When reenacting a time period, such as the Second World War, then weapons have to be an important element to any group. Firearms are, and have been, a prominent feature on the battlefield. In Mediterraneo, we use only Second World War Italian firearms. These are either deactivated to UK standard, or are legally held on firearms licenses by the group members.
Beretta M1934 pistol
Introduced in1934 to replace the 1910 Gilsenti automatic pistol. It fired the 7mm round, but was also produced in 9mm. It was issued to officers, machine gunners, tank crews and some NCO's. The Regia Aeronautica pilots were issued the M1935 pattern, which was identical, but had a lighter top slide.
M1891 Mannlicher-carcano rifle
The M91 was introduced in that year and served the Italians in the First World War. The calibre of the rifle was 6.5mm, and post First World War studies showed that the calibre lacked power. This was evident in Italy's invasion of Abyssinia in 1936. The Regio Esercito adopted the 7.35mm spritzer head round, and immediately started to produce and even recalibrate existing carcanos. Unfortunately, war was declared, and the Italian Army then had to back track, rechambering 7.35 rifles into 6.5mm rifles as stocks of the older round were in abundance. However, this was never entirely achieved, so the Italians went to war with two differing calibres for their rifles. The M1891 as a rifle is much maligned (Mainly due to wartime propaganda) , but actually is no worse or no better than any other nations bolt action rifle of the time.
Beretta MAB 38a Submachine Gun
The Italians were one of the first to produce an operational submachine gun (In 1918, along with the Germans), and their use has remained in the Italian army since then. The Beretta MAB 38a has often been vaunted as one of the best SMG's of World War Two. Many were captured or 'borrowed' by friend and foe alike in preference to their own nations SMG's. Although slightly heavy, the MAB38a is a well balanced weapon, firing the 9mm parabellum round. It had a selection of magazines, from 40 round down to ten round boxes. It had a selective fire arrangement, utilizing two triggers. One trigger allowed for single shots to be fired will the other allowed full automatic bursts. The MAB38a was fairly accurate for its type, and deemed more reliable than any other in its field. In the latter part of the war, the 38a was modified to lessen manufacturing time, and the MAB38/42 was born.
The Italian hand Grenade is often referred to as the Red Devil. This was coined by British troops in the North African battlefields. Italian grenades are different from other nations due to the fact that they utilize an 'Always' fuse, rather than a time delay one. When the leather tab was pulled,this free'd the metallic cap . This would detach during the flight of the grenade extracting a safety plate and actually arming the grenade. It would then explode on impact with the ground/Object it was being thrown at. The Italian grenades were offensive in nature, being designed to be used by advancing troops, so their immediate detonation reduced the risk of the soldier being harmed by his own grenade, as was the risk of time delayed ones. The SRCM type was slightly more unreliable in detonation (3-4%) compared to the other two types (Breda and OTO at 1-2%). However, this was only in sandy ground conditions and snow covered area's.
(With many thanks to Maurilio Tamaio from Italy for this update of information)
Breda Modello 37 HMG
The Breda Modello 37 HMG was one of the main stay weapons used by the Italians in World War Two. Along with the older Fiat Revelli Modello 14, Italian Machine gun teams attempted to stem the Allied advances on their postions. The Breda, in essence, is a good HMG. Good cylic rate, and with an 8mm round it certainly packed a punch. Its one drawback was the tray feed mechanism chosen for it, over a belt fed option. What is even stranger is that once fired, the empty cartridge was then slotted back into its place in the tray! This then left a complete tray, full of empty cartridges, all of which then had to be removed by the machine gun team and recharged before it could be used again. There was a mechanical tray charger in use within the Regio Esercito, but this is fairly large and cumbersome, and wholly inappropriate for soldiers to use in the field, so the trays were emptied and recharged by hand.
Breda 30 LMG
The Breda 30 LMG was the standard LMG of the Italian amed forces in World War Two. Although it carried some innovative design aspects (such as the rapid change barrell) it had very few good points. It fired the 6.5mm Carcano round, which was deemed under powered. It also had an odd magazine arrangement, in which every 20 rounds was fed into an integral magazine, rather than having seperate magazines for rapid reloading. Possibly the worst aspect of the weapon was that it had an oiler on the top, which dispensed oil onto every cartridge to aid in its extraction. This must have been a magnet for dust and dirt, and a nightmare to maintain. It was wholly an unpopular weapon with the troops but it was all they had, so the fact they carried on using it until the end of the war is a miracle