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