6.5mm Carcano


#1

Can anybody help with identifying this 6.5mm Carcano cartidge please? It’s sat in my collection for years identified as a Proof loading. I don’t know how I reached the conclusion that it was a proof round but I vaguely remember reading somewhere that some cartridges were marked with this red stripe as an alternative to the usual 5-point star marking found in the 9 o’clock position.

Pivi pointed out to me that in his experience all Carcano proof rounds are identified by the 5-point star (and sometimes two stars) but that he had never before seen this red stripe marking. He has circulated this query on Italian collector’s forums but to date nobody has identified this marking.
Pivi suggests that the casemouth crimping is consistent with that used for a proof round as opposed to the 3-point stab crimp generally used for ball rounds. He also points out that proof rounds have a bullet diameter which is very slightly smaller than a normal ball round. I only have two ball rounds with which to compare my proof round and they measure in at 6.78mm & 6.81mm. My proof round has a bullet diameter of 6.73mm.
Pivi also went on to explain that proof rounds are loaded with between 1.5 to 2.28 grams of Balistite and that the airspace is invariably filled with wadding.

I have pulled my round and found that it contained no wadding and was filled to capacity with 46gns (2.98 grams) of grey propellant. Pivi feels that this would be a dangerous overload, even for a proof round. Any suggestions?

Pivi, could you please post your photo of a dismantled proof round for comparison?


#2

Also note that there is no 3-stab crimp around the neck typical for that kind of bullet.
Bullets for proof loads were also slightly longer than standard ones. Bullets used on proof loads were 0.1 mm smaller and 0.4 mm longer
The two stars on the SMI specimens are simply an headstamp variation, not proof loads. The two stars can be found on cartridges made by SMI from 1915 to 1918 and from 1924 to 1925.

Again, the powder from Jim’s sample doesn’t appear to be of any italian type of that era. Also note that LBC military cartridges are not as common as the other ones. They could have used different components and powders for their proof loads, but I also think that the Italian Government wrote down standard features for ALL the military ammunition

This is a typical proof load as made by Pirotecnico di capua, Bologna and SMI

Would like to ID at least the powder pulled from Jim’s sample


#3

Could the LBC Red Stripe be a “Prova Forzata per Sbarre di Canna”
( a proof load used in testing the rough-forged and bored barrels before final machining and fitting to the finished rifle, where-upon they were proofed with the * marked Proof Cartridge.). ???

The Powder looks very much like Coated Tubular Ballistite,( “IMI Neonite”) not the usual Flake-type Ballistite used in early Italian cartridges (Before Solenite).

IN any case, a Tubular Powder is Rare for use in Italy (or Europe for that matter) before WW II…Germany only used “RohrenPulver” ( copy of US IMR Powders) for Luftwaffe ammo during WW II ( More stable and reliable at altitiude)…Solenite ( an Italian Invention) is “Tubular” but is nothing like the US “MR” and “IMR” type Powders ( More “macaroni” shaped)

The date (1936) may give a clue to the origin of the Powder…( imported maybe) as this was the year of great increases in Italian Ammo production and importation, especially in the 6,5 case ( Hirtenberg Contract, etc); this was due to a) the Abyssinian War and b) the Spanish Civil War.

Regards,
Doc AV
AV Ballistics.


#4

Cartridges from Hirtenberger contract used a different powder. Dark grey flaks

Anyway the powder weight is far too much even for the " canne grezze" proof loads.
Actually Italy used two types of proof cartridges, both used the same case, bullet and star mark but different powder charges

Proof loads for rifles were loaded with 1.5 grams of Balistite whereas proof loads for unfinished barrels were loaded with 2.28 grams of Balistite

Anyway, even modern reloading data with modern powders never go beyond 40 grains.
In 1936 italians still used the gain twist barrels on their carcano rifles and muskets. A slow burning powder can be extremely dangerous in these rifles


#5

[quote=“Pivi”]Cartridges from Hirtenberger contract used a different powder. Dark grey flaks

Anyway the powder weight is far too much even for the " canne grezze" proof loads.
Actually Italy used two types of proof cartridges, both used the same case, bullet and star mark but different powder charges

Proof loads for rifles were loaded with 1.5 grams of Balistite whereas proof loads for unfinished barrels were loaded with 2.28 grams of Balistite

Anyway, even modern reloading data with modern powders never go beyond 40 grains.
In 1936 italians still used the gain twist barrels on their carcano rifles and muskets. A slow burning powder can be extremely dangerous in these rifles[/quote]

Great britains Proofhouse has quit often, marked proofloads by a red stripe, either around the case base or on the base itself…and they loaded the proof-loads to their own levels of pressure, and even often with their own available british powders. I have a lot of german cartridges,loaded by the brit.proofhouse with cordite powder, and other powders as the original powder was.

So, that should be considered also…A red stripe on the base (besides a full red base) was also used in finland, to identify proofloads…

PP


#6

Most of the proofs I have seen from Birmingham Proof House have a purple stripe across the base. The only British round I had at one time was a .45 tracer with a red stripe. In the same series was a purple-stripe proof, which I still have, and a green-stripe AP, now gone.

Am not saying, by the way, that they never used a red stripe for proof loads. I am simply reporting my own observations from cartridges within my field.


#7

I haven’t seen many British proof rounds marked with a stripe across the base but that’s because that type of marking is/was generally used for commercial ammunition which I do not collect. Having said that I have seen a few .30-06 proof rounds marked in this way and would agree with John that the lacquer was more of a purple colour than red.
I think the Finnish suggestion is very interesting and certainly the red colour is a very close match to that found on other Finnish proof loads. Just out of curiosity I’ve superimposed pictures of 7.62x39mm and 7.62x54mm proof rounds to illustrate the similarity in colour.


#8



Jim, A standard ball round of the same headstamp and year, could not weigh powder as scales at my sons house at the moment. but will give comparison.
Terry.
Most of the rounds i have have had the propellant come in contact with moisture and sticks to inside of case, they were imported into Australia in the 1970’s in large quantities with surplus rifles and the sea voyage might be the cause of the moisture.
I have pulled the bullets of many cartridges and the propellant type is constant.


#9

Finland received large quantities of carcano ammo and rifles from Italy ( Most 7.35 mm ).

Anyway the idea that it could be a Finnish proof load made using italian components is interesting and could well be an answer to this mystery.
Now if someone can ID jim’s sample powder as of Finnish made…

Anyway, if it is was a Finnish or British proof load it would certainly be a reload using italian components


#10

I’ve just returned home after spending the day down at the ECRA meeting held at Bisley here in the UK. I was surprised to see several of these ‘proof’ cartridges on different collector’s tables and, having made the obvious enquiries, it’s apparent that they all originated from the London proofhouse. One collector who doesn’t wish to be identified confirmed that he acquired a quantity of them from the proofhouse some years ago. Riddle solved I guess…


#11

Jim - this is an honest question, not an observation. Did the London Proof House necessarily load, themselves, all of the proof ammunition they used? Or, did they purchase some of it from without?

When at Mauser, which was big enough I guess to have their own proofing room at the factory, even though it was probably a function of the Oberndorf Proof House rather than Mauser, I acquired (in 1972), a Finnish (Sako headstamp) 7.65 mm Parabellum proof load and a fired case from the same proofing ammunition. They are marked similarly to that Carcano round and the color is very close in tone. I agree, too, that a Finnish connection for any 6.5 Carcano round is quite plausible.

If London loads all their own proof loads than I would agree, as you said, that the mystery is probably solved. It is simply a point of British proofing that I know nothing about. I do know, from the large importations of surplus (seized) handguns we made from England in the 1960s and early 1970s, at our store, that the British proof houses do proof test foreign (non-British) firearms before they LEFT England (I emphasize “LEFT” because I know some people believe they were proofed when they entered England). Arms that could not be proved were marked only with a string tag as “Failed Proof” or “Not proved” - something like that). For example, we have a several pistols marked that way and all that was wrong with them was a missing part of some kind. Most of these guns we got were seized from British citizens and were war souvenirs from one or another of the World Wars. When I say seized, I mean that they were either found by police in possession, or turned in during amnesty periods. We had dozens of Lugers with
British proof marks. Ahhh, the good old days of the Surplus arms industry.


#12

You raise a very interesting point John, and I’m afraid it’s one that I can’t comment on as I know absolutely nothing about the London Proof House or where they might obtain their proof cartridges from - if indeed they don’t load them all themselves.
From a rather selfish perspective I would certainly like to see a Finnish connection established as that would make my cartridge more of a ‘military’ loading rather than a commercial one.


#13

Sorry I can answer the question about the London Proof House loading their own loads. I would think that they did at some time or other. I do know Eley would sometimes provide proof loadings of cartridges not normally offered / manufactured by English makers. This was done by using standard imported commerical rounds, and reloading to the required pressures. That Eley did this, could well mean they supplied both houses with this service.
I have an now empty, Winchester .33 C.F. box with a white Eley Bros. Ld. (254 Gray’s Inn Rd. London) “PROOF CARTRIDGES” label to the front. The top / ends show a typical original Winchester orange color.

However to John Moss’s comment about guns being proofed when they left; I was given a couple of guns by the then (1967) Proofmaster. One of which was a 3rd model Colt 1903 pocket in .32 ACP which came into Britain as a Lend-Leese / Defense of British Homes gun. It was proofed when it came into the country. So apparently likely needed proofed dependent of several factors.


#14

Since Lend-Lease firearms were primarily intended for military use, perhaps the proofing rules were different for them. I know that the guns we got that were missing parts, etc. (when you buy a lot from the Government you have to bid on the whole lot, even stripped frames or the like), had no proofs, indicating they were not proofed when they entered England. Of course many of the souvenir guns entered the country illegally, so admittedly, they would not have been proofed. That leaves what I said about proofing upon export open to question, even in my own mind. At the time, though, our agent with W. Richards Ltd, of Liverpool, said that was the case. It is incredible to think of how many different calibers of proof load would be needed at a proof house processing the number and vastly mixed makes and models of firearm that were in the big government lots. I seem to recall that somewhere, perhaps in one of our imports, or perhaps at a gun show, I saw one handgun with a proof-house tagged marked something to the tune of “not proofed as no proofing cartridges of this caliber were available.”

I would have loved to be able to really tour a full proof house once in my life. Mauser that has a fairly small room, since they were only proofing guns of their own make. The same at SIG, where I watched them proof the Stg 57 7.5 Rifles for the Swiss military. They fired two proof
loads from each gun, one right after the other, with a big sliding armor-steel shield slid over the action. The firing of two proof loads really surprised me at the time. I wish it was the 9 mm Pistols they were proofing then! :-)


#15

John,
I walked into the Ferlach proof house, in Austria, last year.

Just like walking into a pub, I walked into a room full of weapons simply asking “Goodmorning, I am a cartridge collector, do you have any round to spare?”

I came back home with my pockets full of ammo. Many Nitro Express cartridges too

The guy who gave me the ammo said that they usually reload commercial ammo with high-pressure loadings, using any other original component. This is done especially for obsolete or hard-to-find ammo


#16

[quote=“Pivi”]John,
I walked into the Ferlach proof house, in Austria, last year.

Just like walking into a pub, I walked into a room full of weapons simply asking “Goodmorning, I am a cartridge collector, do you have any round to spare?”

I came back home with my pockets full of ammo. Many Nitro Express cartridges too
[/quote]
Obviously not all of Europe is as bad as here in the UK. That would never, ever happen here in 2011.


#17

Jim Buchanan has passed this query to a contact of his within the London Proofhouse so hopefully we’ll get a conclusive answer in time.


#18

I have received this response from the Proof Master of the London Proof House which I suggest confirms that they did at least put the red marking on the cartridge and, although he doesn’t say as much, loaded it too.

[b] Thank you for your letter regarding the unidentified cartridge that you have come by.

From the information that you have given and from the photograph submitted, I would suggest that this could possibly be from a batch of obsolete Proof Ammunition that was submitted to one of the auction houses some 4 years ago for sale to collectors. Metallic Proof Ammunition used by the British Proof Authority is usually marked by a single red or black line on the head or if manufactured from European Proof components, by a serrated rim.[/b]


#19

Interesting, as all of the proof loads I can recall seeing have a purple line. I have some ranging from around 1918 up to a 7.65 mm Browning manufactured from Noram (Swedish) components, which is fairly modern. All with purpole strips - not even redsish-purple, but violet.

Am only making an observation. I am not challenging the information from the proof house. They know a lot more about their own proof loads than I could ever know.

Does anyone have a confirmed British-loaded proof load, of any caliber and time, with a truly red strip or black stripe on the base? (If so, photo please, and escription of caliber if not obvious from the headstamp).


#20

I too would agree with your observations John. The few commercial proof loadings I have seen have had a very distinctive purple stripe and I certainly haven’t seen any other cartridges marked with either a red or black stripe.