FRANCHI Model "Parà" selfloading carbine

FRANCHI Model
FRANCHI Model

"PARA'", in Italy, is a familiar diminutive for the word "PARACADUTISTA", which in English is translated with "Paratrooper". A quick glance to this weapon is enough to understand why it was called so. The "Parà" carbine was manufactured by the notorious firearm manufacturing firm of FRANCHI and thrown on the commercial market in the year 1979, in a numerated, limited run series for celebrative reasons which are unknown to me by now. Only less than 500 were made, if I am not wrong, and all of them were immediately sold out on the market; as far as I know, the Franchi "Parà" was launched only on the Italian market, and as for today it is still a top-seeked collectors item on the used guns market. Obviously this rifle is a "celebration" for some Para-jumpers military unit. This is clearly seen by its look, which recalls vaguely the automatic rifle then-used by the Italian paratroopers, the .7'62x51mm Beretta BM-59 "ITAL-Mk3 Paracadutisti", which had a pistol grip, a side-folding stock, an under-folding integral bipod under the handguard, and a detachable muzzle brake for rifle grenades. The stock of the Franchi "Parà" doesn't folds, but its look imitates the one of the above-mentioned BM-59 variant. On the other hand, the "Parà" carbine working system was patterned after another rimfire sporter carbine made then by FRANCHI, the "Centennial" model, which is a very simple imitation of the American RUGER 10/22; after all, the "Parà" carbine is just a "Centennial" Model with pistol grip and different stock, and some changes in the barrel and sights. The weapon can break-down in two parts for ease to carry, but it was manufactured with some parts of the working system in the "front" part so that the "back" part, which after all contained the magazine, the stryker, the chamber, part of the barrel and the entire breechbolt and trigger pack, could not be fired alone. In its outside look, as stated before, the Franchi "Parà" was an approximative knock-off of the BERETTA BM-59 variant used by the Italian para-jumper troop regiments. Legislative arguments, at the time, stopped FRANCHI from making a more faithful reproduction: the 1970s/1980s were the "Anni di Piombo" ("Years of lead", the expression born later to indicate the years when the political terrorism, and the clash between right-wing and left-wing extremists raged and shed blood in the entire Italy and Europe), and in 1975 a law was passed in Italy, the Law #110/75, which introduced severe restrictions to the kind of firearms legally detainable by civilians in Italy; it was a "trend" in the entire Europe, though, to limitate the civilian guns market to try to disarm the terrorists, and it did not worked because the terrorists were well-equipped with military firearms of WW-2 heritage or from brand-new ComBloc manufacture. Anyway, the Law #110/75 introduced several restrictions, mainly to the military-alike sporting weapons, whose, in order to be made lawful to obtain by civilians, were subject to have characteristics which I can only compare to the ones required in America during the 1994 "Brady Bill" Assault Weapons Ban: folding or collapsing stocks were forbidden, muzzle brake or flash suppressors were forbidden if the gun didn't reached a certain lenght, and even when them were allowed, it was forbidden to make them in the military style so that them could launch rifle grenades; also, calibers used by the Military in Italy and other NATO countries were forbidden from civilian ownership (this included also calibers like .32-Acp, .380-Acp, .45-Acp, .308-Winchester and .223-Remington), and half-inch (.50-BMG and up) calibers were banned; furthermore, magazine capacity for long arms was limited to 5 rounds exception made for rimfires, while magazine capacity for pistols was limited to a maximum of 15. As the years went by, most of those restrictions fell away or were openly dropped. The folding, telescopic or collapsing stocks are now avaliable on civilian guns as long as the gun with the stock folded/collapsed doesn't results shorter than the minimum legal lenght (while them are still forbidden on DE-MILITARISED guns, which are those civilian guns that started their life as selective-fire military weapons and then were extensively re-machined by authorized and governmentally-licensed gunsmiths to make them fit the requirements for civilian purchasability); also, the restrictions regarding calibers fell as most of them were made legal: .32-ACP and .380-ACP were never actually made completely illegal, and .45-ACP was legalised in the year 2000, when it officially went out of the USMI (United States Munitions List, the list of the official military-issue calibers of the United States military); before that, 45-caliber weapons were sold to Italian civilians re-chambered in .38 - Super Auto or in .45-Hp, a shorter .45-ACP variant made in Germany by Hinterberger Patronenfabrik. The .9x19mm-Luger/NATO/Parabellum remained, and still is, forbidden to civilians, a very few exceptions made; the guns chambered for it were sold in Italy re-chambered for the .7'65x21'5mm "Parabellum" caliber, a.k.a. the .30-Luger; now, them are instead chambered for the .9x21mm-IMI cartridge jointly-developed during the 1980s by IMI and Fiocchi to provide IPSC shooters with a cartridge caliber with the same measures of the .9mm-Luger but with increased load, range and accuracy and slightly superior terminal ballistics. The "very few exceptions made" for the civilian ownership of the .9x19mm caliber regards some revolvers (Manurhin MR-73 and MR-88, FN "Barracuda", Sturm-Ruger "Speed 6", Astra M-357 "Police Survival", Smith&Wesson M-547 "Military & Police"), which were made to fire the .9x19mm caliber or which had provision for caliber changing to their original one (generally .38-Special or .357-Magnum) to 9-Luger. In these cases, civilians could use them in .9x19mm, and thus acquire such ammunitions for them, purported that the .9x19mm ammunitions were "nude lead, free of any additional metal jacketing, nor total, nor partial". Obviously, the completely-non-jacketed .9x19mm cartridges were the ONLY ones to be allowed to the sale for Italian civilians, and them were so rare that often one had to order them and wait for several days to receive the asked ammo boxes, sometimes even having to demonstrate, showing the certification of Registration of the gun, that he was legally owning such a weapon to be asking for .9x19mm ammunitions. However, those revolvers are now almost all out of production and market, and there is no more call within the Italian civilian market for .9x19mm ammo, so unless the bureaucrats of the Central Consultive Commission for Gun Control, which decide which guns are to be made available to the Italian civilians, suddenly decide to make way to .9x19mm firearms, such caliber still remains, in all intents and purposes, forbidden. More: prohibition of calibers like .308-Winchester (.7'62x51mm-NATO) and .223-Remington (.5'56x45mm-NATO) was partially lifted in the 1980s; before that, guns normally chambered in .308/.7'62mm were sold in Italy re-chambered for the .243-Winchester, and guns normally chambered in .223/.5'56mm were sold in Italy re-chambered for the .222-Remington, its "father" caliber. This prohibition was "partially" lifted since now it's just forbidden the civilian ownership of the BULLETS AND LOADS used by the Military, and of ITALIAN MODERN military-marked cases. This means that the civilians aren't allowed to own .223 cartridges in the SS-109 tungsten-penetrator AP cartridges, which are a military exclusive. The .223-Remington/.5'56x45mm ammo variants available to civilians today include the totally frangible bullets for hunting purposes, and the Full-Metal Jacket ammunitions formerly known and used by the US military as the M-193 "Ball" variant. Same thing applies to the .308-Winchester/.7'62x51mm cartridge, being the frangible and FMJ variants allowed to civilians, and the newer Armor-Piercing ones forbidden. Regardless of this legal "excursus", the Franchi "Parà" carbine immediately met an enormous commercial success, with all the limited-run samples going sold out in a very little time. Its design became popular even between those who couldn't buy one (mainly because many simple sport shooters couldn't find or efford it, that was a highly-priced and very limited run); it was a perfect sporting/plinking rimfire rifle, capable of high accuracy and very good range performances, either for simple fun shooting than for accuracy target shooting and small game hunting. It was a very well-made, reliable weapon which can still give satisfaction to those lucky owners who have one resting in its original military-style metal box hidden in some cabinet or in the garret. One last curiosity: the Italian manufacturer "EDISON GIOCATTOLI", which makes toys with particular consideration for toy guns and which at the time used to manufacture almost-perfect cap replicas of military designs (from the Beretta MAB to the PM-12, from the Carcano "Balilla" muskeet to the FNAB-43 SMG, from the Franchi LF-57 to the M1911-A1 and the Thompson M1-A1), manufactured a toy replica of the "Parà" carbine; as all its gun replicas, back then, the PARA' carbine replica was 100% made in metal sheet and wood, like the REAL guns. Those gun replicas made then were high-edge, metal-and-wood-made, perfectly manufactured toys that now are impossible to find, and would make happy any child and any respectful and respectable gun-memorabilia collector; and them were 1:1 scale replicas, only slightly lighter than the original ones, unlike the current toy guns which are made in ugly plastic and sometimes can, or sometimes not, reach 70% of the dimensions of the real guns; sure, them fit better in a 5-years-old kid's hands, but all the fashion is gone, and the only toy guns that can partially give it back are the airsoft replicas made in Japan, Taiwan and China, whose are 1:1 scale and 100% reproductions, unfortunately mostly made of plastic too. The quality and the replica accuracy of the EDISON toy guns gradually went down the toilet as the years gone by and the Politically-Correct state of mind advanced; but back in the 1970s, Italian children could seen Franchi LF-57 and Beretta PM-12 sub-machine guns and Carcano M91-TS WW-2 bolt-action "muskeets" winking at them from the pages of "TOPOLINO" (Mickey Mouse Magazine), and even a son of the 1980s like me sometimes wishes to travel back in time and handle some of those beautiful '70s kiddies toys. --TECHNICAL SPECS-- CALIBER: 22 Long Rifle CAPACITY: 10 rounds in detachable box magazine BARREL LENGHT: 470 Millimetres TOTAL LENGHT: 960 Millimetres WORKING SYSTEM: Semi-automatic, gas-operated RIFLING: 6 grooves, RH SIGHTS: Fixed front ring sight, adjustable back sight - Provision for attachment of optics --MANUFACTURER-- Fabbrica d'Armi LUIGI FRANCHI S.p.A. Via Artigiani, 1 25063 Gardone Val Trompia (Brescia) Lombardia - Italy TEL: (0039)030.8341.850 FAX: (0039)030.8341.899 URL: http://www.franchi.com E-MAIL: venditeitalia1@franchi.com -American Branch- Franchi USA 17603 Indian Head Hwy Accokeek, MD 20607 - United States of America TEL: (001)301.283.6981 FAX: (001)301.283.6988 URL: http://www.franchiusa.com --STATUS-- Out of production

Submitted by: Pierangelo Tendas