The 6.5x52mm Carcano cartridge has been around since 1891, and was only phased out of military service in the 1970s. Carcano rifles were strong actions, and most used gain-twist rifling to extend barrel life and improve accuracy. Heavy for the caliber projectiles, it retained useful energy levels despite the round nose form. The original lead core bullets had poor terminal performance, so later designs filled the bullet nose with less dense aluminum to promote tumbling on impact. Nearly 3 million Carcano rifles were built, and many of them sold in the US as surplus.
Unfortunately, until recently the ammunition supply did not keep up with demand. Corrosive World War II vintage or older surplus ammunition is unavailable, and what can be found should not be shot due to the uncertainties surrounding the storage conditions. A relatively affordable PPU load is available but offers very poor accuracy due to the severely undersized bullets used in all observed samples, resulting in unstabilized projectiles right from the muzzle.
Fortunately, an excellent target load is now available from Steinel Ammunition. Unlike current factory loaded 6.5 Carcano ammunition, Steinel’s load respects the original concept, thus providing outstanding accuracy as in its original format in 1891. The new cartridges use soft point expanding bullets that provide excellent terminal effect and accuracy while promoting reliable feeding. Loaded to 1,770 fps (from 17.5in barrels), this load offers a significantly lighter recoil than the original, while retaining good terminal performance at distances reasonable with iron sights. At short range, the bullet expands to about 0.516-inch with 39-inch penetration of synthetic gel, sufficient for a double-shoulder shot on a deer. This ammunition is non-corrosive and made to much higher quality and more consistent specifications than either military surplus or other commercial loadings.
Steinel Ammunition’s new vintage military round, the 6.5x52 Carcano is available online for $31.99 a 20-rd. box.
For more information, visit www.steinelammo.com.