Vetterli Ammunition


March 5, 2012, 05:49 PM
I've just been given what i believe to be a 1869/71 Vetterli Rifle. Iv'e done a little research on it, and apparently, 10.4 mm rimfire is not as common as it used to be. I'd like to shoot it for the simple fact of saying I have, and so I could show someone the ammo that was shot out of "that old gun on the wall" when people see it. I don't really want to convert it to centerfire just because it think the rimfire style is really unique. Any ideas for where I could get any ammo for it, and how much i'd be looking to pay?

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March 5, 2012, 06:03 PM
You could probably make it if you reload.

Otherwise one of the specialty ammo companies? Didn't see it on Old Western Scrounger, but didn't look too hard either.

March 5, 2012, 06:08 PM
I reload shotshells, but haven't yet gotten into reloading rifle ammo.

March 5, 2012, 06:09 PM
Try GunBroker.

March 5, 2012, 06:29 PM
Geez, is it all this expensive?

Carl N. Brown
March 5, 2012, 07:15 PM
It is difficult (not impossible, but very difficult) to reload rimfire ammunition. The ammo that exists today are considered collector's items. As I recall reading (for what that's worth) small lots of ammo were made as late as the 1930s due to the number of .41 rimfire Swiss rifles used on farms in upstate NY.

The Swiss Vetterli .41 rimfire rifle was imported in large numbers by Francis Bannerman of NY. (see the article on Bannerman's Castle Bannerman was the number 1 military surplus dealer for decades and various Bannerman Military Goods Catalogues are prized reference books.)

Walter HB Smith, Rifles, Volume 2 of The N.R.A. Book of Small Arms, 1948, notes that thousands were in use on American farms.

See also

March 5, 2012, 07:28 PM
Even if you "shell out" the coin for some vintage rounds, it's reported that the failure rate of them is pretty high. I've got an old box with a few rounds in it, and they are going to remain collector items.

As noted, there is a conversion available. I chose not to do this with mine as it's a close to perfect example. If I could find an extra bolt I might do it.

March 5, 2012, 07:48 PM
Fiocci ammunition makes small batches of 10.4 rimfire on occasion, but really, the centerfire conversion and hand-made centerfire cartridges is the only practical way to successfully fire one of these rifles.

March 6, 2012, 12:26 AM
I saw a little of this ammo at a gun show this weekend and it was priced at about $10 a round. It's definitely collector ammo nowdays. I also have one of these rifles and it's also near perfect. Matter of fact that was the very first gun I bought, way back in 1961. I bought a box of Italian ammo for it, shipped in to me via Railway Express, and still have about half that box, plus I found a box of original Remington ammo I think it was, only a few rounds left in that box.

There is a conversion to center fire that can be done but it pretty well ruins the collector value of the gun. I can't really see a reason to convert this gun. I have enough others to shoot anyway.

If you really want to shoot the rifle, watch gun shows for any collector selling ammo, or google the ammo and see what you can locate.

March 6, 2012, 07:34 PM
Metalguy, that's awesome! Mine's a little beat up....but considering it was manufactured shortly after the American Civil War, I guess I can understand. So for those of you who own one, or one of similar age, what precautions should I take when cleaning it? Are there any modern cleaning agents I should stay away from? I've pretty well decided that I won't be shooting it, but i did buy a round off Gunbroker. It looks to be about the same age as the rifle. I'll just display them together once it gets here.....thanks for all the info!

March 6, 2012, 11:35 PM
I wouldn't try to do too much "cleaning" on it if you're thinking of refinishing it. It's probably better to leave it in its current condition. If you want to clean the bore, any good oil and probably a brass .41 cal brush would do the trick. When I bought mine, I completely disassembled it and cleaned everything thoroughly and reassembled it but today I couldn't begin to tell you how to do that.

Yep, it's got a few years behind it. They are pretty remarkable guns, considering their age. Enjoy it.

March 6, 2012, 11:48 PM
They really are....unique action, mag, and cartridge combination too. I'm not planning on refinishing it, because i kind of like the worn look of the wood. I just got it this weekend, and God knows the last time it's been picked up....much less cleaned or oiled. I just wanna clean up all the guts and get all the dust, rust, and gunk out that I can. man if that gun could talk......

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