The Breda Model 39, A 1950s Prototype Italian Military Rifle

Nathaniel F
by Nathaniel F

Royal Armouries’ Trevor Weston recently sent me an email with some details relayed to him about a little-known Italian rifle from the 1950s, the Breda Model 39. This firearm was apparently intended to compete with what would become the BM59, among other weapons trialed by the Italians at the time, but stands out as having a very “commercial” appearance, with a classical shaped, fully-encased receiver reminiscent of a Winchester or Remington shotgun. Everything I know about this firearm comes from my email conversations with Trevor, in which he relayed information from one of his sources to me:

Hi Trev,
please see attached some more photographs of the Breda Mod 39 7.62mm prototype rifles. One is a folding stock ‘Para’ or possibly ‘Alpini’ model with an Energa rifle grenade mounted. The other is the ‘Armi’ version but with a dedicated scope mounted. They have a very ‘Sporter’ look about them and probably would not have stood up to military service very well…

[from separate email]

it looks like a tool room gun as it appears to be ‘in the white’ i.e. no surface preparation or protection.

There is no gas port on the barrel and I suspect the rifle is not ‘all there’ i.e. bits are missing. The only clue I can see is the GC in an oval on the bolt, that must be a significant clue but as of now it has me stumped…

The Breda 39, with bayonet mounted.
A Breda 39 displaying its optics-ready capability, and attached bipod.
A carbine variant of the Breda 39, with a folding stock. It's unknown whether the stock folds up over the receiver, or is an underfolding stock like an AK or MP40. Note the Energia rifle grenade and attached grenade sight. The Breda 39 did have built-in grenade launching capability, but no built-in grenade launching sight.

Little is available regarding the Italian rifle trials of the 1950s that led to the BM59’s adoption, but I did receive more information from Trevor regarding other developments of the period, which will have to wait for later posts, as well as this message from Trevor’s contact:

I should know more about all of these firearms lineage when I get to Italy later next month…

Nathaniel F
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. He can be reached via email at

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