We’ve put together a simple visual guide to identifying the Carcano rifles. While there are only a handful of models, the caliber and fitting variations are numerous. Remember, what is presented here is just enough information to be dangerous. As we can lay hands on individual models and variations we’ll try to fill in the details. Otherwise, please enjoy this Carcano identification guide.
Model 1891 Fucile Modello 91
|Length||50.56″||Barrel Length||30.69″||Weight||8.44 lbs||Sights||300 meters and adjustable 600-2,000|
Manufactured beginning in 1892, the Carcano Model 1891 was a hybrid design combining a native Italian bolt with a Mannlicher magazine system. Gain twist rifling was used to extend the barrel life of this and all subsequent Carcano rifles until the Model 1938. This rifle should be chambered for 6.5x52mm, although a rare few were converted in Austria to 6.5x54mm MS. Manufacturing stopped in 1918, however a few were made at Beretta between 1937-1940 before the creation of the Model 1941. More about this rifle can be read here.
Model 1891 Cavalry Moschetto Modello 91 da Cavalleria
|Length||36.25″||Barrel Length||17.63″||Weight||6.88 lbs||Sights||300 meters and adjustable 600-1,500|
Adopted in 1893, this carbine was meant to serve Italy’s cavalry units. It’s handy size and weight found it a home in many other branches, including paratroops. This carbine features a permanently attached, folding spike bayonet. M1891 Cavalry production was halted after WWI but resumed from 1932-1938. This carbine should only be chambered in 6.5x52mm.
Model 1891 T.S. Moschetto Modello 91 per Truppe Speciali
|Length||36.31″||Barrel Length||17.69″||Weight||6.53 lbs||Sights||300 meters and adjustable 600-1,500|
Manufacturing of this specialist carbine began in 1898. The TS was intended to serve as a handy rifle for non-infantry units such as artillery units. Early models were paired with a side-mounting bayonet that rotated into position. This was later abandoned and a standard M91 bayonet. Production halted in 1919. The caliber should always be 6.5x52mm.
Model 91/24 Moschetto Modello 91/24
|Length||36.25″||Barrel Length||17.81″||Weight||6.53 lbs||Sights||300 meters and adjustable 600-1,500|
From 1924 to 1929 approximately 260,000 M1891 long rifles were converted into T.S. pattern carbines. Early models may have been drilled out and had new rifled tubes inserted, but most conversions just meant cutting down the barrel and re-crowning. These carbines can be spotted easily as they still have the longer rifle rear sight base. These rifles should only be found in 6.5x52mm.
Model 91/28 Moschetto Modello 91/28
|Length||36.06″||Barrel Length||17.94″||Weight||6.81 lbs||Sights||300 meters and adjustable 600-1,500|
This is simply a new production model 91/24, although some original M91 T.S. rifles were restocked to the M91/28 pattern. Rear sights bases are shorter like original carbines. Caliber should be 6.5x52mm. Few rifles were produced for use with the M28 grenade launcher, which was quickly discontinued. Produced from 1928-1938.
Model 38 Fucile Modello 91/38
|Length||40.12″||Barrel Length||21.06″||Weight||7.44 lbs||Sights||200 meter fixed sights|
The Model 1938 marked the wholesale adoption of short rifle and carbine doctrine for Italian military forces. Very early rifles lack a lower barrel band and have long, uninterrupted hand guards that extend to the bayonet lug. First paired with a folding knife bayonet, these were later converted or new-made in a fixed form. Many rifles were sold to Finland and will feature an SA mark on the barrel.
This rifle was introduced in the new 7.35x51mm cartridge but later reverted to 6.5x52mm because of logistical issues in the Italian military. Caliber may be determined by reading the rear sight. Some rifles were later converted by the German military to emergency rifles in 7.92x57mm. These will have the caliber marked on the barrel.
Model 38 Cavalry Moschetto Modello 91/38 Cavalleria
|Length||36.06″||Barrel Length||17.63″||Weight||6.62 lbs||Sights||200 meter fixed sights*|
Model 1938 Cavalry carbines mirrored original M91 cavalry carbines but featured fixed sights. *FNA-Brescia did return to the adjustable rear sight (200 meter battle sight with 600-1500 meter adjustable) when they began producing in 6.5x52mm again. Some may have stocks previously produced and unused for the M91/28 rifles intended to equip the M28 grenade launcher. These will feature prominent replacement wood fittings in a bid to recycle raw materials. Produced until 1944.
This rifle was introduced in the new 7.35x51mm cartridge but later reverted to 6.5x52mm because of logistical issues in the Italian military. Caliber may be determined by reading the rear sight. Some rifles were later converted by the German military to emergency rifles in 7.92x57mm. These will have the caliber marked on the barrel. Additionally, some were converted to 7.92x57mm post war in attempts to market to the middle east. These will be marked on the rear sight and the stock.
Model 38 T.S. Moschetto Modello 91/38 Truppe Speciali
|Length||36.5″||Barrel Length||17.75″||Weight||6.37 lbs||Sights||200 meter fixed sights|
This is a continuation of the original M91 T.S. carbine and featured in the same specialty roles. All versions feature simplified, fixed rear sights. Production continued until at least 1943, perhaps into 1944.
This rifle was introduced in the new 7.35x51mm cartridge but later reverted to 6.5x52mm because of logistical issues in the Italian military. Caliber may be determined by reading the rear sight. Additionally, some were converted to 7.92x57mm post war in attempts to market to the middle east. These will be marked on the rear sight and the stock.
Model 1941 Fucile Modello 41
|Length||46″||Barrel Length||27.19″||Weight||8.5 lbs||Sights||300 meters and adjustable 300-1,000|
Having failed to convert to the 7.35x51mm cartridge, Italy also began to regret their short-rifle-fixed-sights-only campaign. Some Model 1891 production began again, but it was a strain on resources. The M1941 was slightly shorter and used the carbine-style adjustable rear sight. Because of the Italian surrender in 1943, many of these rifles did not see service and can often be found in mint condition. Others, however, were manufactured under German occupation. Production continued until 1944.
Some rifles were converted by the German military to emergency rifles in 7.92x57mm. These will have the caliber marked on the barrel.
Japanese Type I Tipo I
|Length||50.75″||Barrel Length||30.75″||Weight||8.75 lbs||Sights||Arisaka, 400-2400 meters|
The Type I (pronounced “eye”) rifle was purchased by the Japanese Navy in order to free up Arisaka Type 38 rifles for Imperial infantry. It is a basic Carcano action nested in Italian-made copies of Type 38 stocks, magazines, sights, etc… Produced 1938-1939. More about this rifle can be read here.
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