Gunsmithing the Carcano

  1. Trigger work
    1. Improving the two-stage factory trigger
    2. Installing an aftermarket trigger
      1. Single stage (Timney)
      2. Double set trigger

  2. Bedding and stock repairs
    The beechwood stocks of all the later Carcanos (the change to ash and beech took place sometime in World War I, probably around 1916/17) are often spry and easily develop small cracks.
    The weak spots to look at when checking a Carcano are:
    The bedding of many beech stocked Carcani is suboptimal, to put it politely. Contact surfaces are few and uneven. Adding a glass bedding may improve accuracy and group placement consistence drastically.

  3. Muzzle recrowning
    Insufficient and sloppy factory crowning, coupled with negligent cleaning habits of the soldiery, have resulted in many Carcani having unclearly defined and even washed-out muzzles. I feel that the intrusion into originality imposed by re-crowning is sufficiently small that it be permissible even with collection pieces which will only be shot occasionally; I esteem it as comparable to fire-lapping a rough barrel.

  4. Rechambering and rebarrelling
    This is being treated in more extent in the section Sporterizing the Carcano. Let us repeat briefly that rebarrelling is a viable option - but rechambering is not. Developing a Carcano wildcat cartridge may be fun, but there is little need or justification beyond the fun of creating one, and experimenting with it.

  5. Sights improvements
    The fixed rear sight notch of the M 1938 short rifle can easily be deepened with some filestrokes (parallel sides) and thus easen (in my perception) the alignment. The various M 91 rear sight setting begins at 450 repectively 300 metres (lowest sight blade adjustment vs. fixed battle sights); one might opt to replace the low and unduly triangular front sight blade with a higher and more rectangular-shaped one.
    An additional tang peep sight is helpful. It could either mounted in the butt stock or - after British model - on top of the cocking piece. Such a mounting serves to improve the clarity of the iron sights picture, not to replace them.

  6. Installing a scope
    Some original Fucili 91 and 91/41 with scopes exist, in various side mounts. No reliable English language literature is known to me, but maybe some Italian gun magazine articles can be found. I believe that the majority of Italian armed forces snipers (just like most Finnish snipers) used iron-sighted rifles with the accuracy mark. I do not know whether the tiratori scelti of a M91/38-equipped unit used the same guns as their unit, or the long rifles.
    The split receiver bridge does not defend us from mounting a scope. However, we have to use the same type of side mounting as with Mannlicher-Schönauer rifles; these can be quite sturdy. I the case of a central mount, is indispensable that the scope body rides high enough over the magazine opening that a charger clip can be inserted, single shot loading not being feasible. Weaver offers a side mount base (Side Mount Base #1 ?) that can be adapted to the Carcano receiver.

    Gaetano Liberatore writes:
    The biggest difficulty in putting a scope onto a Carcano is that the magazine is clip fed from the top/center of the receiver. If a standard eye relief (the distance between the lens and your eye) rifle scope is used, the scope must be mounted to the receiver and must be offset to the left.
    Offsetting a scope requires that you now have to compensate horizontally as well as vertically when aiming at a target distance other than the "sighted" distance. With center mount scopes, ideally all one has to do under normal circumstances is to compensate vertically (i.e. bullet drop),
    In the case of Lee Harvey Oswald's M91/38 rifle, the commercial aftermarket scope was also rotated 90 degrees counter-clockwise. This was so the windage knob would not interfere with the clip loading. As a result, the windage becomes the elevation and the elevation becomes the windage.
    Off hand, I know of only one commercial scope mount available today for the Carcano. It is made by Weaver, and it's a generic side-mount for cylindrical receivers (Weaver No. 1, I think).
    The other alternative is to use a scope with a larger eye relief and barrel mount the scope.

  7. Troubleshooting the Carcano
    Feeding problems: the cartridges may either not slip well under the extractor claw, when the bolt picks them up from the charger clip, or they may bounce up their noses.
    Two critical points are: the spring tension of the follower arm (both too low and too high is problematic - the Italian armourers had an own spring tension gauge for that, to be inserted in the magazine well and to depress the follower against a calibrated resistance), and the shape and tension of the charger clip. The latter will often be guilty if misfeeds occur (they are not all that common, incidentally). Try to exchange the charger clip against another one and especially look out for the lips (do they embrace the whole length of the cylindrical part of the cartridge case snugly, gripping a bit further at the front than at the back ?), and for the front face (are the lines straight, or is the clip bent ?).