Aircraft / Aviation Vehicles & Artillery Infantry Arms Warships & Submarines Military Pay Scale Military Ranks

Beretta Model 59 (BM59)

Automatic Battle Rifle (1959)

Infantry Small Arms / The Warfighter

1 / 1
Right side view of the Beretta BM59 Ital PARA with folded skeletal stock and collapsed bipod

Jump-to: Specifications

Beretta familiarity with producing the war-winning American M1 Garand led to the evolution that was the BM59 Battle Rifle.

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 07/01/2018 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.
The original M1 Garand became the world's first standard-issue self-loading rifle and served in the millions with American and Allied forces throughout World War 2. During the conflict, the rifle played center stage to countless battles and was known as a robust and dependable weapon. However, it was tactically limited in that it could only fire from an eight-round "clip" at any one time. Additionally, its single-piece all-wood stock made it a heavy weapon to wield for extended actions. The M1 did go on to see extensive service with American forces in the Korean War (1950-1953) and appeared in limited numbers during the Vietnam War. An American evolution of the series delivered the similar M14 with its detachable box magazine among other refinements. Following the end of World War 2, the M1 was produced under license granted to the Italian concern of Beretta (Pietro Beretta SpA) to which these examples stocked the inventory of the Italian Army. Within time, these Beretta Garands were also being delivered to the armies of Denmark and Indonesia.

By the late 1950s, it became necessary for the Italian Army to upgrade its standard arms. However, instead of pouring millions into a local rifle design-and-development program, it was decided instead to modernize the resilient M1s on hand. As such, Beretta took the base M1 form and added a larger detachable box magazine of 20 rounds. Additionally, a full-automatic firing mode was implemented for suppression fire and the firing action (specifically the return spring and gas operation) was only slightly reworked to "play nice" with the new 7.62x51mm NATO standard round (the original M1 was already chambered for the similar 7.62mm cartridge). To round out the changes, a new trigger unit was developed and installed, a rubber recoil pad added and the barrel left largely unchanged (though support for grenade launching was added as was a flash suppressor). The end result was a modern, select-fire battle rifle designed for the rigors of battlefield use. While utilizing the new 20-round detachable box magazine, the Beretta redesign could also make use of charger "clips" through the receiver action which was left unchanged from the M1. The new rifle - known as the "Beretta Model 59" or simply "BM59" - was formally adopted for service in 1959 (as its designation suggests). A bipod was optional for stabilized fire.

The basic BM59 appeared in four major marks. The BM59 Mk I was the initial production model with an all-wood solid stock with an integrated pistol grip. The BM59 Mk II also featured an all-wood solid stock though incorporated a full pistol grip to help improve stability during full automatic fire. The BM59 Ital TA (BM59 Mk III) was intended for mountain infantry. As such, the design sported a reduced length stock with a collapsible skeletal butt, a standard-issue bipod, flash hider and a pistol-style grip. All of these changes made for a more compact system suitable for mountain fighting. Another development included the BM59 Ital Para which was intended for Italian paratroopers. For all intents and purposes, the BM59 Ital Para fell in line with the aforementioned BM59 Ital TA save for a shorter barrel and removable flash hider. The BM59 Mk IV was intended for the squad support role and fitted with a heavy barrel, heavy bipod and lighter plastic buttstock. A pair of "demilitarized" versions then appeared - the BM62 and BM69 - each with their own differentiating features. The BM62 fired from a 10-round detachable box magazine. Both civilian versions were semi-automatic-fire only.

The BM59 was ultimately utilized by militaries beyond Italy. This included Algeria, Argentina, Bahrain, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Libya, Morocco and Nigeria. Both Indonesia and Nigeria established localized license production through the Bandung Weapons Factory and the Defense Industries Corporation respectively.

BM59s survived in Italian Army service up to 1990 before being replaced by the Beretta AR70/90 assault rifle series.


Service Year

Italy national flag graphic


Automatic Battle Rifle

Beretta - Italy / Bandung Weapons Factory - Indfonesia / Defense Industries Corporation - Nigeria
National flag of Algeria National flag of Argentina National flag of Bahrain National flag of Eritrea National flag of Ethiopia National flag of Indonesia National flag of Italy National flag of Libya National flag of Morocco National flag of Nigeria Algeria; Argentina; Bahrain; Eritrea; Ethiopia; Italy; Indonesia; Libya; Morocco; Nigeria
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
Automatic Function
Features a mechanical function to automate the firing action.

Overall Length
1,095 mm
43.11 in
Barrel Length
491 mm
19.33 in
Empty Wgt
9.70 lb
4.40 kg

Aperature Rear; Post Front


Gas Operated, Rotating Bolt

Rotating Bolt
System utilizes internal mechanism to lock the breech or rear barrel assembly prior to firing.
Gas-operated system is featured, typically involving a gas cylinder and rear-driven piston directing energy to the bolt component.
(Material presented above is for historical and entertainment value and should not be construed as usable for hardware restoration, maintenance, or general operation - always consult official manufacturer sources for such information)


7.62x51mm NATO

Sample Visuals**

Graphical image of a 7.62x51mm / .308 Winchester rifle cartridge
Rounds / Feed

20-round detachable box magazine
Cartridge relative size chart
*May not represent an exhuastive list; calibers are model-specific dependent, always consult official manufacturer sources.
**Graphics not to actual size; not all cartridges may be represented visually; graphics intended for general reference only.

BM59 Mk I - Initial production model; wooden stock; pseudo-pistol-type grip; selective-fire.
BM59 Mk II - Wooden stock; pistol grip; selective-fire.
BM59 Mk III (Ital TA) - Alpine Warfare variant; metal folding stock; shortened barrel; integrated flash hider.
BM59 MK IV - Plastic stock; heavy barrel; heavy bipod.
BM59 Ital Para - Paratrooper variant; removeable flash-hider.
BM62 - Civilian model; semi-automatic fire
BM69 - Civilian model; semi-automatic fire
Beretta Model 59 - Formal Designation

Military lapel ribbon for the American Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for pioneering aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon representing modern aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2

Ribbon graphics not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns / operations.


Disclaimer | Privacy Policy | Cookies

2022 Military Pay Scale Army Ranks Navy Ranks Air Force Ranks Alphabet Code DoD Dictionary American War Deaths French Military Victories Vietnam War Casualties

The "Military Factory" name and MilitaryFactory.com logo are registered ® U.S. trademarks protected by all applicable domestic and international intellectual property laws. All written content, illustrations, and photography are unique to this website (unless where indicated) and not for reuse/reproduction in any form. Material presented throughout this website is for historical and entertainment value only and should not to be construed as usable for hardware restoration, maintenance, or general operation. We do not sell any of the items showcased on this site. Please direct all other inquiries to militaryfactory AT gmail.com.

Part of a network of sites that includes GlobalFirepower, a data-driven property used in ranking the top military powers of the world, WDMMA.org, the World Directory of Modern Military Aircraft, and SR71blackbird.org, detailing the history of the world's most iconic spyplane.

Facebook Logo YouTube Logo

www.MilitaryFactory.com • All Rights Reserved • Content ©2003-