Original Swiss Vetterli Repetiergewehr M1871 Infantry Rifle by Rare Maker Montier-Werstätte - Serial 115242

Item Description

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. It also featured strengthened barrel rings and a much thicker and sturdier rear sight leaf.  Later models after this changed over to the box Magazine found on most rifles of the WWI era.

The early models of the Swiss Vetterli were all made by individual contractors, and this rifle is nicely maker marked on the left side of the receiver:


Serial number 115242 is found on the receiver below the maker mark, as well as on the chamber end of the barrel and on the right side of the butt stock. The maker mark indicates production by Eidgenössische Montier-Werstätte (Federal Assembly Workshop in Bern, Switzerland. This is the first example of this rare maker that we have seen. There are additional proof marks on metal components of the rifle, as well as some on the stock.

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 some minor dents and scrapes, with a few stains, as well as some non structural cracking on the fore stock. There is definitely some staining near the receiver, from past oxidation of the metal components.

The bore shows clear lands and grooves, but definitely was used during service, so there is a bit of rounding. There also is lead and powder fouling in the grooves, which has proved difficult to remove. The action cycles nicely, though it takes a strong bolt pull to present the ejector/feed block, as intended.

Overall the metalwork shows staining and patination, which we have left intact to preserve the history. Both sling swivels are present, and the rear sight is still functional. the cleaning rod has unfortunately gone missing in the 100+ years since the rifle was produced.

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. Examples like this are getting very hard to find.

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.


Years of Manufacture:  1871-1874
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

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