MODEL 38 SHORT RIFLE (CARCANO)
BRIEF OVERALL HISTORY
The Carcano action was adopted by Italy in 1891. Through the following decades there would be numerous variation in the features and caliber of Italy's arms, with the action remaining unchanged. In 1938 the Model 38 short rifle was adopted along with a new 7.35mm cartridge. With Italy's entry in to WWII, production of Model 38 rifles was changed to Italy's pervious cartridge, the 6.5mm Carcano.
On top of the chamber is the manufacturer mark. The "R E" below the crown is an acronym for Regio Esercito, which translates to "Royal Army", for the Royal Italian Army. "Terni" indicates manufacture at the Terni Arsenal in Terni, Italy.
The "TNI" below a crown in a circle is an additional manufacturer mark with the "TNI" being and abbreviation for Terni arsenal. This mark is found on the bottom of the bolt handle, on the right side of the trigger guard, and on the right side of the receiver.
The Model 38 was originally chambered for the 7.35mm cartridge. With Italy's entry into WWII, the need for more rifles and the abundant supply of the older 6.5mm cartridge, it was decided to produce the Model 38 in 6.5mm. The chambering is marked on top of the rear sight block and this rifle is chambered in 6.5mm.
Marked on the right side of the chamber, in what would be considered an upside down orientation, is the production year. This rifle being produced in 1941. In addition to the Christian year, the year is marked according to Italy's Fascist Era, in roman numerals. "XIX" being the 19th year of the era that started in October of 1922 and lasted until 1943. This also indicates production after October of 1941.
Located on the left side of the chamber is the serial number. Terni production serial numbers in 1941 rang from approximately BA5426 through CB4726.
These letters in relief in an oval are likely an inspector mark.
This "FIVM" in and oval with straight sides is found on the back of the sear. It is possibly an unknown subcontractor.
ASSEMBLY REFERENCE MARKS
This line with a sphere at either end found at the rear of the firing pin and the line with an arrow on at either end found on the safety are assembly reference marks.
There is a individual "Savoy crown" marked on the barrel and bolt handle. These are likely proof marks.
Outside the norm, the Model 38 has fixed sights. This simplifies both production and also use for the minimally trained soldier. The Model 38 uses a V notch rear sight with a blade front sight and the 6.5mm rifles were factory zeroed for 300 meters.
On the left side of the stock, forward of the rear sling swivel, is a manufacturer cartouche. This mark is an Italian crest with "FABB. D'ARMI Ro. Eto. Terni 1941 XIX" around the outside. Indicating manufacture at Terni Arsenal in 1941, this matches the marking on the barrel.
STOCK SERIAL NUMBER
On the left side of the stock, near the butt, is a serial number. This matches the receiver serial number indicating on original stock.
ADDITIONAL STOCK MARKINGS
On the right side of the wrist of the stock are some additional markings. The meaning of these marks are unknown but, being that they are hand engraved, they could possibly have been done by an individual issued the rifle.
There is a repair to the heal of the stock on this rifle. Based on the apparent age and manner of this repair, this would have likely been done while the rifle was still in service.
The sling on this rifle I find of intrigue. It is made of canvas and sewn on to the sling loops. It has no adjustment and is not of a military standard type. Was this a field expedient sling attached during its service life or one attached by a subsequent owner? If it was affixed during the rifle's service life, would it have been surplused with the sling or is this an indication of the rifle being capture rifle? These are question that will likely never be answered but it's fascinating to contemplate.
THE MODEL 1891 CARCANO RIFLE,
A DETAILED DEVELOPMENTAL & PRODUCTION HISTORY
By Giovanni Chegia & Alberto Simonelli with Ralph Riccio