We just received a small quantity of original Italian
Vetterli Model 1870/87/15. All rifles are converted for the Carcano 6.5
The condition is astonishingly very good to excellent. These
rifles have been in storage in Ethiopia for a century.
We offer a hand select option for an additional $100.00
These rifles are considered Antique and therefore do not
require any Licenses. A government Photo ID like Drivers License or passport
will be required to purchase these rifles.
The M1870 Vetterli was the Italian service rifle from
1870-1887, when it was gradually replaced with the M1870/87 Italian
Vetterli-Vitali variant. The M1870 was a single-shot bolt action rifle
chambered for the 10.4mm Vetterli centrefire cartridge, at first loaded with black
powder and later with smokeless powder. The M1870 was based upon the M1869
Swiss Vetterli but simplified for economy.
10.4mm Fucile di Fanteria, Modello 1870/87 Vetterli-Vitali
In 1887 (until 1896), the Italian Army began converting the
M1870 to a four-shot repeating rifle, based on the system designed by Italian
artillery captain, G. Vitali. This conversion added a box magazine fed from a
Swiss-style fabricated steel and wood stripper clip holding four cartridges, in
the same caliber (10.4x47R mm) as before. The clip is pressed into the
magazine, until the last round catches under the Cartridge retainer, and then
the clip is withdrawn using the "pull string" in the top wooden frame
of the clip. Clips of cartridges were supplied in a soldered sheet steel box,
holding six clips.
The conversion to the Vitali magazine was done on the long
rifle, the TS (special troops musketoon) and possibly some of the Carabinieri
carbines; No Vitali conversions were done to the Moschetto da Cavalleria for
metropolitan Italian troops. In 1888, the Fondo Coloniale (Eritrea) requested
500 Vitali-converted Vetterli cavalry carbines for the Eritrean Native Cavalry
("spahi"—Swahili for "horse-soldier"). There are currently
five known examples still in existence ( one in Australia, two in the US, two
in Italy). Collectors refer to it as the M1870/88 V.V.Eritrean cav carbine. The
Regio Esercito (Royal Army) Cavalry units maintained the M1870 single shot
Moschetto da cavalleria until replaced by the M1891 Moschetto da cavalleria, in
The conversion is indicted by a cartouche "Artig. Fab.
D'armi Terni 1888" (dates vary), on the butt stock. The center of the
cartouche displays a Crest of Savoy and the word, Riparazione (Italian for
repair) is directly below the cartouche. Shortages of small arms appeared from
the very beginning of Italy’s entrance into World War I on the side of the
As more of the population mobilized for the first total war
in European history, the supply of modern small arms fell short before the end
of 1915 and a large number of obsolete Modello 1870/87 Vetterli-Vital were
issued to newly formed regiments that were not expected to be in combat,
however, troops carried these antiquated rifles into battle on several
As well, in 1916, Italy sent a large number of
Vetterli-Vitali rifles to Russia; ammunition and components were contracted for
by Britain to the Remington Armory. These "tsarist" rifles eventually
ended up in Republican hands in the Spanish Civil War, as the Soviet Union emptied
its depots of all the old black powder and early smokeless rifles it had
inherited after the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917.
During World War I, many M1870/87 rifles were converted to
share the same 6.5mm smokeless powder round instead of the inferior black
powder rounds as the primary service rifle, the Carcano, by adding a 6.5mm
barrel lining and a modified M91 Carcano magazine. The barrel sleeving was
called the "Salerno method"; The bolt face was also machined to
accept the smaller diameter 6.5 mm cartridge head, and the firing pin
shortened. These conversions were used for rear echelon troops (guards,
training, etc.) and were rarely, if at all, fired with standard 6.5 mm military
ball ammunition. After WWI, many of these rifles were assigned to the colonies
of Tripolitania, Fezzan and Cyrenaica (Libya) and also to Eritrea and Somalia,
again, as rarely-fired training rifles. These rifles were used again in the
Second Italo-Ethiopian War, mostly by native African soldiers. During World
War II, they were used only by fascist Blackshirts paramilitaries.
It is considered by knowledgeable collectors[who?] that due
to the rifle's age and general condition (manufactured in 1870-1890s) and
converted twice (1887-90s and again 1915-16), that the black powder technology
of the Vetterli design is not suitable for repeated use (i.e. intense combat
use) with normal Italian ball ammunition of 6.5 mm, or its present-day
commercial equivalent. Even back in the 1920s, anecdotal accounts of Salerno sleeves
loosening under "hot" fire (they were soft-soldered in place) and
subsequent "blow-by" experience since the 1950s appearance of these
rifles as surplus has led to safety concerns.
ANTIQUE= NO FFL OR C&R REQUIRED.