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M38 TS Carcano Carbine: Brilliant or Rubbish?



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I would like to propose that the M38 TS Carcano carbine was, despite the poor reputation of the Carcano series of rifles, one of the best thought out bolt action weapons of World War 2. Why, you ask? Well, let's consider...

Only a few nations actually recognized the short ranges at which combat actually took place. Germany was one, as seen with it's 8x33mm cartridge development, and Italy was another. The sights on the M38 series of carbines were made as simple fixed notches, with no adjustments to be knocked out of place unintentionally. With a 200 meter zero (or 150 meters, with the Finnish replacement front sight), the weapon needed no adjustment to make hits out to 300 meters, which is as far as anyone could realistically engage a target.

The M38 TS is a light and handy weapon compared to its contemporaries - 8.1 pounds and 40.2 inches (3.7kg and 1.02m) - and it fired a significantly lighter cartridge as well. The 7.35x51mm round used a 128gr (8.3g) bullet at 2400-2500 fps (735-755 m/s) depending on barrel length. This produced noticeably less recoil than rounds like the .30-06 or 8mm Mauser, which made it easier for troops to shoot effectively. The Carcano also had a 6-round capacity and fed with Mannlicher type clips, which are potentially faster to load than Mauser-type stripper clips.

Today we will discuss the M38 and these features (along with its predecessor, the M91 rifle) as they appear on paper. At the same time, over on InRangeTV, today we have the first stage of a 2-Gun Action Challenge Match in which I am shooting this M38TS Carcano against Karl, who is using a Mauser K98k - so we will see how the theory works out in the field!