Carcano Ammunition - Factory Ammo

Carcani typically come in their two proprietary military cartridges 6.5x52 Carcano and 7.35x51 Carcano. A few have been chambered to 8x57 IS Mauser (usually, these are marked 7.9 or 7.92 on the rear sight base), some Austrian World War I capture guns were reworked to accept the 6,5x54 MS, and the 1938/39 Japanese contract "Tipo I" rifle was laid out for the 6.5x50 Japanese service round.

The 6,5x52 cartridge is often underrated in power and performance. Actually, this small round - the first sucessful military smallbore, which engendered many imitations and variants - is excellently designed and a full-fledged hunting cartridge fitting for most European needs. It is very harmonic and balanced, from a standpoint of interior ballisics, and shares its intrinsic qualities with such contemporaries as the German 8mm M88 (later known as 8x57I Mauser) and the 7x57 Mauser.

In its Norma factory loads, the Carcano cartridge is faster (with the same bullet weight) and thus quite a bit more powerful than the venerable 6,5 x 54 Mannlicher-Schönauer in its RWS and Hirtenberger factory loads, and falls back a bit just behind the again-popular Swedish 6,5 x 55. The CIP has allowed the 6,5 x 52 Carcano for a max use pressure of 3200 bar (3300 bar for the 7,35 x 51), in the old measurement system. The 6,5 x 55 Swedish Mauser has a pressure limit of 3300 bar.

The 7,35 x 51 is quaint and uses a unique bullet diameter. Its trajectory is, however, flatter than the 6,5 x 52, and the round is also efficient and comparable in performance to the .300 Savage, thus far superior to the .30-30. It will make an excellent deer and brush cartridge, up to medium game.

WARNING: military surplus ammunition is likely to use primers which are:

  1. corrosive, and may be
  2. highly unreliable, due to unknown storage conditions.
We think the Italians used composite chlorate/mercury fulminate primers, and often an insufficiently sealing triangular case neck crimp. Many ignition failures of 6,5x52 ammo have been reported by today's users (from Germany to Australia).

Side note from Gaetano Liberatore: I have fired over 200 rounds of surplus 7.35x51 Carcano rounds. Of these, only 2 rounds failed to fire, and I believe this is due to a problem with the primer case and/or primer pocket, as the primer moved significantly into the primer pocket when struck by the firing pin. It is felt that these two rounds would have likely mis-fired in 1939, when the rounds were 'fresh'. In any case, 2 out of 200 is not bad for surplus. Conversely, some rounds did have delays between the primer going off and the powder going off ... similar to a what one may experience with a black powder gun. Your mileage will vary.

Additional side note from Alexander Eichener: as far as the 7,35 mm ammo is concerned, I can share Gaetano's positive experience (1939 SMI production); the few retarded ignitions were similar to his.

Here is a list of sources for loaded Carcano ammunition. As a Carcano owner, you are probably already aware of the unfavourable ratio of ammunition cost to gun cost. But Norma's boxer-primed brass can be easily reloaded, and it lasts.

6.5x52 Carcano

The Great Outdoors
Manufacturer Weight
Type Cost
American Eagle®
139 Full Metal Jacket Boat Tail US$19.00/20 Local gun show GL
Prvi Partizan (Serbia) 139 Full Metal Jacket
DM 83.00/100 Transarms in Worms, Germany;
only a small batch was made in 1/1999 before the war broke out
and NATO cruise missiles destroyed the plant in Uzice. AE
FFV Norma AB 139 Soft Point Boat Tail US$30.90/20 Old Western Scrounger
156 Soft Point Boat Tail US$31.65/20 Old Western Scrounger
Italian Military:
S.M.I. and other codes
162 Full Metal Jacket
Round Nose

7.35x51 Carcano

Manufacturer Weight
Type Cost
Hayley 125 Soft Point US$35.00/20 Old Western Scrounger
Italian Military:
e.g. S.M.I.
128 Full Metal Jacket
US$15.00/18 w/clips in Original Box
Local gun show GL
Prices and availability are subject to change

Explanatory footnotes:
[1] American Eagle® was manufactured by FFV Norma AB, and distributed by Federal Cartridge Co. in the late 1980s.
[2] S.M.I. (Società Metallurgica Italiana) is one of the various case bottom letter codes of Italian military surplus ammunition.