Original Item: Very few available! Constructed from an original parts set and built on a machined solid steel receiver; this makes a perfect display piece of an exceptionally hard to find WWII Sub-Machine Gun. Though Italian manufactured by Beretta, these fantastic SMGs were used in great numbers by the German Wehrmacht throughout WWII.
Note: As photographed these display guns come with a 25 rd UZI magazine to complete the look (where permitted, otherwise a magazine shell is sent). All display guns are missing a front sling swivel.
The MAB 38 (Moschetto Automatico Beretta Modello 1938), Modello 38, or Model 38 and its variants were a series of official submachine guns of the Royal Italian Army introduced in 1938 and used during World War II. The guns were also used by the German, Romanian, and Argentine armies of the time.
Originally designed by Beretta’s chief engineer Tullio Marengoni in 1935, the Moschetto Automatico Beretta (Beretta Automatic Musket) 38, or MAB 38, was developed from the Beretta Modello 18 and 18/30, derived from the Villar Perosa light machine gun of World War I. It is widely acknowledged as the most successful and effective Italian small arm of World War II and was produced in large numbers in several variants.5 Italy’s limited industrial base in World War II was no real barrier toward the development
of advanced and effective small arms, since most weapons of the time required large amounts of artisan and semi-artisan man-hours to be fine-tuned anyway. Italian specialized workers excelled at this, but the initial slow rate of production meant that the MAB 38 only became available in large numbers in 1943, when the fascist regime was toppled and Italy split between the Allied-aligned co-belligerent forces in the south and the German-aligned collaborators of the Italian Social Republic in the north.
The MAB 38 was developed by Beretta to compete in the sub-machine gun market; it was a well-made and sturdy weapon, introducing several advanced features and was suitable for police and special army units. Presented to Italian authorities in 1939, its first customer was the Italian Ministry of Colonies, which purchased several thousands MABs to be issued as standard firearm of the Polizia dell’Africa Italiana (Italian Africa Constabulary), the government colonial police force. Army orders were slow to come; although impressed by the excellent qualities and firepower of the weapon, the Italian military did not feel the MAB was suitable for standard infantry combat. It was judged ideal for police and assault units and in the beginning of 1941 small orders were placed for the Carabinieri (military and civilian police), Guardie di Pubblica Sicurezza (national state police), and paratroopers. The Italian Army requested minor changes to reduce production costs, notably changing the recoil compensator and the removal of the bayonet lug and magazine dust cover to create the MAB 38A. This was the standard army variant, used throughout the war and issued to elite Italian units, paratroopers, the Alpini “Monte Cervino” assault battalion, 10th Arditi Regiment, “M” Battalions of the Milizia Volontaria per la Sicurezza N (MVSN, Blackshirts) and military police.
The Italian Royal Navy also purchased the weapon and MAB 38As were given to the “San Marco” Marine Regiment and naval security troops; the Regia Aeronautica (Italian Royal Air Force) issued the MAB 38A to its crack A.D.R.A. Regiment. Orders were still small and the Carcano M1891 rifle remained the standard weapon even in elite units. Until 1943, the MAB 38A (and since 1942, the MAB 38/42) was available almost exclusively to paratroopers, Blackshirts, tank crews and Carabinieri military police, given their need of high volumes of firepower in prolonged actions or to maintain close-quarters combat superiority. The paratroopers of the 185th Airborne Division Folgore were armed exclusively with the weapon. Blackshirt legions (one per infantry division) were regarded and used as elite assault units both for their fanaticism and their Beretta 38s.
After the Italian armistice of September 8, 1943, the Italian armed forces melted away and an Italian army was reconstructed in northern Italy under German control, the Beretta MAB equipping many units. The Italian Social Republic (R.S.I.) army fought a guerrilla war against partisans from its inception, as well as against the Allies. For assault and counterinsurgency units, where firepower at close range was a vital asset, it was the ideal weapon. Production of the MAB became priority and it was supplied in great numbers to R.S.I. formations, especially elite units, and it became an iconic weapon symbolizing the Italian soldier in popular culture. Later in the war, a simplified variant known as the MAB 38/44 was introduced. Regardless of the tables of organization and equipment of a unit, the Beretta 38 was a popular weapon that could eventually find its way into the hands of virtually any soldier, especially amongst officers and senior non-commissioned officers, in any type of unit.
A magazine-carrying vest was designed for elite troops (Blackshirts, paratroopers) armed with the Beretta 38; these were dubbed “Samurai” due to the similarity of the stacked magazines to traditional Japanese armour. A special canvas holster was issued with the MAB with two magazine-carrier pouches sewn on, to be worn as a belt but only came into use during the brief life of the R.S.I. and by then could be seen in the employ of many different units whose “elite” status could have been reasonably questioned (such as Black Brigades and other militias). The Beretta MAB was highly praised by Italian resistance movement fighters as well, being far more accurate and powerful than the British Sten which was common issue in partisan units, although the smaller Sten was more suited for clandestine operations. German soldiers also liked the Beretta MAB, judging it large and heavy, but reliable and well made.
The 1938 series was extremely robust and proved very popular with Axis forces as well as Allied troops, who used captured examples.6 Many German soldiers, including elite forces such as the Waffen-SS and Fallschirmjäger forces, preferred the Beretta 38.789 Germany manufactured 231,193 Beretta M38s in 1944 and 1945.10 Firing a more powerful Italian version of the widely distributed 9×19mm Parabellum cartridge, the Cartuccia 9 mm M38, the Beretta was accurate at longer ranges than most other submachine guns.6 The MAB could deliver impressive firepower at close range, and at longer distances its size and weight was an advantage, making the weapon stable and easy to control. In expert hands, the Beretta MAB allowed accurate short-burst shooting up to 100 m (110 yd) and its effective range with Italian M38 ammunition was 200 m (220 yd)s, an impressive result for a 9 mm submachine gun.
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