Carcano Moschetto 91 Carbine and its Folding Bayonet

Following rapidly on the heels of the M91 rifle, the Italian military adopted the Moschetto M91 in 1893 as a carbine to equip a variety of forces. They were issued to cavalry, Bersaglieri, Carabinieri, and others who needed handier weapon with an attached bayonet. This is a remarkably light and handy weapon, which is still not uncomfortable to shoot thanks to the light-recoiling 6.5x52mm cartridge.

Production continued until 1938, when an M38 pattern of the Moschetto appeared in 7.35mm and then reverted to 6.5mm in 1940. Production really took off after 1940, as this was the most economical pattern of Carcano to produce and was widely issued during World War Two.

Thanks to InterOrdnance / Royal Tiger Imports for providing these carbines from their Ethiopian imports for the video!

23 Comments

  1. If that spike has no sharp edges, don’t expect it to work in keeping anyone from snatching the weapon off the user.

    • If they can grab that spike while you are grabbing the butt stock, and successfully take the weapon away from you, you may need to leave your man card at the door, or at least get some more/better training.

  2. These seem like handy little weapons, which would have been very useful in the trenches. Shame then that they were so little used in WWI, when Italy was on our side.

    In WWII, I imagine they were issued in a similar manner to the M1 carbine, to engineers, artillerymen and the like. Much more compact than a full length rifle, and much more powerful than a pistol. The 6.5mm cartridge would, I imagine, not have been too brutal to fire from the short barrel. All in all, not a bad idea.

    • In WW2 photos of Italian forces, the full length rifle appears way less than this and other short versions (M91/38, others).

  3. Following on from the previous Carcano thread;

    If the ’93 carabini had gain twist rifling

    Did it have a faster rate of gain (compared to the full length rifle), in order to adequately stabilise the 160 grain bullet?

    • Valid question Keith.
      I do not think it did; the reason is machine/ jig setup. But lets hear someone more knowledgeable.

    • Yes. The final twist rate was the same of the long rifle. It only gained faster.
      The only exception was the 91/24 carbine TS, that had been made by shortening long rifles, but it was meant to be a stopgap weapon for not-first-line troops.

      • “…The only exception was the 91/24 carbine TS, that had been made by shortening long rifles…”(C)

        These cuts in the service did not linger, because the rifling step was insufficient for normal stabilization and the accuracy of new bullets was unsatisfactory.

  4. If someone has one of these short rifles, measuring real twist would be quite easy. But publishing real measurement results has become unthinkable.

    • How would the actual measurement be performed in a handy manner? By pushing soft plug thru bore along controlled distance and recording its rotation (scanning score mark at front or back of it)?

      • Yes, using one of the cleaning rods which can freely rotate in the handle and a tight fitting patch or felt rifle cleaner. Mark the rod with a permanent pen and measure the position of the handle. Then push the rod until the mark has made one 360 degree rotation. The new position of the handle gives you the length of twist.
        For a progressive twist, one would probably have to use a 180 or 90 degree rotation. Fixing some sort of crossbar-like indicator to the rod near the handle would make recognizing the correct amount of rotation easier.

        • Thanks, good hint. The way I’d tackle the progressive helix would be by taking two short length samples at both ends and multiply by chosen ratio of turn. It would be too accurate though.
          In any case, it would give me indication as to what type of rifling I am looking at.

          • “It would be too accurate though.”
            was meant to be:

            It would NOT be too accurate though. šŸ™‚

          • I am the eternal optimist. A “not too accurate” measurement (I share your view in this respect) is orders of magnitude better than having no data at all.

    • Reporting actual measurements from a Carcano would indeed be an almost unique act.

      I can’t think of another gun where (as a foretaste of what’s happening universally now), almost everything published about it in the last 80 years is factually incorrect.

      The original version of this comment was much more tongue in cheek, and it fell foul of the automatic moderation šŸ™

      Oh well, happy 1984

    • The Netherlands still have a military music band on bicycles, but having disbanded bike riding troops otherwise.

    • The single largest military user of the humble Fahrrad/ bicycle was actually the vaunted German Wehrmacht of WWII… strange but true. In Ian’s defense, he did, in fact, do a nice little piece from Italy on the Bianchi Berseglieri “Modello Militare Brevettato” machine of 1912 and after:
      https://onlinebicyclemuseum.co.uk/bianchi-military-folding-bicycle-model-1912/

      A very advanced design in many ways. Officers got inflated rubber tires and a soldier batman/ valet to pump the things up (“Luigi! Bring the pump and patch kit over here, on the double!”) but the troops got hideous, and doubtless painful to ride solid rubber tires like the old bone shakers. To improve performance, an ingenious suspension system of springs was added. The whole machine could be folded in half and slung from the back like a rucksack, while the carbine went from the rider’s back to his hands. There were all sorts of sturdy if heavy leather equipment for storing all of the other gear.

      Belgian military bicycles made by Fabrique National in Herstal often had a chainless “shaft drive” system to power the rear wheel. The Swedish military Kronan machine is even now an icon of the 60s counter-culture when these things were surplused. The Swiss used a single speed Model 1905 Ordnonzrad until the 1980s when a 7-speed mountain bike replaced it until the whole thing was short-sightedly eliminated in 2001.

      The most iconic use of the bicycle for military purposes of course, was its use not to transport soldiers, but its use in prodigious logistics: the Viet Minh and Vietnamese communist use of the bicycle to haul rice. With the wheels reinforced, and bamboo tiller poles added to the handle bars and seat post, huge quantities of food could be tied on and pushed by a porter with his own tube-scarf of rice to feed himself slung. The Soviet, Chinese, and captured U.S. vehicles could then move munitions, reinforcements, etc. along various tracks and roads followed by army ant-like porters pushing carts and modified bicycles.

  5. Thanks Ian for the very informative video.The Moschetto is a quite common relic in Greece,as it was used up to 1949,during the civil war.BTW it is pronounced MOSKETTO as the Italian language does not have a k letter.The combination ch is used in its place to denote the sound of k.

  6. Thanks Sotiris šŸ™‚

    Do you know whether the guns from the second world war got rechambered for the Greek 6.5x54mm case, or were simply used with leftover Italian and British loaded x52mm ammunition?

    • The answer in one word is no.The available ammo was sufficient for them to be used “as is” and only Breda M1930 LMGs were rechambered.An easy job,as I found.
      If you are interested,the story of the Mannlicher-Carcanos (MC) in Greece is as follows:
      During WWII, Greece mainly used Mannlicher Shonauer(MS) rifles in 6.5×54 mm.After the first successes ,enough captured weapons were amassed to arm a whole divisiom (VIII Inf Div in December 1940 ).In total,greeks captured 12700 MC rifles and 2.9mi rounds of ammo.Another 8000 rifles and 2.85 mi rounds were sent by the British,after capture in N.Africa.
      After the German invasion in April 1941 and the defeat,about a third of all available weapons of all kinds were surrendered to Axis forces,maybe a third was hidden for future use,and the rest was abandonned in woods and mountains and camps.
      In 1942,the first resistance groups were formed ,politicaly affiliated to either the communist party (ELAS) or the right wing government and king (EDES et al).They were partly armed with ex-Italian weapons.When in September 1943 Italy capitulated,many troops decided to side with the guerillas.In central Greece ,the Pinerolo infantry division and Aosto cav.regiment changed sides overnight.They were deemed as un-battleworthy by the guerillas,and their weaponry was used to arm 3 ELAS divisions!On the other side,the Germans gave MC to the Gendarmerie and to the counter-guerilla Security Battalions,manned by anti-communist Greeks.
      Italian weapons were not well liked by the partisans,regarded as low quality items,in contrast to the Mausers that were much sought after.Only the Moschettos were liked ,due to their small size and general handiness.Where possible,they were given to the reserve troops.
      The MCs were also used during the Greek civil war,but not to a very great extent,as captured German and British weapons (air dropped to the rassistance groups during the war) were preffered.
      After the war,some MCs were used by Navy and Coast Guard training camps for a few more years,before being scrapped in the 1950s.
      I have myself seen Moshettos hanging on walls and fireplaces,but demilitarised (in Greece,owning a rifle is illegal) or in a bad shape,in rural areas and even in Athens,but no full length rifles.

  7. At the end of XIX century Italian Army had 96 line infantry, 12 ā€˜bersaglieriā€™ and seven ā€˜alpiniā€™ regiments and 24 regiments of cavalry on horses. So Ā«moschetto per cavalleria modello 91Ā» was designed for this cavalry forces, and they solved the problem of adapting bayonets to cavalry with this folding design (for example Mauser or Lee carbines lacked bayonets). ā€˜Bersaglieriā€™ then were Ā«chasseursĀ» or light infantry and were issued with Ā«fucile modello 91Ā». The first bicycle company, Ā«compagnia sperimentale di Bersaglieri ciclistiĀ», was not formed until 1898.

    It was in the thirties when the Italian Army formed the Ā«Divisioni CeleriĀ», celere or fast divisions, that in 1940 comprised two Cavalry Regiments, one bicycle Bersaglieri regiment and one light tank battalion.

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