5,6 x 43 mm Balilla Musket cartridge

Just found today the cartridge for the little carcano “Balilla musket” .It is a scale down version of the standard 6.5 Carcano, and was to be used with a special clip.

It was loaded with the caps also used on the short range carcano cartridges and a little lead bullet. It was reloadable.

Not actually a military cartridge since it was used by a paramilitary corp ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opera_Nazionale_Balilla ), but quite scarce even in Italy.

I have the brass lathe turned version, but I think that there were some steel cased cartridges also made.
How many variations of this cartridge are known?

I’ve been looking for these for ages, together with the clip that goes with them. They’re scarce enough that I’ve never even seen one in real life. I think there were a variety of different ones with most being quite similar to that shown at the top of this picture;



Peter, extremely strange and unusual carcano clips! Thank you for sharing them
I’ ve never known that even the short Balilla cartridges had their own clip

Here you can see the cartridge for the “standard” Balilla musket, with its clip compared to a Carcano one.

Here you can see the Balilla cartridges for the semplified musket ( without extractor) and loaded with a explosive paper primer ( on the left) and a wooden bullet. On the right the two known versions of the standard Balilla cartridges, steel and brass turned cases with their primer cap

[quote=“Pivi”]Peter, extremely strange and unusual carcano clips! Thank you for sharing them
I’ve never known that even the short Balilla cartridges had their own clip[/quote]

I must try to get some sort of order on my computer, I knew I had another picture of unusual Italian clips but it’s taken me until now to find it. My notes on the picture say that the top left clip is an aluminium one with a steel one below it, both without a sidewall aperture. The two on the right are varieties of the Balilla cartridge clip whilst the Mannlicher M’90 is the brass one made in Italy.

I’ve seen a few of the steel ones without the cutaway and the brass M’90 is to be found if you look long enough but the others have eluded me.

Happy collecting, Peter

By the way, here is the base of my unmarked steel, solid sidewall Carcano clip.

The side view is like the one in the picture above. Does anyone have any notion of who might have made this one?


From “il novant’uno” ( Belogi, Simoni, Grimaldi, 1970?)

There were three types of “Ballilla” rifles, all patterned on the M91 Cav Carbine. The Smallest, and mostly of “pot metal” parts castings ( steel receiver, Bolt and barrel), used the stubby, paper Blank cartridge without extractor.( and its special stubby clip) This was for boys of 6-10 years of age ( Figli della Lupa).
At about 11 years, ( Middle School), they moved to the “Ballila” carbine, with the Miniature Cartridge and clip, using the same “Capsula” ( battery cup of primer and charge) as used in the Military 6,5x52 Tiro-Ridotto False cartridge, this one using a “6mm” heeled ball, instead of the Military 6,5 diameter lead ball. ( 5,6x43?). Case diameter is the same as for a .30 carbine case, as I recall)

The Older boys ( 16-17, ( Avanguardisti, in the GIL ( Gioventu’ Italiana del Littorio), were armed with the standard M91 Cav. Carbine in 6,5mm,
(both Blanks and Ball), whilst Target shooting was also carried out with
"6mm Flobert" ( generic name for .22 RF ) After 17, they became “Giovani Fascisti” whilst at classical high school ( “Liceo”),trade school or at university; On graduation they either went to do their full Military service in the armed services, or joined the MVSN ( The Fascist Militia) or ( for the Uni grads.) became “Ufficiali di Complimento” ( reserve officers).

It was planned that a 100,000 M38 rifles which were made 1938-40, in 7,35, were to be issued to the GIL/GF; photos of them training with M38 FCs (first model) do appear in Propaganda photos & “il '91”; but that changed when they ( the M38s ) were packed off to Finland as aid in the Winter War and the Continuation War.

Even given that Thousands of Ballila Rifles of all types were made during the 1930s, there are few in existence today; especially the small model, with its fragile ZAMAC castings, which crumble with age; the standard “Ballila” carbine, being mostly all steel, survived better;
but still in small numbers. Clips for both are extremely rare, as are the cartridges.

BTW, the ONB ( and the GIL) were not strictly Military, coming under the Ministry of Education ( I think) but the staff were all Military or ex-Military, and the Equipment etc was supplied via the Military Supply System.
And of course, The Fascist Party hierarchy also had a (big) say in its aims and organisation.

The Girls had a separate, but similar organisation, without the firearms.
Their training was concentrated on Nursing, Home-making, and other “womanly” duties.
Both organisations had Physical fitness as a prime goal, as well as “Political reliability to the Cause”…and ran summer camps ( Colonie) at both Mountain and Seaside areas, to better the general health of all Italian Children. Sports competitions between different districts were also held, in Tennis, Athletics, Cycling,Boxing, etc.

Just a bit of overview of the background of the “Ballilla Rifles”.

The main aim of the rifle training was to have young people familiar with the national issue rifle (even in Miniature) right from an early age, so that by the time they were of Military age, they were very well “gun aware” and trained and Disciplined…what is sadly lacking in teenagers these days…

Most of the “ONB” centres are still standing today in most regional cities( they were well-built in the 20s and 30s) and often one can still see the “shadow” of the letters “ONB” and the Fasces on the Building’s prominent front wall. The Architecture is “Fascist” and quite distinctive.

Doc AV
AV Ballistics.

Hitler copied all this with the Hitler-Jugend, later in the 1930s.