The Beretta Olimpia, Part One

While scarce before 2016, recent imports of this .22 trainer has raised interest in this unique “semi-auto bolt action” rifle and carbine.

by Brian R Smith

“Semi-automatic bolt action” almost sounds like a phrase created by a gun control advocate, like “full semi-automatic AR-15.” Shooters unfamiliar with the Beretta Olimpia and observing it in operation for the first time will likely have a “Huh, what?” moment. The Olimpia Rifle and Carbine, sometimes referred to as the “Beretta Olimpia Modelo Unione,” was produced from the 1950s through the 1980s and have the distinction of being operable as a locked breech bolt action or as recoil-operated semi-autos. The key to the dual functionality is the bolt handle which can rotate through a fixed angle and is capable of being locked into one of two notches in the right side of the breech and stock. Throughout this article, I use the Italian spelling “Olimpia” because that is the official Beretta model name. The Italian spelling and the more common, anglicized Olympia version are used interchangeably in print and on the Interwebz but my OCD forces me to use the Italian spelling herein because that is the official Beretta spelling from back in the day.

A friend’s need for a replacement magazine is what introduced me to the Olimpia. When he asked if I could locate a spare magazine or three for his “new to him” Beretta, I recognized the similarity between the Olimpia and a…

Read more in the June 2019 issue.

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