Prototype Italian MBT 1925 Straight-Pull Rifle (Video)

Note: This video was filmed over a year ago, but I have been holding it in anticipation of the rifle going to auction. That doesn’t seem to be happening, so I’m posting the video now.

Only three example of this 1925 prototype rifle from MBT (Metallurgica Brescia gia Tempini) were ever made, and were sent out in hopes of finding military contracts. One went to Norway, and this one went to Russia, where it was acquired by a US Lend-Lease supply pilot.

It is an straight-pull design which is very close to being a self-loading rifle (and in fact additional patents were filed in 1926 to adapt it to self-loading functionality). It uses the standard 6-round Carcano clip, and is chambered for 6.5x52mm Carcano ammunition.

After this was filmed, my friend James took it out shooting again with pre-war brass clips, and said it worked reliably – FWIW.


  1. Argh! If only this had been developed further for the sake of good research. Then again, maybe not, considering that Mussolini attempted to conquer Greece with a poorly trained army…

    • Does any country introduced entirely new repeating rifle in 1920s/1930s?
      I can’t found any in my memory. In my opinion it was time, when if you want introduce entirely new rifle it should be self-loading.

      • The French MAS 36 bolt-action in 7.5 x 54 MAS comes to my mind immediately. It was the last “clean sheet of paper” bolt-action design adopted by any major country as the standard army infantry rifle, as opposed to specialist sniping rifles, etc.

        Like every French army rifle before it, it was notable for having no manual safety, making it impossible to carry it with a round in the chamber without the risk of an AD. This is somewhat understandable for a design such as the Lebel or Kropatschek in the 1880s, but there’s really no excuse for it on one developed half a century and several wars later.

        BTW, its spike-bayonet setup was apparently the “inspiration” for the one on the German FG42. Another example of the fact that multiple examples of a bad idea still do not make it a good one.



  2. I do not remember where I read the quote 50 odd years ago but,

    “…Mussolini boasted he would make a new Roman Empire with a thousand bayonets. He neglected to say that the bayonets would be attached to blunderbusses…”

  3. Again thanks to you and the network of rare firearms owners that let us see these odd bits of firearms history.

    It does seem that the USA was spared a good deal of the teathing issues but going from a Mauser (1903)style to the M1 Garand

    In a way the Army ordnance dept that is seen as stodgy and unreceptive to change learned its lesson in the Civil war by the plethora (as shown by Ian) of Carbines and Small issue rifles used during the conflict.

    Even the Army’s “wonk tech” semi-auto the Pederson device did not change the basic rifle.

    • “It does seem that the USA was spared a good deal of the teathing issues but going from a Mauser (1903)style to the M1 Garand”
      Garand also encounter various problems when designing his self-loading rifles. When his rifle enter production it was still “gas-trap” design, later when normal gas port was designed early-production rifles were updated to use it.

      • Very true but removing gas trap and making a port in the bore is a farily easy solution, of course the USA was willing to do that while say the Germans forced a Bang(gas trap) system to be used until it was finally ignored by one of the companies doing the design work.

  4. I’m really confused by that charging handle – it should have been pretty simple to design it so you can open the bolt without pushing the handle in; but can also push the handle in to “lock” it into the bolt, for use as a forward assist.

    • The AR-15 had the same arrangement with its bolt-retraction handle, originally. Hence the addition of the bolt-closure plunger on the M16A1.

      Most users of the AR-15 tend to ignore the bolt closer. If a round doesn’t want to go in, the usual drill is to yank on the bolt retractor, eject the offender, and feed the next one up.

      Army Ordnance insisted on the bolt closer in the belief that soldiers liked having something to push on when the rifle was hanging up. I suspect what most of the actual soldiers really wanted was a rifle that was less prone to hanging up.



  5. It looks like the designers may have been working on a semi-automatic rifle, but before completing the design decided to try to market what they had at that point as a straight-pull. There’s really no other reason for a lot of those design features.

  6. The thing I noticed was it looked like a couple of times Ian was pausing for the rifle to load its self and mentally went I gotta do that.

    The Pederson device was so secret that years latter when troops were issued the rifles made for it they all went Sarge why is there a hole in my rifle?

    Thanks Ian for another rare Forgotten Weapon.

  7. Thanks Ian.
    I enjoyed the presentation and seeing James (cat man) again.
    What did that beast (not James– the rifle) weigh and what would it sell for at auction?
    Thanks again.

  8. It is clear that this rifle was test bed for something else. Italian weapons designers seem to be methodical in guiding the evolution of their weapons.Rarely to new radically different designs just spring into existence.

  9. Who was the first person to drill a hole in a perfectly good barrel, and add a gas block, piston, and operating rod? was it Mondragon?

  10. Hi, Ian :

    I tried to send you some information regarding your search for 4-bore cartridges per your latest post, but I think the link is broken. Please re-post accordingly. Thanks!

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