Mannlicher-Carcano Rifle

Mannlicher-Carcano Rifle

A few years ago I was fortunate to be able to tour the Conspiracy Museum, located a few short blocks from Dealey Plaza. I had always made it a point to stop by whenever I was in Dallas on business, and I had always found the people at the museum to be interesting and well-informed on a variety of topics. On this particular occassion, one of the employees spent the afternoon guiding me around Dealey Plaza and various points of interest in Oak Cliff. Upon returning to the museum, I was asked if I wanted to hold an actual 6.5mm Mannlicher-Carcano rifle. Of course I did.

John took me downstairs to the basement archives, where they had a rifle with the same model number as the alleged Oswald rifle. After making sure the rifle wasn't loaded, I was able to handle the rifle and look through the telescopic sight. I was stunned by what I saw. The optics of that cheap gunsight were  on par with the same crappy optics as my hotel door's security peephole!

Since I was familiar with the Warren Commission recreations of the assassination, as well as many other filmed recreations, I had expected to see a crisp, clear image through that gunsight. What I got instead was a blurry, indistinct image that shifted clarity as my eye wavered. Now I understood why the Mannlicher-Carcano rifle was jokingly called 'The Humanitarian Rifle' by the Italian army. It earned that nickname because they couldn't kill anyone with it. 

Why hadn't any researchers ever commented on this glaring problem? Compounding my consternation was the fact that the Warren Commission stated the gunsight on Oswald's rifle was broken and needed to be shimmed to hold it in place. If that gunsight was wobbling on November 22, 1963, it would have been impossible to acquire a moving target, let alone be able to hit it.

When I later interviewed Gary Mack, curator of the Sixth Floor Museum, Mr. Mack casually dismissed my observation by maintaining, "That shot was so easy, Oswald could have probably just looked over the top of the gunsight to shoot. He wouldn't have even needed to use it." Oh, really?

Former U.S. Marine Corps Vietnam sniper Craig Roberts said: "I could not have done it," after he saw the view from the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository. He went on to say, "I analyzed the scene as a sniper...I looked at the engagement angles. It was entirely wrong...Three problems arose that would influence my shots. First, the target was moving away at a drastic angle to the right from the window, meaning that I would have to position my body to compete with the wall and a set of vertical water pipes...This would be extremely difficult for a right-handed shooter. Second, I would have to be ready to fire exactly when the target emerged past some tree branches that obscured the kill zone. Finally, I would have to deal with two factors at the same time: the curve of the street, and the high-to-low angle formula - a law of physics Oswald would not have known."

Gunnery Sergeant Carlos Hathcock, one of the most decorated combat snipers in United States military history, echoed Robert's sentiments. Hathcock earned 93 confirmed kills in Vietnam and went on to become the senior instructor for the U.S. Marine Corps Sniper Instruction School at Quantico, Virginia. He said, "Let me tell you what we did at Quantico...We reconstructed the whole thing: the angle, the range, the moving target, the time limit, the obstacles, everything. I don't know how many times we tried, but we couldn't duplicate what the Warren Commission said Oswald did. Now if I can't do it, how in the world could a guy who was a non-qual on the rifle range (and later only qualified 'marksman') do it?"

How indeed?