The Carcano M41 Rifle

The Italian Carcano family of rifles are generally regarded as poorly made, crude guns with few merits and poor accuracy. While they certainly aren’t as bad as is commonly believed, they are one of my least favorite bolt guns. The action is rough, the length of pull is awful, and they cannot fed spitzer bullets, however they do function and will send lead down range. Let’s shoot it!

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Transcript …

(bolt sliding) (rifle firing) – [Voiceover] Hey guys, it’s Alex C. With TFBTV, and today we’re shooting an Italian Carcano M41 rifle, chambered in 6.5 by 52mm.

Or simply 6.5 Carcano.

The Carcano family of rifles has a long and storied history, they were produced for over 50 years in a variety of configurations, were used in both World Wars, and perhaps most famously, a variant was used to assassinate President Kennedy.

Cue the conspiracy theorists.

Anyways, the M41 is interesting, as it is the result of a failed experiment.

Italy had tried to switch to a 7.35 caliber cartridge in the late 1930s, but supply and logistical constraints caused by the outbreak of World War II caused Italy to ditch their new cartridge and go back to the old 6.5.

Anyways, the Carcano is a relatively simple cock unopened design, and the safety is actuated by the user’s right thumb with relative ease.

The sights are kind of a throwback to the old Vetterli rifle, and are adjustable from 300 to 1000 meters.

Although you can flip it forward and it reveals a different V notch to serve as a 200 meter battle sight.

You can see the bolt is a little bit difficult to actuate, and it is removed by pulling the trigger, unlike on a Mauser where you pull the ejector box.

That’s not a feature I like in a bolt action rifle.

It does have one of the simplest bolts of any military bolt action rifles, aside from maybe the Moss 36 and the Arisaka.

Two horizontally opposed lugs with a simple hook extractor, and the bolt handle serves as the safety lug.

These rifles do take in block, Mannlicher style clips, and that’s why they’re erroneously sometimes referred to as Mannlicher Carcanos.

They are loaded quite easily, and you’ll find these clips either brass or in kind of a black finished simple metal clip.

It does hold six rounds as well, instead of the usual five in these types of systems.

To load them, you simply depress the clip into the magazine, and bolt forward, and you’re ready to go.

(bolt sliding) (rifle firing) So a few notes on the Carcano system.

I really do like how easy they are to load, as I experienced when I did a run and gun with this rifle, loading it was extremely quick.

Also, the recoil is very low, the 6.5 by 52mm cartridge doesn’t kick that much, but as you can see here, I’m really struggling to work the bolt.

My biggest gripe about the Carcano is that primary extraction doesn’t begin until the bolt is almost turned up 90 degrees, so you don’t get that nice camming action of the bolt handle interacting with the rear receiver bridge like you do on a Mauser 98 system, or something like that.

They’re just not smooth to operate, and that makes shooting them kind of a pain, it’s almost as bad as a crudely made M9130, I know crudely made M9130 is a bit redundant, but it’s just the way these rifles are, and they’re a bit difficult to shoot and handle quickly as a result.

(bolt sliding) (rifle firing) I hope you guys enjoyed this quick look at the Carcano, I would like to do an in depth accuracy test with one of these rifles, however, most of the ammunition produced by manufacturers has an improper bullet size.

The Carcano bullet diameter is actually slightly different than every other 6.5 that’s ever been made, so most manufacturers just take that shortcut.

Anyways, guys, hope you enjoyed this video, special thanks to Ventura Munitions.

Alex C.

Alex is a Senior Writer for The Firearm Blog and Director of TFBTV.


  • Trey

    If you can not find any surplus projectiles or Hornady .268, the next best thing I have found is a .264 RN bullet which give more bearing surface and is closer to the original bullet shape.

    In fact I used some .263 RN to with good accuracy from a M38 carcano.

    • Kivaari

      Speer made them as well. It pays to shop the mom and pop stores, you may find some.

  • TheNotoriousIUD


    • Badwolf

      Beat me to it. Was gona say that guy disagrees with alex.

    • Tim

      Lee- Still waiting for your homeboy Fidel to own up to the assist…

    • Agitator

      Was he waiting for Ted Cruz’s dad to show up so they could hit the range?

  • The_Champ

    C&rsenal’s recent videos on the Carcano had pretty positive things to sat about the handiness of the carbine versions and compared the cavalry version to an M1 carbine in size. I wouldn’t mind adding one of those little guys to my collection.

  • Vitsaus

    For all it’s shortcomings, its still a smoother and nicer rifle than a Mosin Nagant.

    • Kelly Jackson

      Im not sure that’s exactly a high mark to beat

    • codfilet

      All rifles are….

    • Paul White

      and I cook better than a jail cafeteria, but I’m still a bad coook

    • Sermon 7.62

      Depends on the model.

  • M

    If I recall correctly, Carcanos are intrinsically accurate rifles. The reason for the poor accuracy of Carcanos are multifold.

    The early Carcanos had a gain twist rifling – that is, the rifling greets shorter further down the barrel. Early Carcano carbines were basically modified rifles with the barrel cut down without consideration of barrel twist. American bubba’s also did the same, and accuracy suffered as a result.

    In addition, Italian arsenals for some reason could not standardize ammo. Bullet weight and powder charge would vary cartridge to cartridge.

    • Kivaari

      American shooters complained about the battle sight setting, having no idea why or how it worked. These may be crude rifles but they are OK shooters once you know what’s behind the sights.

  • Ed

    With rifles like that I see why Britain and the USSR wiped Italy before mid 1943. By the way if the M-91/30 is so bad why did Soviet infantry wiped out the Italian Army in the east before the battle of Stalingrad ended. Seems even a “crud” weapon can outdo a “smother” weapon.

    • Kivaari

      Million of Russkies packing those Mosin rifles. Italy had long supply lines and were foolishly sucked into a war that could never have been won. Italy should have stayed home, instead of trying to rebuild the Roman Empire in Africa.

      • dansquad

        Neither try that it in Spain during SCW…
        Photo: Republican militiamen capturing lots of Carcano rifles left by defeated Mussolini CTV troops after Guadalajara battle, 1937.

        • Kivaari

          Italy foolishly being sucked into another war. Supporting Hitler and Francho was just one more stupid thing to do. Italy suffurred from poor leadership.

          • Claudio

            This is because fascist Italy had wasted huge resources in the Italo-Ethiopian War and in the Spanish War, while Hitler was kept in the background until the invasion of Poland. The Italian support to Franco, however, was decisive for the victory of nationalists.

        • Kivaari

          Italy couldn’t get food, medical supplies, artillery rounds and aircraft with ordnance. More men were hammered into fertilizer by cannon fire than shot with rifle fire.

    • Sermon 7.62

      Mosin-Nagant was one of the smoothest and the nicest rifles of its time. It’s that 91/30 variant that is crude, but not the original.

    • Claudio

      On the Russian front all Axis troops were forced to a humiliating retreat. During Operation Small Saturn the Italian Eighth Army faced overwhelming Soviet forces, although outnumbered 9 to 1 in some sectors and they resisted out for two weeks.Of the 130,000 only 45,000 survived.

  • Riot

    @2:00 its a better reason to call them a Mannlicher than there is to call a 91/30 a Nagant.

    • Kivaari

      That control round feed Nagant system is unique and effective. It works pretty good considering the rimmed cartridge of the Mosin.

  • Tim

    Look, over Alex’s left shoulder, by the grassy knoll, isn’t that another gunman…

    Surprised you didn’t stopwatch a three round burst to prove/disprove something.
    Also, not only can you not get the correct size bullet, but they also stopped selling that magic one that made the two right angle turns out of the muzzle…
    (consider me cued).

  • The_Champ

    Oh my, Alex triggering Mosin enthusiasts and JFK assassination conspiracy theorists in a single video?!?! All he had to do was mention an AK mud test and TFB may well have imploded.

  • gunsandrockets

    Obviously the Carcano rifle’s open bottom magazine well provides an entry point for mud or debris. On the other hand that opening also provides a gravity assisted exit point for mud or debris, naturally aided by the ejection of empty clips.

    Perhaps that clip feeding system is actually better after all than comparable charger fed systems.

  • Tim

    Yo Alex. The PBS show NOVA just played a new episode called Cold Case:JFK this week. This was very interesting and relevant to your article as some NM firearms forensic experts concentrated on the Carcano and terminal ballistics of the bullet. The bullet has an intrinsic tendency to yaw when exiting a wound which explains a lot, including the magic bullet, etc. otherwise, the bullet is very stable with a round nose and a lot of rifling land area. FYI