By Josh G.
Ah, Italy. A country of beautiful scenery, historic buildings, delicious food, fine art and some of the most beautiful, fast cars in the world. Oh, and when they get their hands on a classic like the M1 Garand, they turn it into a piece of art . . .
and change its name to BM59.
The M1 Garand, “the greatest battle implement ever devised,” was an essential tool for ground forces across the globe during WWII. It’s widely acknowledged as one of the greatest firearms ever built. But, as with most things in life, like technology, it eventually became an obsolete design needing replacement. In America, the M14 took the war fighting reins (however briefly). Other countries, like Italy, thought it best to improve upon the rifle they already had.
Beretta figured it would be cheaper and less time consuming to use the M1 Garand as a planform on which to add upgrades to make the weapon better. The end result was a beautiful rifle called the BM59. It was re-chambered to accept the NATO standard 7.62X51 rifle cartridge via a 20-round magazine.
Beretta wanted a firearm that was capable of going full or semi automatic with an 800 round per minute cyclic rate of fire. It was an optimally designed magazine fed, lightweight, air cooled, gas operated system that served a variety of purposes. There was a model with a folding stock for paratroopers, and one with a wood stock and bipod for the infantry. Additionally, it could be used as a last resort light machine gun to lay down some suppressive fire. And, it could also disable armored vehicles (more on that in a bit).
The muzzle of the BM59 serves a few different roles including flash suppression, recoil reduction, slicing people up with an attached bayonet and launching ENERGA anti-tank grenades. Some BM59 owners and fans have said that the tri-compensator is the best flash suppressor ever built. it certainly seems to do what Beretta intended.
These rifles aren’t seen very often and can be expensive. Because they are rare, there are also many fakes out on the market, that are made from chopped up and re-welded Garands. However if it says either Beretta or Springfield Armory on the receiver, it’s the real deal.
The fine quality specimen I found in my buddy’s gun shop, Defcon 1 & The Chow Hall, was listed for sale at a little under $3,000, which isn’t cheap by any stretch of the imagination. But, then again, maybe that’s the price you pay for (an improved) piece of military history.