The 7.35 Carcano
It’s probably considered one of the least if not the least desirable military firearm made in the 20’Th century. It was originally brought out in 1891 created by Salvatore Carcano and Col Parravicino and was made at the Torino arms factory in Turin. They were also made in other government arsenals and probably private ones as well. The basic design was in production for about 54 years and millions were made. The 6.5 version isn’t rated much better but at least it has a more or less standard bullet. Guess what! While it’s not in the Mauser or Springfield class it isn’t as bad as it given credit for. They do have 2 forward locking lugs giving them the strength to handle the cartridges they were designed for. I am sure that the metal and heat treatment used were the best available for that application. The military load is rated at 38,000 pounds per square inch and I don’t recommend going much over that even though the action will probably take it. The action is relatively simple and efficient. It cocks on opening and isn’t difficult to operate. The rifle is light and handy to carry at least to me. It gave good service for many years so it must have had something going for it. The safety is somewhat difficult and clumsy to use however. It’s pushed forward and up and takes some effort. In order to do this the bolt handle has to be held down to prevent it from opening. Engaging the safety also locks the bolt and would prevent the gun from firing in case of a blow to the rear of the bolt. There is one gas escape hole at the rear of the bolt. In case of a primer rupture you would probably be ok but I would prefer to forgo that pleasure. The action, however, is not a good one to gunsmith and due to the odd size of the case head there is limited options as far as caliber change. The magazine design would also preclude many cartridges from being utilized in a conversion. The military sight is very crude and non adjustable I guess you could use a file or build it up as the case may be. Mine shoots a little high at 50 yards but is relatively accurate. A peep sight would be a viable option if a scope wasn’t desired. If I were determined to take it hunting I would have a side mount installed with a 4 power scope. Due to the clip loading from the top you can’t mount a scope over the receiver unless it is a tip off mount. It’s not easy to scope but some determined gunsmiths have made some nice sporting rifles from them. They have a detachable type magazine, which is another undesirable feature in my view. Frequently they are sold without one so the owner has to look around for one. The Shotgun News advertises them as well as the Old Western Scrounger so they are available. To shoot it single shot the cartridge has to be inserted into the bolt head after the bolt is removed. It has to be snapped snugly in the bolt or it will come out when inserting the bolt into the action. That makes for a slow single shot rifle. To remove the bolt just hold back the trigger and pull the bolt out. Any other way it won’t chamber the round. If you were in a firefight this would not be the gun you would want without a clip. They are the beneficiaries of the supply and demand factor. They can be bought at gun shows for $40 to $60 in good shape, being much lower then the more desirable models. As a note some Mausers and 7.62 X 53 Russians can be bought for similar prices. Nice specimens are commanding higher prices sometimes as much as $200.00
Cartridge inserted in bolt head makes for slow loading
The 7.35 was brought out in 1938 to replace the 6.5 version. The thought at that time was that a larger then 6.5 caliber bullet was needed. The Japs also replaced their 6.5 with a larger caliber in their case used a larger case and a heavier bullet. In the Italians’ case I just don’t see an advantage. The 6.5 shot a 162 grain bullet at 22-2300 feet per second while the 7.35 shot a 128 grain at 2400 or so. The 128 doesn’t have near the sectional density of the 162. Given equal conditions the 162 grain slug would penetrate deeper then the 7.35 caliber a desirable feature in a military round. Two models of the model 38 were brought out. The folding bayonet model has a 17.1” barrel while the short rifle has a 21.1” barrel with a detachable bayonet. They are relatively short and handy to carry and use. In any event the timing was bad as Italy was getting involved in WW ll so they stuck with the 6.5 for supply reasons keeping in mind the 6.5 came out in 1891 so there was a lot on ammo around as well a rifles. Some 7.35 rifles were rebarreled to the 6.5 caliber. The Finns, however, used the 7.35 against Russia with good results. There have been Carcanos that were chambered for the 8 X 57 and used in Africa. Evidently 8mm Mauser ammo was easier to obtain to such a degree that they felt that it was to their advantage to use the more common 8 mm round. They were used in the African campaigns with good results. Since the 8mm Mauser round is loaded to a higher pressure then the Carcano perhaps the action isn’t so weak after all and underestimated.. The bolt face would have to be modified a bit to handle the larger diameter 8mm round. I have shot mine some with ok results. Factory strength ammo is ok but I would not load it a hot as my model 98 Mauser. I have seen them advertised in the Shotgun news. I have one and like the 7.35 if you load it single shot the bolt has to be removed and a cartridge snapped in and reinserted. The clip is a modified 6.5 Carcano and hard to find.
Military ammo in clip
Getting ammo for it is possible but unless you reload can be a challenge. Military ammo is drying up and isn’t always reliable. Norma made ammo for it for years but as far as I know quit a few years ago. Occasionally some can still be found but generally runs at least $40 for a box of 20 Years ago there was a company that full length swaged 308 brass down to the 7.35 case diameter. It worked ok but it was a lot thicker then normal brass so loads had to be backed off about 10 % or so. It took some serious force to body swage those cases. Bullets are also a problem as they mike in at .298-.300 and that is a unique diameter. Hornady makes soft points in 125 grain for the reloader after an absence of some years. Reloading dies are available from the big die makers such as RCBS and Lee. Occasionally a custom bullet maker will offer bullets but don’t hold your breath. Brass is easy enough to get. Just get 6.5 Mannlicher cases neck up size as normal and trim to length. Also you can neck up the 6.5 Carcano and load as normal. To neck up I use a taper die from RCBS as the necks are straighter that way. The bullets that I have been able to find weighed from 125 to 150 grains when they were available. The outfit that I bought mine from closed their doors so I was out of luck. I decided to get the equipment and make my own to avoid being at the mercy of someone else. Making the 298 diameter bullets wasn’t as hard as I thought. Also I can make any weight I want but anything heavier then a 180 isn’t practical. So now I have a choice from 60 to 180 grains not to mention cast bullets. Corbin bullet making equipment was used in making most of the bullets. Corbin also provided the cannelure tool. Keep in mind that almost any type of equipment can be bought but non standard dies cost a lot more. Since I like to make a rifle as flexible as possible making my bullets will help a lot. Also using your own bullets adds another dimension to your reloading. There is a satisfaction factor in making and using your own bullets. Do not use .308 diameter bullets as they can cause excessive pressure and loss of accuracy. In many cases they won’t chamber.
Closeup of 7.35 Carcano Bolt
What can the ammo be used for? In power it’s on the low side of the 300 Savage. That makes it viable for deer and smaller bear. Wild hogs and similar animals will also fall to this round given good ammo and proper shot placement. Over 100 yards it would certainly be better then a 30-30 or some other similar round. One of my customers that I load a 150 grain for uses it in Minnesota for white tails. He shoots they fall. He has taken several out to about 150 yards or so. Of course his rifle has been scoped and accuracy at 100 yards is around 1 “to 1 & ½ “for 3 shots at 100 yards. That is more then enough for a deer rifle at normal ranges. With lighter bullets it would make a fairly decent varmint round. Bullets can be 100 or 110 grains if desired for that purpose. Cast bullets could be used for small game that one wants to eat. If you manage to get a scope on one it should make a decent 200 yard or so deer gun. Like most guns it will out shoot its owner given it’s in good shape and good ammo is used. Twist is 1 in 10 so it can stabilize 180 grain bullets if desired. Bullets and ammo can be obtained at www.aco4u.com/ammo. Due to different reloading conditions and methods I can not be responsible for use of this data. Use with caution!!!!
Various bullets from 110 to 160 grain are usable
LOAD BULLET VELOCITY COMMENTS
1.12 X Unique 86 grain round nose 1970 high es
2. 9 X Unique 110 grain rn 1497 consistent
3. 8 X Unique 115 grain cast 1537 also consistent
4. 8 X Unique 125 grain soft point 1293 consistent
5. 34 X H-322 125 grain soft point 2542 high es low vel
6. 37 X H-322 125 grain soft point 2770 *** good load
7. 39 X IMR 4895 140 grain spitzer 2465 ** consistent
8. 40 X 760 150 grain fmj 2189 mild
9. 40 X 760 150 grain spitzer 2201 mild
10. 38 X IMR 4895 150 grain deer bullet 2509 do not exceed
11. 38 X IMR 4895 150 grain spitzer 2569 * consistent
12. 7 X Herco 165 grain cast 1285 consistent
13. 7 X Unique 165 grain cast 1281 consistent
14. 36 X IMR 4895 170 grain soft point 2188 ** slow high es
15. 40 X 760 170 grain soft point 2180 consistent
16 41 X 760 170 grain soft point 2257 *** good load
17. 40 X 760 180 grain soft point 2218 consistent
• most accurate ** second most accurate *** third most accurate
• ES is the difference between the fastest and slowest shot in the string.
• FMJ full metal jacketed bullet rn round nose bullet
Temperatures were between 60 and 70 barrel length 21” 7 shots were fired through chronograph to obtain velocity and start screen was 10 feet from muzzle. Brass was either Hornady 6.5 necked up or 6.5 X 54 Mannlicher shortened and necked up. Didn’t seem to be any difference between the two in so far as service. Both cases worked fine. I used Winchester primers in all loads. Case life was good many were fired several times with no sign of stretching or bulges. Primers always fit tight with no sign of looseness. That indicated loads that are not too hot for gun or brass. As always approach top loads with caution and start 2 or 3 grains of powder below listed loads. While these loads are safe in my rifle they may be excessive in another firearm. Since I have no control in anyone else’s loading methods or supplies neither myself nor the publisher can be responsible for using this loading data.
Breakdown of military round 40 grs of powder and a 128 grain bullet
I took 4 cases and filled them up to the top with WW 296 30-30 49 grains 7.35 52 grains 300 Savage 53 grains and the 308 60 grains. That shows that if all were loaded to the same pressures that it would be very close to the 300 Savage and out do the 30-30 by a decent margin. In a strong rifle and loaded to the same pressure it would virtually duplicate the fine 300 Savage round. However it is below the 308 by a significant margin. Like the 300 Savage it works best with medium burning powders such as 4895. Notice load # 17 was a bit faster then # 15 using the same powder charge. That would indicate that 760 is the best powder for heavier bullets. Slower burning powders such as IMR 4350 would be too slow for best results. Using the 30-06 you need 14 or so grains of the same powder to gain another 4 to 500 feet per second. The expansion ratio is a complicated way of rating cartridge efficiency. It takes case capacity, bullet seating, bullet diameter and barrel length to come up with a number. The higher the number the more efficient the cartridge is in relation to the amount of powder burned in verses the velocity. The 7.35 would have a high expansion ratio indicating that it’s an efficient cartridge The 30-378 for example would have a very low expansion ratio and it requires a huge amount of slow burning powder to beat out a 300 Winchester Magnum by a couple hundred feet per second.
The 125 is a good all around bullet
Accuracy was good with most loads. I tried others but these are the best & most representative. The 50 yard groups ran 1 &1/2 to about 2 &1/2 depending on load. The groups were round and I have no doubt that a scope could shrink the groups a lot. The groups compare favorably to other iron sighted military rifles that I have shot. Probably a younger shooter with better eyes can do better also. I feel that at 100 yards a scope sighted gun could put 3 shots into an inch with a good load. While the sights are crude once you get used to them they are functional out to 100 yards or so depending on your eyes. The trigger is typical military and has some travel but let off is consistent and I don’t find it any problem,
Military ammo in original box
Just for comparison I took the 308 diameter bullets against the 298 Carcano for sectional density of each bullet. I don’t recommend trying to exceed the top loads. There would be nothing to be gained and you might put an unnecessary strain on the action. While it seems to be a reasonably strong action why take chances.
308 110 grain SD .166 298 110 grain SD .177
308 125 grain SD .188 298 125 grain SD .201 308 150 grain SD .226 298 150 grain SD .241
308 170 grain SD . 256 298 170 grain SD .273
Not much difference between them. Ballistic coefficients would be similar with same weight and style of bullets. In theory the Carcano bullet would give slightly deeper penetration but it would be difficult to tell the difference except in a lab.
A 150 grain at muzzle velocity of 2500 feet per second would have 1916 foot lbs of energy. At 300 yards that would drop down to 1922 feet per second giving 1222 foot lbs of energy. 400 yards would be 1791 feet per second while yielding 1024 foot lbs of energy. In theory that would make it a 400 yard deer gun using the 1000 foot lbs of terminal energy philosophy. In practice if sighted in at 200 yards it will drop approximately 10” at 300 while at 400 it would drop 30 or so inches. With that in mind I would consider it a 300 yard gun if it had good sights or a scope. These figures are approximate. They would depend on height of scope above barrel or iron sights. Velocities and bullet configuration would also affect the trajectory.
The rear sight is crude and non adjustable
The 170 at 2300 feet per second produces 1997 foot lbs of energy. At 100 yards it drops off to 1796 and 1218 respectively. At best that load is a 150 yard game load. Anything below 140 grains should be used for varmints and small game. I found the 165 grain cast very accurate at 1200 feet per second or so. The lighter cast bullets were also accurate and pleasant to shoot. That would be excellent for small game that you wanted to eat afterwards. The cast bullets were sized to .300 which helped with accuracy.
Cartouche on 7.35 Carcano stock
Would you throw away the rest of your rifles and get one of these? Of course not! If you have a 300 Savage use it. However if you like odd ball hunting rifles that work this is a viable option. It’s light and handy and a lot of fun to shoot. Would I take it hunting? Under the proper circumstances I would. I probably won’t scope it but at 50 to 100 yards in good light it will deliver the goods so why not. I have shot the rifle quite a bit and had no feeding or other mechanical problems. There were no misfires. Recoil isn’t bad either. Also I have gained a lot of respect for it.
Clip being loaded in a 7.35 Carcano