Carcano Ammunition - Reloading

In view of the fact that fresh, factory loaded ammunition is expensive, that Carcani demand "odd size" bullets, and that the (anyhow scarce) old military cases are marginally reloadable, reloading is a important aspect of practical Carcano shooting. To load, you will need dies, reloading components and reloading data.

Also included here are some hints regarding reloading for the Carcano.

Reloading Dies

To begin reloading, you will need a set of reloading dies. The following table indicates the availability of Carcano caliber reloading dies from some of the more well known reloading die/press manufacturers (availability is subject to change without notice).
StockStandard stock item
CustomCustom order item
NANot available

Note: Even though dies may not be available from a particular manufacturer, reloading presses from that manufacturer may be able to use dies/shell holders from another manufacturer, as there is a certain amount of standardization of these items.
Die Manufacturer 6.5x52 7.35x51 Shell Holder
(Mfg. #)
CH-4D Stock   14
Dillon NA NA  
Forster/Bonanza ? ?  
Hollywood ? ?  
Hornady Stock Stock 26
Lee Precision Stock Stock 2
Lyman NA NA  
NDFS Stock ?  
RCBS Stock Custom 9
Redding Stock Custom 1 for 6.5; 24 for 7.35?!
Simplex Stock NA  

See comments on Lee Precision 6.5x52 Carcano dies and shell holders below. This information may be applicable to other die sets/shellholders from other manufacturers!

Reloading Components

Once you have a set of dies, you will need 4 things to reload: The type of primer used is primarily dictated by the cases used. Choice of bullets and powder are heavily interrelated.
See our reloading data page for some compiled reloading data.

6.5x52 Carcano Cases

Manufacturer Type Cost
Buffalo Arms Co. Resized Norma 6.5x54 Mannlicher-Schöenauer Brass US$40.00/100
Northern Devon Firearms Services (UK)    
FFV Norma AB   US$71.98/100 Huntington
US$16.99/20; US$66.99/100 Midway
US$15.20/20 Old Western Scrounger
Schroeder   US$13.00/20

7.35x51 Carcano Cases

Manufacturer Type Cost
Buffalo Arms Co. Resized Norma 6.5x54 Mannlicher-Schöenauer Brass US$40.00/100
DKT, Inc.   US$25.00/20
Prices and availability are subject to change


There are two basic types of primers available: Berdan & Boxer. The type of primer used is dictated by the case, as the anvil is either incorporated in the case, for Berdan primers, or in the primer itself, for Boxer primers. Most military cases (including the Italian cases) are Berdan primed, whereas most commercial (especially that found in the US) is Boxer primed. Due to the availability, better standardization of primer size and ease to deprime, most brass available today is Boxer primed.

Italian military cases use a Berdan primer of 0.204" (5.18mm) diameter.
Boxer primed cases typically use a Large Rifle (0.210 inch/5.33mm) primer.

Primer TypeExample Sources
BerdanRWS, Hirtenberger, Sako, Sellier & Bellot.
BoxerWinchester, Remington, Federal, CCI.

Note: the use of "magnum" primers is dictated by the specific powder being used. Unless specified, standard primers should be used.

6.5x52 Carcano Bullets

Manufacturer Diameter
Type Cost
Buffalo Arms Co. .268 140 Spitzer Soft Point US$28/100
Buck Stix .2685 100 Semi-Spitzer
w/ & w/o cannalure
.2685 120 Semi-Spitzer US$24/100
US$26/100 w/cantelure
.2685 140 Semi-Spitzer US$26/100
US$28/100 w/cantelure
.2685 160 Semi-Spitzer US$28/100
US$30/100 w/cantelure
DKT, Inc. .266 120 Round Nose US$23.98/50 Huntington
.266 160 Soft Point US$24.98/50 Huntington
MoLoc Bullets

Siegfried Georg Stoklossa
.266 93-175 FMJ,
Soft Point,
Lead Gas Check
New price list forthcoming;
probably DM 80-90/100

7.35x51 Carcano Bullets

Manufacturer Diameter
Type Cost
Buffalo Arms Co. .298 130 Spitzer Soft Point US$25.00/100
.298 150 Spitzer Soft Point US$25.00/100
DKT, Inc. .300 128 Spitzer Soft Point US$17.50/50
.300 140 Hollow Point US$23.98/50 Huntington
.300 150 Hollow Point US$17.50/50
Liberty Shooting Supplies .299 145 Lead Round Nose
Gas Checkable
US$8.50/100; US$38.25/500
Schroeder .298 125 Soft Point US$17.50/100
.298 130 Soft Point US$17.50/100
.298 150 Soft Point US$17.50/100
Prices and availability are subject to change


Most smokeless powders can be used. However the type and amount used are very dependent on the bullet weight. See the Reload Data page for some examples.

Practical Reloading Hints for the Carcano

Military Brass

The old Italian military cases present a triple difficulty to the reloader:

Resizing Cases From Other Calibers

One alternative to Norma brass is to resize cases originally sized for other calibers. Buffalo Arms and some other custom brass "manufacturers" and loaders use this route in preparing Carcano cases. The typical starting point is 6.5x54 Mannlicher-Schöenauer cases, as it is dimensionally very close to the Carcano. Unusual as it may seem, Norma made Mannlicher-Schöenauer cases are typically used as the source brass. This is possible because it the wholesale price of the Norma produced Mannlicher-Schöenauer cases and the added cost of reworking this brass still comes out to be lower than the wholesale price of the Norma made Carcano cases. Another alternative is to use .220 Swift cases, as it has roughly the same diameter as the Carcano round at the web and has plenty of extra brass for the length. However, the head and extractor groove diameters need to be cut down on the Swift cases to allow it work properly in the Carcano action (the Swift case uses a semi-rimmed design). To resize cases, one would need a good set of resizing dies (these cost more than reloading dies) and, in the case of Swift cases, a means to recut the head (e.g., a lathe). Resized cases will also need to be trimmed to length.

Fire-forming 7.35x51 Carcano Cases From 6.5x52 Carcano Cases.

Adapted from text provided by Giani La Capra.
The first thing you may ask is Why fire form 7.35x51 Carcano cartridge cases from 6.5x52 Carcano cartridge cases?
Well, in asking this single question you are actually asking two questions: To answer the first question, yes, it is possible to form 7.35x51 Carcano cartridge cases from 6.5x52 Carcano cartridge cases. After all, the 7.35x51 Carcano is necked-up adaptation of the older 6.5x52 Carcano round. This method has been shown to work with Norma brass (due to Norma brass being the only 6.5x52 Carcano brass commercially available in Italy, the United States and other countries), but should work for other brands of brass, provided the brass is in good shape (i.e. new or fairly new).

The answer to the second question, why fire form is more subtle. Although it is possible to cold form 7.35x51 Carcano cartridge cases from 6.5x52 Carcano cases using dies, the cold forming process work hardens the the neck area of the cartridge, which may result in premature failure of the cartridge. This would require annealing to removed the induced stresses. Cold forming also requires an investment in a set of dies for this purpose. When fire forming, your 7.35x51 Carcano chambered gun becomes the hot-forming die, something you should already have otherwise this whole exercise is moot. The resulting cartridge uniquely fits your rifle.

Do not fire a loaded 6.5x52 Carcano round in a gun chambered for 7.35x51 Carcano, as damage to the barrel rifling may result! A 6.5x52 Carcano round will fit into a chamber of a 7.35x51 Carcano chambered gun and can be fired, as most of the critical dimensions of the 6.5x52 Carcano round are the same or smaller than the 7.35x51 Carcano round. However, the 6.5mm round will be unsupported in the 7.35's barrel and will slap along the rifling.

Instructions for fireforming 7.35x51 Carcano brass from 6.5x52 Carcano brass.

  1. Prime an empty 6.5x52 Carcano brass cartridge.
  2. Load with 35-40 grains of powder. The type and quantity is not really important, as we are not capping the cartridge with a bullet.
  3. Cap the cartridge with a ball of bread. The bread will prevent the powder from spilling, long enough to fire the round.
  4. Fire the round in a 7.35x51 Carcano chambered gun. The pressures will cause the 6.5x52 Carcano brass to conform to the dimensions of the 7.35x51 Carcano chamber.
  5. Resize the round in a reloading die. This will size the neck to nominal dimensions.
  6. Trim the length of the cartridge to a nominal 51.35mm (2.022 inch) up to a maximum of 51.50mm (2.027 inch).

At this point you have fire-formed 7.35x51 Carcano ready for loading as a standard round.

Converting Military Berdan Primed Cases To Boxer Primed Cases

Adapted from text provided by Gary D..
The Berdan primer used in Italian Service ammunition is 0.204" (5.18mm) in diameter, which is not a standard size. However, it is a simple matter to enlarge the primer pocket in the Italian cases to accommodate the American 0.210" Boxer primer. The procedure is to bore a central flash hole with a No. 50 (0.070"/1.7780mm) drill, which simultaneously cuts away the Berdan anvil. Then enlarge the primer pocket by boring it out to full depth with a No. 4 (0.209"/5.3086mm) drill with the end ground flat (i.e., a flat bottom drill) so that it can bottom in the primer pocket without cutting appreciably deeper. The pocket is then cleaned out a trifle with a primer pocket reamer to give a perfect force fit for the 0.210" primer. I've used Winchester, Remington and Federal primers with complete satisfaction. All work must be done accurately, preferably in a lathe. This may sound complicated, but it is much easier to me than converting 6.5 MS cases.

Note from Gaetano Liberatore:
Please note that cartridge brass tends to get more brittle with age. We are dealing with 55+ year old, military surplus brass here! Resizing the primer pocket does have disadvantages in that you are thining the depth of the web. The original Berdan primer is not as deep as a standard Large Rifle Boxer primer. In addition, you have the one or two original Berdan flash holes in addition to the added Boxer flash hole. These serve to weaken the web. Careful judgement and observation must be used when loading for such converted brass.


Lee dies:

Cartridge preparation