Handloads: Getting A Carcano Into The Field

posted on April 14, 2024
6.5x52 mm

Ownership of a 6.5x52 mm Italian-chambered Carcano rifle is a strange curiosity indeed. After firing one, you’ll quickly realize why they are deemed “Italian tomato stakes.” The accuracy of these rifles is atrocious, and ammunition is scarce at best. However, for budget-minded shooters and collectors, they are still a popular option. Here is a recipe that I cooked up that generates usable accuracy and turns this inexpensive surplus rifle into an ideal truck gun.

143-grain ELD-X hunting projectile specsIt starts with Prvi Partizan brass, as the rim and extractor groove works well with the Carcano’s stripper-clip system. After cleaning, I use Hornady’s Custom Grade Dies but only after swapping out the included expander ball with one made for .264-cal. bullets. That is done to accommodate the smaller-diameter 143-grain ELD-X hunting projectile that this load is built around. Better performance can be had with 0.267"-diameter projectiles, but these are next to impossible to find and are typically limited to a round-nose FMJ profile.

After carefully weighing and segregating the re-sized cases, I prime them with Federal 210 large rifle primers. Some might balk at using these in this application, but the Carcano needs all the help it can get. With cases ready for propellant, I weigh 31.5 grains of common IMR 4064 for each and seat a bullet to result in a cartridge overall length of 3.000". The completed cartridge will yield an average velocity of 2,023 f.p.s. with a standard deviation of 31. This works out to 1,299 ft.-lbs. of energy—more than enough for whitetail deer or coyotes.

With an optic installed via an S&K Insta-Mount, I can put together five, five-shot 100-yard groups that average 4.25". By today’s standards, that might not sound like much, but it is unbelievable for a Carcano shooting a smaller-diameter bullet. Groups this size are more than adequate at the distances this load is intended for and can easily find their way into a deer’s vitals. Best of all, it gives us a reason to take our old warhorses out of our safes.


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