The Franchi LF-57 proved a high-quality submachine gun design attempt that was only limited by the glut of excellent offerings found elsewhere during its period of availability. It became the first military-grade weapon to be produced by the Franchi S.p.A. concern of Brescia, Italy - founded by Luigi Franchi himself (hence the designation using "LF"). As such, this functional submachine gun found few serious takers after it entered production in 1956. It primary purchaser became the Italian Navy with orders then emerging from Congo-Brazzaville, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria. While production began in 1956, some revisions to the design in 1957 provided the weapon its official company model designation of "LF-57".
The LF-57 proved a solidly-built, fully-functional firearm made of all-steel stampings and pressings, overall weight being approximately 7lbs. The rectangular receiver also made up the handguard/forend so no true furniture was present - grips and holds featuring bevels and indentations. The entire receiver was forged as two individual halves joined via a seam during final production and the internal bolt assembly allowed for a more compact design form to be achieved. The LF-57 featured a two-strut wire butt which was hinged to fold over the right side of the receiver. Its design shape was such that it did not interfere with the ejection port along that side of the weapon. The pistol grip was also of steel and given beveled vertical lines for a solid - if heavy and hard - hold. A pressure safety was identified along the forward edge of the grip which had to be pressed for the weapon's operation. The trigger group included an oblong ring, taking into account the gloved hands of its operators and the magazine feed was fitted just ahead of the pistol grip in the usual fashion, fed by straight detachable box magazines. The receiver was relatively clean with a large ejection port fitted to the right side of the body and a charging handle well-forward along the left side. The forend was integrated into the gun body and was slotted along its lower regions for heat dissipation of the barrel. The barrel was mounted low in the receiver and only the muzzle protruded a short distance ahead of the body. Iron sights were wholly basic - crude by most standards - and found at the rear and at the front along the receiver top. Overall length with stock extended was 27 inches and 16.5 inches with the stock folded over. The barrel measured just 8 inches long and held in place by a single nut for simplified cleaning/replacement.
The LF-57 was chambered for the 9x19mm Parabellum pistol cartridge with magazine counts of 20- and 40-rounds available. The firing action revolved around the blowback principle to which a manageable 500 rounds per minute could be reached. Blowback guns utilized the gas pressure of the igniting cartridge case as applied to the bolt during the cycle of operation. Muzzle velocity was listed at 1,200 feet-per-second which provided initially good penetration values of the 9mm round. However, the LF-57 was truly a close-range weapon and effectiveness dwindled beyond 100 feet or so.
LF-57 guns first entered the US market in 1962. Arms restrictions emerging in the 1980s eventually limited full-automatic fire to semi-automatic fire. Franchi production of the LF-57 ran until 1980.
Manufacturing Luigi Franchi S.p.A. - Italy
Congo-Brazzaville; Democratic Republic of Congo; Italy; Nigeria
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