Original Swiss Vetterli Model 1881 Bolt Action Military Rifle
A Swiss Vetterli Model 1881 Bolt Action Military Rifle, made circa 1885 in Bern, Switzerland. Serial # 20910X. Chambered in 10.4x38mm Swiss Rimfire. To accelerate the sluggish production of the Vetterli rifles, the Swiss federal authorities built a new arms factory in Bern, the Eidgenössische Waffenfabrik (W+F), in 1875. That factory produced the 1878 and 1881 variants of the Vetterli rifle. This final variant of the Vetterli featured more than 25 improvements over the earlier models including a bayonet and lug, improved “roller coaster” sights, and a finger hook on the trigger guard.
The Vetterli rifles were a series of Swiss army service rifles in use from 1869 to 1889, succeeded by the Schmidt-Rubin rifles. The Vetterli rifles combined the American Winchester Model 1866’s tubular magazine and cartridge lifter with a regular bolt featuring for the first time two opposed rear locking lugs. This 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. Swiss inventor and gunmaker Johann-Friedrich Vetterli designed this rifle in the late 1860s. For a short period of time, the Vetterli could claim the title of the world’s most advanced military rifle. Modified Vetterlis were also used by the Italian Army. This Swiss military rifle held 12 rounds of 10.4 mm cartridges, giving it a lot of firepower for its day. Sadly, the majority of these imported into the U.S. were converted into sporter rifles, in the 1920s and 1930s, but this one is still in original condition. The condition of this rifle is antique fine. The action is excellent, with no sloppiness. The bore is in great shape with some shine and crisp rifling. This example has all matching numbers. Barrel is 32-1/2 inches. Caliber: 10.4x38mm Swiss Rimfire. Overall condition as seen in photos. Serial numbers match. The stock has minimal handling wear — particularly nice wood for a 135-year old rifle. It has some nice tiger-striped crossgrain figuring. The nice crisp Swiss cross cartouche on the forend shows that the wood has never been refinished. A wonderful piece of Swiss history! (PYR-142)