More Beretta information and clarifications.
The Italian Army used three versions of the BM59 rifle: (1) BM59 Ital with wooden stock, tri-compensator, and bipod; (2) BM59 Ital -- Alpini (Alpine) for mountain troops it has a wire folding stock, pistol grip, and tri-compensator; and (3) BM59 Ital -- Parachudutisti (Parachutist) for paratroops, it has a wire folding stock, pistol grip, removeable tri-compensator,
Above: A BM59 Ital with bayonet fixed and bipod extend. The front sling swivel is side mounted. The selector lever for the rifle is located just behind the lower edge of the upper handguard.
Below: The BM59 Ital with its built-in rifle grenade sight up. When the sight is in this position, the gas system of the rifle is cutoff. Some BM59 stocks had the finger grooves as shown here, and others did not.
Above: A BM59 Ital in close-up. The lever projecting in back of the trigger guard is the winter trigger. This allows firing of the rifle with mittens or gloves. The notch below the operating rod is part of the selective fire mechanism.
Below: The back of the BM59 receivers are stamped below the rear sight with: "P. BERETTA, 7.62mm BM59, Gardone V.T., Italia, and serial number."
Below: The BM59 Ital Alpine/Para rifle with an M31 Anti-Tank practice rifle grenade mounted and grenade sight folded.
Above: The stock assemblies of the the BM59 Ital (infantry) and the Alpine/Parachutist versions. The barrel and receiver and trigger housing groups are interchangeable in either stock assembly. Note how the folding stock shortens the overall length.
Below: The BM59 Ital Alpine/Parachutist stock assembly with folding stock extended.
Another interesting variation of the BM59 design is the Mark IV or "Nigerian" squad automatic rifle. The Mark IV used the same barrel and receiver and trigger housing groups of the standard rifle, but the stock assembly was quite different. This stock had a folding butt plate (similar to that on the U.S. M14 rifle) and a pistol grip. The concept was very similar to the U.S. M14E2 or M14A1 automatic rifle.
Above: A BM59 Mk IV automatic rifle. Compare the design with that of the U.S. M14E2 or M14A1 automatic rifle, Below.
Beretta made other variations of the BM59 design, the BM59 Mark 1 and the BM59E. There was also an austere version called the BM62.
Above: The BM59 Mk I was an austere version of the BM59 Ital with or without selective fire, bipod, or grenade launcher. The rifle used the standard American M1 Bayonet (as did the BM59E). The BM59E was even more austere than the Mk I and had a short handguard spacer between the gas cyliner and rear handguard. The BM59 Mk 1 and BM59E still used the charger or stripper clip guide of the BM59 Ital.
Below: The BM62 was another austere version of the BM59. Like the BM59, it could be had in either select fire or semi-automatic fire only. It could be found with either the standard rifle or Alpine/Parachutist's stocks. It did not have the stripper clip guide on the receiver and the gas cylinder lock of the M1 was replaced by a short combination flash suppressor/compensator. The gas cutoff for rifle grenades and the folding bipod was not fitted. This BM62 is fitted with the folding stock assembly.
Here are some photos of the BM59 Ital Alpine in-service with Italian Alpine and Parachute troops during the 1980's and 1990's.
Above: Artillerist Parachutist Marino Sommaggio of the 185th Artillery Regiment of the Folgore Parachute Brigade at Gamerra Barracks, Pisa, Italy, with a Beretta BM59 Ital Alpine/Parachutist's rifle.
Below [left]: A camouflaged position of the 8th Special Alpine Regiment. The two troopers are armed with BM59 Ital TA rifles.
Above: An Alpine trooper with his BM59 Ital TA rifle. The 8th Special Alpine Regiment is specially trained in mountain warfare fighting.
The 20-round magazines of the BM59 and BM62 series rifles are probably the most expensive designed. They are made of steel and have milled aluminum followers. The shape of the magazine is very distinctive as seen here.
Below: [Left] Close-up left and right sides of the magazine. [Center] Rear and front views of the magazine and its aluminum follower. [Right] Bottom marking and shape of the magazine.