Carcano Rifle FAQs

Carcano Rifle FAQs

Jun 5th 2024

You ever seen a Carcano rifle in the wild, at a gun shop or at the range? These WWI-era bolt-action rifles are handsome, but won’t necessarily turn your head any faster than an M1903 or a Lee-Enfield.

With that said, here are some common questions about these rifles, along with some answers. See if the answer to yours is here and if not, contact us!

Are Carcano Rifles Accurate?

The Carcano gets a bad rap for some reason, but when they were properly maintained and kept clean, they could certainly be quite accurate rifles. They wouldn’t have been in service for so long if that weren’t the case.

Now, granted, if the rifle is abused, rarely if ever cleaned, and allowed to develop rust and pitting, then accuracy will suffer. But that is a reflection on the operator and not on the design of the rifle itself.

Do Carcano Rifles Really Blow Up?

For some reason, there are a whole lot of people that think that Carcano rifles are in the habit of blowing up. This is something we have commented on before.

Is it possible? Sure, any rifle can experience a catastrophic failure of the barrel, breech, or action, especially if it is in very poor condition or if there is a barrel bulge.

But under routine circumstances? That’s highly unlikely, especially if you are not doing something untoward.

What’s the Effective Range?

That depends on what the Carcano in question is chambered in. Probably the most common chambering was the 6.5x52mm Carcano, also simply known as 6.5 Carcano. This cartridge had an effective range (with the rifle) of around 1000 yards.

What Chamberings Were Carcanos Produced in?

Carcano rifles were produced in other chamberings besides the well-known 6.5 Carcano. They were also chambered in 7.35x51mm Carcano, 7.92x57 Mauser, and 6.5x50mm Arisaka, among others.

What Is 6.5 Carcano Comparable to?

The 6.5 Carcano cartridge, also known as the 6.5 Mannlicher-Carcano, is a rimless bottlenecked cartridge loaded with a heck of a big bullet, and a round-nosed one, not a spitzer.

In terms of ballistic performance, it is not too unlike the .25-35 Winchester, with which it makes a fair comparison. Otherwise, it’s sort of a hard cartridge to equate, given the odd sizing and style of bullet.

What’s the Carcano’s Nickname?

Over the years, Carcano rifles have actually been given a few different nicknames, among them “Mannlicher-Carcano” and “Mauser-Parravicino.” You may also hear of M91 Carcanos being referred to as “novantuno” rifles, after the Italian for the word “ninety-one,” the year in which they were introduced.

Why Is the Carcano So Famous?

Carcano rifles might have been more or less forgotten (except by students of military history) were it not for the fact that a Model 38 Carcano was used by Lee Harvey Oswald to assassinate President John F. Kennedy in November 1963.

Who Used These Military Rifles?

Developed by a technician named Salvatore Carcano at the Torino Army Arsenal in 1890, the first Carcano rifles replaced Vetterli-Vitali rifles and were used by the Kingdom of Italy at the time. Carcanos were produced between 1891 and 1945.

As many as 3 million Carcano rifles were ultimately produced and saw service in the hands of Italian troops in both the First and Second World Wars. However, Carcano rifles were also widely used by more than 15 other sovereign states around the world, including the Kingdom of Albania, Austria-Hungary, Croatia, Finland, the German Empire, Imperial Japan, Saudi Arabia, and the Republic of China, among other users.

Carcano rifles also saw service in many high profile military engagements around the world in addition to the World Wars. They also engaged in the hands of combatants in the Italian Civil War, the Winter War, the Spanish Civil War, and the Kosovo War, among many others.

When Were They in Service with the Italian Military?

The Carcano’s history far outstrips the history of its progenitor, the Kingdom of Italy. In some capacity, Carcano rifles were used in Italian service between 1891 until as recently as 1981.

Was the Carcano Reliable?

When properly cared for and maintained, the Carcano was a completely serviceable and reliable rifle. They may not be the most accurate or reliable rifles out there, but considering the price and availability (there are still a lot of Carcanos floating around military surplus rifle collections) they definitely offer a lot of value.

How Do I Inspect a Used Carcano Rifle?

                                Carcano rifle

First, check the overall condition for signs of wear, abuse and rust, paying close attention to the stock and barrel.

You’ll also want to check the interior and exterior of the barrel for signs of pitting, bulging, and corrosion. To do so properly, you will need to remove the bolt and use a strong bore light.

Run the bolt both slowly and quickly; it should move fluidly along the receiver rails and the lugs and ejector shouldn’t hang up on anything.

You will also want to confirm the bore diameter so you know what ammunition can be fired through the rifle; consult the seller and use a bore gauge if possible to make certain.

Looking for a Used Carcano?

In the market for a used Carcano rifle? We sell some used ones here, and many of them are quite affordably priced. Check our collection for more details and get in touch with us directly at 610-250-3960 for more details.