Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Carcano Project Part I

Walking down rows and rows of drunk rednecks and tables of guns(welcome to the Kenton Coon Dog Trials) we were on a mission. To stop my good friend from buying a 6.5 Carcano. That loathed Italian rifle for its supposed weakness and its "role" in the death of a president. And here we are trying to convince a friend to stay away from buying one. Ammo is not readily available nor is the brass and the thing could simply blow up on you. We rounded the corner of the next row and a shout came from behind us so we turned around. Running up to us was our friend with a 6.5 Carcano in hand and a smile on his face.....We had failed the mission and we were screwed. Looking over the gun it didn't seem all that bad it has a gain twist rifling and is a handy length and weight with simple sights. But I knew that I was going to have more to do with this rifle that I wanted to admit. After my friend purchased the rifle I did a little reading to get up to speed on the old fence post. Frank De Haas's book "Bolt Action Rifles, Revised Edition" came off of one of my shelves and the proper chapter was located. It's not an exciting read but is packed with great info. He states that the Carcano has always been downplayed as a weak action but the Italians never seemed to have a problem with the design. This little rifle was starting to not look so bad in my eyes.

Fast forward to a few months later my good friend and I have moved down to Columbus for school the three of us (my friend, his girlfriend and I) are all under the same roof. One night towards the end of the fall quarter my friend comes into my room with that little rifle on his shoulder and states that its time to shoot it. I start to tell him he has no ammo but then I stop myself and think for a bit......I seemed to remember being given a cigar box full off odd calibers not to long ago. I told him I would look and see what could be had. The next time I was home I went through the box and came up with 30 rounds of Norma 6.5 Carcano ammo that looked like it had really seen better days along with 6 clips (6 round clips). I brought the whole mess back with me and pulled bullets & dumped the powder and on my next trip to the ROTC range tested the rifle with just the old primed brass. The bullets and brass were tumbled and since I weighed all the powder charges of the factory ammo I could reuse the powder but at a reduced charge. Though some of the powder was wet and was simply thrown out. The charges were in the 39.5-40gr region so I knocked them down to 37gr to play things safe. I found the easiest way to pull the bullets was use the Rock chucker and with the proper shell holder run the ram up grab the bullet with a pair of pliers and pull the ram down. This worked very well and did very little damage to the bullets. The inertia puller was not working well due to the tight factory crimp/neck. I located a set of reloading dies for the rifle and with 9 1/2 Remington Large rifle primers set about reloading the pulled down components. Some of the bullets have surface corrosion from poor storage but that won't hurt a thing in the long run. The brass will be annealed after the first firing to ensure case life though more re loadable brass will have to be found eventually. A bullet mold was promptly ordered from a group buy and should provide a nice projectile to experiment with from this Italian workhorse.

A range report should follow. I'm still gonna strap this thing down to a tire and shoot it from a distance the first few times......just incase De Haas was wrong.

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