Tag Archives: Vetterli

The Priceless Warehouses of Addis Ababa

By nature of the past 130 years frequented by conflict in the Horn of Africa, Ethiopia has tons of vintage military arms up for sale.

One European importer, based in the Czech Republic, has been detailing their shopping trips to the African country where surplus firearms are stacked deep and priced cheap. Zelený Sport Defence’s mononymous globetrotting buyer, Schuster, has been sending snaps back from his trip to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s ancient capital, filled with historic firearms.

The old Ethiopian Empire fought several wars against Italy (in 1887–1889, 1895-1896, 1935-37), a cycle that was only broken after liberation in World War II. This left the country with not only stacks of guns both bought to fight off the Italians– M1874 Gras rifles, Gewehr 71s and 88s, Remington Rolling Blocks, FN-made Mausers, British Lee-Enfields, Russian Berdan and Model 91/30 Mosin-Nagants– but also those captured from the Italians including Vetterlis, and Carcanos of every stripe.

And that’s not even scraping the surface…

More in my column at Guns.com.

Forgotten import: The Swiss/Italian Vetterli rifle

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

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Read the rest in in my column at Firearms Talk