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Modello 1870 Italian Vetterli


Bolt-Action Service Rifle


Kingdom of Italy | 1870



"The Swiss-based Model 1870 Italian Vetterli began life as a single-shot rifle until the late-1870s when a repeat-fire function was added."



Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 06/02/2017 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.
The 19th Century proved a critical one for the advancement of firearms. Up to this point, the flintlock muzzle-loading system was the adopted standard but all this changed with the advent of the percussion cap system and breech-loading configuration. Add to this the arrival of the self-contained cartridge and the gun of the late 1800s was a far cry from that of early part of the decade.

In Switzerland, Johann-Freidrich Vetteri had developed a new cartridge-based, breech-loading, bolt-action rifle that entered service with the Swiss Army in 1869 - the "Vetterli Rifle". This long gun was based around the 10.4x38mm Swiss cartridge, a rimfire cartridge with black powder content. The rifle went on to provide service from the period of 1869 to 1890 with some of the 36,700 units seeing combat service into World War 1 (1914-1918) on the side of the Russians.

The Italian Army, in search of a modern cartridge-based long gun themselves, adopted the Swiss gun a short time later and these came to be known as the Model 1870 "Italian Vetterli". The Italian model differed somewhat from its original Swiss design in that attention was paid to streamlining the product for Italian Army requirements. The rifle - once an 11-round tube-fed weapon - was reduced to just single-shot firing and rechambered for the 10.35x47mmR, a centerfire cartridge with black powder content. On the whole, the rifles maintained the same design form as the Swiss version with its long wooden stock, ornate trigger guard, and turn-down bolt handle. A large rear sighting assembly was an identifying feature of the Italian mark and a two-banded arrangement was seen on the long wooden body leading up to the muzzle.

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In 1887, the rifle was upgraded with a four-round projecting magazine case for repeat-firing, this afforded much efficient use out of the bolt-action arrangement. The magazine was of a local design by Italian artillery Captain G. Vitali - his surname making it into the revised designation of Model 1870/87 "Italian Vetterli-Vitali". This magazine was fed by way of Mannlicher-style preloaded clips while still chambered for the 10.4x47R cartridge. The modified guns were appropriately marked along their butt stocks.

By the time of World War 1 (1914-1918), the Italian government - as with other world powers - found itself desperately short of many viable war-making products including service rifles. It committed to the war effort on the side of the Allies in 1915 and quickly scoured its stores for useful weapons of all types. This meant that the aged Model 1870s were still in play, numbering in the hundreds of thousands by this point. However, local conversions were forced upon the design in an attempt to produce a more modern end-product - chief of these changes being the conversion to the 6.5x52mm Carcano standard Italian rifle cartridge with smokeless powder content. The move also required new barrel lining and new magazine (Mannlicher type).

The 6.5mm Italian Vetterli guns were issued to second-line Italian Army regiments in the hope that these groups would not be pressed into serious combat action - but if they were they could carry with them a somewhat useful infantry rifle. This did not prove the norm on the whole however for the rifles did see direct combat action against the enemy during several of the Italian offensives of the war.

The Italian Vetterli was still in circulation throughout the inter-war period following and some even played a role in the Italian invasion of Ethiopia during the Second Italo-Ethiopian War (1935-1936), the Italians claiming a decisive victory.

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Physical
The physical qualities of the Modello 1870 Italian Vetterli. Information presented is strictly for general reference and should not be misconstrued as useful for hardware restoration or operation.
Single Shot (original); Manual-Pull Bolt-Action
Action
10.4x47mmR (original); 6.5mm (later)
Caliber(s)
Single-Shot (original); 4-Round Integral Magazine (clip-fed)
Feed
Front and Rear Iron
Sights
Performance
Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the Modello 1870 Italian Vetterli. Information presented is strictly for general reference and should not be misconstrued as useful for hardware restoration or operation.
3
Rounds-Per-Minute
Rate-of-Fire
Variants
Notable series variants as part of the Modello 1870 Italian Vetterli Bolt-Action Service Rifle family line.
Model 1870 "Italian Vetterli" - Base Series Designation; original black powder model of 1870 based on the Swiss Model 1869 Vetterli though streamlined for cost-effectiveness; 10.4x47mmR chambering.
Model 1870/87 "Italian Vetterli-Vitali" - Model of 1887; reworked as a repeat-fire rifle with 4-round integral magazine; 10.4x47mmR chambering.
Model 1870/87/15 "Carcano" - Model of 1915; World War 1 models converted by Carcano to 6.5mm smokeless cartridge use (Mannlicher-type magazine).
Operators
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the Modello 1870 Italian Vetterli. Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national small arms listing.

Contractor(s): State Arsenals - Italy
National flag of Italy National flag of the Kingdom of Italy

[ Kingdom of Italy ]
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Image of the Modello 1870 Italian Vetterli
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Design Qualities
Some designs are single-minded in their approach while others offer a more versatile solution to requirements.
Recognition
Some designs stand the test of time while others are doomed to never advance beyond the drawing board; let history be their judge.
Going Further...
The Modello 1870 Italian Vetterli Bolt-Action Service Rifle appears in the following collections:
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