I've seen a few model 38 cav carbines that have the front sight set back from the muzzle leaving a barrel stub sticking past the front sight base. Does anyone know if there was any particular reason for this?
Everyone knows that the minimum legal length of a rifle barrel is 16 inches, but that was not always the case. The NFA of 1934 set the minimum length at 18 inches. Back in the innocent days of the '40s and '50s, such technicalities were often ignored, but there were also various carbines that had barrels shorter than 18 inches lengthened by permanently soldering appropriately sized tubes onto the too short original barrel.
Based upon the scarcity of modified carbine barrels, it's presumably safe to assume that this compliance technique was not widely practiced. At some point in the late '50s (if I recall correctly), the regulations were eased and the minimum rifle barrel length became the 16 inch standard we have today.
I have seen many Swedish 1894 Mauser carbines with barrel extensions, but just a handful of Carcano carbines similarly modified.
I do have a Carcano cavalry carbine like the example shown above. While most of the small number of altered Carcanos I have seen have a clearly detectable barrel extension attached, my example was modified so carefully that I initially did not recognize the alteration.
When I found it on a gun show table, I knew that something wasn't "right" but I could not put my finger on it. It was lumped in with several other rifles at a bargain of a price so I took it home. It was only hours later when I took a better look that I noticed the slight additional barrel length.
I can detect no evidence of solder, and no seam or joint. The extension is a perfect dimensional match and the bluing is indistinguishable from the bluing on the rest of the barrel. I found it amazing that such care was taken to alter what was, at the time, an extremely common ten dollar rifle.
Please note that I have not seen this piece for a long time and I can't remember whether I checked for rifling. Presumably the lack of rifling in the last half an inch or so of the barrel would indicate that the added length could be explained by the extension rational. But because the workmanship was so good I have also wondered whether the barrel on my example was a modified Carcano rifle barrel or whether it might have been a TS carbine barrel. I'm afraid to admit that I have been too lazy to eliminate this speculation by measuring a TS barrel or looking up the comparable dimensions.
In short, I assume that the barrels of my carbine and the example shown were lengthened to comply with the law, but given the common Italian military practice of utilizing old parts in new production (for example, the obsolescent TS grenade launching stocks converted to cavalry carbine stocks), I sometimes wonder if my little Pinocchio carbine could be a little more than I suspect.
Thank you for the great answer. On the carbines I've seen personally the extension was done well enough it never occurred to me that it might be a soldered on extension. In fact most have been advertised as being counter-bored. Interesting bit of carcano history.
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