was an excellent and robust rifle for its day and is perfectly safe to fire if in good condition. Stories of its inaccuracy are mostly attributed to undersized bullets in 1960's era sporting ammunition - a concern not valid today with correctly dimensioned ammunition and components available. Like the Arisaka, the Carcano has proved not to be the weak-actioned pariahs they were once thought to be. Somewhat poorly constructed parts rifles in the 1960's and earlier with dubiously attached barrels sold through chains like Sears, Bannerman's and Eatons likely contributed to this undeserved infamy.

    Collectors should be on the lookout for original Italian slings which are very rare today - usually costing more than the rifle. Bayonets are also priced high as most do not survive today, having been melted for scrap when the rifles were surplused.
    ........... (Feedback by "Claven2")
    This article was originally published in forum thread: 1941 Model 1891/41 Carcano Infantry Rifle (marked for accuracy) started by Badger View original post
    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Psyoper's Avatar
      Hi. Your comment about the crossed rifle marking indicating the most accurate rifles is completely incorrect. The crossed rifle marking has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with being more accurate than other rifles. This is a huge misconception in the collecting community. The definitive work on Italian weapons of WWI & WWII was a book by the same name. The author Ralph Riccio did exhaustive work and went to many factories in Italy. He reviewed their archival records and found absolutely no mention of this being an accuracy mark. This mark indicates that it was one of the 10% of the rifles selected at random from the racks of completed units leaving the factory floor. These rifles were completely dissembled, and then reassembled. They were then fired at a 200 Meter target with 5 shots. These shots had to demonstrate a MINIMUM level of acceptable accuracy after the complete disassembly and reassembly. This is simply a quality control inspection mark which is found on 10% of all Italian rifles. See the right side of page 51 of Riccio’s book. If you collect Italian weapons, this beautiful book is a great resource to have!
      Warning: This is a relatively older thread
      This discussion is older than 360 days. Some information contained in it may no longer be current.