RIA: Beretta 1918/30 Semiauto Carbine

The Model 1918/30 is a semiauto-only carbine made by Beretta in between the early Model 1918 submachine guns and the excellent Model 38 family. It was marketed (well, sold) primarily to security and police forces, for whom the semiautomatic limitation was not a particular hindrance. It is chambered for the 9mm Glisenti cartridge, which is dimensionally identical to 9×19 Parabellum but more lightly loaded.

Mechanically the carbine is a simple blowback design, and very light and handy. It has a rather short barrel (12.5 inches), but has been exempted from the NFA regulations on short-barreled rifles. Magazines were made in 12- and 25-round capacities (the one seen here is a 25-rounder).

37 Comments

  1. I’ve always had a yen for this sub-carbine. Perhaps I’ll have to put in a bid!

    Thanks for the video on an interesting Italian firearm!

  2. Perhaps the reason this carbine was exempted from the regulations was because it was just too old and because it’s chambered for an obsolete round no longer in production. The old style wooden furniture also makes it look less scary than an AK, to the point where using it to rob a store would end with the shop keeper winning the fight curtesy of a break action shotgun… Or am I wrong?

    • Regardless of the ATF’s current opinion (as alleged) I would still insist on some kind of paperwork that I could show to Deputy Fife before he slaps on the handcuffs.

      I would also be wary that the wise folks at the ATF could even change their minds — like they’ve been known to do countless times before — and re-classify this rifle as a restricted NFA weapon.

      I’m sorry, but I’ve had one too many encounters with police who did not know the law, and furthermore, did not appreciate being educated about it. I’ve come away with the belief that unless you like to live dangerously, it’s generally best to stay far, far away from any apparently ‘grey’ areas of law as well as common police misperceptions and ignorances.

  3. Ouch! The estimated price range is a bit out of my range. Shame, it’s quite a nice piece of hardware.

    And speaking of police, I can see the value of something like this for a uniformed beat cop in those jurisdictions which do carry long guns in addition to a pistol. Easier to hit with a long gun. I’d guess more people who might be recruits to a PD would be more familiar with long guns, as well.

    • So marketers ranging from Ruger to Beretta to Marlin have argued in the past… With zero results! Sub-carbines never sell too well; “too much gun” for the casual plinker; not enough gun for those who think a rifle should be a real rifle.

      I’ve got the Beretta Cx4 “storm[let]” 9mm carbine that used 92 magazines. This was sold to a handful of PDs, like William and Mary campus cops and the St. Louis PD that used the Beretta pistols. Ugly as all-get-out, with a sort of futuristic running shoe aesthetic, I greatly prefer the lines of this, its 1918/30 ancestor. Nonetheless, the Beretta has proven to be a good gun for my own plinking at ranges outside and in, blazing hot or comfortably air-conditioned. I’ve run it through a couple carbine courses where invariably it is the only non-AR in the mix, and received more than a few stern lectures and rebukes that it is somehow a mere “range toy…” Cue emoji here.

      • It appears that the reason they didn’t sell well is the price was a bit high.

        Hipoint has sold 100,000s of pistol caliber carbines. Most are bought for target shooting, home protection, etc. Inexpensive, functional and ammo shared with a handgun is still valued.

        • Arguably, the very first subcarbines were not developments of removing the full auto capability of submachine guns, but rather stemmed from pistols fitted with shoulder stocks. Examples of these could include flintlock, percussion, and metal cartridge types, revolvers fitted with shoulder stocks, and so on. The famous lever-action repeaters Henry, “Improved Henry,” Winchester’s Model 1866, 1873, 1892, etc. and kindred firearms perhaps epitomize the pistol-caliber carbine par excellance. Nonetheless, only self-loading carbines are considered here. The artillery model Luger 9mm, Borchardt, Browning high power, Stery Hahnt, and Mauser C96 broomhandle are numbered among the many pistols fitted with shoulder stocks. Such weapons fall into the SBR NFA Class III territory in the United States. In 1917, Mauser built prototypes of a purpose-built subcarbine in 9mm Parabellum/Luger with a fixed shoulder stock, longer barrel, and detachable 40rd. magazine for use by Stoßtruppen in the First World War. The design used the Mauser 1896 action, which was a “known quantity” but it lost out to the Bergmann MP 18.1 submachine gun using the snail drum magazines of the Luger artillery model. Copies were manufactured in Spain and East Asia.

          Beretta
          An early Beretta subcarbine, the 9mm Model 1918/1930, or “syringe” as it was nick-named due to its Schmidt-Rubin-style ring shaped charging handle at the rear of the receiver, used 25 round detachable box magazines. Designed by Tullio Marengoni, of Beretta m38 SMG fame, the weapon fired from a closed bolt, and used a simple blowback mechanism. Like Mannlicher Carcano cavalry carbines, the Beretta 1918/30 had a folding bayonet installed under the muzzle. The bolt remained open after firing the last shot, and if a new loaded magazine was inserted, the action would close, chambering a round and would be ready to fire. It used a wooden carbine-type stock, with a cleaning rod in the butt, and had a sliding cover over the magazine port to keep out debris from an unloaded subcarbine. The subcarbine was used in Italy and Argentina as a police, constabulary, and forestry service weapon. It is interesting that Beretta continues to have a subcarbine in its catalog in the form of the Cx4.

          In 1935, Marengoni brought out the Model 1935, produced in limited numbers. This 9mm carbine dispensed with the 1918/30s bayonet, and used a metal barrel jacket and redesigned wooden butt-stock. It resembled the M1938A SMG, but still used the same ring bolt charging handle and action as the earlier model.

          Hispano-Argentina Fabrica de Automóviles S.A. or HAFDASA in Argentina briefly produced La Criolla, a Ballester-Rigaud 9mm subcarbine with a 54 round magazine, a wood or aluminum stock, and a 12.6 inch barrel. Production was very limited.

          In Austria, there was the 7.63mm Mannlicher Model 1903, which used the pistol action of the Mannlicher Model 1896 pistol, loaded with six cartridges via a charger/stripper clip through the top of the receiver.

          Dreyse produced a .32 acp/7.65mm closed-bolt, blowback carbine as a sporting arm of limited utility and for the Gendarmerie in Saxony/Sachsen. It was only built in limited numbers.

          Luigi Franchi of Brescia, Italy built a 16-in. barreled semi-auto-only variant of the LF-57 submachine gun called the Model 1962. It fired from an open bolt, and used a 40-rd. magazine. It had a tubular metal folding stock and a grip safety like that employed by the 9mm Uzi, but mounted on the front of the pistol grip and depressed by the fingers rather than the web of the hand.

          STAR Bonifacio Echeverría S.A. of Eibar, Spain built some numbers of a Modelo I.S. 1934, using the 9x23mm Largo cartridge. Externally, it resembled the S.I. 1935 submachine gun used in the Spanish Civil War in limited numbers.

          The DESTROYER, as a bolt-action repeater in 9mm Largo was a similar forestry and police arm, which augmented and later replaced the Winchester-derived Tigre .44-40 lever action carbines.

          Smith and Wesson briefly produced the Light Rifle Model 1940, designed by Edward S. Pomeroy. This subcarbine was tested at Aberdeen Proving Ground unsuccessfully, and marketed to police departments without success. Ultimately, it was sold at significantly high cost to Great Britain, which issued some, at least, to the Royal Navy. It was beset with parts breakages and other mishaps. Built using lavish machining, and drop-forged manganese steel, with a fluted barrel, the subcarbine featured a 20-rd. 9mm magazine inside a large chute. The empty cases were ejected downwards through the rear portion of this housing. It fired from an open bolt.

          Auto-Ordnance Corporation briefly marketed the Thompson Automatic Carbine Model No. 27. It was identical in appearance to the M1921 Thompson submachine gun, but offered only semi-auto fire Of course, today the Auto-Ordnance company/Kahr produces semi-auto Thompsons with 16-in. barrels.

          Eugene G. Reising designed the Reising Model 50 and 55 .45 acp delayed blowback submachine guns in the early 1940s. It was used in the early Pacific War without much success, since it was liable to rust and not suited to the rigors of jungle warfare. Marines simply used it until Thompson M1s and M1A1s, and later M3 smgs became available. Nonetheless, in a civilian police setting, where the weapon could be kept serviced and clean, it proved popular with various U.S. police departments. The Model 60 was a self-loading subcarbine version with a 12-round magazine. It was sold in limited numbers to security guard agencies and police.

          Sterling Engineering Company Ltd. in Essex, UK briefly made a so-called “Police Model” of the Sterling Mk. VI 9mm submachine gun, itself an outgrowth of the WWII-era Patchett prototypes. This subcarbine externally resembled the full-auto SMG, and clearly used many of the same interchangeable components, although it could be fitted with a 10-round magazine instead of the 30-round SMG magazine. Little wonder that the addition of a 16-in. barrel allowed for U.S. civilian sales “back in the day.”

          Poland’s Fabryka Broni “Łucznik” in Radom unveiled at Shot Show 2016–again–a semi-auto-only version of the 1980s-era Uzi knock-off, the PM84/ PM98 Glauberyt. This pistol or SBR/subcarbine uses 15 or 25-rd. magazines and has a plastic handguard with provision for mounting a weapon light or some kind of laser pointer. The pistol BRS-99 has a U-notch or aperture sight set for 75 meters. Barrel lengths of 18.5cm or 25cm appear in the company’s sales literature. It has a weight of 2.3kg unloaded, and 2.74kg loaded with a 25-rd. magazine. As a SBR it would be 60.5cm or 67cm long, depending on barrel length.
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          • “only self-loading carbines”
            There were attempts at crafting such weapon in USSR.
            In 1930 Korovin (designer of TK automatic pistol) created weapon known as
            пистолет-карабин системы Коровина образца 1930 г. (пистолет-карабин is literally pistol-carbine, it is analogue to пистолет-пулемёт meaning literally pistol-machinegun and generally sub-machine gun) it competed against other sub-machine guns, lack of full-auto was considered drawback, but anyway it has other flaws which make it unsuitable for service.

          • Later, in late 1930s was competition for self-loading long-arm firing 7.62×25 cartridge, see photos here (you need to scroll down, click to see full size image): https://new.vk.com/wall-31394727_113157
            1941 trials:
            Top: Карабин АКПС-34-41г developed by Simonov, blow-back, magazine for 10 rounds, mass: 2,94kg, length: 900mm, it has following variants:
            АКПСМ-35-П-41г, delayed-blow-back, loaded via stripper, mass: 2kg, length: 940mm, capacity: 10 cartridges (no photo)
            1st from left: ТКБ-270 developed by Korovin, two variant are know to exist:
            early (top part of image) – gas-operated, fixed magazine (10 rounds), loaded via clip, mass: 2,75kg, length: 850 mm
            late (bottom part of image) – blow-back, detachable magazine (8 rounds), mass: 3,17kg, length: 902mm
            2nd from left: КБ-2 (Kovrov) presented design done by Slostin and Degtarev, two prototypes delivered which have small differences – one was able of full-auto fire and has detachable magazine for 25 rounds (photo), second was self-loading only and loaded via clips, mass: 3,1kg
            Other:
            1st from right: Mayn design
            Later, In July 1942, other design was tested – it was done by Павел Иванович Майн (преподаватель кафедры стрелково-пушечного вооружения Военно-Воздушной академии – not sure about how it would be in English) which done this without knowing about competition, as own initiative. 3 different patterns were delivered to trials, all were delayed-blow-back, first was same as in Reising sub-machine gun, 2nd and 3rd have other system but I don’t how to translate it (in Russian: за счет поворота передней части затвора относительно не имеющей возможности вращения задней), magazine were detachable but it might clips are might be used. Length: 905mm, mass: 2,95…3,15kg. Mayn carbines fail to pass trials, they were especially prone to malfunctions caused by dirt and also have lower accuracy than others.
            Simonov, Korovin and КБ-2 full-fill technical-tactical requirements but it prove to be unnecessary as Shpagin sub-machine gun (PPSh) was just in production. All works were closed to end of 1942.

      • It is interesting in that Marlin does sell enough lever carbines in 357 and 44 revolver cartridges to keep them as a catalog item. They are really handy little guns, even if the twist for the 44 rifles is not exactly right. Perhaps they are bought for hunting? I have one in 44 and it is a very fun, handy, yet powerful rifle. The wife does not mind the recoil from it, although with the ported barrel the muzzle blast is strong.

        A pistol caliber carbine would be ideal for women or smaller people to use for self defense of the home, it is strange that they have not caught on more for that purpose.

        Some police departments had a fling with them, as others have pointed out, but since then they have all gone with 5.56 AR’s. Several years ago Colt sold a 9mm AR–how ironic.

        • “44 revolver cartridges”
          I assume that you mean .44 Magnum cartridge.
          Then popularity might of “lever carbines” might be caused by:
          – ammunition availability – I don’t have statistical data, but it seems that it is more popular than comparable rimless cartridge of similar power for automatic pistol – for example .45 Winchester Magnum, in MidwayUSA in handgun cartridge section I see 67 products labeled “44 Remington Magnum” and only 1 labeled “45 Winchester Magnum”
          or
          – better choice of .44 Magnum revolvers vs .45 Winchester Magnum (and similar) automatic pistol, later to bend heavier and bigger and rather not convenient for carrying. LAR Grizzly manage to get size of Colt Government but a price of fast spring wear.

          • Yes, 44 magnum. One issue may be that a 44 magnum cartridge with a heavy crimp and a healthy load of 2400 powder can take advantage of a carbine-length barrel, whereas a 45ACP cartridge gains little from a longer barrell (e.g., the Marlin 45ACP Camp Carbine). A 44 carbine can be used for deer hunting, or even bear hunting if one is really brave.

            There is also the nostalgia of a lever gun being a “cowboy” gun, especially when paired with a revolver of the same cartridge. There is a certain romance in that for anyone who grew up watching John Wayne movies.

            All that being said, it is still odd that there is so little market for pistol caliber semi-auto carbines. I have seen people try to push AR’s for home defense, and if they ever have to use them in that role they may survive the fight but their hearing will be a casualty. At self-defense ranges a pistol caliber carbine would be just as accurate and would be less expensive and more fun to train with than a rifle-caliber carbine.

          • Lever-action can also rimless cartridge (for example see Marlin Model 336 in .35 Remington) but as I pointed choice of rimless cartridge suitable for both handgun and long-gun is limited.

          • There is really no shortage of rimless pistol cartridges which benefit significantly from longer than 6″ barrels. Even excluding wildcats, at least 7.62×25mm Tokarev, 9×19mm +P, .357 Sig, 10mm Auto and .45 Super are suitable for carbines. Perhaps .45 ACP +P as well. Not all of them will benefit greatly from the last four inches of the US minimum 16″ barrel for a non-NFA rifle, though. Then there is of course .50 AE, but since it’s a pure hunting cartridge with an extremely limited selection of pistols chambered to it, I’m not sure if we should count it or not…

  4. Weapon of choice scenario:

    Setting: A typical Central European small town during the Great Depression. Given a choice of small arms, which would you choose to arm the local cops if “bomb-throwing anarchists” were all over the city? Well, this is actually a training exercise, so no political activists were harmed in the making of this scenario (unless any got into the training zone). The targets however will not sit still and wait for you to shoot them. Most will simulate ducking or dodging of any kind. Some “bad guy” targets are manually operated by the drill masters, and will shoot back with paint balls if you miss the first time. At least we didn’t select red paint! Also, try to avoid overkilling the environment. For ridiculous collateral damage in the exercise (anything beyond kicking down selected doors and shooting through windows), you can be penalized (especially if you for some reason shoot “hostages” on purpose).

    1. Beretta OVP
    2. Burgess folding shotgun
    3. Bergmann Bayard
    4. Winchester 1894 (with optional Maxim Silencer)
    5. Smith & Wesson M1917 with plenty of half-moon clips
    6. Schnellfeuer
    7. Mosin rifle converted with Pedersen device chambering 7.62×25 Tokarev
    8. Browning wz.1928 (overkill much?)
    9. Or per the usual screw the budget and add your favorite toys to this list!

    This activity is completely voluntary. You are not by any means being drafted into any police force of any era! Please keep any and all criticism of this post humane and free of foul language.

    Thank you,

    Cherndog

    • I think a lot depends on how the police are expected to respond: the hard-hitting American style or the softer European style.

      As I was watching the riots in Ukraine unfold 2+ years ago, what shocked me the most was how the riot police were not only unarmed themselves, but had no armed backup of any kind, and basically just stood there at the mercy of rioters as they were pelted with rocks and molotov cocktails, attacked by gangs with clubs, and even had a few cars and trucks driven into the police line — all without a shot ever being fired by police. That sort of situation could never have happened here in the USA, where *ANY* violence against police will immediately draw a very deadly response.

      So what kind of weapons would I choose? Fire extinguishers — very many of them — judging by how these appeared to be in very short supply in the Kiev riots as torrents of molotov cocktails rained down.

      • Remember that “soft style” Europeans had to deal with real terrorists on a daily basis in the ’70s. There is a reason Italian police forces carries SMGs when in traffic duty.
        Simply they differentiates demonstrators from firearm-armed foes, even when demonstrators are violent. Riot police is trained to use firearms only as extrema ratio.
        Furthermore, for how much strange it could seem, the “clashes with the Police” are often staged, practically arranged between the demonstrators and the riot police, to have visibility.

      • If you look at the riots in major US cities in recent history, I think you will notice that US police departments are not quite as willing to use lethal force against rioters as you describe. For example during the 1992 LA riots there were multiple instances of violence againts police which did not result in the police (or National Guard) firing at the rioters. In the end 10 people were killed by police or National Guard, which isn’t a huge number compared to the extensiveness of the riots.

    • A known safety problem of open bolt SMGs is that when they are dropped on their butts, the bolt can cycle far enough to pick up a round and fire it. What might be considered a bug becomes a feature in the Beretta 1918/30. If the local constabulary had fat fingers or one arm, then they could just slam the butt down on the ground to rack the bolt. How clever. Did I mess up? 🙂

      • Dunno, but the spastic plastic fantastic polymer übertactigay version I’ve got has a type of safety to prevent such mishaps. Also, the separate hammer actuated by the trigger might be beneficial.

        A grip safety might be another potential addition.

        The French Sten clone by Gnome Rhône had a snazzy little piece of sheet metal that could be moved up to snap around the bolt handle to lock it forward, or if the safety slot failed to prevent the bolt from moving forward, and the sear catch failed too, the bolt would be stopped by the receiver safety and fail to pick up a round from the magazine, much less chamber and fire it.

      • “Did I mess up?”
        Yes. The MAB18/30 fires from a closed bolt. It chambers a round the moment you insert a loaded magazine (if the bolt is open when you do it), and there is no way it fires if you don’t pull the trigger. 😉

      • There are a range of inertia locks and grip safeties which prevent firing when dropped. Some of my favourites from an engineering point of view were patented by Star for the Z62, 70 and 82 SMGs.

    • One of the facts of life, which seems to have been forgotten in present day America, is rulers rule and cops cop – with the consent of the population.

      I’d strongly recommend that EVERYONE spends a couple hours to read or at least listen to Etienne de la Boetie’s “discourse on volountary servitude”

      It was Written about 1530 and is roughly contemporary with Machiavelli’s “Prince”. It is an amazing work.

      If de la Boetie’s work had been understood in the present day American lamestream, people would have understood why there was no revolution to topple Saddam

      They might also have understood why the current American policing doctrine of “orifficer safety” uber alles, is going to be very counter productive, and may already have got to that point.

      de la Boetie’s dictum is true – and explicitly (see Count Leo Tolstoy’s “Letter to a Hindu (Gandhi)) formed the basis for Ghandi’s de-legitimization of British imperialism in India – it is street tested on a massive scale and with a poorly edjumicated population.

      there is no need to lay hands on (use violence against) the tyrant, simply withdraw your consent and he will topple to the ground and smash, just as surely as if he had been pushed.

      Robert (orange) Peel, founder of state sector policing (bastard!) regardless of his many faults, understood de la Boetie’s dictum and that is implicitly expounded in the principles of policing which are attributed to him.

  5. I almost forgot: I you own a 9mm Glisenti gun that will chamber a standard 9mm Parabellum cartridge with a longer round nose bullet, as I believe the Berettas will (including this carbine), Lapua still manufactures a subsonic 9mm loading that almost exatly matches the 9mm Glisenti ballistics:

    http://www.lapua.com/en/sport-shooting/centerfire-handgun/9-mm-luger-handgun-cartridge.html

    It’s the middle one simply named “FMJ”. This cartridge is available in the US as well (e.g. MidwayUSA). It’s not cheap, though. This ammo is also safe to be fired with a Lahti (L-35) pistol. In practice most people fire cheaper 115 grain “barely supersonic” (1130-1150 fps) target ammunition with the Lahti, which probably would be safe with the 9mm Glisenti guns as well, since the momentums are very close.

    • Great information , Euroweasel. I was thinking along the same lines, but I’m glad you posted it first.

      I really wish Beretta would resurrect the M1938/42 in semi-automatic form chambered for the easily-available and relatively inexpensive 9mm Parabellum (Luger) cartridge and in its original, simple configuration as we know it. With some appropriate modifications and modern manufacturing technology, they could probably make it for a pretty reasonable price. All in all, it would be a great basic carbine for the civilian market — accurate, well-balanced, ergonomically friendly, compact, durable, reliable, mechanically simple, hard-hitting and visually attractive to boot while being affordable.

      • Great thinking, Earl. I believe such a carbine would be ideal for casual shooting and perhaps store-robbery deterrence…

        • Thanks, Cherndog. Now that you have mentioned it, I am thinking that a resurrected, lighter-weight M1938/42 would also be a very utilitarian, affordable carbine for these other purposes :

          1. A compact, easily-handled and effective self-defence weapon for persons of smaller stature, or anyone of any physical description for that matter
          2. A compact and reliable, if somewhat heavy, survival carbine if offered in take-down form
          3. A compact and durable truck gun for go-anywhere usage
          4. An effective, simpler, viable and possibly less expensive alternative to the current crop of compact SBR’s and “pistols” based on the AK and AR platforms, and without the penalties of having to fire a full-powered assault rifle cartridge in a downsized platform.

          These are just a few random ideas that have occurred to me — doubtless there are many other possible roles of equal or greater use that can be suggested by others more informed than I. What do you think?

          • Agree, especially with that bolt release on loaded magazine feature. I love that feature, great for holding off home invaders, no need to charge the gun or press a bolt release button, just load a fresh mag and continue firing. All semi auto handguns, rifles and carbines should have this feature. The thing is, most gun companies focus on the military and law enforcement sales, civilians sales are usually a far third on their list of priorities. We need a gun company that focuses solely on civilian sales, maybe they can clone this type of subcarbine.

  6. Funny the rear sight on that rifle, 100-500 meters. On mine it’s even more optimistic: 200-1400 meters. Mine is about 900 serial numbers lower than the one reviewed and has a straight grip stock with a finger spur on the bottom of the trigger guard.

    As for length of the barrel, it may be short but the length of pull is quite long as is the receiver so the overall length is longer than many other rifles. Over 30 inches.

  7. I rather like this little carbine. It would certainly have made a better weapon for officers and support troops than a pistol, and I don’t think the absence of full auto capability would have mattered much.

    One feature which struck me as a bit odd was that the witness slot in the magazine was at the front. This is useful if you want to let the enemy know how much ammunition you have left, less so if it entails you turning the gun round on yourself to check. Why was this ever thought to be a good idea?

  8. @ Black Talon ;

    Thanks for the great input, especially the part about the bolt release on loaded magazine feature — at least I’m not alone in recommending a resurrection of the M1938/42 for a variety of very practical reasons. Is anyone at Beretta listening?

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