Carcano Prices and Shopping Advice

It is a vivid interest of any Carcano buyer or potential buyer (actually, it won't be done with just buying and leaving your money on the counter; you acquire ipso facto the moral if not legal obligation to care, pamper and regularly feed your new pet...) to know what prices he (or she) would be liable to expect, whether some models are more equal, ehhh, expensive than others, whether rare items command premium prices, and what the relative "desirability" (independent of price) would be.

Let's try to start:

  1. Prices
    1. The usual market price for any Carcano in the USA is low. It is even lower in Germany. You would expect to pay between $50 and $125 for a specimen, depending upon quality (finding a Carcano in excellent condition for $50 is luck; paying $100 for the same in "well used" condition means you've been over a barrel, and not a rifle barrel...).
      A good first starting point for price estimates is always the Blue Book (S.P. Fjestad: Blue Book of Gun Values, 18th ed. 1997, US-$27.95 sugg. retail). It lists Carcano rifles between $120 (for a fictional "100%" condition - how many Carcani in this absolutely mint and untouched condition have you ever seen?), or rather $100 for 98% (which is practically the best condition you'll ever see) to $30 for 60% condition.
      In Germany, the usual price range is between DM 50,00 (very cheap) and DM 150,00, the most likely range being between DM 70,00 and DM 125,00.

      Here is an online currency converter.

      In any case, you, as a beginner at least, should not pay more. Why not ?

    2. Certainly, there are more and less common models. But there is no specialized collectors' market (look at the insane price explosion with some of the more common and desirable US handguns, such as the Colt SAA, Model "P"), and one Carcano is on the broad market and in the common (wrong) estimate just like the other: "a cheap unsafe Eye-tal-li-un junker".
      While the very purpose of this website is to dispell this misconception, I do not feel that it would be your task to disabuse Old Joe in "Bubba's Guns-n-Gas Shoppe" down the dirtroad of his inner idea that he might well allow you to haggle down from his yellowed "$70" price tag (glued to the barrel sometime during the Carter administration) to a realistic $50. He has, anyhow, only paid a fraction of that sum when he took it, by a "joint estate" deal. So, do not pay an exaggerated price for a Carcano in a normal gunshop. You won't do yourself a favour, nor the market. Be realistic and self-controlled, and succumb not to temptation (easily said, I know) ;-).

    3. Some models which I would consider rarer are: M 91/40 long rifle (never saw one, only troop trials rifles were made), M 91/28 Moschetti TS from Pietro Lorenzotti or MIDA Brescia, M 1938 or 91/38 short rifles from "Gardone V.T.". Beretta-made guns are not that rare (with the exception of Beretta long rifles), but less common than others. For detailed advice, look at the serial number-based estimates in Richard Hobb's book.
      And then there are the true and immediately identifiable rarities, which we know only from books: Moschetti Guardie del Re (gilt colour), scoped snipers' rifles, original Moschetti TS 91/28 grenade launcher combinations... but these already look very different.

    4. It is different when you are a specialized collector buying from a specialized dealer or another Carcani aficionado. In this (very rare) case, relative scarcity would be a price-determining factor. If Dick Hobbs or Doug Bowser ask more for their guns, they are fully within their right because they are specialists and offer rare items to other specialists. It is just like with old revolvers by Iver Johnson or Harrington & Richardson: they are cheap, regardless of how common or rare they might be. There are many thousands of stamps much rarer than the Blue Mauritius, but costing only a tiny fraction of the latter's price.

    5. "Accuracy marked" Carcani are fairly common; they can command a small surcharge if the barrel if still very good (otherwise, the sign - two stylized crossed rifles superimposed a small bullseye target - is worthless anyhow), but are nothing extraordinary. I am seeing them again and again here.

    II. Checking a Carcano

    Whenever buying a used gun, it is advisable to follow a certain checking procedure. Several pieces of good advice have been posted in the past e.g. for revolvers. The following tips are just my personal remarks; if you are regularly checking for other and/or additional qualities, please drop me a line. Incidentally, the sequence is roughly in order of handling.

    1. Overall condition
      This is often overstated, especially by the beginner. Old hardened arsenal grease and 50-odd years' gunk together with a thin coat of surface rust can make a veteran firearm appear like a true "fencepost special" which would clean up very nicely with a bit of zeal and endeavour ((de-greasing and cleaning the stock, ironing out the wood dents with a steam iron over a wet washrag or towel, refinishing the stock with boiled linseed oil, carefully de-rusting e.g. with oiled # 0000 steel wool).

    2. Bore condition
      Much more important for me, since I wish to shoot my Carcani. Use a good strong bore light. Feel the barrel for bulges by running your fingertip along it (if the seller permits you to take off the handguard); what you cannot see easily with the naked eye, you can still feel.
      Important hint: borelights frequently delude you about the barrel's true quality. Use the strong light to light into the muzzle, sideways from above, and carefully check for pitting. You will be surprised by what this test reveals to you that the "look down the barrel" approach did mercifully veil. Incidentally, minor pitting need not harm accuracy.

    3. Bore diameter
      You need to know if you want to shoot .264" bullets (though you shouldn't). Use a diameter gauge to check. A generous 6,65 mms bore diameter across the lands was the Italian "field gauge" maximum standard.

    4. Recocking upon camming
      Lower the bolt on the depressed trigger (only if you have manually checked the chamber before to be EMPTY). Thus, the striker is decocked. Now, slowly lift the bolt handle to its top position and lower it again. The rifle should have recocked with a slight but noticeable clicking noise. If not, that means that the adjustment of cocking-piece to trigger sear is not optimal. No big deal, but less than perfect. You can use this to lower the price.

    5. Bolt travel
      Work the bolt a few times into either direction (always decock it,as if the gun would have been fired). Do it both slowly and quickly. If the bolt hooks up (a certain stiffness of move is the default - I mean real obstruction), you have a problem either with the fit of bolt locking lugs to receiver rails, or with the fit of the ejector in its bolt groove. Either will require some gunsmithing.

    6. Magazine feeding
      Check whether the gun feeds and ejects well. You need a perfect clip, and six action proving dummies (you can make them yourself, if you reload), and have to tell the seller before attempting to do so, in order to not scare him. Check whether the rounds are safely fed from the clip (the first as well as the last). Do they jam at the breech end of the barrel ? Will the last round in the clip throw up its nose ?