Krieghoff 8mm Mauser Carcano for the Volkssturm

When Italy surrendered in late 1943, German troops disarmed the Italian forces in areas under German control, and came away with nearly 400,000 Carcano rifles. These would form the core armaments of the Volkssturm forces in 1944 and 1945. Most were simply left as captured and issued with captured Italian 6.5mm or 7.35mm ammunition. However, something figured that it would simplify logistics if they were converted to use standard German 8mm Mauser. About 15,000 such conversions were made in January and February 1945, by FNA Brescia (under German control) and Heinrich Krieghoff. This M38 Short Rifle we have today is one of them, done by Krieghoff.

The process involved drilling out the barrel to 8mm, replacing the magazine follower with a solid wooden loading block (the Carcano clip was not compatible with 8mm Mauser cartridges), and replacing the front sight to set the new zero at 200m. New serial numbers were put on the guns done by Krieghoff, with specific ranges for different models:

M38 Short Rifles: H6000 – H7000
M41 Rifles: H7000 – H7818
M38 Carbines: H8000 – H9536 (all approximate)

The original barrel serial was oversteps, and the new number also added via electro pencil to the bolt. In addition, and HK stamp was put on the receiver top, the barrel and rear sight were marked “7.9” for the new caliber, and an eagle firing proof mark was stamped on the right side of the barrel below the original manufacture date.

22 Comments

  1. Interesting note about 8mm in a standard carcano clip is I have one of the post-war conversions (thought it was a wartime one due to other websites’ miss information) and I am able to strip 8mm off of a standard, steel carcano clip. The 5 rounds are very floppy when out of the gun but the clip loads fine, there is no tension issue between the follower lever and the “wedged” cartridges. The only issue is the first round is quiet hard to actually strip off the clip with the bolt, but after it, each one gets easier.
    Still not nearly as smooth as a standard 6.5 should be, but it is doable and I imagine within reason for rear line and reserve troop usage.

  2. One has to wonder why they didn’t convert them to 8mm Kurz. It would have made shooting them them much less terrible especially for inexperienced Volksturm ‘soldiers’.

    • Production of 7.9 Kurzpatrone was way behind what was needed to feed the existing Sturmgewehr 44 weapons. Compared to this condition, supply of 7.9 rifle cartridges was much better. Sending the precious 7.9 Kurz to Volkssturm instead of troops having the StG 44 would have been a bad idea.

    • There was already a shortage of 8mm Kurz ammunition, so it would not have made sense to convert the Carcanos to that. For the same reason all the other last ditch rifles were also in 8mm Mauser except the semi-auto Gustloff VG 1-5, which for obvious reasons was in 8mm Kurz.

    • “(…)It would have made shooting them them much less terrible especially for inexperienced Volksturm ‘soldiers’.”
      Please keep in mind Volksturm was from men too young and too old for regular service. I suspect many of later have experience from previous World War, as IIRC men born as late as 1900 were called to arms during said conflict.
      Also if they would want to avoid excessive recoil, simpler solution would be left Carcano caliber – 7.35 mm – untouched.

  3. The trigger guard assembly doesn’t match the rest of the rifle in colour or condition; maybe it is a replacement and that is why the wooden block is gone.

  4. As the rifle stood, a simple rechamber job and rebore/rerifle would put it into shootable condition. 8mm Kurz would have mandated a rebarrel or a serious shortening of the action, and the magazine still would not have worked. Also feeding a short cartridge in a standard-length action would be problematic. the difference in case length between 8×33 and 8×57 leaves a lot of room to be figured out for reliable feeding. Otherwise, it would have made a very interesting and shootable rifle/carbine short rifle setup.

  5. Thanks Ian

    Does anyone know whether the recoil Cross bolt supplements the original recoil shoe?

    Or replaces it?

  6. To all the 7,9 Carcano aficionados, we will have a Working 5-round 7,9mm clip in 2022. We have combined features of the original 6,5 clips and the German M1888 Kommission clip, to properly feed 5 rounds of 7,9mm.
    We already make 6,5/7,35 and M88 steel clips…new set of tooling in design/ prototyping stage for the “S” Carcano.

    Doc AV
    AVBTechServices
    Brisbane Australia

  7. I’ve seen claims of a working and original 8x57mm clip being found.

    I’ve also read claims of Hitler’s diaries being found, not that the second claim renders the first one untrue.

    I can’t remember whether it (clip, not diary) was supposed to be of German or Italian origin.

    @Thomas, has the magazine of your post war Conversion been widened to accept the wider case bodies?

    If it has, is it evident whether it was widened on both sides?
    or, just on one side?

    I can’t remember w

    • Keith, the HK facility in Klagenfurt (Austria) did attempt to make a working
      7,9 S Carcano clip, but time ran out.Examples have been photographed, some “faked” and some probably legitimate.
      None were developed for the post-war rebuilds for Egypt and ?Syria?
      DocAV
      Brisbane Australia

  8. To whomever they were issued, they are in Yugoslav 1948. small arms inventory as “Puška, 7.9mm, M91(i)” or “Rifle, 7.9mm, M91(Italian)”. They are gone from the army inventory by the time of the 1958. small arms inventory.

  9. There has to be some irony insofar as the various attempts to arm and equip the Nazi party-led Volkssturm militia absolutely refused to countenance a single-shot rifle… They had to be magazine fed repeaters.
    So VG1 and VG2 had the ten-round box magazine of the Kar. 43.
    In this case, a reworked 6.5mm repeater using a non-German-standard cartridge gets turned into a single-shot rifle.

    Many non-modified Carcano carbines and rifles became the, erm, uh, “really existing Peoples rifle” instead of the plethora of other designs. There were, of course, examples of literally every conceivable booty rifle from nations subject to occupation: Danish Krags, Italian Carcanos, French Lebels and Berthiers, not as many Mosin-Nagants–since most had been ground up by the Eastern Front and ammunition was no longer as widely available–non-German Mausers, old Steyr Mannlicher M.95s and earlier rifles… Much else besides. But no where near enough.

  10. Does anyone know if they modified anything in the bolt from a standard M38 Carcano to accept the larger 7.92×57 Mauser cartridge? I’m assuming they would’ve had to modify the bolt face/extractor mechanism to accept the larger cartridge, but I can’t find any exact information on that.

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