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M1,M14 and BM59 : Beretta's BM59
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 Message 1 of 5 in Discussion 
From: MasterGunner  (Original Message)Sent: 5/13/2005 8:35 PM
Back in the mid-1980's, Springfield Armory at Geneseo, Illinois, purchased all the parts and accessories left over from Beretta's production of its BM59-series rifles.  For those unfamiliar with the BM59, it is the tactical equivalent of the American M14 and Belgian FN FAL.  The BM59 rifles sold by them in the United States were identical to the Beretta rifles except the select fire parts were deleted.
 
As a member of NATO, Italy in the 1950's and 1960's was equipped with American surplus equipment.  It received many American M1 rifles from surplus stocks and the Italian firm of Pietro Beretta negotiated a license agreement with the U.S. to produce the rifle in Italy.  Italy produced M1's for its own use as well as producing them for other countries.
 
When NATO adopted the 7.62x51mm [T65E3] cartridge as its standard cartridge, the scramble was on for the NATO allies to come up with a rifle to fire this round.  The Italians decided to use a modified version of the M1, called the BM59, as their standard rifle.  The Beretta firm was able to modify the standard M1 to BM59 standard by using 1/3 of the parts (unmodified), 1/3 of the parts (modified), and 1/3 of the parts (new).  Beretta developed probably the most expensive 20-round magazine ever designed for a military rifle.  This magazine was steel with a milled aluminum follower to feed the cartridges.
 
The BM59 rifle had a Beretta developed "tri-compensator" that replaced the gas cylinder lock of the standard M1.  The "tri-comp" had the bayonet lug for a new bayonet resembling the U.S. M4 bayonet for the M1-M2 .30 carbines, performed a flash suppression and compensation function through the holes in its end, and doubled as a rifle grenade launcher.  The tri-compensator also incorporated a gas cutoff and grenade sight.  When the sight was erected, the gas system was cutoff for launching of rifle grenades.  Beretta added a folding aluminum bipod to the standard M1 rifle gas cylinder.  The stock was modified to accommodate a rubber butt plate, selective fire parts, and to enlarge the clip well area to accommodate the BM59 magazine. 
 
Beretta devised an interesting selective fire mechanism to modifiy the standard M1 to full auto fire.  The BM59 rifle's selector was on the left side front of the receiver ring, similar in operation to that of the M2 .30 carbine.  Beretta also welded a stripper clip guide to the lip of the rear sight overhang of the receiver. The stripper clip guide allowed a soldier to load his rifle from 5-round stripper clips [as packed in the bandoliers in the ammunition cans] directly into the magazine.  There was also a folding winter trigger lever to allow firing of the rifle with heavy gloves.  After they finished, the BM59 was the tactical equivalent of the U.S. M14 rifle (itself a product-improved M1).  When fired full auto, the BM59 was slightly more effective than the M14 due to the "tri-comp."  Cyclic rate was approximately 750-775 rounds per minute.
 
The BM59 rifle shown in the photo below was the standard infantry rifle.  Beretta also developed a rifle for Alpine troops and paratroops called the BM59-Ital.  This version had an M1 stock modified to add a pistol grip and a folding wire stock.  The BM59-Ital also had a removable tri-compensator instead of the fixed version of the rifle.  Italy also produced several other versions of the BM59 rifle for overseas owners of M1s.  One version merely added the 20-round magazine capability to the standard M1 and select fire parts -- the rifle looked just like an M1 except with a detachable magazine.  Another version was an austere BM59 called the BM62.  The BM62 dispensed with a lot of the bells and whistles of the BM59: the tri-compensator, stripper clip guide, bipod, and grenade launcher function.  The gas cylinder lock was replaced by a screw-on compensator and retained by the standard gas cylinder lock screw.
 
The BM59 series rifles have been replaced in Italian service by the Beretta AR-70 series rifles in 5.56x45mm NATO.
 
Below:  The photo shows a standard BM59 rifle with the bayonet attached to the tri-compensator.  The integral bipod is unfolded; there was a lug on the back of the bipod leg that engaged holes on either side of the stock when folded.  Notice that the sling has been moved to the left side.
 
   


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 Message 2 of 5 in Discussion 
From: MasterGunnerSent: 5/18/2006 12:51 AM
The BM59 tri-compensator replaced the gas cylinder lock of the M1 rifle.  It acted as a (1) flash suppressor, (2) compensator, (3) grenade launcher, and (4) mount for the bayonet lug   The M1 gas cylinder was modified to incorporate a combined gas cutoff and rifle grenade sight and served as a mount for the folding aluminum bipod.
 
 
Above: Component parts of the BM59 rifle that differ from the M1 Garand.  The gas cylinder lock screw is changed from the valve-type on the M1 to a solid screw used to retain the tri-compensator to the gas cylinder.  Unlike the M1 screw, the BM59 screw requires an Allen (hex)-wrench to remove it.
 
Below: An M9A1 anti-tank rifle grenade mounted on the M7-series grenade launcher of the M1 Garand rifle.  The BM59 tri-compensator fulfilled the same function as the M7-series launcher.
 
 

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The number of members that recommended this message. 0 recommendations  Message 3 of 5 in Discussion 
Sent: 5/18/2006 9:28 AM
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 Message 4 of 5 in Discussion 
From: MasterGunnerSent: 7/12/2006 3:43 AM
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. 
 
 

 
 

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 Message 5 of 5 in Discussion 
From: MSN NicknameAndytheAussieSent: 7/14/2006 10:20 PM
Great thread mate.  I remember teh BM59s with some nostalgia as they use to be somewhat common here (origianal Beretta then later the US made rifles).
 
Thanks for the trip down memoryy lane.
 
Andy

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