The LF57 was the first production submachine gun made by the Italian Franchi company. It was introduced (as you might expect) in 1957, and was adopted by the Italian Navy a few years later, in 1962. That was the only major contract it won, though, as there was significant competition in the SMG market at the time – including the also-Italian Beretta PM12, which won the Italian Army contract.

Franchi LF57 submachine gun
Franchi LF57 submachine gun

The LF57 is a simple and effective design, made largely with steel stampings. The barrel is held in place with a barrel nut like the Uzi or Madsen M50, and operation is accomplished with a simple blowback mechanism. The majority of the bolt mass is located above the barrel – this looks like a gas piston, but is not. The weight of the bolt keeps the rate of fire to a manageable 460 rounds/minute of standard 9x19mm cartridges. Most internet sources list the LF57 as using 20- and 40-round magazines, but the original Franchi brochure (see below to download) we have indicates a 30-round magazines was provided with the gun.

Loading the LF57

The LF57 did not have a manual safety, but was built with a large grip safety in the front of the pistol grip. A push-button selector at the top of the grip allowed the shooter to choose semi or fully automatic fire. In recognition of the close-range use of submachine guns, Franchi zeroed the fixed iron sights at a range of just 50 yards.


Franchi LF57 sales brochures (English & Italian)
Franchi LF57 sales brochures (English & Italian)


    • Walther MPL 9 mm. caliber disclosed in 1963 could be a copy of Franchi LF 57 sub machine disclosed exactly 6 years before in 1957 (“Small Arms of the World” W.H.B. Smith)

  1. Unfortunately, the semi-auto carbine with a 16′ barrel that was imported to the US was classified as a machinegun due to it’s open bolt. They were marked M-62 Semi-Automatic Carbine. Some of these were converted back to the LF-57 configuration and are on the transferable market.

  2. A small consignment of these guns found their way into UDI Rhodesia in the 1970s. There were not enough of them to be used by the army or other main forces, but some were issued to the paramilitary prison service. I was stationed for a while in a place called Chipinga near the Mozambique border, and I was issued with a number of these in my armoury. (They all came with 30 round mags). I used them extensively, as did a number of National Service officers serving with me. I replaced my Sterling with the Franchi, and found it to be extremely good indeed. It pointed up very nicely and had a good controllable rate of fire. Much more convenient than the sterling.

  3. Came across some of these in Iraq mid 2000s. Found in the hands of some AQI, as well as local militia forces sympathetic to Muqtada.

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