Mystery Italian Submachine Gun

Gun archaeologists Max Popenker and Anthony Williams uncovered a previously unknown prototype machine gun that dates back to WWII. Max blogged the below photos, but is tight lipped about the details. The gun will be featured in their upcoming book Sub-Machine Gun.

This gun has some interesting features for a gun of its antiquity. The receiver is stamped steel, the magazine is used as the pistol grip and the bolt extends nearly all the way to the end of the barrel. I look forward to reading about this gun when the book is published.

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.


  • armed_partisan

    Wow! That’s cool! The Italians may have had only shit rifles back in the day, but they had some really great SMGs! Heck, they INVENTED the SMG! I wish someone would build a Semi-Auto Beretta Model 38!

  • Sev

    for some reason this reminds of a UZI, maybe the israeli’s bought it after the war and used this as a Uzi prototype?

  • Peter BE

    My first guess is “Franchi” 🙂

  • MibZ

    Seems like having the magazine double as a the trigger hand grip would lead to awkward reloads that would be much faster if you just had a regular grip. Definitely interesting though…

  • Mang

    Looks a whole lot like a Franchi LF-57, with the trigger group moved forward of the mag well. says the Czechs came up with their Sa.23 prototype in 1947, the first production telescoping bolt design. Curious about what this newly-discovered prototype is all about.

  • SpudGun

    Some of the styling cues (the stamped lines, folding stock and oval ejection port) would lead me to believe that this SMG has it’s genesis in the Franchi camp and might even be the predecessor to the LF57.

    It’s just a guess and I’m probably wrong.

  • Rusty Ray

    I smell a rat.

    It is the bastard lovechild of an UZI and a Hockler. The rat I smell comes from the features that have only come about post-WWII (the bolt design being the main one).

    Either that, or it is proof of time travel.

    Cheers- Rusty

  • Chris

    Interesting. The whole barrel/recoil spring arrangement reminds me of something Franchi used in their SMG lines (LF-57 maybe?). Using the magazine as a grip is a clever feature…

  • Dearest gentlemen, I can ID the weapon.

    The above-portrayed sub-machinegun is an OG-42 prototype.

    The name comes from the letters of surname and name of the engineer (Giovanni Oliani, “Oliani” being the surname, “Giovanni” being the name, as was used back then to write the surname before the name in official papers), and 42 for the year of first conception.

    Giovanni Oliani was an engineer for the ARMAGUERRA factory located in the city of Cremona, in the region of Piedmont, northern Italy. ARMAGUERRA is a portmanteau for “Arma da Guerra” (“Weapon of war”), and was a Government-mantained small arms pole established in the late 1930s to compete with the private firearms manufacturing pole of the nearby city of Brescia (in whose territory the “Val Trompia” valley still today hosts much of the Italian firearms industry).

    Giovanni Oliani is best known for having invented and first experimented the telescopic bolt system today used in sub-machineguns like the Beretta P-12 and the UZI.

    The OG-42 was its first prototype. It was conceived as a weapon for paratroopers, in a very “futuristic” way for the time; it was also almost totally made out of stampings, yet with a very high degree of care and quality in the manufacturing process.

    The OG-42 was never built in mass numbers, nor it passed the prototype stage. It was however the forerunner to the OG-44, itself a prototype, whose production plans, re-examined after World War 2, inspired Beretta engineer Domenico Salza in his work to conceive the PM-12 sub-machinegun.

  • Here is a picture of the OG44:

    And here is a link concerning it:

    I wrote that piece a long time ago (2001), and I apologize for any error in both proper English vocabulary, grammar, and above all technical errors that you might find therein; back at the time, my knowledge of neither was at the levels it is now.

  • cm smith

    I see subtle hints of the Franchi SMG.

  • Wow … that is a massive bolt. Must be part of the operating rod.

  • michael


  • armed_partisan

    Thanks for the info, PT. It looks like it was way ahead of it’s time.

  • howlingcoyote

    I think they made this for shooting the wild hogs and russian boars!

  • A note to “armed_partisan” who asked about a semi-automatic Beretta MAB…

    It actually exists. A company in Italy named “Nuova Jager” ( has patented a way to convert former-military MAB machine-carbines still in arsenal and waiting for destruction to semi-automatic fire, closed bolt operation, in accordance with Italian law, and in a manner that makes it impossible to reconvert to select-fire/full-auto (they basically manufacture ex-novo a completely new and different bolt, and barrel as well as the old ones are totally worn out, and slab them into old arsenal MABs). Magazines are also cut and reduced in capacity in accordance with the Italian law. It is on sale in Italy but it is pretty rare and expensive, as it is made only under direct order; basically the customer has to pay for the company to purchase the weapon from the Italian government (with all the red tape that goes along for such an operation), and pay for the refurbishment and reconversion. It also has a long waiting period; for a collector, it might be worth the hassle though.

  • mica

    hmmmm now if the benito had accualy put in to the field something like this insted of those useless carcaino,s bolt action witch by way are real POS,S i don,t care what you say who know,s maby thay accualy would have been able to do something during ww2

    • Claudio

      Carcano Mod 91 was a good bolt action rifle, such as those adopted by other countries in World War II. Some submachine guns would not have changed anything for the fate of Italy in the conflict.

  • Claudio Santoro

    About the Italian mistery submachine gun.
    the weapon in the illustration is the OG42 (OG is for Oliani Giovanni, the project originator) and was the precursor of the OG44 a more conventional submachine gun based on the same principle of the bolt having his mass over the barrell and forward the chamber to reduce length and giving more stability during the fire. The OG44 was ordered by the Wermacht but the war ended before many were delivered (the Germans allready received Beretta MABs Mod. 38, and 38/42 because the production of submachine guns was stopped in Germany to covert factories to the production of MP44). A speciment of the OG42 and OG44 are in the Beretta museum and inspired the beretta M12 and, probably the UZI as well (Uziel Gall visited and worked in Beretta in the late 40s) where he met Domenico Salza (the M12 designer). So the note in Wikipedia that affirms that UZI was the first to use a telescopic bolt is false: the first prototypes of Beretta M12 had a bolt identical to that of the OG42/44 (a 1941 design) where the production models have a bolt surrounding the barrel.