Beretta 57: Italy Makes a .30 Carbine SMG for Morocco

The Model 57 is a select-fire carbine made by Beretta around the .30 Carbine cartridge. It uses a newly designed magazine much more durable that the American M1/M2 Carbine magazines, and has a tilting bolt locking system coupled with a gas tappet style of piston. Many of the features are distinctly Beretta, like the left side ejection and right side charging handle (like on the Beretta 38 submachine gun family) and the dual triggers (front for semiauto; rear for full auto). Only one contract was made for these carbines, to Morocco in the early 1960s. This is probably because of the ready accessibility of surplus M1 and M2 Carbines for any western-affiliated nation interested in the cartridge.

Many thanks to the Royal Armouries for allowing me to film and disassemble this very scarce automatic rifle! The NFC collection there – perhaps the best military small arms collection in Western Europe – is available by appointment to researchers, and you can browse the various Armouries collections online.

27 Comments

  1. Dumb question: how did it perform in the hands of intended users?

    Dumber question: I suppose the dual trigger and proper training prevented unintended sprays, in that going full automatic required a deliberate attempt at getting the correct output, as opposed to panic-induced mashing of the controls. Did anyone manage to get a panic-fire accident with this setup?

  2. To unscrew the rear screw to take the receiver out of the rifle seems to be completely unnecessary, exactly like in the M1 Carbine.

    The Beretta 57 had been designed in competition with the Franchi LF58 (that was inspired by the Stg.44 in shape, like the Beretta 57 was inspired by the M1 carbine http://www.exordinanza.net/reprint/Franchi_LF-58-59/LF58.jpg ).
    The problem adressed was that of the controllability of fire. Any sane manufacturer knew that .308 Win was not controllable in full auto. While the Brits tried to impose the .280 British, the Italian manufacturers thought there was no need to reinvent the wheel and, since the Carabinieri had already adopted a good number of surplus M1 carbines, so the round was already in use by the Army, tried to offer ARs in .30 Carbine (if more muzzle speed was required, the cartridge could have been easily necked down, so saving all the design apart for the barrel).

    • A recoiling shoulder arm in fact, rotates around its centre of weight. This is present even for current inline stocked examples. When the recoiled stock strikes the support place, this rotational motion pushes the butt downward out of engagement with the barreled action. To prevent this, a solid and durable stopper retaining the action at stock in motionless case, being not softer than steel is necessary. As appreciated, a simple screw would achieve this task with lower cost. Besides, the butt section of a shoulder arm may also be used as a club. The rear screw approach should be evaluated with these facts in mind. lMHO.

  3. I concur with Dogwalker, that removal of the rear tang screw appears unnecessary. Just loosen the front band/bayonet lug/ hand guard sling swivel, slide it forward, remove the top hand guard, and lift it up by the barrel. That part is absolutely, utterly, the same part as on the M1 carbine… Since F.A.T. Terni was making stock components and fittings for Italian carbines, that may have been very commonly available.

    The front sight sure looks a lot like an SKS! The tipping bolt is certainly reminiscent too.

    French firearms designers did a lot of post-WWII work with carbines in .30 U.S. carbine cartridge caliber, as well as some other reduced-power “assault rifle” type cartridges. These appear to have had even less success on any sort of marketing or adoption angle than the Italian Beretta Mod. 57.

  4. “(…)This is probably because of the ready accessibility of surplus M1 and M2 Carbines for any western-affiliated nation interested in the cartridge.(…)”
    Modern Firearms https://modernfirearms.net/en/assault-rifles/italy-assault-rifles/beretta-model-57-2/ explains it differently:
    It came a bit late, as during late 1950s entire NATO organization, Italy included, commenced rearmament for a more powerful 7.62x51mm cartridge, forced upon its allies by USA.

    • If you absolutely just must have a 5.7 x 28 pistol, this is probably a more sensible choice than the FN.

      However, I would note that

      1. No matter what anybody says, the 5.7 x 28 round never gets above about 1600 F/S out of a pistol length barrel. So you’re really using the centerfire equivalent of a .22 WMR.

      2. If that’s what you want, the Kel-Tech PMR-30 costs about half what the new Ruger does, is about the same size and weight, has a 30-round magazine, and .22 WMR ammunition is substantially cheaper and more easily obtainable than 5.7 x 28.

      cheers

      eon

  5. [OFF-TOPIC SO IGNORE IF YOU WISH]
    Recently Ruger created Ruger-57 which as name suggest is 5,7 mm caliber (5,7×28 cartridge), see: https://modernfirearms.net/en/handguns/handguns-en/u-s-a-semi-automatic-pistols/ruger-57-2/
    it said to be marketed for U.S. civilian market and be much cheaper than FN Five-Seven.
    Magazine holds 20 rounds.
    Is there place for such automatic pistol? Will it bring renewal of interest in 5,7×28 or maybe just remain curiosity?

    • lt seems every new and quality pistol in this caliber will catch demand as much as original. As known, the patent rights of FiveSeven pistol is exhausted a few years ago and any manufacturer can produce such a kind of pistol. Ruger seems the first in this field and some others nearly ready for their own samples. That pistol’s real value is with its military rounds which can not be obtainable for civilian market. lf this limitation cancelled, these kind of pistols would catch demands flying upward to moon. Most interesting point of FiveSeven and clones is the working system which using recoiling barrel and slide in different speeds forming an interesting delayed blowback.

    • I fantasized if a delayed blowback system like that of the Ruger 57 was possible, and they did it, so kudos to them. It’ will be interesting to see if it could work in more standard pistol rounds, or the lower pressure and smaller surface contact with the chamber don’t allow it to work.

      • As FN patent expired, Ruger copied the delayed blowback of the original Five-seveN (this is the official spelling with uppercase N).

        • FiveSeven pistol is a design of Jean Louis Gathoye of FN. Very light bullet expelling through very high velocity and the bottlenecked case it uses should have been forced the inventor to design a pistol extracting the empty case while barrel and slide recoiling at different speeds to get advantage of gained momentum and excess gas provided in very little dwell time. The task is acchieved by a receiver mounted lever propped against both barrel and slide at
          different heights and same approach was used in some early pistols like Glisenti.

          • Infact pure short recoil systems tend to not work well with long bottleneck high-pressure cartridges, since in them, when the barrel stops, the case is snatched from the chamber, accelerating from “0” to max speed in no time.

        • Yeah. It seems I read an incorrect report, but I’ve seen better pictures now.
          The system is the same of the FN 5.7, that is a variation of the Revelli rotating lever lock of the Glisenti 1910, Brixia 1913, Fiat 1914 etc.
          It’s incorrectly described as a “delayed blowback”. In reality it’s a proper breechlock. There is no way for the bolt to recoil indipendently form the barrel. The form of the lever can make the two recoil exactly at the same speed until they are disengaged, or move the bolt slightly faster to aid primary extraction, but it’s like saying that the Browining M1919 is a delayed blowback.

          • This is a off topic and should not be lengtened but, though constuction being same at both Glisenti and FiveSeven, the force application points of the latter is nearly 1 vs 2 to give a realy different speed for barrel and slide. Besides, since rotating lever is mounted in the receiver, even in Glisenti example, recoiling members would slighty separate from each other through the distance naming the system as a delayed blowback, not a locked breech.

  6. I can recall seeing a picture (in Newsweek?) one of these in the hands of a Cuban revolutionary, not long before Castro came to power. His buddies were mostly packing M1 or M2 carbines, so there was ammo compatibility. I recognized the gun from an American Rifleman review of it that had run not long before. My dim-to-vanishing recollection is that AR gave the cyclic rate as 750 rpm and the weight as 7.5 lbs. They seemed a tad dismissive of the weapon, saying it was heavy for its cartridge and not much improvement over the M1 or M2. I was only a raw-necked teenager at the time, but I was capable of wondering if anybody had run a competition between the M2 and the Beretta. I’m still wondering.

    • Ed, no offense intended, but are you sure the photo you’re remembering wasn’t a San Cristóbal? They were also chambered in the .30 Carbine cartridge, and are confirmed to have been in use with the Cuban communist revolutionaries.

      • Nope, no confusion with the San Cristobal. I recall the Beretta 57 from that ages-ago American Rifleman review, tilting bolt, double triggers, straight mag, and all, and I subsequently recognized one in the pic from Cuba. I’ve been trying to find a review of that little iron half as good as Ian’s ever since. If Ian doesn’t smooth-talk his way into a range test of the Beretta 57 and publish it here, I’m taking him off my Christmas card list. And so should you.

        • Certainly the Dominican San Cristobal carbines had double triggers, a straight magazine, wooden stock furniture, etc. Internally, it copied the Hungarian designer’s earlier Danuvia 43 SMG. Pal Kiraly had fled to Rafael Leonidas Trujillo’s little kingdom after WWII.

          When the U.S. could no longer countenance providing arms to the Batistato, resulting in an arms embargo in March 1958, Fulgencio Batista was compelled to turn to alternate sources for arms, contracting with Belgium, Britain, and even the DR. Some A34 Comet tanks came in, but most of the arms deliveries arrived after the triumph of the M-26-Julio movement. Large numbers of the San Cristobal carbines were used during the consolidation of the regime, particularly by the urban CDRs and by the MNR. Famously, the Hawker Sea Furies hadn’t been shipped, so Castro’s forces requested that Britain switch the order to Hawker Hunter jets instead. There’s a darkly entertaining, if cynical, conversation recorded where British officials indicate to the “great white case officer” Allen Dulles that this seems a reasonable request, but they would defer to U.S. wishes first! Dulles responded that under no circumstances should Britain provide the Cuban revolutionary state with jets. The British protested that failure to deliver jets might cause Cuba to obtain Soviet MiGs. Dulles literally said that was precisely the plan, and reminded his UK interlocutor that it had been the provision of Czechoslovak arms to Jacobo Arbenz’s government in Guatemala that served as the pretext for PBSUCCESS…

          Belgian FAL rifles arrived to equip the FAR until the explosion of La Coubre, bearing arms from FN Herstal and apparently a huge quantity of hand grenades. It was the Sea Fury and a handful of older Lockheed T-33 trainers that gave the DAFAAR air superiority over the Bay of Pigs.

          • Spacibo Tovarish! Excellent photos… Although I fear the disordered mix of images–mostly from the U.S.-OAS (Nicaragua, Brazil) invasion of the Dominican Republic in 1965, others from the Cuban Revolution–will really confuse non-Russian readers or inattentive, non-detail-oriented persons.

            If you like old Soviet agitprop films–beautifully photographed, if didactic–you can see the panoply of the Cuban Revolution, including the Garand, the M1903, Thompson, M1 carbine, San Cristóbal carbine, etc. etc. in the Mikhail Kalatozov 1964 film “Soy Cuba/Ya Kuba/I am Cuba.” The renowned U.S. director Martin Scorsese was so taken with some of the compositions–which are quite striking–that he re-released it a few decades ago. The film was originally not well-received, but portions of it are real film-making. During the contrived final scene one can see a number of barbudos with San Cristóbals.

  7. The cyclic rate may not be as low as 500 rpm, but the design of the Beretta 57 sure looks like it would have a lower cyclic rate than the U.S. M2 Carbine. It looks like it might have been easier to manufacture than an M2 Carbine too?

    For just a one pound increase in weight over the M2, it looks like a very practical selective-fire weapon.

    • The longer receiver and heavier bolt surely speaks of a considerably reduced ROF in respect to the M2 Carbine.
      The competing design, the Franchi LF-58 had a ROF of 520 RPM (thanks to a double hammer system), and all the Beretta SMGs were in the 500-550 RPM range (because that’s what the Army required) so the ROF of this carbine had to be in the same ballpark.

  8. The Beretta 57 oprod and bolt lock system reminds me of the Reising 50 system. It adds a gas operation in place of the blowback recoiling hammer/bolt combo.

  9. MNAM FES stand in french for “Manufacture Nationale d’Armement Militaire de Fès” which has been established in 1962 with the help of Beretta and italy’s Fabrica Machine Industriali. Essentially, it was a business venture between the two countries.

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