Original Swiss Vetterli Repetiergewehr M1878 Magazine Rifle by Waffenfabrik Bern Serial 169707 - 10.4×38mm

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.

To accelerate the sluggish production of the Vetterli rifles, the federal authorities built a new arms factory in Berne, the Eidgenössische Waffenfabrik (W+F), in 1875. This factory started production with the 1878 variant of the Vetterli rifle. Its some 25 improvements included a new bayonet and lug, improved sights and a finger hook on the trigger cover.

This rifle is nicely maker marked on the left side of the receiver:


Serial number 169707 is found on the receiver below the maker mark, as well as on the chamber end of the barrel. Shortened number 707 is found on the right side of the bolt, bottom of the carrier block/ejector, sight base and leaf, nose cap, trigger, butt plate, and possibly elsewhere. There are additional proof marks on metal components of the rifle, as well as some on the stock, many with the Swiss "Geneva Cross" marking.

Offered in very good service used 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. The metalwork has a lovely aged look, showing strong original bluing with some areas of light peppering. There is however no major oxidation or rust, and it looks like a rifle that saw moderate service and then was cleaned put into storage. The stocks look to have the original arsenal finish, and show dents and other wear marks from service. The proof marks are still crisp, and there is no evidence that the stocks were refurbished at any time. Both sling swivels are present and move easily, and the original cleaning rod is still present, and unthreads easily from the stock so it can be removed.

The bore shows strong rifling with bright lands, but the grooves definitely show past fouling, which could probably be cleaned away with a good chemical cleaning. We do not see any major oxidation or other damage. The rifle cycles correctly, though it is a bit stiff, with the carrier block properly presenting, though we cannot guarantee it will be able to feed. The bolt has an intact double sided firing pin for the rimfire ammunition.

The Vetterli was an Italian design ahead of its time but was soon outclassed by the German Mauser 1871/84 magazine Rifle. This is a very nice example, in lovely condition with no signs of restoration. The Swiss Vetterli rifle is one of the very first bolt-action "repeating" rifles and getting scarce to find today.

A very good honest used example with a lovely patina, ready to clean up or to display as is!


Years of Manufacture: 1878-1881
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

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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