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Italian Carcano

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I'm wondering if anyone on here knows how to obtain 6.5x52 Carcano ammunition here in Canada? I've searched everywhere... there are gunsmiths who tell me they've never heard of it. Either they don't , or it's too much trouble to get it. It's not the most popular round, but I've two Carcano rifles. A Model 1891/41 made at Turin Arsenal (F.A.T., Fabrica Armas Torino) in 1945 and a Model 1891/28 T.S. Carbine.

Colin P:
Have you tried Canadiangunnutz or Gunslingers forums?

Yeah, not many responded... One recommended I get it in from the USA, but that's just a lot of messing around... with the current regs and all.

Colin P:
I wonder if there is enough meat in the rifle to get it rebored? . 6.5 x 55?


Practical Reloading Hints for the Carcano
Military Brass
The old Italian military cases present a triple difficulty to the reloader:
They are berdan primed, must thus be deprimed in an extra step.
The brass often may have become brittle due to natural age hardening (brass ages quickly - be very wary) and/or may have been subjected to interior galvanic corrosion (the brass of the case against steel jacketed bullets). Consequences can (but need not) be dire for shooter and gun, since the Carcano action is not overly apt to handle gas escapes.
The military cases have an inside step about at the shoulder/neck junction, which is used to control the bullet seating depth. This impedes the passage of an expander ball (How have other reloaders dealt with this problem? Do you just size the outside of the neck?).
Resizing Cases From Other Calibers
One alternative to Norma brass is to resize cases originally sized for other calibers. Buffalo Arms and some other custom brass "manufacturers" and loaders use this route in preparing Carcano cases. The typical starting point is 6.5x54 Mannlicher-Schöenauer cases, as it is dimensionally very close to the Carcano. Unusual as it may seem, Norma made Mannlicher-Schöenauer cases are typically used as the source brass. This is possible because it the wholesale price of the Norma produced Mannlicher-Schöenauer cases and the added cost of reworking this brass still comes out to be lower than the wholesale price of the Norma made Carcano cases. Another alternative is to use .220 Swift cases, as it has roughly the same diameter as the Carcano round at the web and has plenty of extra brass for the length. However, the head and extractor groove diameters need to be cut down on the Swift cases to allow it work properly in the Carcano action (the Swift case uses a semi-rimmed design). To resize cases, one would need a good set of resizing dies (these cost more than reloading dies) and, in the case of Swift cases, a means to recut the head (e.g., a lathe). Resized cases will also need to be trimmed to length.
Fire-forming 7.35x51 Carcano Cases From 6.5x52 Carcano Cases.
Adapted from text provided by Giani La Capra.
The first thing you may ask is Why fire form 7.35x51 Carcano cartridge cases from 6.5x52 Carcano cartridge cases?
Well, in asking this single question you are actually asking two questions:
Is it possible to form 7.35x51 Carcano cartridge cases from 6.5x52 Carcano cartridge cases?
Why fire forming?
To answer the first question, yes, it is possible to form 7.35x51 Carcano cartridge cases from 6.5x52 Carcano cartridge cases. After all, the 7.35x51 Carcano is necked-up adaptation of the older 6.5x52 Carcano round. This method has been shown to work with Norma brass (due to Norma brass being the only 6.5x52 Carcano brass commercially available in Italy, the United States and other countries), but should work for other brands of brass, provided the brass is in good shape (i.e. new or fairly new).
The answer to the second question, why fire form is more subtle. Although it is possible to cold form 7.35x51 Carcano cartridge cases from 6.5x52 Carcano cases using dies, the cold forming process work hardens the the neck area of the cartridge, which may result in premature failure of the cartridge. This would require annealing to removed the induced stresses. Cold forming also requires an investment in a set of dies for this purpose. When fire forming, your 7.35x51 Carcano chambered gun becomes the hot-forming die, something you should already have otherwise this whole exercise is moot. The resulting cartridge uniquely fits your rifle.

Do not fire a loaded 6.5x52 Carcano round in a gun chambered for 7.35x51 Carcano, as damage to the barrel rifling may result! A 6.5x52 Carcano round will fit into a chamber of a 7.35x51 Carcano chambered gun and can be fired, as most of the critical dimensions of the 6.5x52 Carcano round are the same or smaller than the 7.35x51 Carcano round. However, the 6.5mm round will be unsupported in the 7.35's barrel and will slap along the rifling.

Instructions for fireforming 7.35x51 Carcano brass from 6.5x52 Carcano brass.

Prime an empty 6.5x52 Carcano brass cartridge.
Load with 35-40 grains of powder. The type and quantity is not really important, as we are not capping the cartridge with a bullet.
Cap the cartridge with a ball of bread. The bread will prevent the powder from spilling, long enough to fire the round.
Fire the round in a 7.35x51 Carcano chambered gun. The pressures will cause the 6.5x52 Carcano brass to conform to the dimensions of the 7.35x51 Carcano chamber.
Resize the round in a reloading die. This will size the neck to nominal dimensions.
Trim the length of the cartridge to a nominal 51.35mm (2.022 inch) up to a maximum of 51.50mm (2.027 inch).
At this point you have fire-formed 7.35x51 Carcano ready for loading as a standard round.

Converting Military Berdan Primed Cases To Boxer Primed Cases
Adapted from text provided by Gary D..
The Berdan primer used in Italian Service ammunition is 0.204" (5.18mm) in diameter, which is not a standard size. However, it is a simple matter to enlarge the primer pocket in the Italian cases to accommodate the American 0.210" Boxer primer. The procedure is to bore a central flash hole with a No. 50 (0.070"/1.7780mm) drill, which simultaneously cuts away the Berdan anvil. Then enlarge the primer pocket by boring it out to full depth with a No. 4 (0.209"/5.3086mm) drill with the end ground flat (i.e., a flat bottom drill) so that it can bottom in the primer pocket without cutting appreciably deeper. The pocket is then cleaned out a trifle with a primer pocket reamer to give a perfect force fit for the 0.210" primer. I've used Winchester, Remington and Federal primers with complete satisfaction. All work must be done accurately, preferably in a lathe. This may sound complicated, but it is much easier to me than converting 6.5 MS cases.
Note from Gaetano Liberatore:
Please note that cartridge brass tends to get more brittle with age. We are dealing with 55+ year old, military surplus brass here! Resizing the primer pocket does have disadvantages in that you are thining the depth of the web. The original Berdan primer is not as deep as a standard Large Rifle Boxer primer. In addition, you have the one or two original Berdan flash holes in addition to the added Boxer flash hole. These serve to weaken the web. Careful judgement and observation must be used when loading for such converted brass.

Bullet diameters:
Finding the right bullet for your Carcano can be a chore in itself. Many complaints about inaccuracy are due to undersize bullets rather than to the guns. One must keep in mind that the usual mainstream "6,5 mm" bullets (6.70mm = .264") are almost always undersize for the wider groove diameter of Carcano rifles, which can measure as much as 6.80 mm (.269"). This can lead to gas blowby (unless the bullet obturates enough to expand in the bore) and will generally decrease accuracy. The Carcano is not alone with the characteristic of having a oversize bore, as other contemporaries of the 6.5x52 Carcano, such as the 6.5x53R Mannlicher (Dutch/Romanian) and the 6.5x54 Mannlicher-Schönauer, require "oversize" bullets.
In order to avoid this, it is necessary that you slug your bore (or have it slugged) and choose bullets in the fitting size among the resource list of this webpage. WARNING: Since such a procedure can and will lead to a wider case neck diameter in the loaded cartridge, it is mandatory that one measure the case neck to ensure that it conforms to CIP specifications. If a dummy cartridge (which you will wisely have loaded for this checking purpose: no primer, no powder) shows an excessive neck width, you must turn the outside necks appropriately thinner. Otherwise, one would incur dangerously high pressures build-up because the case neck cannot expand wide enough to release the bullet swiftly.
This also holds true for 7,35 x 51 rifles with tight barrels (as can be indicated by the small "Tiro a Segno Nazionale" stamp on barrel or stock: two crossed rifles superimposed by a bullseye target): they may need a .298" bullet. Using .300" bullets can, together with thicker case necks, give noticeable overpressure and subsequent extraction failure, as I have experienced. Be careful to have your barrel slugged before deciding on bullet diameter, just as with 6,5x52 Carcano rifles.
Bullet Weights:
Just about any commercially available bullet weight will work with any Carcano with the exception of the M91/24 Moschetto T.S. The M91/24 Moschetto T.S. was made by cutting down the barrels of M91 Fucile. This would not have been a problem except that the M91 uses gain rate rifling. Simply put, the the twist rate of the rifling is not as great at the chamber end as it was at the muzzle end ... the rifling twists more as the bullet travels down the barrel. As a result of cutting off the section of barrel off with the greatest twist rate, military standard weight bullets (162 gr.) do not receive enough angular velocity to be stabilized. Dave Emary of Hornady has witnessed standard weight bullets going through targets sideways at 25 yards! He suggests a bullet of no heavier than 100 or so grains for this application. The military standard bullet weight for a 7.35x52 Carcano round is 128 gr.
Lee dies:
The included shell holder #2 is far too large for the smaller Carcano base. It is absolutely intolerable that a reloading equipment manufacturer should propose the same shell holder for cartridges as dimensionally different at their base and rim as a 8x57IS and a 6.5x52 Carcano. This results, not infrequently, in torn-off base rims. Use a RCBS shell holder instead!
The seating die bullet hole is designed for undersized and unsuitable 6.70mm (.264") bullets. When one tries to seat the truly fitting and adequate Carcano bullets (e.g., 6.75-6.77mm, as made by Moloc), they jam in the seating die. Another annoying quirk. However, Lee can, on special order, custom size the seating die to suit.
Cartridge preparation
Case trim length:
Be aware that the 7.35mm specifications allow only for 51.5mm maximum case length, in contrast to 6.5 mm cases with their maximum case length of 52.5mm.
Bullet Seating depth:
The 6.5x52's throat is designed to accomodate the original heavy (and long) round nose bullets, thus has a lot of freebore. This characteristic limits the choice of bullets; lighter bullets will have too much free travel to be accurate (not necessarily so, but is true in many cases). Throat erosion is not uncommon, either, especially with older Carcanos, and may dictate a further setting out of the bullet, depending upon one's individual gun. Just keep in mind that a Stoney Point Gauge or a comparable instrument won't show correct seating depth figures unless you use it with the exact bullet diameter you would employ later (thus, trying to determine seating depth with a 6.70mm/.264" bullet insert would be foolish).
Shoulder setback and headspacing:
It has been our and Dick Hobbs' impression that Carcanos with too tight a headspace are actually more common than the reverse (too much), contrary to what one might expect. (GL: This appears to be due to an inconsistancy between the Italian military and SAAMI/CIP GO headspace specification, as the Italian military spec appears to allow for a shorter GO than SAAMI/CIP). In such a case, one may be wishing either
to exchange the bolt (body) against a better fitting one, or
to set back the shoulder of new cases sufficiently.
The former choice may be preferable, but it does alters the originality of the gun. Since Carcano parts are generally not numbered (with exception for some late WW I "Roma" and some very early bolts), this is not a visible impairment. However, providing a "spare" bolt for shooting seems preferable to exchanging it permanently. Just mark both as belonging to the individual gun, as to avoid confusions.

Ellwood Epps has some 6.5x52 at around 50 bucks per box of 20!! Reloading isn't much cheaper. 50 brass and 100 FMJ 160grain bullets for 135bucks shipped to the door!


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