Original Swiss Vetterli Repetiergewehr M1869/71 Rifle by Rare Maker Valentin Sauerbrey with Socket Bayonet - Serial 2511
Original Item: Only One Available. Introduced in 1867, the Vetterli rifle system utilized the "Winchester" tube magazine system for cartridge storage under the barrel. The original 1867 model had an external hammer, like a Winchester, but in 1868 this was changed to an internal cocking bolt spring. The cleaning rod was moved to the side of the rifle, but this proved problematic, so the model of 1869 moved it back to the under barrel position. In 1871, the loading gate cover on the right side of the receiver and the magazine cutoff on the left side were deemed to be redundant, so a new model 1871 was introduced without them. Existing model 1869 rifles, such as this one, had the loading gate and cutoff removed, and were designated the model 1869/71, and are identified by the holes on both sides of the receiver where the loading gate would mount. Later models after this changed over to the box Magazine found on most rifles of the WWI era.
This rifle is nicely maker marked on the left side of the receiver:
Serial number 2511 is found on the receiver below the maker mark, as well as on the chamber end of the barrel and the right side of the forestock. The serial on the butt stock has been worn away, and the fore stock marking is faint, so this rifle definitely looks to have been arsenal reconditioned, also indicated by the condition of the finish. The maker mark indicates production by the rare maker Valentin Sauerbrey, who operated in the Swiss city of Basel, on the Rhine river near the border of Germany and France. This is only the third example of a Sauerbrey-made Vetterli that we have ever had, and is by far the earliest serial number. There are additional proof marks on metal components of the rifle.
The rifle has the correct two gas escape holes in receiver and 1000 Schritt rear sight for pre-1875 manufacture, which were removed in later examples. To accelerate the sluggish production of the Vetterli rifles, the federal authorities built a new arms factory in Berne, the Eidgenössische Waffenfabrik (Federal arms factory or W+F), in 1875. When they started production, of the 1871, they made many simplifications, eventually leading to the model of 1878
Offered in very good condition, this was a rifle serving at the time of Britain's legendary Martini-Henry Single Shot Rifle, also introduced in 1871 and not replaced with a magazine rifle until 1888. Wood stock is in very good condition, with the expected wear and dents of age. It has a beautiful red brown color showing great grain, and there are Swiss proof marks stamped in various places, such as on the bottom of the butt stock. The stock looks to have been reconditioned at arsenal in the past, which has made some markings faint.
The bore is in very good condition, with a bright finish and crisp lands and grooves. There is just a bit of wear and a few areas of minor oxidation in the grooves. The rifle cycles correctly and dry fires, with the carrier block moving correctly. The U-shaped firing pin is present and looks to be functional. The metalwork still shows strong bluing, but definitely looks to have been arsenal reconditioned long ago, after it was converted to the M1871 standard. There is a cleaning rod present, but it looks to be from another similar rifle, and is shorter than it should be.
The included bayonet is in very nice condition, showing a lovely aged patina overall, but no major pitting oxidation. It locks correctly onto the muzzle of the rifle, and is marked with serial 66208.
The Vetterli was an Italian design ahead of its time but was soon outclassed by the German Mauser 1871/84 magazine Rifle. The Swiss Vetterli rifle is one of the very first bolt-action "repeating" rifles and getting scarce to find today, especially with the original bayonet. A very nice and very early example from a rare maker, ready to display!
Years of Manufacture: 1869-71
Caliber: 10.4×38mm Swiss
Cartridge Type: Rimfire Cartridge
Barrel Length: 32 inches
Overall Length: 51 Inches
Action type: Bolt-Action
Feed System: 11 round internal tubular magazine
Blade length: 19”
Blade style: Cruciform "Épée"
Socket Length: 2 5/8"
Overall length: 21 3/4”
History of the Vetterli rifle:
The Vetterli rifles were a series of Swiss army service rifles in use from 1869 to circa 1890, when they were replaced with Schmidt-Rubin rifles. Modified Vetterli rifles were also used by the Italian Army.
The Swiss Vetterli rifles combined the American Winchester Model 1866's tubular magazine with a regular bolt featuring for the first time two opposed rear locking lugs. This novel type of bolt was a major improvement over the simpler Dreyse and Chassepot bolt actions. The Vetterli was also the first repeating bolt action rifle to feature a self-cocking action and a small caliber bore. Due to the Swiss Federal Council's early 1866 decision to equip the army with a breechloading repeating rifle, the Vetterli rifles were, at the time of their introduction, the most advanced military rifles in Europe. The Vetterli was the replacement for Amsler-Milbank rifles, which were a metallic cartridge conversion from previous Swiss muzzle-loading rifles.
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