Beretta Model 1938A

Beretta Model 1938A

Type Submachine Gun
Barrel Length 31.49cm
Magazine Capacity 10-, 20-, 30, or 40-rounds
Cyclic Rate 600 rounds/minute
Caliber 9mm Parabellum
Country of Origin Italy

In 1938, Italy officially adopted a submachine gun that has since been acknowledged as one of the world’s finest. Originating from a series of submachine guns dating back to 1918, the Beretta Model 1938A was a highly accurate, expensively manufactured submachine gun. Instead of a selector switch, the Model 1938A has two triggers. The front trigger is for semiautomatic firing, and the rear for full auto.

The Model 1938A submachine gun was designed by Tullio Marengoni, who had designed the Beretta Model 1918. The Model 1938A, in fact, might be considered the ultimate evolution of the old Model 1918. The first variation of the Model 1938A can be recognized by the long slots cut into the machined barrel jacket, and by its two-part compensator. In addition, the first model was equipped with a bayonet lug that can accommodate a short folding-knife-type bayonet; very similar to those found on Italian rifles.

The second variation of the Model 1938A was the first version to go into full-scale production. It can be characterized by the Royal Italian Government crest imbedded in the right hand side of the stock. The barrel jacket now had multiple round cooling holes running its full length. The third variation was the result of requests from Italian forces fighting in the African desert. The barrel lug was removed and an improved form of compensator was introduced.

As testimony to its superior design and construction, the model 1938A was not only used by Italian and German troops during the Second World War, but it was also purchased by the Romanian Government in 1939, and by Argentina in 1947. For all of its accuracy, reliability, and popularity, the main problem with the Model 1938A was that is was too good—beautifully machined and expensive and time-consuming manufacture. A stamped metal barrel jacket that appeared on some later versions was the only production shortcut that was incorporated into the Model 1938A. It was followed by the Beretta Model 38/42, an excellent gun in its own right, but far less expensive and time consuming to manufacture. For updates regarding rifles such as the AR-15 check out this blog here or on twitter here

Although the practice of attaching a bayonet to a submachine gun does seem a bit odd, it certainly had its adherents among the Italian military leaders. Perhaps on of the oddest examples of this was the 1956 Beretta Model 4 which features a folding 20.32cm (8in) bayonet shaped like a marlinspike.