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Fucile Mitragliatore Breda 30

by Jim H

Background on the Breda 30

Fucile Mitragliatore Breda modello 30, or Breda 30, is an Italian light machine gun accepted into service by the Regio Esercito in 1930. Each battalion received 24-27 of these light machine guns. The weapon remained active from 1930-1945 with some 30,000 built.

It used an air-cooled, recoil based blowback system of operation which slowed down the rate of fire. The overheated barrel needed replacement every 250 rounds.

The Breda modello 30

The Breda modello 30

The feed system used an oil reservoir to lubricate the cartridge in order to improve the cartridge extraction hampered by the blowback system.

A 20 round non-detachable box magazine is attached on the right side of the weapon. It hinged forward to receive the stripper clip of 6.5 mm cartridges. A slot located on the top of the magazine allowed the gunner to see how many cartridges remained in the magazine.

Combat Use

The Breda modello 30 first saw combat use in the second Italo-Abyssinian war, as well as North Africa and in the Balkans. Germany incorporated this weapon into its arsenal following the armistice and designated it the MG 099(i).

A Breda 30 mounted on a Moto Guzzi motorcycle.

A Breda 30 mounted on a Moto Guzzi motorcycle.

Flaws in the Modello 30

This light machine gun is poorly designed and has many deficiencies. It was underpowered, a low rate of fire and a limited cartridge capacity.

Since the gun had a 20 round capacity, the role of the loader was very important. Every soldier had training on quickly loading the magazine box. However, the Breda modello 30 became used extensively, including mounted on motorcycles, where a loader may not be readily available.

The weapon weighed 22 pounds and lacked a carrying handle. The gunner had to cradle the weapon in his arms or over the shoulder while on the move.

Additionally, if the box magazine became inoperable, the entire weapon would be rendered useless.

It had a clunky and awkward design that easily allowed dirt and debris into the firing system, thereby making it an unreliable weapon. This deficiency became apparent with its use in North Africa, where it proved itself completely ill-suited for desert conditions.

A Breda modello 38 became available in 1938 that used 7.35 mm cartridges and a different barrel. Only a few examples were built.

A Breda 30 is seen here in the forefront during the Italian campaign in Albania.

This weapon is seen here in the forefront during the Italian campaign in Albania.


Model Breda 30
Caliber 6.5 mm
Muzzle Velocity 2,000 fps (620 mps)
Length 48 inches (1,230 mm)
Barrel Length 18 inches (450 mm)
Weight 23.369 (10.6 kg)
Feed System 20 round stripper clip
Rate of Fire 500 RPM
Maximum Range 3,100 yd (2,800 m)

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