NATO 8x59

A fired, lacquered steel 8x59 Italian (by the look of it) case headstamped “NATO 1-4-52” (raised)
I had no idea this was ever trialed. Can anyone tell me more about it?


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Thanks Brian. my computer version of Google translates the meat of it as this:

"If on the one hand it would seem unlikely that the Army for a limited print run that could, as it was then, not having had a subsequent series production has left the building to an external contractor which would have been the SMI of Campo Tizzoro, from the other it should be noted that in that period the only manufacturer that printed steel casings was the own company Metallurguca Italiana
It must also be said that the hypothesis of a production for a possible adoption is based not only on the NATO brand, which would not make sense in a serious production since the cartridge was never adopted in the context of the Atlantic Alliance and from the date that would correspond to the period in which the studies were carried out which led, in the late 1950s, to the adoption of 7.62x51 as the official caliber of NATO

We remain naturally open to any eventual clarification or documentation that may allow us to definitively clarify the history of this particular cartridge model."

I still have to wonder why & for whatever it’s worth the earliest dated US made 7.62 ball round I have with a NATO symbol is 1955.

Italy was one of the initial signatories to the North Atlantic Treaty in 1949 so it was a member of NATO in 1952, although harmonisation of equipment, including ammunition, didn’t start until later … but given that Europe, Italy included, was flooded with US made equipment I’m surprised that “national” calbres were still in use by the military, although the Police in Italy … of all shades, hung onto the Carcano for ages.

The problems Britain had with the 7mm series was an indication of the way things were going.


I am confused on this, can a cartridge be approved by NATO by just one NATO country ?
If so I have learned something today, and that is a good thing :-)

Isn’t NATO certification the agreement of all countries and not in the capacity of a single country?

It appears more that somebody got something very wrong in Italy after having joined NATO.

And was there any NATO standardized caliber by 1952?

And the NATO standardization mark is the well known circle with a cross inside. The single word “NATO” factually should have no essential meaning then. So the Italians back then did not intend to express what we assume to understand today when reading the hs.

It is open to speculation why the letters NATO appear in this headstamp. It seems that even our Italian friends are unsure.
As far as I know, there was never a proposal, far less any consideration to “promulgate” (that is the bureaucratic term) a Standardization Agreement (STANAG) of the Italian 8 x 59 machine gun cartridge for NATO use. In the 1951 NATO conference on small arms standardization only Canada, France, the UK and the U.S. attended.
In my view we should look at this headstamp as an oddity, but not waste our time with phantastic speculation about 8x59 --with bore dimensions not used outside Italy-- being a considered as a NATO round.
Italian 8 x 59 like Swedish 8 x 63, Norwegian 8 x 61 or Dutch 7.9 x 57 Rimmed was adopted after WW1 for long range, indirect machine gun fire by armies that used 6.5 mm rifles. If WW2 showed anything, it was that exactly this kind of machine gun application was a thing of the past, replaced by much more effective mortar fire. Why should NATO consider one of these cartridges?

P.S. The 7.62 NATO cartridge adoption was decided in 1954, while its STANAG was ratified in 1957.

Thanks EOD and JPeelen for the classifications.

Perhaps specially made with the NATO cachet for some retail seller?

Jon - I would think it is too rare a cartridge with that headstamp to have been any retail commercial endeavor.


When adding that to 1952 and keepoing in mind it is a pure MG cartridge the potentially commercial part in this becomes very small, no?

Ok, ok…just thinking out loud.

Even the other users of the Breda M37 MG, specified them in 7.9 sS cartridge, Portugal as new guns, and Spain converted and improved as the Belt-fed ALFA 44.( post-SCW)
Italy still used 8x59RB until the 70s for Training.
No other use for the Cartridge…a couple of experimental rifles in 1942-43, but Italian collapse in September 43 brought an end to these trials.