Carcano Modello Fucile, Fucile Corto, Moschetto per Truppe Speciali e Moschetto per Cavalleria

Carcano of the Model Rifle, Short Rifle, Carbine for Special Troops and Carbine for the Cavalry

With the introduction of the Fusil d'Infanterie Modèle 1886 “Lebel” by France and the Mannlicher Repetiergewehr M. 1888 by Austria-Hungary, Italy is surrounded by potential adversaries who are equipped with rifles that are superior to the currently in service Vetterli-(Vitali) Modello 1870 and 70/87 Fucile (Rifle).
Therefore a commission is set up in 1888 under Generale (General) Gustavo Parravicino to develop a new rifle for the Regio Esercito (Royal Army).
This committee decides after meetings on the 17th and 18th of April 1890, on the advice of its secretary Maggiore (Major) Antonio Benedetti, to opt for a revolutionary 6.5 mm caliber for the new weapon, instead of the usual 8 and 7.5 mm calibers.

Tenente Colonnello (Lieutenant-Colonel) Pietro Garelli-Colombo succeeds Maggiore (Major) Antonio Benedetti as secretary. He decides after tests conducted in August 1890, to introduce "progressive rifling". The rotation of the internal spiral grooves of the barrel will, on his proposal, increase from 1:19.25” to 1:8.25" when the bullet exits the barrel. "Progressive rifling" reduces erosion of the barrel and improves the accuracy of the weapon.
(In the late 30's the Italians abandon "Progressive rifling" because the low performance increase could not justify the higher costs in light of the financial position of Italy and the period of rearmament.)

On September the 23rd 1890 four Italian Arsenals (Brescia, Terni, Torino, Torre Annunziata) are asked whether they, in addition to those design proposals already received and rejected, could submit studies and models to the commission. The commission decides on the 23rd of April 1891 to equip the model proposed by the Turin Arsenal with the Mannlicher magazine loading system of a German Gewehr 88. After paying the royalties of 300,000 lire to Ferdinand Ritter von Mannlicher the magazine loading system is being improved and used.
The person responsible for designing the original model of the Turin Arsenal and the installation of the Mannlicher magazine loading system is Salvatore Carcano.

1000 prototypes are manufactured by the Turin Arsenal called Modello 1 and an alternative model made by the arsenals of Terni and Torre Annunziata called Modello 2. In the meantime, parallel to the development of the gun, the Laboratorio Pirotechnico di Bologna develops a new rimless cartridge; the 6.5 x 52 mm.
New models equipped with this cartridge are developed, called Modello 1bis and Modello 2bis. After tests the troops prefer the Modello 1bis.

After a final modification to the visor during August 1891, the rifle Modello 1bis is presented on December the 31st 1891. After meetings on the 4th and 5th of March 1892 the committee decides to offer the weapon to the Ministero di Guerra (War Department) as the Modello 1891.

With Decree N. 57 of the 29th of March 1892 the War Department accepts the recommended weapon. During the spring of 1894 the first units of the Regio Esercito (Royal Army) are equipped with the first member of the "Carcano" family; the Carcano Modello 91 6.5 x 52 mm Fucile.

Carcano’s are generally stamped with a maker mark, production year mark (till mid 1943) and a serial number on the chamber. The production year is represented by two to four digits (1914, 914 or 14). Copies produced without a production year mark are produced after the fall of the Fascist regime on July the 25th 1943.
Guns manufactured between 1929 and 1943 also have a date mark according to the Fascist year count in Roman numerals. This era begins on October the 28th 1922. The serial number consists often of one or two letters followed by four digits.

Other common Italian markings:
Two crossed rifles on a bulls eye on the barrel and / or on the butt stock: a mark of the Tiro a Segno Nazionale (National Sharpshooters)
The letters RA: copies used by the Regia Aeronautica (Royal Air Force)
An anchor: copies used by the San Marco Marines of the San Marco Infantry Division.
The text "TUBATO" positioned in a U shape: copies with worn-out barrels that are refurbished in the 20's by drilling them out and filled by a “tube”.

Variations:
Some specimens used by shooting competitions have a double trigger.

Sources:
Armi portatili Artiglierie e Semoventi del Regio Esercito Italiano 1900-1943; Giulio Benussi; 1975
il91.it/il91.html
carbinesforcollectors.com/91_38cav.html
personal.stevens.edu/~gliberat/carcano/models.html
world-militaria.it/italia/fotoita/bacchettescritte1.jpg
Cacciavite per modelli di Carcano
Cacciavite per modelli di Carcano
Screwdriver for the Carcano models
Moschetto per Cavalleria
Moschetto per Cavalleria
Carbine for the Cavalry