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Old Trooper Gunsmiths LLC


My Blog


Italian M1 rifles...

Posted on March 22, 2013 at 12:39 PM
  Italian Garand rifle, M1.

        So a few of you "super collector" types have probably wondered why there were no M1 rifles made By Winchester in the post ww2 era.  Well long story short is they were. In Italy, by Beretta. For the Italian and a few other millitaries, for longer than the US M1 was in production... Well sort of...
      Confused yet?

   Ok, after ww2 the Italian industry base was, well a bit of a joke. And that joke had been fiercely fought over by a few army's.. So, in an effort to get our "allies" (ok, for a few months at least) back on their feet we set about to rebuild their arms industry.
    So, this being the "atomic" era. or as a few "educational" sources call it the "military industrial complex"era. We looked at building a good "client base" with the Mediterranean area to fight the emerging threat of the USSR. So Winchester no longer needing its line of machinery to make the M1 rifle, and thousands of rifles coming back from former combat theaters for rebuild, the need for "new" combat rifles for the American military was minimal.  The then surplus of rebuilt rifles was then "loaned" to friendly nations looking to modernize their army's with the "new" semi automatic battle rifles. To replace their "outdated" bolt action rifles from the previous war..
   By the late 1940's in the ruins of the Beretta factory the winchester machinery began to once again turn out rifles. Although compared with the millions of American produced M1's the Beretta made guns were relatively small. Enough to reequip the Italian army of the 1950's and make some for Albania and den mark. The parts were identical at first to the late war winchester guns, Late model  painted gas cylinder, non lockbar rear sight, stamped trigger guards, cut opp rods, ect.. The over all quality of these guns proved to be on par with its American counterpart. These guns served with their yankee counterparts throughout the army's of the world until they were replaced with "battle rifles" of the "new" 7.62 nato ctg. Many continued to serve as "2nd string" rifles well into the 1980's!
     The 7.62 era
     When the big buzz around the halls of nato in the late 40's was "standardization" So all forces fighting the Warsaw pact fire the same ammo.. This was so rudely interrupted by that pain that became known as the "Korean conflict". Or as we in the surplus arms trade call it "WW2's surplus dump".  The Italian rifles served in limited numbers with the many rebuilt American rifles in US and foreign hands, Turks, Greeks, Danes to name a few.  Along with NEW American made rifles made again by Springfield armory (not "inc" but the real US gov't armory) But also by Harrington and Richardson as well as International Harvester. 
     After the war the army's in nato picked back up onto the "standardization" kick. Fearing a full out assault from the USSR and the warsaw pact at any moment.  So, at the US ordinance departments instance the 7.62 nato (7.62x51) was crammed down the collective throats of NATO.  We developed the M14 for the new Cartridge. And a few of the old M1's were converted with a chamber insert or rebarreld to the new round.  The Italians who were spinning up to large scale production and really wanting to drop the long 30.06 (M2 ball) American Ctg. began production of their rifles in the 7.62 nato round. Wile development of their "battle rifle" began....
      The BM59
     Instead of the "redesign" of the M1 to M14 that the Ordinance department did. New receiver, new gas system, new bayonet, flash hider, ect..  The Italians who started at the same start point that we did came up with their version the BM59. The early BM59's were essentially 7.62 nato chambered M1 rifles modified to take a 20rd box mag. A new "gas lock collar/ flash hider was added. And that was about it...  Same style of gas system, same long hand guards, same bayonet..  The "Italian M14" was gradually (really, really, slowly) replaced starting in the 1970's by the AR70/sc70 series. Was not till the 1990's when front line troops turned in their big 7.62 guns for the 5.56 rifle.. A few are still seen in the hands of reservists and "designated marksman". 

 Interesting how things turn out when you start at the same place?

Categories: Under valued firearms in history

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