Vetterlis Rifle

The Vetterlis Rifle was a common surplus military rifle that showed up in the markets of the United States from the early 1900s to the 1950s.

The Vetterli rifles were a series of Swiss army service rifles in use from 1869 to circa 1890.

They combined the American M1866 Winchester rifle’s tubular magazine and a bolt system derived from the German Dreyse needle gun. They were also the first repeating rifle to feature a self-cocking action and a small caliber. 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.

So how do these weapons show up in the United States? Thanks to the historical coincidence of the Swiss need for cash and the insatiable demand of an agrarian and frontier America for cheap guns. They were sold to large mail-order retail companies, who then in turn peddled them to American farmers as a cheap, reliable, well-made utility rifle. Sears bought guns by the ton, literally at scrap-metal prices, and sold them in staggering numbers at prices as low as $7.25.

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Published in: on March 5, 2012 at 10:05 pm  Comments Off on Vetterlis Rifle  
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