At a recent gunshow I took pictures of the following box of charges. What is the story behind Italian .303 charges from 1945?
Paul - did you look at the sides of any of the chargers to see if they had any markings?
Whilst the packet Label says “1945 Contract” ( which means after April 30, 1945, when the Germans in Italy surrendered) it was probably issued later in 1945, as the provisional “Government of the South” took over from the Allied Occupation Forces, and returned Italy to a Civilian Adminsitration; The New Italian Army ( Still “RE”, as King Umberto (Humbert) II had assumed the throne in 1944 when Victor Emmanuel II abdicated in 1944, and was continuing as Titular Head of State till a Referendum on the Monarchy etc. could be held., in 1946.).
The Factory (G&M) is unknown to me, probably a metal stamping facility which had the machinery and Tooling Knowledge to make the clips quickly. Italy received in late 1945 and 46, large quantities of SMLE No.1 Mark III* Rifles, and No4 Rifles, to completely re-arm the RE, the Navy and the Airforce. Military service was re-introduced, and the Class of 25 ( 1925) was recalled, irrespective of whether they had already served in either the “Southern Forces” or the RSI… ( the Class of '25 had been called up in the RSI in 1944)
And Italy still had large quantities of Airforce .303 ( 7.7x56R) ammo in stock at peace in '45. This ammo plus the supplies of Mixed British/Commonwealth .303 were used for the training of the “New” forces, in the immediate Post-war years, ( SMI, BPD and GFL made .303 ammo in the 1950s; and until the Bolt actions were eventually replaced by M1 Garands, both US and Beretta/Breda-Made in the early 1950s…SMLEs were still held by the Navy and Airforce, and for recruit training until the late 1960s. The Final SMLEs from the Navy were only sold last year ( mostly to Euro-Arms, Val-Trompia, (Brescia).)
Hence the flush-out of Packets of new .303 clips “Made in Italy”.
The packet and contents is a real collector’s item (First Contract), and should be kept intact…
Clips are marked on side "GMI " (no date)…from Auction photo…They are MINT. Clip design is “Mark III” ( equal sized side-holes including spring end-hole ).
The Clips are stiffer than British and Commonwealth clips, and require some “stoning” internally with carborundum or Arkansas Stone if one wishes to use them, especially for competition. The parkerisation makes them “high friction”.
Very nice Find.
Couldn’t find any info on G&M yet.
These chargers turned up in considerable quantities a couple of years ago when the Italian Navy disposed of their stock of Enfield rifles. Since then they are still to be found but in smaller quantities and at a higher price.
Apart from the South African ‘unmarked’ ones the Italian ones are the least user friendly clips for loading rifles. As Doc AV said, the finish is ‘high friction’ and there was a very good reason why the UK changed from this MkIII form to the MIV in 1917. The rate of the spring formed at each end of the charger by breaking the sidewall is far too high, it was for this reason that the shape of the end aperture was changed to an elongated one on the MkIV.
The GM marked charger are to be found with the Roman numerals I through VI, I presume these are contracts;
There are also some chargers to be found marked ‘SMI’, these need to be looked for as the marking is on the base and is easily overlooked;
Happy collecting, Peter
I can only agree with DocAV about the stiffness and high friction of the italian chargers, since I have given almost up loading with them when shooting my No4 Mk1* Savage. Being a bit careful and looking at what you do, its easy enough to load rim in front of rim etc.
I believe GM I & GM V is Giollo Martinelli, I have tried to find out more about the makers but I have not had much luck.
I have been compiling a list of .303 charger manufacturers but I dont know how to put up a .pdf file.
I agree with other posters about the stiffness of Enfield chargers. Its a pretty fine balancing act between being stiff enough to hold the rounds in place and too stiff to load.
I’m sure most of the regular Enfield users on here have encountered chargers that have required so much effort to push the rounds down into the mag that you can say its more or less impossible without getting up and putting your body weight behind it. Then when it does go you take the skin off your thumb.
Inconvenient on a range but much more serious in combat.
RichT–There is no way to post a .PDF or a .DOC file directly on the IAA Forum. The best you could do is to post a link to your own web site where they are posted.
May someone remind me the difference between MkIV and MkIV* charger?
Enfield chargers.pdf (304.1 KB)
Thanks, mate, now I can see the difference,