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Thread: 1869 Vetterli

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    Moderator kennymo's Avatar
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    1869 Vetterli

    IMG_2229.jpg

    So the uncle decided to downsize his collection a bit, and after selling a dozen or so to a local dealer, he dropped by with this today. The original military repeating rifle, the 1869 Swiss Vetterli. 12 shot tube magazine, 10.7mm bore (roughly .41 cal?), 1400 fps muzzle velocity. The only issue is it's a rimfire cartridge that hasn't been manufactured since the early 1900's.... Anyway, it's fully functional, the bayonet is there and the only issues seem to be a broken rear sling swivel and the missing cleaning rod.

    The bore is pretty decent on this one, I'm considering a centrefire conversion. I think 8mm Lebel brass can be formed to the proper chamber dimensions, but I'm going to have to read up on that.

    The other 'original mare's leg' looking device there is a very old handmade kid's toy from what I can figure out. Possibly made in India or the Middle East by all the brass inlay in the stock? The history on it is kind of unclear, it seems quite old and my aunt thinks it may have come from my great grandfather's house after he passed. Not sure where he would've picked something like that up, the only travel he ever did was a walking tour of Europe from 1916-1918. It's kind of interesting, and a little crude.
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    Senior Member Ballsofice's Avatar
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    I shot a 1910 ross and still have everything minus my marbles if you find them please do not return to owner

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    Moderator kennymo's Avatar
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    Checked the serial # at that site ^^. Looks like it's an 1869/71 model, from fairly early in that production run. Made at Waffenfabrik.

    Lee dies are out there, just need to find someone who'll ship them North of the border. Only $37 U.S., so that's fairly impressive. I priced out 577/450 dies a while back and they were considerably more. Seems .44 pistol dies can be used to help convert the brass.
    Speaking of brass, loaded 8mm Lebel from PRVI seems just as cheap as any new brass I can find in Lebel or 348 Winchester (both can be used apparently). Might be the way to go, I can pull them and set the bullets and powder aside in case I ever get my hands on an 8mm Lebel....
    I notice that someone has already attempted to deal with the front sight at some point in time too. Didn't notice at first, but it's had solder built up over the original blade, then filed so it's higher and slightly to the left. Apparently with the original 1450 fps and 300+ grain lead bullet they typically shoot at least a foot high at 100 yards. Part of the old military doctrine of aiming at the waist and hitting a man between neck and knees at any distance out to 300 yards I suppose.
    Last edited by kennymo; 04-30-2018 at 06:09 PM.
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    Resident Combine Pilot JustBen's Avatar
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    I had one. Took forever to find a box of 41 Swiss Rimfire. When I did find one, it was more than the gun!

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    Moderator kennymo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JustBen View Post
    I had one. Took forever to find a box of 41 Swiss Rimfire. When I did find one, it was more than the gun!
    Did they work? I have a couple pieces of fired brass, but I hear most of the ammunition is old enough that most are duds. My grandfather mentioned briefly owning one of these in the 60's, picked up for a dollar or two at an auction sale, but even then he couldn't locate ammunition in rural Manitoba so he sold it without having fired it.

    Again reading from the sites posted above, 1960 seems to be the last year anyone made a run of rimfire ammo for these. And at that point the runs were small and weren't even being produced every year since around 1950.
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    Resident Combine Pilot JustBen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kennymo View Post
    Did they work? I have a couple pieces of fired brass, but I hear most of the ammunition is old enough that most are duds. My grandfather mentioned briefly owning one of these in the 60's, picked up for a dollar or two at an auction sale, but even then he couldn't locate ammunition in rural Manitoba so he sold it without having fired it.

    Again reading from the sites posted above, 1960 seems to be the last year anyone made a run of rimfire ammo for these. And at that point the runs were small and weren't even being produced every year since around 1950.
    I never bought them.

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    Moderator kennymo's Avatar
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    IMG_2235.jpg

    Been doing a little more digging on the old girl, and stripped it down last night to see what sort of shape everything is in. Rear sight is a bit loose, seems like the setscrew is a hair worn, I'm going to try taking a file to the underside of the screw head so it'll bite just a bit harder. There's some metal fatigue and a minor crack on the bolt shroud where it contacts the sear, but it's just a dustcover. Bore is crisp and bright except for about an inch in front of the chamber where there's minor pitting in the grooves, but nothing serious and the rifling is still strong in the affected area. Can't see anything that should keep it from going bang again.

    It's a pretty interesting rifle considering most of the world was frantically trying to convert their old stocks of muzzleloaders to single shot cartridge guns when it was introduced. The Swiss got one look at the original Henry and Winchester rifles and decided to skip that step almost entirely.

    Ordering 8mm Lebel brass on payday. I'm going to try bumping the shoulder with a .44 die and fireform, then we'll see if ordering dedicated dies is worth it or if I can get a decent product with the .44 equipment and jury rigging a Lee factory crimp die. I think I've found a 300+ grain bullet that might do the trick too. Shorter bullets won't feed through the magazine since they used a 2.2" cartridge length to keep the next bullet in the magazine off the lifter. I might need to leave the brass a hair over the original 38mm too, since the molds for the original heeled roundnose are expensive and hard to come by. A little extra brass (maybe 42mm?) is supposed to keep the shorter bullets in alignment better, and the chamber is basically a tapered cone into the rifling with no throat, so the brass length shouldn't be critical.
    Last edited by kennymo; 05-13-2019 at 07:07 PM. Reason: Old spelling mistake. It irritated me....
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    Senior Member 2012Cvoguy's Avatar
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    Best of luck and resources to make it go boom again! Nice bit of engineering for the time....

    CVO

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    Senior Member Waterloomike's Avatar
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    Kennymo, if you locate some 8mm Lebel brass, would you mind posting where you got it?

    Thanks.
    Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add 'within the limits of the law' because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.

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    Moderator kennymo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Waterloomike View Post
    Kennymo, if you locate some 8mm Lebel brass, would you mind posting where you got it?

    Thanks.
    Tradeex is the only place I've found listing it so far (PRVI), but it's out of stock. I'm probably ordering up a box of loaded PRVI and pulling the bullets. Twenty cases will be enough for my purposes right now anyway. I'm hoping to get my hands on a Lebel or Berthier eventually anyway, so I'll eventually recycle the leftover components at some point.
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