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Italy’s Worst Machine Gun: The Breda Modello 30

Buongiorno, welcome to another
video on I’m Ian McCollum, and today we’re taking a look at what is possibly the worst light machine gun ever made. This is a Breda Model 30, an Italian World War Two light machine gun. This is actually out of the private collection, the personal collection, of the owner of Bear Arms up in Scottsdale, Arizona. Cool little gun shop, definitely worth checking out. At any rate, he’s not selling this because, well, you
really don’t want to own one of these anyway I suspect. You certainly didn’t want one if you were
in the Italian military in World War Two. Despite that, I mean …the
mechanics on this are really, really bad, and we’ll take a look at it in a
moment when we take it all apart. I should say, … the design is bad,
the manufacturing – it’s pretty good. There’re some gorgeous, well machined parts
in there. There’s just way too many of them. Now when World War Two kicked off the
Italians had just under 30,000 of these, I think it was 28,462 of these in inventory, so quite
a lot. Actually, you know, they got that part right, they actually had a lot of these
things spread through the infantry. The problem was it’s just not that great
of a gun, and it’s also a seriously limited practical rate of fire with this, what
is ostensibly a light machine gun. In Italian terminology this was
actually designated as an automatic rifle, … and really its rate of fire was pretty
similar to that of even, like, a US M1 Garand. And the reason is that it has this
fixed magazine on it. So you’ll see this… (tilt that over right here), the magazine holds 20
rounds, and it’s fed by a 20 round stripper clip like this. And in order to (let’s see if I can get this from the side),
in order to reload this when it’s empty, what you do is (… which one it? It is that one.), you pop this out to the side like that,
you then have your charger clip here, ram those … sorry this way, jam 20 rounds in, pull the clip out,
and then you take the magazine and snap it back into place. And then
you’re ready to fire another 20 rounds. … This is the sort of thing where if you’re really skilled
at it, and everything goes right, yeah it’s pretty fast to do. But when someone’s shooting at you, and there’s some
mud around, and you have to pull these things out of packets, or get them from the guy who’s
carrying the ammo, this becomes a very slow task to reload this thing. And so it really
had trouble providing sustained firepower. It also had trouble in dusty conditions in particular. So a reasonably reliable gun in
the forest on the Eastern front, but when these things got into North Africa they
really had trouble with blowing dust and sand. Part of that is because the magazine actually has a big opening
in it so you can see how much ammunition you have. Another part of that is this thing
actually uses an oiler in the top cover. So as the cartridges are being chambered, each one gets a
nice little squirt of oil on it to lubricate it to help with extraction. And of course if you have a lot
of sand and dust blowing around, that stuff sticks to oiled cartridges very easily and
that caused a lot of reliability problems for the gun. A few numbers on the gun, total
weight is 10.6 kilos, which is 23.3 pounds. So this is pretty much the same weight
as your other typical light machine guns, very similar to a 1918 A2 BAR,
or a Bren gun, or a Nambu Type 99. … Cyclic rate on this is 400 to 500
rounds per minute, so relatively slow. With all of the reloading and such, the
practical rate of fire was really more like 120 rounds per minute that you can sustain. It does have a quick-change barrel, it was
recommended that the barrel be changed every 200 rounds during continuous fire, or every
1,000 rounds during more typical slower sustained fire. Barrel life of one of these is 8
to 12,000 rounds and there were initially I believe two spare barrels
issued with the gun, so a total of three. I believe later on in the war
that was up to four spare barrels. And the crew was three men, made up of
a crew chief, a gunner and an ammo carrier. I think we should go ahead and take this apart now
because that’s really the interesting part of this gun. Alright, our controls are back here. We’ve got
a rear sight up there. We’ve got a safety here. This is currently in the fire position, I can move it to safe
by pulling out on this detent and snapping it down there. That’s safe, in safe the trigger is blocked. And the
whole fire control mechanism is actually right in here, we’ll show you that in a moment.
This is the charging handle. This fires from a closed
bolt, so it’s not locked open. If you do want to lock it open, what you
do is depress this pad when the gun’s open, that locks the bolt in the open position,
and then to close it you just pull back, slightly, and it will drop forward, We have no less than four spring-
loaded levers on the magazine, so we have this one right here which
allows you to open the magazine. We have this one right here,
which is connected to this, which locks the magazine up into the receiver here,
so that it stays in place when you are charging it. We have a tab here. Easiest way for me to show you that one is to use this one
right here, which allows me to actually remove the magazine. This then functions as a dust cover on the feed side. The last one here is on the underside of the
magazine, and this controls a feed lip right there. So when you close this, when
you latch this into the gun… Sorry, this way. This is actually pushed backwards by the receiver
which allows the follower to come all the way out. At this point you have feed lips inside the
receiver that take over the feeding controls because there are no feed lips on this magazine itself. And you can see those feed
lips machined in here, and here. One of the interesting side effects of that is that when you open the gun if you still have
ammunition in it, there is a space between where this little feed lip is holding cartridges, so
let’s say you have 10 rounds left in the magazine, there are a couple cartridges that are going to be above
this feed lip but still not yet inside the feed lips in the gun. Four specifically. So if you … want to
unload this when you do not have it empty, you open this up, and you open the bolt, and then
you make sure that there are four loose rounds that you have to account for that
would be floating in this area between the … magazine cartridge
stop catch and the bolt itself. We do have a folding bipod here. The legs
fold back, but they are not of adjustable length. So just going to pull this collar and then that snaps in place. These are kind of sticky, there we go. Having it up on the bipod means you can actually see
the markings here, which are on the back of the receiver just behind the oiler cover, so. Fucile, I’m not sure what that word is, that’s automatic. So this is Rifle, Automatic, Model 30. This one is serial
number 81,000 and change, made by Breda in Rome. Since we’re up here, we can take
a closer look at the oiler cover. This has a two position lever on the
back, on the left side here it’s marked “C” which is for closed (also starts with a “C” in
Italian), and if you flip the lever over to this side it’s “A”, which is for open. We can then
open this up and see the internals of the gun. The oiler itself is located right here. We have this little spring-loaded tab, when the bolt
hits that it presses it and squirts a little bit of oil out. This little tube is just the the air vent so that
you don’t develop a vacuum in the chamber. This cover is your oil fill, apparently this
required a special viscosity of oil to work although I can’t comment first hand on that. It’s
got a little catch in there so you don’t lose the cover. And inside here we can also see the bolt working. Alright, you can see the bolt right
here. This is a 6 lug [non] rotating bolt, (kind of like an AR, except not really), and
the bolt goes into battery into this centre nut. And the barrel also locks into the front end of this
nut, so you’re not actually using the receiver as a load-bearing component at all, really.
You have this what’s called a fermeture nut that locks the bolt in the back and the barrel in the front, and
that contains everything, that does your head spacing, and …. and that’s your pressure
bearing component there, so. One issue here is if you let the bolt gently into
place, it will not lock. When it’s locked this rotates clockwise, and engages the locking lugs.
To do that I have to let it go with some force There we go, now we are in battery and locked. At this point if I pull the trigger you will see the firing
pin come up through here (oops, if I’m not on safe), right there. That fires the gun, and then when it cycles, (yah, which is a stiff operation there), now the firing pin has disappeared because
it’s locked back here ready to fire a second time. One last thing to show you before we start
disassembly and that is removing the barrel. They all have this kind of
weird-looking wrapped handle. And so far I think I’ve looked at three or four
of these in person, and every single one of them has a rattley barrel like that. It seems to me like that would be a huge problem
for accuracy, but that seems to be the way they all are. In fact I should note the front sight
is here on the front of the receiver. The rear sight is back here on the rear of the receiver (by the way, that’s your battle sight and
does flip up for longer range shooting), so you can only zero one barrel
because you can zero this thing … I mean you can zero the sights,
but the sights are both on the receiver. So … once you change barrels
you either have to re-zero the gun, or just deal with however
it happens to be shooting. Anyway, to remove the barrel we are going
to take this pin, pull it out, and drop it down. That is your barrel locking lever, you can
then rotate the barrel counterclockwise, pull it forward, … you pull it far enough forward that the
lugs come out here, and then it all comes out backwards. So there is your removed barrel. Next step in disassembly is to remove
the buttstock assembly, so we have two little catches right here and here on either
side of the rear sight. When you pull those back they retract this pin, and you can
then rotate this rear cap assembly 60 degrees counterclockwise, and pull the stock off.
Note that the main spring is compressed inside, so you want the bolt all the way forward when
you do this, and then you have to be careful or else it will go flying across
the room. So pull that back, there we go, pull out all of this stuff. Alright, how’s that for a weird looking
assembly? This is the firing pin. I mentioned that the fire control mechanism is
all located back here in the rear cap of the receiver. This of course is our mainspring, we’ll set that aside. The way this works is that the
firing pin is held by a sear back in here And it’s got its own firing pin spring
right there, and when I pull the trigger this is going to pop forward like a dart gun. That goes all the way forward,
hits the cartridge and fires. So we can take this apart.
There’s the firing pin itself, and you can see the notch right
there where it hooks into its sear. We then have this guide piece here which
also has a big buffer spring in the back. And then you can see the actual fire control bits. So when I pull the trigger you can
see the stuff all moving right in there. Most importantly you can see that crossbar,
which drops down when I pull the trigger. That bar holds the firing pin in place until you pull
the trigger, at which point it is released to go forward. That does make it easy to have the safety back here,
because all the safety has to do is prevent you from dropping that thing, and it’s just in
the right convenient place already. With the buttstock assembly
off, now we can continue. I’m going to take the oiler cover off next,
which is just a matter of pulling this pin. There we go. Alright, pin and oiler cover come off. By the way, you can note that they have done some
pattern machining here on top of the cover. That’s to reduce glare, so it doesn’t
interfere with your sight picture. And then that’s our little oil pump right there. While we’re here, allow me to point out
that there is an ejection port dust cover. As far as I can tell there is
no automatic way to open this, so if you don’t remember to open this, you will
immediately jam the gun once you start firing. In order to open it, we have once again a spring-loaded latch here, pull it
back and then you can open that. Now at this point we will pull the bolt out. We do that by just pulling the charging handle
back to unlock the bolt, and it’s just going to slide right out of the back of the gun.
And then I can also take the charging handle, slide it all the way back to here, and
then it lifts off the side of the gun. We’re almost done here, next up I have to
take out this H block. So it has a retaining pin, I’m going to put that pin horizontal,
and then you can pull it out. This one is really stiff. There we go. Pin comes out, then we can
pull this backwards, in theory. There we go. OK, so this comes back. It’s held in place by two
little tongues up here that go into the receiver, and then you can just lift it out I’m going to actually gently pull
it out with this because it’s tight. Alright, that H block comes out, we
will address this piece in a moment. And then lastly, this is the most important piece of the assembly,
because this is the locking collar, or the fermeture nut. … The bolt goes in this side, the barrel goes in this side,
and this is what holds everything together when you fire. There we go, hardly complicated at all, right?
Just all that stuff. So these four parts are really the heart of the system. We have two openings here. This locks into the
barrel at this end, and let’s see, it’s actually going to be approximately in this configuration. Then we have our 6 lug [non] rotating bolt
which is going to lock into the back in the back in (I have to look at it), in this configuration. And like this, these parts are now … locked
together (as long as they stay rotated). These parts are now locked together. As long as they stay … rotated. So. What happens when you fire is that this
whole thing recoils back just very slightly, just a couple of millimetres, and we
have this H block located in the receiver. And when the barrel is pushed backwards
this diagonal, or slightly sloped, bar forces this centre nut to rotate.
Once it rotates over it is unlocked. Yeah, this is really hard to actually have all the pieces, all
four pieces, in the right geometry without the receiver there, but, once this is rotated over to the left, then the bolt is
free to travel backwards against its quite hefty recoil spring. When it comes forward it’s going to hit here,
and pressure of this going forward is going to push that round centre nut over to the right,
lock it in place, and it’s then ready to fire. A couple details here. First off, … this is a separate internal part that can move backwards slightly. This one doesn’t, this one’s pretty firmly
in place, and I honestly have no idea what this is there for. I have seen
people, quite knowledgeable people, quite knowledgeable people, say that they’ve fired these
guns with this in the forward and the backward position, and it made no discernible difference to the guns. No clue what that thing actually does. If you know by all means
let me know in the comments, because I’d love to find out. But this works, … does its job without needing
this to be in any particular position. Next up, we have this thing which
is concealing a spring inside, and right there, above my finger, is a little spring-
loaded catch. That is the out of battery safety. So the firing pin travels with this
safety sear at the front in this slot and the little spring catch
coming down out of this cylinder catches … the firing pin here
and prevents it from going forward. It is only disabled by this slope at the back of
the bolt. When the bolt’s all the way in battery this catches on that little angled contact plunger, and pushes it up and out of the way, which then
allows the firing pin to go forward without being held by the safety plunger in there. So kind of complicated,
but that is an effective out of battery safety to prevent the thing from … detonating when the
cartridge isn’t in the chamber and the lugs are not locked. So that’s important. Here in the receiver we also have this catch, this locks the rotating nut in the unlocked
position so that while the bolt is cycling it … ensures that this rotating piece
doesn’t rotate out of alignment. This guarantees that the lugs are all lined
up to accept the bolt when it comes forward. So, when the bolt does come all the way forward,
it hits this catch right here, which pushes down. which pushes down. And it’s
connected to this lock right there which, when it goes down, that unlocks the
rotating nut and allows it to rotate into battery. So also a… There are a … lot of complicated solutions
to relatively simple problems on this gun, Not to mention just the machining complexity
of the receiver, there is a lot going on here. By the way, this is just a cover for the flat
spring that puts tension on these two lugs. This thing would have been quite expensive
to manufacture I have no doubt. And that’s not even mentioning little bits like this. You know, someone says, “Oh, we need a charging
handle. Make us a nice simple, durable charging handle.” That’s what you come up with. It is a non-reciprocating charging
handle, the lug right here hooks into the bolt and pulls it backward. But then the handle stays forward
when you’re using it, unless you push in this lug to lock it open when you need the bolt to
stay open to clear a malfunction, or do something else. And, yeah, we should take a closer look at this magazine
as well, because it’s kind of the same deal, holy cow. These were made initially and primarily in 6.5 Carcano,
but they did convert some of them to 7.35 Carcano. That was a pretty short-lived thing, and those
guns are quite rare compared to the 6.5 examples. So yeah, one, two, three, four,
spring-loaded catches all on the magazine box. So without a barrel installed I can show you
the firing locking/unlocking process fairly easily. This is in the fired position, recoil would cycle this back.
You’ll notice that the rotating lug rotates to the left, that’s unlocked.The bolt’s going to come forward.
Now if I ride it home like this, it doesn’t properly lock. When you drop it, this rotating lug is now
all the way to the right, it’s locked, firing, you can see the firing pin go forward. And so. To install the barrel, you are going to slide
that through the front, until it locks in there, And then, you want this… this will slide out in this position,
fit it in, rotate it over to the other side, And then lift the locking tab up into position. There we go. And now the barrel
is locked in place and ready to go. The magazine slides in right here, take there, press this plunger, that locks in there. And then for the moment
I want it locked to the receiver, up there. Now I can show you the same
firing process with the barrel installed and you can see this really only
goes back a very short distance. So that’s back, that’s forward. So … some sources say this is a blowback gun, it’s not, it is actually short recoil, locked breech.
But it is a very, very short recoil. So last bit of assembly now
is to reinstall the oiler cover. It sits right there, snap that into place. And we’re ready to go, as much as you’re
ever ready for this thing to go anywhere. So a lot of people have a pretty unflattering
view of Italian World War Two small arms, and it’s actually not really deserved. This is by far the worst gun that the Italians fielded.
They had their 8mm heavy machine gun, Breda heavy machine gun, firing from feed
strips, it was really a pretty darn good gun. The Carcano was actually a
pretty darn good bolt action rifle. And of course, the best thing the Italians
had during the war was the Beretta Model 38 and its subsequent family of submachine guns,
which were fantastic and highly prized by everybody. The Germans started using these
late in World War Two and loved them. Potentially the best submachine gun
of World War Two, these are awesome. It is really only this guy that’s
a true … not-so-great gun. Anyway, if you enjoyed watching this, please
do consider checking out my Patreon page. It is donations from folks there that
make it possible for me to do this full time and bring you a new interesting
gun or book review every day. And again, I would like to give a thanks to Bear
Arms for letting me take a look at this gun of theirs. Hopefully we’ll get a chance to take it out in
the field and actually do some shooting with it. But either way if you’re in the
Phoenix area, or Scottsdale specifically, make sure to stop in and check out the shop
because they usually have something cool on the shelf. Thanks for watching.

30 thoughts on “Italy’s Worst Machine Gun: The Breda Modello 30

  1. I read an account by a British officer who organised an irregular force in North Africa. He was given some of these that had been captured. He said that they ALWAYS jammed after a few bursts. They were useless for combat. Breda also made a 20mm cannon which was very well liked and preferred to the Allied 20 mm cannon.

  2. Question :
    In call of duty WW2 the Breda 30 has as standard 30 rounds and when extended 45 rounds then comes the question , where there any extended magazines developed for the Breda 30 to replace or supplement the standard 20 round magazines ?
    Or is it Just some creatieve thinking on their part

  3. Aside from the terrible magazine, oiler and the overkill machine work, if it were stripped down and simplified real bare bones and had a proper detachable magazine this thing would actually be an awesome gun.

  4. the machining and manufacturing process the thought and imagination that goes into making guns is what fascinates me, i always liked military style weapons because of the ingenuity in simplicity of no tools disassembly. many modern firearms today seem too complicated and too many tools needed to disassemble. it seems instead of going forward with simplicity they have regressed in modern times.

  5. I feel like the Nikonov looked at this machine gun, and said to himself "I can make it even more complicated if I find someone to hold my vodka" – hence the AN-94

  6. Well yeah, of course it jammed your supposed to load it with bread you uncultured swine. After all, why do you think the company called it the "breda"?

  7. I love The "Breda Modello 30" because I love its unique appearance, function, reloading and more. I think I'm only one love it :))))) maybe XD

  8. 5:45
    So, they designed it with removable mags!? Why would you not just stop there.
    "Ah Luigi, the magazina itsa comma off yes?"
    Si Si
    "Bene bene, jobba good done"

    Is how the design process should've gone..

  9. From what I can tell, it seems like the weapons was only a few modifications away from being on par with the Bren and BAR.

    -Redesign the sights so that you have more than one barrel zeroed (side note: how did this work on the MG42? Wouldn't it have the same problem as the sights are located on the receiver?)

    -Remove the oil lubrication system entirely.

    -Redesign the magazine by removing the openings on the side and the either convert it to use detachable mags or increase the capacity of the fixed mag to 30 or 40 (reloaded using two 15-round or two of the existing 20-round clips.) I suspect the decision to use a fixed magazine had to do with the military either believing that manufacturing wouldn't be able to reliably churn out enough magazines, or they didn't want it to have to.

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