JRA Gen 2 BILLET BM-59's

After WW II, the Italian economy and manufacturing infrastructure was in ruins. This posed a problem as Italy had to replenish its military defense capability, and developing a new weapons system from scratch was not an option. Fortunately, the United States had provided Italy with both surplus M1 Garands, as well as the manufacturing technology for them to build their own, which they did through the mid-1950s.

Post-war, the US began development of box-magazine-fed main battle rifle that would eventually become the M-14, which entered service in 1957. At the end of WW II, the US started re-engineering  the M1 Garand to take a box magazine, but the design was eventually scuttled in part due to our entrance into NATO. In addition to countering the growing influence of the Soviet influence, NATO also developed ammunition standardization, ensuring interoperability between its member states.

This posed a dilemma for the Italians, who were using semi-automatic M1 Garands with 8-round en-bloc clips chambered in .30-06 caliber, when the rest of the world was moving to select-fire, magazine-fed 7.62x51 NATO ammunition. Not to be deterred, and needing an economical solution to this problem, two Beretta engineers took over the US Garand re-design work in 1957 to convert the Garands to a magazine-fed 7.62x51 configuration. The first prototype was successfully completed in 1959, and by 1962, the BM-59 was in full production.

Significant (and some minor) changes were made to the receivers, stocks, barrels, gas systems, muzzle devices, as well as numerous other components. Now designated the BM-59, in the view of many, it was superior to the M-14 recently adopted by the US.

James River Armory has spent the last two years developing a billet (not cast) receiver, and is building these rifles on those.

There are four versions of BM-59ā€™s available:

  • The ITAL model, which was the standard issue for the Italian military. In addition to the box magazine, it had an integral folding bi-pod and combination grenade launcher mount, flash hider and grenade launcher sight.
  • The ALPINI (mountain troop) model, which had a side-folding stock and pistol grip, with the same flash hider as the ITAL.
  • The PARATROOPER model, which differs from the ALPINI by the existence of a removable grenade launcher/tri-compensator.
  • The BM-59E model, that were contract M1 Garand conversions done by Beretta for other foreign militaries. While the ITAL version clearly represented a cut-down version of the M1 Garand, the ā€œEā€ model was visually differentiated only by a different flash hider, and the box magazine.

MSRP for the above models, shipped in a hard case, is: