Clay’s Garage Sale Guns #1- Carcano Paratrooper? By: Clay Martin

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Yes, I traded US dollars for this.

Have you ever made an impulse purchase that was way out of your wheelhouse, but it looked like such a good deal you had to go for it? Me neither. Okay, that isn’t actually true. But just because I make a serious, serious mistake doesn’t mean I don’t write about it on the internet. So that others may learn. Or have a good laugh. Or maybe both this time.

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Wood screw sling retention

I was at a garage sale not too long back, when I stumbled across the gun table. Still perhaps somewhat taken aback that I live in a place where they still sell guns at a garage sale, I spotted an old Italian rifle. Now I know next to nothing about old guns, Italian guns, or old Italian guns. But at $100 cash money, I didn’t really think I could go wrong. The pressure was on as customers streamed in, and I had to take my shot. Bundled with small rifle primers, some 40 S&W hollow points, and a semi-used hammer, I paid my money and hoped I was scoring big. How many wire stock Carcano Paratroopers could still be floating around?

Folding bayonet turned into forward grip

You know how on TV they take the prize home and then discover, usually right after the third commercial break, that they paid $100 for something worth $100,000? “That’s no unmarked prototype Remington! It’s actually King George VI’s Holland and Holland double!” Well, turns out, that only happens on TV. A quick Google search, that perhaps I should have done on my phone hours earlier, revealed some bad news. There is no such thing as a wire stock Carcano Paratrooper. Like, not even a little bit. Not an unfielded prototype, not a post-war import. There is nothing. And that is when the trouble began.

Williams, the first name in Italian sights

It turns out, I had purchased a highly modified (by amateurs), many owner, very high mile Carcano. It might be the worst gun I have ever laid hands-on, and is certainly the ugliest. I say that having reviewed everything Kel Tec has ever made, so the bar is high. Pretty much anything a feral savage would do to a gun, this gun has. It makes the Taliban’s blinged-out Enfields look like museum quality show pieces. It makes Somali pirate AK-47’s look like white glove specials. It’s so bad…it’s good. And I had to share this abortion in a can with you. I have had enough joy showing this pile of garbage off to friends and strangers that it has been well worth my $100.

“Custom” wire stock

The stock has been shortened, and by that I mean cut off with a hacksaw. The new wire stock is made of what looks like ¼ inch round stock and is in no way even close to straight. It mounts into two uneven pipes of questionable origin, which are attached to the wood stock in a manner we can only guess. Most likely, wood screws. The same thing holding the sling on.

Pro grade stock installation

The barrel looks to have been shortened, but thankfully it is still above 16”. I can’t really be sure, since the crown looks like it has doubled as a hammer for the last couple of decades. Either way, no Carcano spec I can find matches it. It has been “upgraded” to Williams sights, the first brand in Italian firearms.

Woodfiller on the 90-degree pistol grip

On an interesting note, the grip has been changed to a 90 degree one, not unlike what we see on modern PRS guns. I mean, this one is pieced together with wood glue, but the spirit is the same. The bottom of the grip features a green bee, which is either the mascot of the Italians in Ethiopia or a local community college. Still researching that one. It has a layer of ½ inch plexiglass protecting it, custom hand-fitted. Obviously.

So while this gun is bad, is it useless? Well, we already bought it, so we were going to find out. Carcano ammunition is at least available, in stock at the time of writing from SG Ammo. The rifle’s barrel is stamped in 1939, so I did have some concerns about safety. In the spirit of our “Paratrooper Carcano”, we decided to strap it down to some saw horses and pull the trigger with a string. For science.

Italian Army Group in North Africa? Let’s go with that.

One safety note here- It probably would have been better to take this into a pro to examine first, but I was too embarrassed to tell a gunsmith I owned it. Being an amateur Glocksmith and sometimes captured enemy gun aficionado, I decided we could handle it in-house. I did remove the bullets and gun powder from the first three rounds we shot, for good reason. I saw a negligent discharge once from a dude playing with a captured Makarov. The firing pin had rusted stuck in the forward position, and it fired the moment he finished chambering a round. Not good. I screw around, but ancient guns should always be examined by a gunsmith before firing if you aren’t an expert.

A good bullet out of a sketchy gun

To my surprise, the Carcano did fire. One thing about WW2 era guns, they die hard. Across the board. Our tester did in fact put a bullet through cardboard, even if the first one was tumbling at a distance of 3 feet. This does not speak well of the condition of the bore. I also didn’t have the stones to fire it with the “wire stock”. I have done some dumb things in my day, but age has at least seasoned me some.

What did we learn? Well, a $100 gun beats no gun. In a pinch, this monstrosity would defend you. Maybe not well, but still beats a slingshot and harsh words. And we learned you get what you pay for. Probably less. But what to do now? I will leave that to a vote of the readers, add your two cents in the comments. Do we try and restore the Carcano to at least some of its former glory? Parts are plentiful. Or do we go full Mad Max with this blaster, considering the damage that has already been done? Suppressor, weld on some scope rings, maybe even a trigger job? I don’t know, but either way, you haven’t seen the last of Clay’s garage sale specials.