One of the interesting things I came across in my travels around SHOT Show last month was that some classic Central European arms makers are still in the business of making classic European arms.
Over at Mauser’s booth, besides offerings in their classic M98 line for $10K+ safari rifles (!) there was the new M18, a $699 bolt-action billed as the “People’s rifle” (Volkswaffe) or “People’s repeater” (Volksrepetierer) by the German rifle maker. It’s a pretty sweet design, complete with a detachable mag, hidden cleaning kit in the butt (hey, it’s a Mauser) and a wide offering of calibers.
More about that over in my column at Guns.com
As for Steyr, which of course continues to market modern polymer framed pistols, precision rifles to include the giant HS-50 and their iconic AUG line of bullpups, they are bringing back the Zephyr. Now I had a chance to get my hands on a Zephyr .22 that belonged to my great-uncle as a kid and absolutely loved it. The reboot includes a traditional Bavarian cheek piece and fish scale checkering on a walnut stock, and an action so smooth it will make you cry.
More on that after the jump.
In the 1860s, the Swiss government went looking for a rifle that would replace older percussion muskets and elevate them into the revolution in worldwide military arms ushered in with the U.S. Civil War. What they came up with saw extended service for the next 80 years in one form or another and was one of the most popular hunting arms in the U.S. for generations.
Why was it adopted?
In 1864, the standard Swiss Army rifle was the M1842/59 Milbank-Amsler, a gun that began life as a muzzleloader (M1842) then was modified over the years to a breechloader along the lines of the American Allin Springfield design of the same period. It was functional, but after the advent of rifles such as the Winchester and Spencer repeaters, and the French Chassepot and German Dreyse needleguns (both of whom shared a border with Switzerland), the Swiss needed to up their game if they wanted to remain quietly neutral.
This led to the one Friedrich Vetterli, a well-known firearms designer, joining with the Swiss gun maker Schweizerische Industrie-Gesellschaft Waffen-Department (SIG) to come up with a neat design for its time.
We give you: the Repetiergewehr Vetterli and its Italian cousin, the Vetterli-Vitali