The Italian Garand: Beretta BM59

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The Italian army adopted the Beretta BM59, basically an M1 Garand chambered for 7.62x51mm NATO capable of select fire. It was about as successful as all the other select fire battle rifles adopted around the world (not very). From Wikipedia:

After World War II, Italy adopted the US-designed M1 Garand rifle in .30-06 (7.62x63mm) and also manufactured it under license. This semi-automatic rifle proved itself well during WWII, but in the late 1950s it was considered outdated and obsolete. The Italian military wanted a new rifle chambered for the NATO-standard 7.62x51mm.

Beretta designed the BM59, which was essentially a rechambered M1 fitted with a removable 20-round magazine, folding bipod and flash suppressor/grenade launcher. The BM59 is capable of selective fire.

I came across this Class III, full auto, Beretta BM59 on Gunbroker (The auction has since close). Click to expand the photos:

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Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


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  • Matt Groom

    Col. Cooper had one of these. I thought it was some kinda M-14 prototype like a T-22 or something at the time. Only one I’ve ever seen in person.

  • Kerub

    you do not believe the rifle was still in use by the end of past decade.
    I remember, when I was a complement first-lieutenant in Italy, preferring the stock-less BM59 (para version) for armed services and range exercises. very difficult to manage in full auto.

  • Tom

    It’s pretty interesting to consider the BM-59 had detachable box magazines when John Garand himself scrapped development of the T20. Then ten years or so down the road Beretta does more or less the same thing, only with their own proprietary magazines.

    I’ve seen some professionally converted Garands that use magazines (typically in .308) and they’re pretty interesting. Sometime in the future I’ll have to do a bit of research into how to do it and give it a shot.

  • http://bonifacestreatise.blogspot.com/ Wynboniface

    My friend has thought about building up a M1 Garand similar to that, but still chambered for the .30-06 round. I really like the idea, but I am attached to the .30-06 round as one of my calibers.

  • padalec

    What’s purpose of such strange iron sights?

  • jdun1911

    The rifle is sexy.

  • Overload in CO

    padalec,
    if you mean the funny front sight, it’s for the grenade launcher.

  • Tom

    An interesting anecdote I forgot to add to my comment earlier…

    You can occasionally come across Beretta receivers on parts guns. Beretta did in fact manufacture a number of M1 Garand rifles between the end of the war and the development of the BM-59. I recently came across one at a public auction in Gettysburg, PA, and watched the rifle soar to well over $1500.

    I was hoping to get my hands on it just because it’s an oddity, but not for that price I wasn’t! I walked away from the auction with two other Garands for about that much combined.

  • Jay Hafemeister

    I was less thinking “Italian Garand” and more thinking “Italian M-14″

  • http://www.netfotoj.com John Myers

    We have one of these in the gun shop where I work but not full auto, just semi-auto. I post guns for the shop on gunbroker but they haven’t let me post the Beretta M1/M14 so far. Owner says they ain’t tired of looking at it yet. Priced at $2,500 and so far lots of lookers and feelers, but no buyers.

    Village Pawn and Gun Shop, Wadesboro, NC 704-694-6266.

  • Steve Marks

    I bought this really cool item for the Garand. I will also fit the M1A. It fits in the receiver and holds the bolt open, but let’s me use my chamber brushes while it’s stuck in the receiver. Pretty Cool item. I thought I would share.

    Steve

    http://www.m1buddy.com

  • http://tslrf.blogspot.com theotherryan

    Seems like a M14 to me. Got a Garand and love it but the M14 is probably the most perfect refinement. I will own one some day.

  • Lance

    Both the BM-59 and the M-14 are used today and for sometime in the future. By both the US military (M-14) and the Italian military (BM-59) Both are the best rifle ever made in my opion multishot good round it fires 7.62 NATO and are utterly relighable.

  • dennis rambo

    i belive i’ve seen a italian version M1 with a BAR 20rd. mag. adapted to it…anyone know any more on this? have also looked at a 223 converted grand with i belive a ar mag. done by a local shop thanks.

  • Larry Cannon

    Having fired both M-14 (before going to Nam in 67) and the BM 59 (After I retired from USMC in 77) I believe I like the BM 59 more. In fact, I carried the M 1 for 5 years in the Corps. Have you ever seen the results of firing the M 14 after the Compensator has been bent ? Not pretty. Just an old jarhead’s opinion.

  • 54Bravo

    Yeah, that funky ladder sight is very similar to the old M203 sight (the forward mounted sight, there was also a different type on the side of the receiver).

    On this rifle, it’s obviously for the rifle grenade launcher-why the flash suppressor/muzzle brake is so long and has the grooves in it. It also looks like it has the flip up shoulder brace on the butt-plate, BAR style. So coupled with the bipod, this set-up seems geared for the automatic rifle role. I can’t tell if it has a heavier barrel than the regular version, though.

    I always liked these, though I haven’t shot one, as I am a big M14 fan. I always wondered though, why in WW2 the U.S. didn’t do a Garand using BAR mags? Seems like it would have been a pretty big improvement on the weird 8 round spring clips.

  • Texas_Dave

    The BM-59 is about 90% M-14 except for the parts that would make them interchangable.

    Why the Italians didn’t design the BM-59 to accept M-14 mags is beyond me.

  • 54Bravo

    TEXAS_DAVE: Yeah, every now and then some arms manufacturer gets the ‘great idea’ to use odd proprietary mags for some reason. I’m not sure what they think they are accomplishing by doing that?

    SEE: Galil, Steyr AUG, early FAMAS, Mini-14, etc.

  • http://www.netfotoj.com John Myers

    The gun shop where I work finally let me list on gunbroker the Italian Garand we have, a Beretta BM-62, the civilian version which is semi-auto only, not selective fire like the BM-59.
    http://www.gunbroker.com/Auction/ViewItem.aspx?Item=154421802

  • http://www.netfotoj.com John Myers

    P.S. Also wrote about it on my blog and cited source here, of course.
    http://godgunsandgrits.blogspot.com/2010/01/no-it-aint-m1a-socom-its-italian-garand.html

  • Lorenzo

    The BM59 has very little in common with the M14, only the base where it comes form, the Garand.
    The BM59 is in facts a modified Garand, this because its creation was in Beretta’s intent (and in the final practical choice) the simpliest and cheapest way to substitute old Italian Army Garands with a more modern weapon.

  • Lorenzo

    Very good article here

    http://gunsmagazine.com/bm59.html

  • Jeff W

    I have one.
    Bought it from a guy at a Gun show nearly 20 years ago.
    It is a low number Beretta Receiver in Standard config.
    It also came with the sales literture and a wall poster for prospective buyers to show how few parts needed to be added to convert a Garand to a BM-59.
    It seems obvious in retrospect that would have been by far the cheapest way to quickly outfit NATO.
    The Magazines are a work of art. The follower is a machined aluminum billet.
    I did not know Cooper had one, but that is enough of a endorsement for me.

  • http://exoticfabrications.com jim mccoin

    I bought one new in 1981, I have about 3000 rounds through it, military surplus and commercial. I’v had several 7.62 battle rifles, FN Fal’s HK91″s and a 7.62 Galil, they are all gone and the M62 remains.

    I did have a problem on a freezing day at about 6000 feet in the snow, we decided to plink at some cans, and the M62 went full auto, it was a lot of fun at the time. I have heard from other owners who had the same expierance in the same conditions.

    The followers in my mags are stamped steel and hard chromed, all in all I think its a near perfect rifle with NM. quality sights. After firing mine a few times my brother found one for himself.

    I believe less than 2000 were imported by Berben, which was Beretta/Benelli before Beretta USA came along.

    Jim

  • Claudio Santoro

    I carried one BM59 TA (folding stock, fixed tricompensator) during my military service back in 1973-74. If You look at the magazine You will see two machined slots at the upper front they have the purpose of better guiding the cartridges in the chamber, BM59 magazines are sturdy and reliable almost impossible to accidentally bend the magazine lips, also very easy to reload bot when in the rifle or with the stripper clip loader (id. M14s one) that functions better on the BM59 mags.
    When in production its price to the IT Army was just 30 % more of that of a Garand in 7,62 Nato and many parts were still interchangeable; it was conceived to convert the vast inventory of M1 in Europe to a more modern battle rifle with a reasonable expense.
    You should also consider that Beretta approach to Garand conversion to 7,62 N was less costly than producing a new rifle as the M14 (that in his first years was not so reliable) whose development alone had a cost in 50s US $ of more than 30 Millions, Beretta spent a tenth to organize production+development.

  • http://yahoo.com mica

    good thing we told the italien govement ok the bald shithead is dead hear,s your new rifle in trade we willl take the carcano bolt action pos and your underpowerd useless copy of the lugar and hand you boy,s some colt 45,s so what happne,s now our milatary is carying 9 mm bearetta,s you know it,s perty sad when the us milatary can,t do it,s wepon,s in conus ie in the us of a and now thay want to scrap the m 16 for a h&k futuer wepon a two fer with a 20 mm under hide and seek round and a 5.65 on top bullpup give me a miny 14 and a colt 45 slabside,s work,s and ya can,t killl it

  • james
  • Spiff

    As a point of interest, there was a Master gunsmith in Columbus, GA, many, many years ago who converted the M-1 Garand to accept BAR magazines. He also converted a great many M-1’s to .308WIN and rigged them up with NM accessories – won a lot of matches…I think he was called The Garand Man, something like that.
    Spiff

  • Claudio Santoro

    Want to comment MICA’s of march 9th, in the war we lost with the USA (thanks God), the official Italian side gun was the Beretta Mod. 34 in .380 ACP and it was considered adequate because the purpose of a pistol in the military was (and is) self defense. After the war the Garand was adopted but the Beretta was mantained until the 80s when was replaced by the Beretta 92 in 9mm Nato. During the war some hangun in 9mm was produced by FNA for special troops but the round it fired was the Fiocchi M38 dimensionaly identical to the 9 Luger, but about 20% more powerful because it was intended to be fired by the MAB 38 Machinegun (MAB=Moschetto Automatico Beretta), the FNA interchangeable magazine held 21 rounds and did not have a spring because it’s functioning was similar to a noria (chain of buchets). In 1891, when it was adopted the Carcano was not worse than a lot of contemporary long arms (including the Krag Jorgensen adopted by the US which was inferior on every respect). The outbreack of war in 1939 (1940 for Italy) cancelled the production of the semiatomatic Armaguerra 39 end the caliber change for the Carcano to the more modern 7.35×52 (very similar to 7.62 Nato) with it’s spitzel bullet (with internal alluminum tip and lead nucleus).

    • Greg

      Claudio…Ran accross this blog. Question I have for you is how many mags were issued with the BM59? Have heard some info that soldiers were expected to use magazine chargers to fill mags while on the rifle.

      Very little info seems to be available on equipment/kit for the BM59’s.

      Any info would be appreciated.

      Greg

      • Lorenzo

        Hi Greg,

        if you mean how many mags to each soldier I can answer for myself.

        During my military service (it was peacetime, pratically all the life of the BM59 too), in a Alpini battaillon, we were issued as follows:
        – for guard duty two full magazines, 7,62 NATO live ammo. These were one on the rifle and one inside BDU’s chest pocket. Strictly NO chambered ammo.
        – for blank training (marches, combat simulation, assembly/disassembly/cleaning of the rifle etc.) one empty magazine
        – for shooting range magazines boxes and ammo boxes were provided by the company gunsmith/gun keeper.

        There was a strict “you can’t have magazines/ammo/gun with yourself if not necessary” polithics at that time (talking about 1992/1993 years).

        Never had combat experience so I can’t tell how many magazines were supposed to be issued to each Alpino in an hypothetical war time. I can only suppose not more than 4/6 full magazines (plus surplus ammo) just thinking at the combat gear we had in that years. We were trained to refill magazines with 7,62 ammo clips (5 each if I remember well)

        I can’t tell how many magazines were provided with each rifle when new.

        Hope this helps.
        L.

  • Claudio

    Greg,
    the italian webbing at the time of my military service (1973/74) was british M37 (modified or WWII Brit.) and consisted of a belt with 2 braces and 2 pouches (I think those were originally used with the Bren MG) each pouch hold (if I remember well) 2 20 rd magazines. Live ammo and magazines were not distributed under normal trayning circunstances, armed services and honor guard service were performed with the Garand.
    When we went to the range (a rare occasion) 20 rd packets of ammunition on stripper clips were used by the armorers to load the BM59 magazines for the troopers.
    Most of the time I fired the MG42/59 or the Garand.

  • Claudio

    Greg, I’ve done some research: 4 x 20 rds magazines in two bren M37 pouches and one more in the weapon (100 rd).
    As for the opportunity of using a propietary magazine must be taken into account that the BM59, in several variants, was sold and, in some instance, licensed abroad and the magazines were a source of income that had not to have a competitive price. The BM59 project primary aim was to convert the vast inventory of Garands in Europe and elsewere to more modern specifications, with or without burst, even with Garand gas cilinder, but allways with a PB magazine. Have a look here for uniforms and kit.
    http://monza.unuci.org/Missioni_estero_EI.pdf
    [email protected] Italian Army ask them for history and regulations.
    In my opinion the M14 only edge over the BM59 was the gas port with regulation, the beretta’s gas system had a cut-off activated by the grenade sight for direct fire (the lateral alidada was for indirect grenade fire and functioned like the WWII Garand analog device).

  • Claudio

    Greg:
    one more thing on BM59 webbing, I found this auction on ebay.it :
    http://www.ebay.it/itm/LOTTO-ESERCITO-ANNI-80-BELLISSIMO-MIMETICA-SOLDATO-/330685531742?pt=Militaria_Collezionismo&hash=item4cfe64c65e
    only one comment this material is about ten years more recent than my service term in 1973/74, the pouches even if similar are not the type I was issued with, those were true 37 pattern (with the clumsy brass automatic buttons instead of the more practical P44 tab closure) used for 2 Bren or 4 sten magazines (each) during WWII.
    Ciao, Claudio

  • Andrey Martim

    I’m not a weapon expert, neither have one, I just like them and want to learn the most I can about them… So, I have a question about the BM-59.

    What is the main difference between the BM-59 and the M14? Because, at least their specs is the same (7.62×51, magazine feed, selective fire M1 Garand). I probably is writing some stupidish, but near all the information I found about guns isn’t in my home language (I’m Brazilian).

    Thanks for all.

    • http://exoticfabrications.com Jim McCoin

      Andrey.

      I went to basic training in Jan.1965 and was issued an M14. We fired from the 900 inch range to adjust the sight and out to the 1,000 yard range and everything in between.

      At infantry training we fired them on full auto, I didn’t think they were as uncontrollable as people say but the barell is not heavy enough for sustained full auto fire. We also fired them with various sights, infared and telascopic.

      I bought my Beretta M62 in the early 80’s, aside from a longer barell on the M14 and a superior box magazine for the Beretta, I dont think there is any difference.

      Jim

  • Andrey Martim

    Thanks!

  • Caleb

    So they designed the M14. LOL. Great minds think alike.

    • elleerre

      You’re right.
      The italians made the BEST M14, and called it BM59.
      Next time call Beretta BEFORE.

      :D

  • Claudio Santoro

    Matt, I remember having read a piece from Col. Cooper in a GUN magazine sometime in the 80s and he held the BM59 in high exteem.
    Some people have commented about Garands convereted to box magazine, and I think they will work, but the beretta conversion was a little more sofisticated than that: even in converting Garands to 7,62 Nato, the Beretta approach was very pragmatic, they found that it was easier to replace the barrels (a part subject to wear in surplus guns) with a new barrel in 7,62 Nato instead of glueing a sort of chamber adapter as the US Navy did (this solution proved unpractical and marginally less expensive than a new barrel, the magazine block was needed anyway because of the shorter round). In designing the BM59, Beretta used new barrels heavier than Garands and (as Col. Cooper observed) very impervious to overheating. As for the more relevant difference between the BM59 and the M14: the lack of a gas regulator on the former, this an handicap to the civilian shooter (in order to have a reliable funcining on my BM59, I have to (re)load my ammo near factory power levels: mild reloads are not reliable enough. This is not a serious problem for the military of course, and I have never had problems with a dirty rifle.
    For anyone interested, an italian gun factory: (Nuova Jager) http://www.nuovajager.it/ produces a copy of the BM59 with about the same protocol Beretta used at her time with the exception of the stripper clip loader that has not been replicated and being semi auto only, I have one and am satisfied with it.
    I have observed that, pratically all pictures on this blog, represent the version with the folding buttstock plate, I never saw one while in the army and am positive it was never adopted in Italy, I think it was tipical of the nigerian version.
    Should someone be interested ask and I will send pictures and short clip.
    Claudio

  • frank

    I have a BM-59 that was given to me in the late 70’s, it was produced by Beretta and has a low serial number, the rifle is in mint condition. My friends and I have fired it many times, we love it. I was in the Marine Corps in the early 60’s and had a M-1 Garand and later was issued a M-14, I think the BM-59 was a much better rifle than the M-14. I only have one magazine, I have been searching the internet to obtain another magazine, they are very expensive, found one this morning for $135.00, I don’t want to give that much.Has anybody seen any cheaper one’s. I have had many offers for this weapon, but I don’t want to sell it, My son will end up whit it some day, but he does not have any interest in firearms

    • wobbles9094

      Looking for another magazine? Merry Christmas Marine. Here you go.

      http://www.robertrtg.com/bm59-mag.html

      Semper Fi. 0351

    • Randy Holovachoff

      I have 4 BM59 Mags for sale. Brand New, Factory mags. $100.00 ea.