1940 Carcano Cavalry Carbine
Hey guys, I'm new to the forums and since I just became an official collector (once you have more than one of something...right?) I figured I'd see what you all thought of the guns I have.
The first gun I owned was one that I inherited after my grandfather passed about a decade ago. I'll admit, my teenage self picked the prettiest gun when my grandma told us that we each got our choice -- and as I discovered later, it's a Carcano. My adult self appreciates guns for much different reasons now. I also recently acquired a Polish Mosin Nagant (thus my collector status), but that is neither here nor there, since we're in the Italian forums.
It's, as far as I can tell from my Internet sleuthing, a Carcano M38 cavalry carbine. The markings (as you'll see in meh pictures below) show "F.N.A. Brescia", "40-XVIII", and "XH6197", which I'm aware indicates where it was made, the year, and the serial number. It has the adjustable sight but its missing the bayonet. I believe, from what I've read either here or elsewhere, that there should be a cleaning rod accessible in through the butt plate, but I have not dissembled the gun that far, and can't get it open otherwise. It bears scratches from previous attempts and I wasn't willing to go that far myself. The only markings I see on it beyond the ones I mentioned are an AX carved into the stock.
My grandfather worked at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri between 1951 and 1978 and acquired the weapon sometime from "a guy" on base. My dad knows he had it by around 1965-1968 but could be as early as 1960. He wasn't sure.
So I'm going to post up some pictures, confirm for me that this is what I think it is, and is it possible to reattach a bayonet easily? I'm guessing no but I figured I'd check. Anything else you see that bears mentioning, please do.
The first ammo I had with this was probably war surplus my grandpa got with the gun. We bought some several years ago and it worked fine, but the most recent Hornady 6.5mm 160 gr will fire but won't eject. I have to knock them out with the cleaning rod I have. Any ideas on what the issue is?
And now, pictures.
And the last two pictures are just behind the serial number. Any idea what those markings are?
Thanks for any advice, tips, help you provide! Hope the pictures are not too terrible...
06-01-2012 12:22 AM
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The problem you have is that someone cut off the bayonet attaching point under the front sight. So even if you find a bayonet, you'll still need the entire front sight assembly. I suspect it's not an easy "remove and replace" operation! The dimples on the receiver ring seem to indicate that someone wisely stopped early in their attempt to drill and tap holes for a scope mount.
Otherwise, it's not too bad! Metal and wood finish look good. 1940 vintage Brescia Model 38 Carbine. (Patrick Chadwick will give you more particulars directly, I suspect. )
I think I would attempt to do a restoration of the front sight block and bayonet or at least find a gunsmith to do it. These carbines aren't too uncommon, so parts should be out there.
Sorry I don't have a better view of the frontsight and bayonet attachment assembly, yet! (This is the same model carbine, just a fixed sight version.)
The "A" and "X" would just have to stay.
As for the Hornady ammo, they use a controversially large bullet in their ammo. Works great in some Carcanos, but gives folk fits in others. If your carbine doesn't like it, you may want to try the Prvi Partizan ammunition. Bullets are smaller than is usually ideal for these rifles, but they will probably work. If they give you extraction problems, then you may have extractor or chamber issues.
Since you aren't having case head separation incidents, then headspace isn't likely excessive.
Last edited by jmoore; 06-01-2012 at 02:45 AM.
The very mixed-up M38 moschetto story
Thank you for the invitation jmoore, but there's not a lot to add to what you have already written.
Firstly: the Moschetto M38 d.c. was in 7.35 mm and fitted with the simple fixed backsight. And in Brescia it was apparently only made in this form in 1938, in the series range Ixxxx. But things got complicated later....
This looks like an Moschetto M91 d.c. with the adjustable backsight, and should therefore be in the usual 6.5 mm Carcano chambering.
So how is this to be explained?
The answer is, the Itaians 1) abandoned the 7.35 mm under the pressure of war requirements, and 2) abandoned the fixed backsight in 1940, going back to the sight which you see here, and then introducing the M91/41 which finally abandoned the gain-twist barrel. And some of the 7.35mm M38s were also converted back to 6.5mm. Plus some were made with new barrels and some were converted from old M91 rifles.
In a word, with these carbines you will find just about all combinations of barrel, chambering, backsight and reworking that the the Carcano family can provide! So please, dear readers, no comments about what is regarded as "correct" - it was wartime, and as must always be remembered, the arsenals were not producing weapons for collectors! The whole story is covered over 400 pages in a German book, and this post is truly a very small extract from a very well researched work.
Finally, these carbines (at least over here) only fetch wallhanger prices, and putting it back into the original configuration is ACWOTAM - IMOH, of course.
Last edited by Patrick Chadwick; 06-01-2012 at 05:50 AM.
Thanks for the responses guys. At this point any money I will put into it will be to make it fire well, anything else would just be a bonus. I may price out reattaching a bayonet but I doubt just any gunsmith would do it well. I'd be nervous about taking it to someone who I didn't know would do it right. I don't intend on selling it at all, but I do want to keep the thing in good shape and restore it as best I can afford.
As far as the bayonet goes, I was reading on the Mosin that it fires best with the bayonet extended due to "barrel harmonics"--I believe it pulls to the right iirc, as the bayonet folds down on the right side. Have you all noticed something similar with these guns that didn't lose their bayonet? Or would that not be as important considering that the Carcano's bayonet folds under? I'm just curious how much reattaching the bayonet could change how this fires.
Do you all have any recommendation for the cleaning/care of the wood, or do you feel I even need to bother? The AX doesn't bother me at all, I just pretend it was on there before it came to the US, which may or not be true but we'll never know. Considering the weapon has probably only had 2-3 owners since it was brought over after the war, its a possibility, and I'm great at denial.
I've been using raw linseed oil on my Carcano stocks as it leaves less sheen and pentrates better than boiled linseed oil. But either will do.
Couldn't tell you if the bayonet has a big influence or not on how it shoots. My first '38 Carbine shoots nice round 6" groups at 100 yards, so it doesn't get much range action due to the fairly limited amounts of ammo on hand.
My next carbine is still getting sorted. No range time at all!
But the '38 "short rifles" shoot very well indeed, so there is hope that the smaller versions can be made reasonably accurate as well.
Last edited by jmoore; 06-01-2012 at 10:34 AM.
Ah yes, well, you see, there is waste of time, waste of money, and the ultimate - a complete waste of time and money! Neither time nor money are wasted IF it gives you pleasure and IF you are happy with the result. Which is, of course, a subjective evaluation. In my case (and jmoore and others seem to share the same tendencies) I am easily carried away if I see a tatty, unappreciated rifle which, surely, with a bit of TLC could be made to function again. Much time may be spent (I hope not wasted!) as a result. But not money (well, not often...).
Originally Posted by jmoore
In other words, if it rings your bell, g'd on'ya mate!
Last edited by Patrick Chadwick; 06-08-2012 at 05:18 PM.
Really Senior Member
I never consider working on an old rifle a waste of time. I wish I had more of that kind of time. Money..........I try not to waste it but it's hard not too sometimes. I simply have to get them looking like they once did before someone messed them up.