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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Old thread was: http://old.gunboards.com/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=93842

skikir
Posted - 03/08/2005 : 3:36:12 PM
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I keep hearing of carcanos being unsafe. Anyone ever have one fail or know of one failing or any verfied study of carcanos being unsafe. Anyone have a junker they would like to have tested to distruction?



Douglas I. Kerley
Posted - 03/08/2005 : 11:11:10 PM
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HI; No. Worst problem is the possibility of gas leakage from a ruptured case-blown primer down the left bolt locking lug track and into your face. Lots of guys have tried to blow up a 8mm one ($30), which should be the easiest one to do, but it has been unsuccessfull so far. Doug



old-guns
Posted - 03/09/2005 : 12:44:55 AM
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> I keep hearing of carcanos being unsafe.

Still? I used to hear that tale a lot when I was a kid. I haven't heard the myth for a couple decades.



airdale
Posted - 03/09/2005 : 06:37:19 AM
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Go to http://personal.stevens.edu/~gliberat/carcano and read the article by Mr. Dave Emary of Hornady Manufacturing titled " Shooting the 6.5x52mm, 7.35x51mm cartridges and the Carcano rifles " . This article tells you the quality of the steel and what it took to blow up a Carcano rifle.



Gaston
Posted - 03/09/2005 : 09:50:37 AM
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Let me ask a related question:

How are Carcanos headspaced?

I've never heard anyone address that topic. I do see a lot of barreled receivers for sale on Auction Arms and Gunbroker, sometimes without the bolt. Forgive me if I sound stupid, but can you really pick up another carcano bolt and just try it and see if it works, or is there a set of GO, NO-GO, and FIELD gauges for the Carcano?



DMala
Posted - 03/09/2005 : 1:37:43 PM
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I heard of one unconfirmed and poorly described episode of fatal failure (for unknown reasons) in post WWII Italy (maybe in the '70s or so? Some military recruit during training at the range), that's the only vague one I know of , over 114 years of use.....

In Italy, given the frequent harsh criticism of the military equipment quality in WWII, I am sure that if there whad been even rarely some issue, it would have been mentioned on every history book printed since 1946.....



old-guns
Posted - 03/10/2005 : 12:55:55 AM
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> Let me ask a related question:
> How are Carcanos headspaced?

The proper way is to use headspace gauges. But you will often read some very amateurish makeshift methods in lieu of having the proper equipment. People do such useless things as to use Scotch Tape, or tie the rifle to a tire and test fire it at a distance. Myself, I ONLY use real headspace gauges.

> I've never heard anyone address that topic.

I suspect that "Carcano Headspace Gauges" isn't a popular Gunboards topic for the following 2 reasons:

1) Extant 6.2 Carcano headspace gauges are hard to find, and:

2) If you want them, be prepared to pay Clymer Tools, Inc. FIFTY DOLLARS PER GAUGE for them. Carcano gauges are not part of Clymer's regular production run, hence the premium price for these special orders. Spending $150 for the complete 3-gauge set tends to put a wilt in a sailer's sail (if you know what I mean).

> I do see a lot of barreled
> receivers for sale on Auction Arms and
> Gunbroker, sometimes without the
> bolt. Forgive me if I sound stupid, but
> can you really pick up another carcano
> bolt and just try it and see if it
> works, or is there a set of GO, NO-GO,
> and FIELD gauges for the Carcano?

ANY rifle that shoots a bottleneck cartridge MUST be properly checked for proper headspace when a new bolt is installed on a rifle. There are no exceptions. This rule is especially important for rifles that shoot a rimless round.

However, having said that, I note that people, more often then not, will shoot a Carcano without bothering to check its headspace. Why, I don't know. Most people won't even bother trying to find someone with the gauges. And don't expect your local gunsmith to have the gauges, either. Many 'smiths will be happy to do a "safety check" on your Carcano for you, but many of them won't specifically mention whether your rifle had passed headspace. And there's a good reason for their evasion.

Try this little test the next time you bring a Carc. in for a safety checkup: Ask your gunsmith if you can see his Carcano headspace gauges. If he says that he doesn't have the time to show them to you now, then grab your rifle and take it to another gunsmith, or do like I did and purchase a set for yourself.



DMala
Posted - 03/11/2005 : 2:02:04 PM
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I agree with Old-guns. Actually to assure safety you need only one gauge, the no-go or the field one. There is a company called JGS that used to make good quality Carcano headspace gauges (I bought my first set from them) a bit cheaper than Clymer:

http://www.jgstools.com/mainfram.html



Joe Turner
Posted - 03/12/2005 : 12:57:05 AM
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The legend of Carcanos being unsafe and/or junk guns has been around for a long time. some of the disdain for them stems from disdain for the Italian army. I recently read in Phil Sharpes old book on reloading that the Carcano and the Arisaka were both best left on the wall as decorators as they were unsafe to shoot. Listen to what the members on this board have to say and you will find that the Carcano is a safe weapon to fire and reload for assuming that it is mechanically sound with appropriate headspace and that the ammo is properly assembled and meant for that particular Carcano. It is amazing the currency thats some stories have in our collecting world. Joe Turner



Obsidian
Posted - 03/12/2005 : 01:31:43 AM
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An urban myth as far as I know. Strong, safe rifles.



singleshotman
Posted - 03/12/2005 : 06:01:10 AM
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I read the article by Phil Sharpe and lost a lot of Respect for him as an auther-to write such crap-i have never owned a Carcano but did own a Japanese t-38 in 6.5mm, shot it a lot, fine gun, never a problem with it.To write that is was dangerours,faulty, etc, is to show the man was not honest, didn't even look at one, or he would have seen the quality in it.



qvekid
Posted - 03/16/2005 : 4:58:04 PM
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i think the carcano is a very underated rifle in my view,the italians always knew how to build firearms



03man
Posted - 03/17/2005 : 7:45:29 PM
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Right, Qvekid,
Beretta didn't get their reputation just lately, they have been building firearms for hundreds of years. I'm sure they didn't drop their standards to make the Carcano rifles they turned out.



Gustaf B
Posted - 03/20/2005 : 10:45:23 PM
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OK Boys and Girls,
I have what may be a stupid question, How does one adjust head space in a weapon as simple as the Carcano? and what is the head space tolerance? Would it not be possible to measure head space utilizing discs of brass shim stock at the primer end of a unfired case to determine gap?
Best wishes
Gus



Parashooter
Posted - 03/23/2005 : 4:56:21 PM
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The headspace in the Carcano (and most other military turnbolt rifles) isn't "adjustable". You can check it, but if it's excessive the only options are replacing the barrel or bolt. Handloaders (of rimless, bottlenecked cartridges) can simply adjust the sizing die and produce ammunition that is fitted to the rifle even if headspace is beyond normal limits.

Shimmed cartridges make poor headspace gauges because they are too soft and springy compared to a proper hardened steel gauge. More useful is learning how to check the fit of cartridges in a particular rifle by measuring the axial play of the closed, stripped bolt with a sample cartridge in the chamber. Illustration shows part of this process with a US M1903, but the same principle applies to any design that has enough forward bolt clearance to allow a good estimate.



Checking forward bolt clearance with empty chamber. Measurement with cartridge in chamber, if less than when empty, indicates relative "headspace" of sample rifle/cartridge combination. If axial play is the same with chamber loaded or empty, cartridge end-play is greater than forward bolt clearance and results inconclusive. With experience, the caliper can be omitted and good estimates made strictly by feel.



Gustaf B
Posted - 03/23/2005 : 5:31:22 PM
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Thanks for the helpfull information, Am I correct in observing that there is 25 mils movment on the bolt shown? Is this tolerable?



Stan Zielinski
Posted - 03/23/2005 : 6:59:48 PM
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Parashooter's reply is not quite correct. Military rifles with separate bolt heads can have their headspace adjusted by switching bolt heads. For example, British Lee Enfield bolt heads were made in 4 (possibly more) different lengths (numbered 1 through 4 if I remember correctly) so some adjustment is possible by switching bolt heads. Additionally headspace is measured differently depending on whether the cartridge is rimless or rimmed. Rimmed cartridges use the thickness of the rim so headspace guages for rimmed cartridges can be made in the form of a thin disk. (Someone can add the name of the company - Yankee Tools?- that makes these.) Rimless cartridges headspace on the distance between the bolt face and a point on the shoulder. Gauges for rimless cartridges thus are more complicated to make and hence more expensive.



Parashooter
Posted - 03/23/2005 : 7:36:49 PM
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The M1903 photo above shows .025" forward clearance with no cartridge chambered. In a manually-operated rifle, forward clearance when empty can be substantial with little or no adverse result. To ensure functioning and facilitate manufacture, it is seldom less than .005". Forward bolt clearance in not the same as either headspace or cartridge end play. Perhaps a simplified sketch will help understanding the differences -



If there were a cartridge in the chamber, that .025" end play would indicate the cartridge head-shoulder dimension is at least that much shorter than the chamber's. Most medium military rifles are content with cartridges that fit the chamber with no more than about .015" end play. Handloaders concerned about case longevity can adjust the sizer die to produce zero cartridge end play for turnbolt guns, and no less than .001" for most other action types.

In applying these principles, it's important to note the sketch is very much simplified. Bolts don't always stop on the breech face and many aren't flat. The techniques for measuring end play and forward clearance have to be adapted to the design and used only after acquiring a thorough understanding of exactly what is being measured.



Parashooter
Posted - 03/23/2005 : 8:01:47 PM
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Stan Z. - replacing bolt heads isn't what I'd call "adjusting". If you want to see a real example of adjustable headspace, check out a late M2 Springfield .22 or a Savage 110 - both of which can be adjusted for headspace without replacing parts.

The Carcano rifles being discussed here use neither a separate bolt head nor a rimmed cartridge.

(I believe Lee #4 bolt heads are numbered 0-3.)



old-guns
Posted - 03/24/2005 : 01:03:16 AM
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Gustaf B writes:

> OK Boys and Girls,
> I have what may be a stupid question, How
> does one adjust head space in a weapon as
> simple as the Carcano?

Headspace can be adjusted by screwing the barrel further into the receiver, then re-cutting the chamber. This proceedure is accompanied by constantly checking the dimensions with both a NO-GO gauge and a GO gauge.

I know of no other way to adjust headspace, other than bolt-swapping, and that is a crapshoot. You may wind up with even worse headspace. Further, simply swapping bolts doesn't, technically, correct for excessive headspace. Most of the excessive headspace is due to stretching in the receiver area from a multitude of rounds fired in the rifle. The only way to properly correct excessive headspace is to set the barrel back and cut a new chamber.

> and what is the head
> space tolerance?

The tolerance is the range in acceptable gap, which is between the GO length and the FIELD-REJECT length.

> Would it not be possible
> to measure head space utilizing discs of
> brass shim stock at the primer end of a
> unfired case to determine gap?

It amazes me the lengths that folks will go to avoid buying the proper tools. Just by the %^#&(@# headspace gauges and be done with it!



singleshotman
Posted - 03/24/2005 : 03:11:31 AM
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Was talking a few years ago with an old gunsmith(from the 1930's).He said it was plain that headspace gauges WERE NOT used by gunsmiths, as many of the custom rifles he worked on would only chamber one brand of Ammo(win, etc) would not chamber (Rem-umc)other brands of ammo.He said even Harry pope did not use Headspace gauges.



Gustaf B
Posted - 03/24/2005 : 09:54:28 AM
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quote:
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The tolerance is the range in acceptable gap, which is between the GO length and the FIELD-REJECT length
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This goes back to my question, What is the tolerance? When working on a bearing for example, we do not use a go/no go tolerance, tolerance is usually measured in thousandths of an inch in the colonies. Also, it sounds like the head space is relative to the amunition that is being used, so how does one calibrate the headspace gage? I can see that a fire arm that has excessive head space due to stretching of the chamber due to use or abuse would be a good candidate for the display rack.



Parashooter
Posted - 03/24/2005 : 12:33:19 PM
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A headspace gauge for rimless-bottleneck cartridges is essentially a hardened-steel dummy cartridge, generally minus the neck and bullet.



The gauge is used to judge the distance from the shoulder of the chamber (measured at the "datum line" - a point of a specified diameter on the conical surface) to the face of the closed bolt. The shortest gauge (Go) is usually equal to the length of the longest acceptable cartridge. It should fit in the chamber with no resistance when closing the bolt. SAAMI No-go gauges for chambers in the same class as the Carcano are usually about .006" longer than the Go gauge. When installing a barrel, the bolt should not close without resistance on the No-go gauge. The Field gauge is about .010" longer than the Go and is used for checking rifles that have been in use. (I don't have the specific gauge dimensions for the Carcano, but I'm guessing the difference between Go and Field gauges is somewhere around .010". If someone reading this has the actual Carcano specs, please post them!)

The "headspace" dimension of a cartridge is the distance from its rear face to the datum line. SAAMI specs for mid-size rimless rifle cartridges give a tolerance of about .007" between the longest and shortest allowable cartridges. Consequently, the end play of a minimum-length cartridge in a maximum-length (Field) chamber is about .017".

It's rare for a chamber to be "stretched" in use. Chamber walls are thick. It's a bit less rare for the receiver, which is thin by comparison, to be deformed by long use (or the brief abuse of overloads).



Stan Zielinski
Posted - 03/24/2005 : 3:55:20 PM
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I hope others will take the time to read through this thread and perhaps get a little better understanding of a complex subject.

Many shooters (and others?) think that all cartridges of a particular caliber are exactly alike but that is just not the case. Even the best machinery will produce cartridges with slight dimensional variations. The rifle/chamber design has to accomodate this fact as well as providing some form of safety in the event that the cartridge case ruptures allowing gas under high pressure to flow into the rifle's receiver. The Carcano has been criticized because the firing pin and associated parts are held in the bolt body by a small lug on the safety. Should escaping gas from a ruptured cartridge shear this small lug the firing pin and associated parts would (in theory) be blown back into the shooter's face. There is supposedly such a documented case (Phil Sharpe's book?) and I have seen a Carcano safety with the lug cracked off. But in my opinion the chances of both events (escaping gas, lug shearing)occurring simultaneously is extremely small. As the original post asked, can anyone provide documented evidence of such an event occurring?

As to some of the comments above I'm sure many of us have seen older rifles like the French Chassepot and Gras, Dutch Beaumont, Japanese Murata Models 13 and 18, etc., that use the base of the bolt handle as the sole locking lug that have had headspace "adjusted" by brazing a small shim to the rear of the base of the bolt handle. But if by adjustable headspace we go by Parashooter's definition then certainly the Carcano cannot be said to have adjustable headspace; the only practical way to adjust the headspace, as was pointed out, is to set back the barrel and recut the chamber. (Remember rotating the barrel will misalign the sights unless the barrel is rotated exactly one (or more) complete turns.) As to custom gunsmiths not using headspace gauges, remember that they were producing one of a kind rifles for customers who prepared their own ammunition. Making military rifles in the quantity required which can fire ammunition made by a number of different factories requires very different manufacturing techniques. If there were a substitute for headspace gauges there would be no demand for headspace gauges. There will always be people who try to find ways to avoid buying the proper tools, but that doesn't make them right.



WesinMI
Posted - 03/24/2005 : 4:26:01 PM
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FWIW, you have to be careful because the Carcano does not handle gas well. A couple of years ago April, I was firing a nice M41 I had never had a problem with. This time I was firing some old Carcano service ammo that was then being sold by AIM. Admittedly the ammo might have been suspect as it was greasy, dirty and bullets often loose. Those Carcano veterans here know the ammo I am talking about - some say it was stored in Albanian under suspect conditions. Anyway, as I was firing some, suddenly a round exploded in my face. The cartridge ruptured severely cracking across through the web to the primer holes. The rifle was wrecked, stock split from end to end as the magazine was bowed outward significantly which spit the stock. The extractor was blown off and the receiver cracked from the force. I got a blast of brass fragments in the nose and bled like a stuck pig - had to go to hospital. I had severe nose bleeds for a week afterwards - had to get my nose packed for another week which is not a pleasant experience. I got fragments in the glasses as well that would have blinded at least one eye. The moral of the story is never fire suspect ammunition - the gas traveled right under the bolt into my face. The bolt held in the receiver but don't believe that they are flawless. I still shoot them but reload only. So far so good but I have respect for what a blown cartridge head can do!



Parashooter
Posted - 03/24/2005 : 5:45:17 PM
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The myth of the sheared lug on the safety appears in Stebbins' "Rifles, a Modern Encyclopedia", published in 1958 and widely distributed. It may also appear elsewhere earlier. Whoever started it never looked close enough at a Carcano safety to notice the heavy flange on the bottom and the deep receiver groove into which it seats when the bolt is closed and the safety is in the "fire" position. It appears rather positive in preventing the safety from being blown out of the bolt should a large quantity of gas enter through the firing-pin hole.



The average shooter has no real need for headspace gauges, although many enjoy having them and a few even know how to use them. Chamber gauges are necessary to learn how close an individual rifle is to the accepted standard, but they don't tell us anything about the ammunition. A cartridge gauge can tell if cases are within specifications, but that's one more tool to buy. Checking cartridge end-play, as described above, lets the rifleman learn exactly how loose (or tight) a cartridge fits in his rifle. A rifle with good gauge headspace doesn't help if the cartridges are short, and vice-versa. The end-play check gives useful information about a particular combination of rifle and cartridge - and is something one can learn to do quickly and effectively in any bolt-action rifle having enough forward clearance.

For example, my 91/41 has a forward bolt clearance of .020" (enough to let me check cartridge end play up to .019"). With the bolt stripped and closed on a new Graf case, end play is less than .001". (Actually, I can feel just a touch of resistance in the last 20 degrees of bolt rotation.) This tells me nothing about my rifle's gauge headspace, nor about how close the Graf case is to the standard. It does let me know there isn't a "headspace" problem with this specific combination of rifle and case.

If I then run that case all the way into my F.L. sizer die and check again, finding I've added .004" of end play, I know my sizer (and/or shell holder) is a bit short for my rifle's chamber. I back the die out 1/17 of a turn and I'm set for "zero headspace" on my handloads. I've found it a useful technique, but it's much easier to do than to describe.



DMala
Posted - 03/25/2005 : 10:57:25 AM
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Originally posted by WesinMI
FWIW, you have to be careful because the Carcano does not handle gas well. (...) Admittedly the ammo might have been suspect as it was greasy, dirty and bullets often loose. (...) The cartridge ruptured severely cracking across through the web to the primer holes. The rifle was wrecked,(...) I got a blast of brass fragments in the nose and bled like a stuck pig - had to go to hospital. (...)
Well, first of all thanks for sharing this, and I am happy that you did not get more severe injuries.

The question is: given that high risk ammo was used (the AIM Albanian import ammo was definitely not in shootable condition. WWII or earlier military 6.5x52mm ammo was already subject to failures in the '60s, since the brass had lost adequate strenght), compounded by the fact that it was dirty, could the injury maybe have been worse if the Carcano was really poorly built? A cracked receiver is not as bad as a receiver that fragments in pieces, like it happend to somebody I knew who got killed when his Lee Navy receiver blew up in pieces, one of which shot him in the head.

From what you say it sounds like the case failure had extreme and catastrophic consequences, but the bolt held up and only smaller parts like the extractor and case pieces were projected. It sounds like most of the pressure was directed downwards (based on the description of the damage to the magazine). Others may disagree, but this may also be seen as handling extreme failures well, or at least comparably with other, more reputable, designs.



Aethelbert
Posted - 03/27/2005 : 10:04:06 PM
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Parashooter -- Thanks for sharing this experience. As DMala said, glad you did not get hurt any more than you were. Also in keeping with what DMala said, back in 1966 I had _two_ occasions where a milsurp cartridge case failed to the same extent and manner you described. I also wound up with bits of brass and oily residue on my forehead, cheeks, nose and glasses -- the glasses saved my eyes. In my case, however, my M-91 fucile held rock steady and sustained no damage.

DMala -- You wrote:
"I heard of one unconfirmed and poorly described episode of fatal failure (for unknown reasons) in post WWII Italy (maybe in the '70s or so? Some military recruit during training at the range), that's the only vague one I know of , over 114 years of use....."

When I was in college in the mid-60's I heard that story, only it had an American G.I. picking up a Carcano out of a pile of Italian rifles somewhere in North Africa. Supposedly, when he fired it, the bolt or a part of the bolt assembly failed and drove into his head and causing his death. Over the years I have tried to find out where (or even if) that happened. What I have found is that the story has been and apparently is still being repeated whith the location of the event and the rather loose 'identity'/description of the hapless shooter changing as suits the teller of the tale. Another 'urban legend'.



Parashooter
Posted - 03/27/2005 : 10:47:03 PM
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Quote "Parashooter -- Thanks for sharing this experience."

I've never had any kind of mishap with a Carcano. I think you have me confused with another participant. Nearly any centerfire rifle can be hazardous with bad ammo. Some are designed to handle it better than a Carcano, many are worse.



Aethelbert
Posted - 03/29/2005 : 11:42:29 PM
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Parashooter -- My apologies. I stand corrected -- The mishap was reported by WesinMI. The ease and speed with which we can communicate on the internet sometimes gets us into the unfortunate situation where our fingers input faster than our (read: my) feeble brains can function.

Again, thanks for pointing out the error in my post.



ronnymi
Posted - 04/06/2005 : 1:49:59 PM
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Parashooter,
THANKS for the description of how you adjust the FL sizer die. I am printing your post for my reloading bench. Very interesting info.



John Sukey
Posted - 04/10/2005 : 5:28:08 PM
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A little OT. But the 6.5 Arisaka will stand pressures that would turn a mouser into shrapnel. The "unsafe" myth probably comes from people firing live ammo in training rifles that were only intended for blanks, thus made of lower quality material. Easily spotted as the tang will be in one piece, not two pieces as in the live ammo version.



djenkins
Posted - 04/25/2005 : 02:19:04 AM
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A lot of the gun lore like the Carcano and Arisaka are unsafe to fire is contained in the reprints of old articles from the American Rifleman available at the NRA store.

Its amazing to me that all the old garbage is still getting recycled. Considering the source it will be around for another fifty years too.

Dennis Jenkins



jonk
Posted - 04/26/2005 : 11:26:17 PM
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Originally posted by WesinMI
FWIW, you have to be careful because the Carcano does not handle gas well. A couple of years ago April, I was firing a nice M41 I had never had a problem with. This time I was firing some old Carcano service ammo that was then being sold by AIM. Admittedly the ammo might have been suspect as it was greasy, dirty and bullets often loose. Those Carcano veterans here know the ammo I am talking about - some say it was stored in Albanian under suspect conditions. Anyway, as I was firing some, suddenly a round exploded in my face. The cartridge ruptured severely cracking across through the web to the primer holes. The rifle was wrecked, stock split from end to end as the magazine was bowed outward significantly which spit the stock. The extractor was blown off and the receiver cracked from the force. I got a blast of brass fragments in the nose and bled like a stuck pig - had to go to hospital. I had severe nose bleeds for a week afterwards - had to get my nose packed for another week which is not a pleasant experience. I got fragments in the glasses as well that would have blinded at least one eye. The moral of the story is never fire suspect ammunition - the gas traveled right under the bolt into my face. The bolt held in the receiver but don't believe that they are flawless. I still shoot them but reload only. So far so good but I have respect for what a blown cartridge head can do!
A good warning. I know the ammo well and still have about 450 rounds of it. After one cracked on me in the web, dumping gas in my face- but not harming the gun thank God- I swore off of it and am using the remainder for components. Most of the solenite looks fine and I just dump the charge in a fresh, decent NNY case or Grafs case with a new primer and it works fine. And no worries of crappy brass.



Merle
Posted - 04/30/2005 : 5:37:47 PM
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I'm really glad to find this post. I have 400 rounds of the old AIM ammo, and planned to use it this summer. Now I will do as jonk does & pull it down. Is this the first time the warning has been posted? I never heard it before, and that scares me just a little. I'm surprised that AIM didn't post warnings, or sell it as "recycle only" etc.



djenkins
Posted - 04/30/2005 : 9:12:52 PM
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I've only got a hundred rounds of it. It was discussed throughly here at the time.

AIM sold it to me as good stuff. Sure fire. Most of the people there have no concept of what's actually going on.

Originally posted by Merle
I'm really glad to find this post. I have 400 rounds of the old AIM ammo, and planned to use it this summer. Now I will do as jonk does & pull it down. Is this the first time the warning has been posted? I never heard it before, and that scares me just a little. I'm surprised that AIM didn't post warnings, or sell it as "recycle only" etc.


Merle
Posted - 05/02/2005 : 7:36:56 PM
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I didn't have a computer at the time I bought the ammo, so that's probably why I missed all the discussion.



doughboy1953
Posted - 05/22/2005 : 02:13:12 AM
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The famous gunsmith PO Ackley ran "blow up" tests on a number of military actions. (The strongest action of the military bolt rifles per Ackley was the Type 38 Japanese followed by the Type 99 Japanese.) Ackley fitted an improved .30-06 barrel to 4 6.5mm Carcano actions. When the action finally failed, the top of the receiver blew off but the bolt held and the test load also caused 03s, Enfield, Mausers and their ilk to fail. The brass failed and as somebody else observed, the Carcano is not the best action for handling ruptured cartridges. This was also a serious weakness of a lot of the pre-1898 Mauser actions, the Commission Gewehr, etc. (I believe the British Lee Enfield action actually handled ruptured cases better than the pre-98 Mausers.) The safety sleeve also held in Ackley's test. I read this in a column "Ask Ackley" published in Gun Journal magazine March 1981, pg 26 and 27. According to Ackley, he didn't have the Carcanos tested so apparently he didn't report these blowup tests in his book "Handbook for Shooters and Reloaders Volume II" where he reported those actions he had tested when he was writing the book.
Frank de Haas in his "Bolt Action Rifles" book says he believes the Carcano is safe enough for its loads but didn't recommend it for sporterizing mainly due to its Mannlicher (clip) action and the difficulty in mounting a scope. He felt the safety was "awkward" but not unsafe.
I believe the Carcanos are higly regarded in Italy, the way older Americans venerate 03s and the British venerate Lee Enfields.
It is unfortunate that too many American writers tend to slam foreign made guns and also parrot former "experts". Another problem with many popular American gun writers (maybe other countries do it too, I just never read their stuff) is that they tend to attribute almost everything to either Mauser or Browning, and it just ain't so!
Another thing that may have hurt the Carcano's image is that some of the earlier rifles looked a little "rough": my 91 infantry rifle does. My WWI made 91TS isn't so bad, but I have a Fascist era 91 cavalry Type 38 that is very well made and polished and honestly compares favorably to a lot of the pre World War I contract Mausers in my opinion. (My first Type 38 Japanese Arisaka was like that too.)
I have seen Ackley's blow up test reports but don't know whether he ever updated his book to talk about the Carcano: apparently he had not done so by 1981.
I wouldn't advise hotrodding a Carcano but I wouldn't advise hotrodding any other gun either.
What DID always seem flimsy to me on a Carcano was the 91 infantry bayonet although it certainly seems well tempered.
I have seen a number of references advising not to shoot 8mm conversions of Carcanos. The straight pull Austrian Mannlicher 95 were also converted and some of the same experts recommend not firing them either. Somebody thought they were safe or they wouldn't have been converted but I'm not sure I'd shoot either of those guns either. But I wouldn't hesitate to shoot them for their originally issued cartridges, assuming those cartridges are in good condition. A lot of old ammo, unfortunately, is not.

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
jonk
Posted - 04/25/2006 : 10:59:10 PM
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I shoot pretty much just handloads. I have a few boxes of 7.35 squirrelled away that has proven sure fire and accurate, and about 400 rounds of 6.5 that is mainly hangfires, but with good powder and the original projectile lends itself to transfer to newly primed cases.

I have stopped shooting the surplus as is for 2 reasons. 1st is that it is too valuable for proper diameter bullets to waste away on hangfires. More importantly is the 2nd reason though, in that I had one of the poor condition cases split the whole length longitudinally, leading to a blast of brass shavings in the face and hand, a lot of powder blow by, and a cracked follower spring when the pieces of junk forced down onto the 5 cartridges under it. The bolt and reciever handled the failure fine, but it scared me away from the surplus ammo as it sits. (thank god for glasses; dunno if it would have hurt my eyes, but I don't want to know!)
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
The following excerpt shows once again how safe Carcanos are. A pierced primer often is not even noticable, and even with a catastrophic failure of a cartridge case, as Jonk and WesinMI and Lars have also testified in the board, the action stays sound and safe and intact, without giving way; only some gas escapes backwards:

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Komp
Posted - 10/20/2005 : 01:26:15 AM
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Help!!! I reloaded 4 cartridges. The first one blew out the primer, which I didn't notice until I fired the second one, which blew out the primer and part of the casing. Fortunately I had eye protection (but my glasses are pitted now).
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Blow-out in rechambered Carcano

jonk
Posted - 12/28/2005 : 4:50:22 PM
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I tried out the 91 cavalry carbine I got some month and a half ago. Scary stuff. I fortunately had tied the gun to a bench and pulled the trigger by string.

I saw a large puff of gas exit the breech. The bolt had to be tapped open with a wooden hammer. It drew back easily enough, but whatever had happened had dismounted the extractor, though did not break it; time will tell if it will ever extract properly again.

The load was an original italian military load, pulled down and transferred to a new Grafs case, with Win Mag LR primer. I have done this with a number of rounds and fired them from other guns, no problem, no pressure signs. Powder was in fine condition. There were no bore obstructions. The little disk to the left of the failed case is the primer, which pierced, flowed, and got spat out.

So I am left with a few options. 1. The gun has massive headspace issues. 2. The thing is not chambered in 6.5 Carcano.

I broke down the bolt and can report that a 6.5X54MS round DOES chamber without difficulty, and that there is still a little free play in the bolt when closed, back and forth. A 6.5X55 Swede round does NOT close. Given that a few Carcanos were originally chambered in 6.5X54 (Or am I nuts?) and that converting to this caliber would be easy enough by a simple chamber reaming, I am inclined to say this is the case. I don't know however, as only God knows what someone might have done to the gun. I will have to make a chamber cast to say any more. But looking at the mangled case and comparing to the 6.5X54, the shoulder positions match.

If you have any thoughts on what else could have happened or what other chambering is possible, let me know. The bolt seems to be fine, it locks up as before, and the barrel is fine. I don't think that the PRESSURE itself was dangerous, just that the case was unsupported.

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NebrHogger
Posted - 12/28/2005 : 10:30:18 PM
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Some of these were actually converted by the Austrians to fire 6.5MS. Are there any unusual markings on the receiver? SW



jonk
Posted - 12/28/2005 : 11:10:15 PM
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I did not see any such unusual markings, such as an Austrian stamp or anything obvious like "6.5X54MS" but did notice that the bluing in the chamber area is very worn, and it looks like someone grasped the barrel with a wrench and unscrewed it. I did not notice this until I stripped the gun. The only marking worth note is "71" but that is likely part of a serial number or what not.

If the barrel was off, it adds credence to the 6.5 MS theory. The chamber cast will be the clincher; if it IS in 6.5 MS, that's fine. Though I WILL then have to get a few rounds to test fire it; I only had one old military round lying around. I could also probably fireform some 6.5 Carcano brass to the proper chamber dimensions, but if it is in the Mannlicher Schoenauer caliber, this would be redundant.

If anyone has any Mannlicher Schoenauer ammo or cases lying around, or can point me to a likely source, I'd be happy to give you a few bucks for a few of them. Pending chamber casts of course.



NebrHogger
Posted - 12/28/2005 : 11:37:13 PM
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Looking through my notes, I see the Austrians converted these to the 6.5 Greek Mannlicher as they had a ton of the stuff that Greece ordered & was never delivered. Doc Av said these Italian rifles will be marker 'Fur Ital. und Greiche' some with an 'E' some with the 'AZF' mark. If the gun is not WWI vintage, draw a line through this possibility.

Could also have been a basement gunsmith who did not mark his work. I have an 1899 Sav marked 22 Hi power that is actually a 25-35.



Atlpete
Posted - 12/28/2005 : 11:49:29 PM
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Help me out here Jonk,
you pulled a surplus slug/load and fixed up a Graf's cartridge with the same then experienced a severe primer blowout with your newly aquired 91' Cav ? If I got that right first thought is ...well..good heads-up to bench fire with a string, I think I still have some brass fragments embedded in my fingers from the last time I fired surplus in my 91 cav (terni '36) Likewise for me, tight bores seem to provoke frequent primer blowouts with factory loaded Graf's, perhaps you had a "hotter" bit of nitro-cellulose(worm powder)in that load than maybe Graf & Sons would have recommended. Just guessing, but thanks for the post, makes me think hard about recycling surplus into Graf cartridges.



jonk
Posted - 12/29/2005 : 12:44:12 AM
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Update:

Altpete, yeah, you basically have the story in a nutshell. However,

I have now made a Cerrosafe chamber cast. See pic. If one accepts that the case neck is a tad longer than spec for 6.5X54, and that the last bit of rim doesn't form on the chamber cast, then it surely appears to be 6.5X54. I lined up the base of the cast with the top of the rim, and the shoulders match perfectly with the cast and the 6.5 MS brass. The pic is rather blurry, sorry... but I really do think I'm looking at a 6.5X54 chamber here. Looking in Handloader's Guide for Cartridge conversions, the only other possiblilites are 6.5X55 (isn't it, dead sure) or 6.5X57 Mauser (also pretty sure it isn't it). I think it IS a WW1 vintage gun, but seeing no date, can't be sure; I'll inspect more for those marks you mention.

Of course, the battery in my calipers is dead, but will cinch it tomorrow when I get a new one. 99% sure though, 6.5X54MS.... if some basement bubba did it, that's one thing, but if it was an austrian capture, it's too bad as the bayonet lug is missing, ground off......

http://old.gunboards.com/uploaded/jonk/2005122904357_DSCF1032.JPG
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Atlpete
Posted - 12/29/2005 : 01:11:18 AM
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So it might really be an Austrian capture, cool (but yes sad too with no bayo) what's the date on the reciever? also perhaps does eyeball-compare of visible part of chamber show machine evidence of "bubba-bin-here" (usually some first pass scarring; not to denigrate imaginative gun-smiths but some are better than others)



airdale
Posted - 12/29/2005 : 08:06:10 AM
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That's interesting because I have read articles that the Greeks used captured 6.5x52 Carcano ammo in their 6.5x54 MS rifles when there was a shortage of the MS ammo. Maybe whoever re-chambered it went too deep with the reamer.



Scotty
Posted - 12/29/2005 : 08:28:59 AM
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I've got a 1897 M91 that does weird things to my carcano brass also,it puts a small grove around the case where the body turns into the sholder...

http://old.gunboards.com/uploaded/Scotty/2005122982811_DSC00477 cutd.JPG
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Scotty
Posted - 12/29/2005 : 08:43:17 AM
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and the shell...

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NebrHogger
Posted - 12/29/2005 : 10:14:40 AM
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Thank you for posting a pic of the 'E' showing Austrian alteration! I had never seen one before! Marks like this are sleepers to look for at gun shows... I have trouble keeping a straight face & not twitching when I see stuff like this, though! SW



Scotty
Posted - 12/29/2005 : 12:16:33 PM
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I just dug a 6.5 Greek round out of my collection and sure enough it chambers nice and easy...i guess i did ok for 50 bucks, for the longest time i thought i had a carcano with a screwy chamber:( ... :) ...



jonk
Posted - 12/29/2005 : 1:21:11 PM
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No E appears on my gun. I don't see a clear date, but I DO see a faint 93, that once could have been part of 1893, before whoever did whatever gouged up the reciever.

Let's put it this way. If the gun is NOT chambered in 6.5X54, it surely isn't chambered in 6.5X52 anymore either, and a 6.5X54 would fireform to shape no problem. I think I'll just go that route, and see if I can get an old Lee loader on fleabay or something, unless I spot a set of dies cheap....



Prez1981
Posted - 12/30/2005 : 02:56:40 AM
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Scotty, e-mail me if you get a chance. [email protected]
Thanks and nice find!!!



Scotty
Posted - 12/30/2005 : 09:21:32 AM
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Would a Austrian altered M91 be worth much more then a normal M91?...

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Prez1981
Posted - 12/30/2005 : 12:52:05 PM
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It would be worth considerably more, especially to Austro-Hungarian collectors. These just aren't around in the converted caliber. Please let me know if you ever decide to part with it. I would give you a healthy profit and/or a very nice trade, depending on what you are looking for.



dg13
Posted - 01/01/2006 : 3:07:22 PM
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Thank you for the schooling! I have a "AZF" marked M1891. Obviously captured but I have never checked the chamber. It does NOT have the "E" mark. I'll try a greek MS round in it. I always assumed it was converted.
dg13



Parashooter
Posted - 01/06/2006 : 4:40:41 PM
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Judging from the pictures of fired case and chamber cast, it seems the base and body diameter of the chamber is considerably larger than that of either the 6.5x52 Carcano or 6.5x54 MS cartridges. Since you say 6.5x55 doesn't fit, it's possible the rifle is chambered for 6.5x54 Mauser or 6.5x57 Mauser (6.5/257 Roberts). Both of these cartridges are based on the standard .468" Mauser head size, about .020" fatter than the Carcano/Mannlicher head size (.448" - more or less). The Swedish head diameter is about .480" and we wouldn't expect it to chamber fully in a .468" chamber.

Such a chambering would explain the case failure pictured much better than the excess headspace one would have when firing 6.5 Carcano in a 6.5 MS chamber. A quick check with a micrometer will give the base diameter of the chamber cast. If that's nearer to .468" than to .448" then you might want to try a .257 Roberts case in the chamber. If it fits, the chamber is probably for 6.5x57. If not, it could be 6.5x54 Mauser. Either one can be formed from Roberts or 7x57 brass.


FixBayonets
Posted - 01/13/2006 : 3:06:15 PM
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The knowledge of M91 Carcano converted to 6.5x54MS is very interesting. Are we in sync here that the "E" reflects such a conversion. Is it likely that this is a WW1 period conversion or post War?



jonk
Posted - 01/17/2006 : 12:24:52 AM
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Parashooter, good point. The neck is slightly longer than a 6.5X54, and the case body shouldn't be bulged like it is, even if reamed out. It will have to wait for further analysis though, as the gun and chamber cast is now wintering at my parent's house, as I only keep a dozen (only!) guns or so here at my apt.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Continuation of jonk's posting

jonk
Posted - 02/16/2006 : 01:39:42 AM
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Some of you might recall my post of "Scary pic, but what happened?" concerning an M91 Cavalry carbine. Seems Bubba or some importer reamed out the chamber. I'm still not sure to WHAT exactly, as I still haven't measured the chamber cast I took; the battery in my caliper was dead when I made it, and I left the cast adn gun at my pop's place for the winter as my apt. just doesn't have room for all my guns, including the mystery pieces of no immediate use. I've kinda ruled out the austrian capture or greek sales options as there are no marks to that effect, and the chamber reaming was poorly done with a massive scoring in the middle of it.

In any case, the 2 most likley candidates are 6.5 mannlicher schoenauer and 6.5/257 roberts. 6.5 swede won't chamber. I'm gonna assume it might be the roberts case, as it is slightly longer than the M-S.

Now either way, dies aren't exactly a stock item for either caliber, especially for the Roberts wildcat. So I'm thinking of just taking it to my gunsmith and having him ream it out to 6.5X55 and be done with it. Anyone ever do this with a carcano? Seems it would be simple enough, the cartridge fit the bolt just fine. Might need some slight mods to the clip though.

Another thought: This woudl be cost prohibitive but just to consider it, and granted, I hesitate to sporterize anything but this gun has had the stock sanded, bayonet lug ground off, and was badly rechambered. Perfect candidate for playing with. What do you think of rechambering to .223? I got the idea as the Carcano websight mentions the possibility of rechambering to 7.62X39; the 5.45X39 uses the same case, right, jsut necked down. And the .223 is very similar. Whaddya think, would the bolt and or clip function?



airdale
Posted - 02/16/2006 : 09:13:16 AM
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jonk if the rifle was in fact re-chambered in 6.5x257 then simply reaming to 6.5 swede will not work as the .257 Roberts case is longer (.257R is made from a 7x57 case) than the 6.5x55 swede. The lenght to shoulder for the .257R is 1.728" and the 6.5 swede is 1.712". Reaming to an 6.5x57 Mauser should work as the lenght to shoulder for this cartridge is 1.752" and cases are easily made from 7x57 Mauser cases. RCBS sells the 6.5x57 dies for about $50.
Here again if it is chambered in 6.5x257 ammo can be made using a .257R sizing die with a .264 expander installed, I have made a lot of 6.5x257 ammo this way.

When you mention .223 and 7.62x39 do you mean re-barreling instead of re-chambering? If re-barreling than I think .35 Rem would also be a good choice.



Jeremy
Posted - 02/16/2006 : 10:06:32 AM
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7.62x39 will be the best bet IMHO. Both the 5.56 and 5.45 have smaller case heads and won't work.



greggdw
Posted - 02/16/2006 : 6:40:12 PM
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the 6.5x54 M-S is only slightly longer than the 6.5 carcano.the neck and shoulder look to be almost the same and the head is the same.
the 2 cartridges are so close,i think you could probably chamber a barrel for the 6.5 carcano using a 6.5x54 M-S reamer.



mag
Posted - 02/17/2006 : 11:03:20 AM
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I have seen a quite a few rifles turning up lately with a drill bit run into the chamber. I do not know exactly why this was done or why there seems to be so many like that showing up right now. If that is the case, you will need a new barrel. Personaly I would not go through the effort and expense to rebarrel a $50.00 rifle. You may be better off just looking for a cheap Carcano that is missing the bolt or other parts, using yours as a doner. mag



dgv2
Posted - 02/17/2006 : 12:40:48 PM
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Re: MAG's comment. I've gotten 3 or 4 rifles bought on auctions in the past 5 years that have had a drill bit run into the chamber, rendering them useless and dangerous because there is no external indication that they have been tampered with. All of them seem to be coming from the East Coast and I wonder if at one time running a drill bit into the chamber of a rifle to "render it safe for the family" was some sort of fad or common practice back in the 1920's or 1930s. Thanks.



jonk
Posted - 02/18/2006 : 02:19:05 AM
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What do you mean exactly by "drill bit run into chamber?" As in, drilled through, or just kind of augered in to score the chamber? I've had the gun out of the stock; the chamber hasn't been drilled; it just has a gouge on the inside running the length of the chamber, starting in the middle of the shell, running about half the lenght, that is about an inch. It is shallow, perhaps as deep as a few hairs. It didn't even prevent extraction of the (admittedly badly swollen) case, before I knew the chamber had been screwed with. Just smacks of bubba in his basement doing a crummy job.



mag
Posted - 02/18/2006 : 2:35:17 PM
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It means what it says, a drill bit was run INTO the chamber. To do that a person would remove the bolt and run a large drill bit into the chamber just like you would a chamber reamer. The difference would be that you would then end up with a scored up, out of round and to long of a chamber. There is no visual way to see that this has been done as the front of the drill bit will cut what looks like a shoulder in the chamber when you look in the chamber. mag



jonk
Posted - 02/18/2006 : 11:10:35 PM
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No, that didn't happen, not drastic enough for that. Definitely rechambered. Will keep y'all updated.
 
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