The Italian Garand: Beretta BM59

Steve Johnson
by Steve Johnson

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 This semi-automatic rifle proved itself well during WWII, but in the late 1950s it was considered outdated and obsolete.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:

Steve Johnson
Steve Johnson

I founded TFB in 2007 and over 10 years worked tirelessly, with the help of my team, to build it up into the largest gun blog online. I retired as Editor in Chief in 2017. During my decade at TFB I was fortunate to work with the most amazing talented writers and genuinely good people!

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  • Claudio Santoro Claudio Santoro on Nov 14, 2012

    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) 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.

  • Frank Frank on Sep 12, 2013

    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