31 Jan 2017

Italian Partisan Air Rifle

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“Partisan Airgun” – fearsome anti-Nazi weapon clearly based on the Girandoni repeating airgun system. Courtesy of Beeman Collection

Made in the 1940s during WW2, this gun doesn’t look like a Girandoni, but examination shows that it clearly was built by someone familiar with the Girandoni repeating airgun system. The story is that this gun was built in Austria by a partisan bicycle maker during the Nazi occupation in WW2 . The repeating magazine is spring fed and on the left side of the barrel, for the convenient use of a right handed shooter. The gun was charged with the accompanying bicycle type pump. Smoothbore, as would be expected, but firing a 11 3/4 mm lead ball (.463″ caliber) (the very same caliber as the original Girandoni Austrian military repeating air rifles!), this would have been a fearsome weapon against sentries, drivers, military leaders, etc. at ranges up to perhaps 100 yards. To a freedom fighter, the lower discharge sound and the lack of flash or smoke would have been huge values. And it did not need powder, primers, or bullets – only easily cast lead or soft-metal balls! The builder surely drew his inspiration from an Austrian museum which displayed a Girandoni system airgun. The excellent quality reflects the experience of a perfectionist bicycle maker with considerable time on his hands – consistent with such a craftsman in an occupied area.

Note that this gun has a spring fed magazine, rather than the gravity fed magazine of the original Girandoni military air rifle. While a gravity feed mechanism might be simpler, and even more dependable, the spring fed magazine has great advantages for the purposes of this gun. It is more suited for operation from a vehicle or firing slot where it would be impractical to tip up the rifle for loading and it allows firing with minimal motion at the firing point – very important to a sniper.

Basic specs: A husky 12.2 lbs., 45″ overall, glare-free, w/ almost camo anodized type finish.

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