Vetterli rifle
Overview
 
The Vetterli rifles were a series of Swiss army service rifle
Service rifle
The service rifle of a given army or armed force is that which it issues as standard to its soldiers. In modern forces, this is typically a highly versatile and rugged assault rifle suitable for use in nearly all theatres and environments...

s in use from 1869 to circa 1890, when they were replaced with the Schmidt-Rubin
Schmidt-Rubin
The Schmidt-Rubin rifles were a series of Swiss Army service rifles in use between 1889 and 1953. They are distinguished by the straight-pull bolt action invented by Rudolf Schmidt and use Eduard Rubin's 7.5x55mm rifle cartridge.-Schmidt-Rubin 1889:...

 rifles. Modified Vetterli rifles were also used by the Italian Army
Italian Army
The Italian Army is the ground defence force of the Italian Armed Forces. It is all-volunteer force of active-duty personnel, numbering 108,355 in 2010. Its best-known combat vehicles are the Dardo infantry fighting vehicle, the Centauro tank destroyer and the Ariete tank, and among its aircraft...

.

The Swiss Vetterli rifles combined the American M1866 Winchester rifle
Winchester rifle
In common usage, Winchester rifle usually means any of the lever-action rifles manufactured by the Winchester Repeating Arms Company, though the company has also manufactured many rifles of other action types...

's tubular magazine and a bolt system derived from the German Dreyse needle gun
Needle gun
The Dreyse needle-gun was a military breechloading rifle, famous as the main infantry weapon of the Prussians, who adopted it for service in 1848 as the Dreyse Zündnadelgewehr, or Prussian Model 1848...

. They were also the first repeating rifle to feature a self-cocking action
Firearm action
In firearms terminology, an action is the physical mechanism that manipulates cartridges and/or seals the breech. The term is also used to describe the method in which cartridges are loaded, locked, and extracted from the mechanism. Actions are generally categorized by the type of mechanism used...

 and a small caliber.
Encyclopedia
The Vetterli rifles were a series of Swiss army service rifle
Service rifle
The service rifle of a given army or armed force is that which it issues as standard to its soldiers. In modern forces, this is typically a highly versatile and rugged assault rifle suitable for use in nearly all theatres and environments...

s in use from 1869 to circa 1890, when they were replaced with the Schmidt-Rubin
Schmidt-Rubin
The Schmidt-Rubin rifles were a series of Swiss Army service rifles in use between 1889 and 1953. They are distinguished by the straight-pull bolt action invented by Rudolf Schmidt and use Eduard Rubin's 7.5x55mm rifle cartridge.-Schmidt-Rubin 1889:...

 rifles. Modified Vetterli rifles were also used by the Italian Army
Italian Army
The Italian Army is the ground defence force of the Italian Armed Forces. It is all-volunteer force of active-duty personnel, numbering 108,355 in 2010. Its best-known combat vehicles are the Dardo infantry fighting vehicle, the Centauro tank destroyer and the Ariete tank, and among its aircraft...

.

The Swiss Vetterli rifles combined the American M1866 Winchester rifle
Winchester rifle
In common usage, Winchester rifle usually means any of the lever-action rifles manufactured by the Winchester Repeating Arms Company, though the company has also manufactured many rifles of other action types...

's tubular magazine and a bolt system derived from the German Dreyse needle gun
Needle gun
The Dreyse needle-gun was a military breechloading rifle, famous as the main infantry weapon of the Prussians, who adopted it for service in 1848 as the Dreyse Zündnadelgewehr, or Prussian Model 1848...

. They were also the first repeating rifle to feature a self-cocking action
Firearm action
In firearms terminology, an action is the physical mechanism that manipulates cartridges and/or seals the breech. The term is also used to describe the method in which cartridges are loaded, locked, and extracted from the mechanism. Actions are generally categorized by the type of mechanism used...

 and a small caliber. Due to the Swiss Federal Council
Swiss Federal Council
The Federal Council is the seven-member executive council which constitutes the federal government of Switzerland and serves as the Swiss collective head of state....

's early 1866 decision to equip the army with a breechloading repeating rifle
Repeating rifle
A repeating rifle is a single barreled rifle containing multiple rounds of ammunition. These rounds are loaded from a magazine by means of a manual or automatic mechanism, and the action that reloads the rifle also typically recocks the firing action...

, the Vetterli rifles were at the time of their introduction the most advanced military rifles in Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

.

Repetiergewehr Vetterli, Modell 1869/70

The 1869 Repetiergewehr Vetterli (repeating rifle, Vetterli) was the first iteration of Vetterli rifles. It was designed by Johann-Friedrich Vetterli (1822–1882), a Swiss riflemaker, who worked in France and England before becoming director of the Schweizerische Industrie Gesellschaft
Schweizerische Industrie Gesellschaft
Schweizerische Industrie Gesellschaft , or SIG, is the former name of SIG Holding AG, a Swiss company that has been active in various businesses during its more than 150 years of operation. Since the year 2000 the Society has undergone strategic refocus, concentrating on its core compentence in...

's armament factory in Neuhausen
Neuhausen am Rheinfall
Neuhausen am Rheinfall is a municipality in the canton of Schaffhausen in Switzerland.The little town is well known for the Rhine Falls, a tourist attraction and mainland Europe's largest waterfall....

. He also adapted his rifle into a single-shot centerfire variant procured by the Italian Army
Italian Army
The Italian Army is the ground defence force of the Italian Armed Forces. It is all-volunteer force of active-duty personnel, numbering 108,355 in 2010. Its best-known combat vehicles are the Dardo infantry fighting vehicle, the Centauro tank destroyer and the Ariete tank, and among its aircraft...

.

Repetiergewehr Vetterli, Modell 1871

Even while manufacture of the M1869/70 was underway, a new 1871 model was put into production. It omitted some redundant parts and featured a modified sight as well as a stronger barrel
Gun barrel
A gun barrel is the tube, usually metal, through which a controlled explosion or rapid expansion of gases are released in order to propel a projectile out of the end at a high velocity....

 and stronger iron hoops.

Repetierstutzer Vetterli, Modell 1871

The Stutzer (carbine
Carbine
A carbine , from French carabine, is a longarm similar to but shorter than a rifle or musket. Many carbines are shortened versions of full rifles, firing the same ammunition at a lower velocity due to a shorter barrel length....

) variant of the 1871 rifle was used to equip the Scharfschützen (sniper
Sniper
A sniper is a marksman who shoots targets from concealed positions or distances exceeding the capabilities of regular personnel. Snipers typically have specialized training and distinct high-precision rifles....

) companies of the army. The Stutzer were equipped with a sensitive Stecher (double set trigger) action and featured a shorter barrel.

Kavallerie-Repetierkarabiner Vetterli, Modell 1871

The Kavallerie-Repetierkarabiner (cavalry
Cavalry
Cavalry or horsemen were soldiers or warriors who fought mounted on horseback. Cavalry were historically the third oldest and the most mobile of the combat arms...

 repeating carbine) was another shortened variant of the 1871 rifle for use by the cavalry, which at that time was still armed with percussion pistol
Pistol
When distinguished as a subset of handguns, a pistol is a handgun with a chamber that is integral with the barrel, as opposed to a revolver, wherein the chamber is separate from the barrel as a revolving cylinder. Typically, pistols have an effective range of about 100 feet.-History:The pistol...

s.

Repetiergewehr and -stutzer Vetterli, Modell 1878 and 1881

To accelerate the sluggish production of the Vetterli rifles, the federal authorities built a new arms factory in Berne
Berne
The city of Bern or Berne is the Bundesstadt of Switzerland, and, with a population of , the fourth most populous city in Switzerland. The Bern agglomeration, which includes 43 municipalities, has a population of 349,000. The metropolitan area had a population of 660,000 in 2000...

, the Eidgenössische Waffenfabrik (W+F), in 1875. That factory produced 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. An Stutzer variant with a Stecher action, but otherwise identical to the rifle, was also produced.

M1870 Italian Vetterli

The Italian Army adopted the Vetterli design, albeit in a more economical single-shot form, in 1870.

M1870/87 Italian Vetterli

In 1887, the Italian military updated its single-shot Model 1870 Vetterli rifles with a four-round Vitali box magazine.

M1870/87/15 Italian Vetterli

During World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, like many nations Italy faced a shortage of modern infantry rifles. As an emergency measure, many Vetterli Vitali rifles were converted to fire the 6.5x52mm Carcano round, adding a 6.5mm barrel lining and a Carcano
Carcano
Carcano is the frequently used name for a series of Italian bolt-action military rifles and carbines. Introduced in 1891, this rifle was chambered for the rimless 6.5x52mm Mannlicher-Carcano Cartuccia Modello 1895 cartridge. It was developed by the chief technician Salvatore Carcano at the Turin...

-style magazine. These conversions are not considered safe to fire with standard 6.5x52mm loads.

External links

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