After WWII came to an end, the Italians needed a locally-made self-loading rifle for their Army, and rather than reinvent the wheel, Beretta simply took the excellent Garand design, modified it to take a removable 20-round magazine (as opposed to the top-loading 8-round en bloc clip of the Garand), gave it a select-fire (full auto) switch, and called it the Beretta BM59. The BM59 was Italy’s battle rifle until 1986, when it was replaced with a poodleshooter-type “assault rifle”, the AR-70 in 5.56mm NATO.
Shortly afterwards, the semi-auto-only civilian version (BM62) was released, with a 19” barrel, and would still be an excellent choice as a citizen’s battle rifle.
Here’s a close-up of the action:
Unfortunately, not many of these beautiful rifles were made, so their prices are typically in the nosebleed range, generally well over $2,500. As with so many rifles of the post-WWII era, it’s just a case of there being more buyers than rifles, so if you find one and really want it, you just have to
grin and bear it grimace and sacrifice the kids’ college fund.
Speaking personally, I would rather have one of these than an M14 of the same era—in fact, I would rather have one of these than an M1 Garand, come to think of it. The design is robust and reliable, the caliber excellent (and recoil more manageable than that of the .30-06), and the mag capacity quite acceptable.