All Are Memorable Milsurps.
After you’ve handled and studied scores of military surplus arms, there are a few that will leave an indelible impression. Here are several milsurps that have struck me as being just enough different to make them memorable.
Not much trouble with this one! Those poor, little, Italian Carcanos have really taken a beating ever since the 1963 Oswald/Kennedy assassination. Yes, Oswald’s mail order Carcano was cheap. Klein’s Sporting Goods in Chicago was selling them in the 1960s for $19.95 delivered, complete with a mounted 4X Japanese scope. In the public mind, that was two strikes against the Carcano. It only cost $19.95, and it was used to kill our president. It doesn’t get much worse than that for a milsurp. On top of that, add in the problems the Italian Army experienced in WWII as a reputable fighting force, and the Carcano gets kicked to the bottom of the pile.
Well, as the song goes, “It ain’t necessarily so.”
Actually, the Carcano is a fine battle rifle. It’s simple, handy and well made by firms like Beretta. The action is impressive. It’s a split bridge Mannlicher design that is nicely machined from a special grade of high-quality Czech steel. It features a large 1.3″ front receiver ring. The bolt is very modern with a recess for the case head. The extractor is massive and mortised into the side of the bolt body. The bolt lugs are solid with no ejector slots slicing through them, and the action is adequately vented for gas leaks. Hey, this is an action that both the Italians and Germans chambered in 8×57. The minimum European proof load for the 8×57 is 73,500 psi. Enough said.
Accuracy? Until a few years ago, the only ammunition available for the 6.5×52 Carcano round was loaded by Norma. It featured a .264″ diameter bullet. Ah, but the Carcano requires a .268″ diameter bullet. Until Graf & Sons, Inc. and Hornady got together and produced not only a 160-grain roundnose bullet with a diameter of .268″ but factory loaded ammunition, Carcano accuracy was not impressive. With .268″ bullets, Carcanos with their rather coarse open sights will average 2-1/2″ to 3″ at 100 yards. Scorned but undaunted. That’s the Carcano.
I call the Danish, Model 47 Madsen Lightweight Military Rifle “elusive” because before the days of internet auction sites, I had only seen two: one in a Phoenix pawn shop and 30-years later, one at a Phoenix gun show. It may have been the very same rifle.
Well known for their light machine gun and submachine gun, Madsen developed the Model 47 in the early 1950s for sale to third-world countries with limited defense budgets. Simple and cheap to produce, it’s an intriguing battle rifle with a rear-locking, split receiver, a 5-shot or 10-shot magazine, a forward mounted aperture rear sight and a stock and muzzlebrake designed to minimize recoil, which they do.
In a post-WWII world awash in semi-automatics, the Madsen was not a commercial success. The only significant contract received by the company was for 5,000 rifles in .30-06 for the Colombian Navy. Some of those Colombian-marked Madsens reached our shores so keep your eye out for this elusive and unusual milsurp. (See the April 2012 Surplus Locker for a complete review.)
By Holt Bodinson
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