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Old 12-16-2012, 05:53 AM   #1
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Default Italian Vetterli-vitali 1870/87

Sometimes you just don't learn till you become an old buzzard. When I was around seven years old I was given my first gun by a family friend who brought it back at the end of WWII. It's an Italian Vetterli-Vitali model 1870/87 in caliber 10.35x47R(10.4x47R) not to be confused with the 10.4 pistol cartridge.

I used to take that darn thing apart and clean it all the time. This was the early 50's so kids liked playing soldier all the time, even with real guns. Today if a neighbor saw a little kid running around with a rifle in an alleyway they'd have the cops down and the parents would have cuffs thrown on them. This would also be on the news.

Without me knowing my grandfather took a chisel to the tip of the firing pin for safety reasons. I've owned many guns in my life and made sure that rifle was stored away for sentimental reasons. It was usually stuck in the corner of a cellar and totally ignored unless it had to be moved out of the way for some reason.

A while back I dragged it out and cleaned it up. I looked at it real close and said to myself it was interesting and it deserved being shot. I even looked it up on You Tube and watched someone shooting it. I also researched it well and became fascinated with it. It turns out to be worth more than I realized.

This rifle was made in 1875 and was originally a single shot. In 1887 the military converted it to a repeater by adding a 4 shot box magazine. Those rifles were used everywhere, including Russia. There were other models made including a Swiss model in 41 Swiss RF. In 1915, due to weapon shortages during WWI, the Italians converted many of the model 1870/87's to 6.5 Carcano and designated it the model 1870/87/15. They sleeved the barrels and changed the box magazine to a flat one, which is similar to the Carcano rifle. These rifles can be dangerous to fire due to the increase in the power of the 6.5, but many are being shot today due to the availability of the ammo.

Mine is in the hands of a gunsmith now and should be functioning again within the next 2, or 3 weeks. Other than the pin it is in real nice shape compared to others I've seen. I located an obsolete ammo maker and will be purchasing some ammo for a day of fun that's been on the back burner for almost 60 years. I just wish my grandpa could be with me when I do finally shoot it.

I recommend that anyone with a gun that's been handed down through the family that's in shootable condition to do just that, shoot it.


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Old 12-16-2012, 07:25 PM   #2
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Nice looking rifle, and a very cool story. A friend of mine has one of the old Swiss models, and has been dieing to shoot it. Any chance you can post the contact information for that ammo manufacturer? I have a few obsolete calibers myself, and would be interested in finding out if I can aquire them. Thanks for sharing, and please remember to give us a range report when you shoot that piece. Once again, vey cool!

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Old 12-16-2012, 10:24 PM   #3
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The Vetterli-Vitali rifles have a fascinating history. They were used in WW1 by Italy (even the unconverted ones) due to shortage of Carcano rifles. As they were being phased out by the Italians, the Czarist Russian govt purchased them due to shortage of Mosin rifles. There were whole front-line Russian divisiins armed with them. Then the Russian Civil War broke out and these rifles were used extensively on all sides. One interesting detail - the Communists supplied Vetterlis to the anarchist forces of Makhno because ammunition was uncommon and when the Communists decided to turn on the anarchists they cut off the ammo supply leaving their adversaries defenseless. In the 30s, Stalin sent great numbers of these obsolete rifles to Spain to arm the Republicans.

Look closely at your rifle. If it has a 'Made in Italy' stamp, it is likely one of the rifles with a rich history. If it doesn't have the stamp, it stayed in Italy and missed all the action.

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Old 12-17-2012, 01:46 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kfox75 View Post
Nice looking rifle, and a very cool story. A friend of mine has one of the old Swiss models, and has been dieing to shoot it. Any chance you can post the contact information for that ammo manufacturer? I have a few obsolete calibers myself, and would be interested in finding out if I can acquire them. Thanks for sharing, and please remember to give us a range report when you shoot that piece. Once again, vey cool!
Kfox75, after posting about this rifle I figured no one was interested in it since there were no responses for almost 2 days. I'd be glad to help you with any information I can. I assume your friend's is the 41 Swiss RF. I hope he gets a chance to shoot his soon. Many people convert them to cf, which is something he can consider. Those Swiss models are nice looking. I see them fairly often at gun shows. As far as ammo goes check out Gad Custom Cartridges, N2143 County Road C, Medford, Wisconsin, phone# 715 748-0919, ask for Bernold.

I'll definitely report back how everything went when I shoot it.
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Old 12-17-2012, 02:07 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by batjka View Post
The Vetterli-Vitali rifles have a fascinating history. They were used in WW1 by Italy (even the unconverted ones) due to shortage of Carcano rifles. As they were being phased out by the Italians, the Czarist Russian govt purchased them due to shortage of Mosin rifles. There were whole front-line Russian divisiins armed with them. Then the Russian Civil War broke out and these rifles were used extensively on all sides. One interesting detail - the Communists supplied Vetterlis to the anarchist forces of Makhno because ammunition was uncommon and when the Communists decided to turn on the anarchists they cut off the ammo supply leaving their adversaries defenseless. In the 30s, Stalin sent great numbers of these obsolete rifles to Spain to arm the Republicans.

Look closely at your rifle. If it has a 'Made in Italy' stamp, it is likely one of the rifles with a rich history. If it doesn't have the stamp, it stayed in Italy and missed all the action.
Batjka, those rifles have been around a lot. It's a shame how I ignored it for so long. I think my grandfather may have been a little familiar with it since he came from Russia.

The more I look at it and research it, the more my interest grows. It doesn't have made in Italy stamped on it, so maybe it wasn't used too much. I know it was being used when it was picked up and brought back. I can't say whether it was gotten in Italy, or even France. I recall him talking about France to my family, but I was very young at the time.

I've been collecting guns for close to 50 years and felt pretty confident about my knowledge, but like a dummy I always kinda looked down at this rifle and just considered it something I played soldier with as a kid. I never would even look at it. I've seen Swiss Vetterlis at shows, but never had any interest in them.

I have many antique guns that I've enjoyed shooting and now the thought of shooting this particular rifle that was made in 1875 just plain excites the hell out of me. This is one of the few times I regret not doing my own reloading, but I'm not planning on firing 500 rounds out of it, so if I pay a couple of bucks a round and fire 50 rounds, or even less in a shooting session I won't complain.
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Old 12-17-2012, 10:42 PM   #6
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The "Made in" stamp was used after WWII for arms coming into the U.S. It is worth more without it. That stamp has nothing to do w/ where its' been or who used it. Many arms were returned to their country of origin as they were a lease.

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Old 12-17-2012, 11:03 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by gunsmoke11 View Post
Kfox75, after posting about this rifle I figured no one was interested in it since there were no responses for almost 2 days. I'd be glad to help you with any information I can. I assume your friend's is the 41 Swiss RF. I hope he gets a chance to shoot his soon. Many people convert them to cf, which is something he can consider. Those Swiss models are nice looking. I see them fairly often at gun shows. As far as ammo goes check out Gad Custom Cartridges, N2143 County Road C, Medford, Wisconsin, phone# 715 748-0919, ask for Bernold.

I'll definitely report back how everything went when I shoot it.
Thanks for the info. I will let my friend know and we will check them out.
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Old 12-18-2012, 12:40 PM   #8
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The reason why the "made in Italy" stamp is important is because it denotes a batch of rifles that were imported from Spain in the 60s. And the only way Vetterli-Vitalis got to Spain was through Russia. Other Spanish Civil War rifles bear that stamp, too. Mosins have a "made in Russia" stamp etc.

Russian Vetterli-Vitalis sometimes have a cyrillic 'P' or 'C' stamped on the stock or by trigger guard.

When I was looking for a Vetterli-Vitali, I wanted one with a "made in Italy" stamp due to the rifle's use in WW1, Russian Civil War and Spanish Civil War. They really have neen through a lot for such an antiquated design.

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Old 12-18-2012, 01:16 PM   #9
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That is a good looking old rifle..................

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Old 12-18-2012, 10:38 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by batjka View Post
The reason why the "made in Italy" stamp is important is because it denotes a batch of rifles that were imported from Spain in the 60s. And the only way Vetterli-Vitalis got to Spain was through Russia. Other Spanish Civil War rifles bear that stamp, too. Mosins have a "made in Russia" stamp etc.

Russian Vetterli-Vitalis sometimes have a cyrillic 'P' or 'C' stamped on the stock or by trigger guard.

When I was looking for a Vetterli-Vitali, I wanted one with a "made in Italy" stamp due to the rifle's use in WW1, Russian Civil War and Spanish Civil War. They really have neen through a lot for such an antiquated design.
Your info is not exactly correct. There are Enfields stamped made in England, never used in the Spanish or Russian revolution. It only denotes the time frame they were imported. You are correct that most are not imported from the country of origion, some are. Many Enfields have the same type of stamp.
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