Original Swiss Vetterli Repetiergewehr M1881 Magazine Infantry Rifle Serial No 209214 - 10.35 x 47mm

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. Further improvements were made soon after, resulting in the model 1881.

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


Serial number 209214 is found on the receiver below the maker mark, as well as on the chamber end of the barrel and 214 on the bottom of the carrier block / ejector, rear sight base & ladder, trigger guard, and on the butt plate. There are additional proof marks on metal components of the rifle, many of which bear the Swiss "Geneva Cross".

Offered in excellent lightly 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. Wood stock is in great condition, with the expected light wear and dents of age. It has a beautiful red brown color with a lovely glow, and shows no signs of any type of refinishing. It has additional Swiss proof mark stampings, as well as some shield shaped cartouches. The rear sight works correctly, and both sling swivels are present and functional.

The bore is in excellent condition, showing little to no signs of ever being fired. The finish is mirror bright, with crisp lands and grooves. The original cleaning rod is in good shape, and the threaded end is still intact, and screws into the stock correctly. The rifle cycles correctly, 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, which looks to function correctly.

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. Ready to add to your collection!


Years of Manufacture: 1881-1890
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

The Swiss Vetterli rifle is one of the very first bolt-action "repeating" rifles and getting scarce to find today. 

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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