Early Selfloader Mania: Italy’s First Semiauto Battle Rifle, the Armaguerra Model 1939, with Forgotten Weapons

By this point, it’s impossible to hide my affinity for early selfloading rifles, and today we have another great video from Forgotten Weapons on an early Italian model that made it all the way to adoption. Though the program was cancelled before it could be produced, the Armaguerra Model 1939 rifle is still an important piece of Italian firearms history. You can learn more about it in Ian’s video embedded below:

Images of the Armaguerra M1939 are available below, courtesy of Rock Island Auction:

1412 1412-1

One thing that Ian does not mention is that the then-new Italian 7.35mm caliber, for which later versions of the Model 1939 were chambered, was a bit different than other full-bore rounds of the period. Where something like the Japanese 7.7x58mm was a true full-power round, the 7.35x51mm Italian was actually much closer to what we today would think of as an “intermediate” caliber. It was so close (just a hair more powerful than 7.62×39 from comparable length barrels), in fact, that I feel pretty comfortable dubbing the 7.35mm Italian “the first modern service intermediate caliber in the world”, although it did not come attended with a counterpart assault rifle design like we’d see from the Germans and Russians later.

So in many ways the Armaguerra M1939 is then less a counterpart to the M1 Garand, and more to the SKS and Gerät 05, although it is not nearly as short and handy as those later rifles.

Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He is also the author of the original web serial Heartblood, which is being updated and edited regularly. He can be reached via email at nathaniel.f@staff.thefirearmblog.com.


  • Don Ward

    Just think. American GIs and British Tommies could have had this cool bring home weapon after the Eye-Ties surrendered en masse in North Africa and Sicily.

  • ItalianAmerican

    Jesus. It’s ugly ASF.

  • Giolli Joker

    I read on youtube one guy calling Ian “Gun Jesus”… quite fitting.