Gun Review: W+F BERN 1896/11 7.5×55 Swiss Infantry Rifle

Swiss W+F BERN 1896/11 7.5X55 Infantry Rifle

Earlier this month I got a press releases from Kriss USA announcing their new venture, Edelweiss Arms. Edelweiss Arms focuses on European military surplus firearms, curios and relics. In other words, used firearms from days gone by. What does that have to do with Kriss’s innovative flagship firearm, the Vector? No, seriously, what does that have to do with the Kriss Vector?

Who cares? I like the Kriss Vector, but I loves me some old rifles and Edelweiss Arms has got some doozies.

Of course, and the first thing I checked out were the lugers. Noting their quality and price, and the fact that I only have one kidney which the doctors tell me I still need, I quickly moved on.

W+F BERN Schmidt and Ruben 1896/11 Rifle (photo courtesy of JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

What caught my eye next was the long catalogue of Schmidt-Rubin designed rifles of varyious varieties. I was especially interested in the early workhorse of the Swiss military, the W+F BERN 1896/11.

So I set about ordering a rifle. It sold before I could press enter on the order. That happened twice more. I kept trying and finally got the note confirming my order and the expenditure of $404 plus shipping and handling. Shipped to my local FFL would be a Schmidt-Rubin 1896/11 rifle, made in 1914, and P Stamped.

W+F BERN 1896/11 bolt knob (photo courtesy of JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

It’s a handsome gun, but what’s going to stand out to most people is that straight-pull action. If you want to open the action, just pull the orange knob back. Nope, not up, not down…straight back. Your pull will first release the action, then, after slightly more pressure, release the bolt straight back. The action then springs open quickly to expose the detachable six-round magazine inside.

A lot of people, me included, tend to look at the straight-pull action and wonder about its safety. That concern is well-founded, but only if something goes wrong, like a bore obstruction or dramatically overpressure round. If that happens, the bolt will indeed drive straight backward into your face, right below your eye. No bueno. 

Fortunately, commercial ammunition is made to be well below the maximum pressure allowable for both the 1896/11 as well as the popular K31. But that ammunition is NOT safe for the rare 1896 rifle that hasn’t been modernized to an 1896/11 or any previous models.

For the reloader, as always, start low and work your way up. In reality, this rifle will easily launch a 165gr Hornady SST bullet at 2,500fps. That mid-pressure round is enough for any animal up to and including elk at common hunting ranges.

The safety mechanism is fascinating in its simplicity. That ring on the back is connected to the firing pin. Simply pull the ring back, rotate it to the right until the tab appears at the 9 o’clock position, and very gently bring the ring forward until it rests. This essentially lowers the firing pin so that it no longer has enough momentum to come forward and strike the primer. With no spring left in its step, you’ve rendered the firearm inoperable.

W+F BERN 1896/11 safety (photo courtesy of JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

To reverse, just pull back and to the left, recharging the spring and making the rifle ready to fire.

1896/11 front sight (photo courtesy of JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

The front sight is sturdy and robust, but I assumed the front sight of the 1896/11 would be a little more refined and precise than it is. It’s Swiss, after all.

Even so, this is an infantryman’s rifle, one that was expected to be carried while trekking up and down the Alps. Unlike many of the military rifles of the era, there are no wings, ears, or a loop to protect the sight from being bumped.

W+F BERN 1896/11 front sight cover (photo courtesy of JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

When not being fired, a muzzle protector serves a dual purpose, keeping dirt out of the barrel as well as protecting the front sight.

The two-piece wood stock on the rifle comes in two flavors, either beechwood or walnut. The earlier rifles, like this one, tend to be walnut. Once the Germans started rebuilding for what would become WWII, much of that walnut inventory was soaked up in the kriegsmaschine and the Swiss rifles become beechwood stocked.

Like almost all European military arms of the era, the length of pull is fairly short, and the stock ends in a curved metal butt plate. If this were a particularly harsh recoiling rifle, that would be a problem, but at almost 10lbs in weight, recoil just isn’t much of a issue.

W+F BERN 1896/11 rifle owner (photo courtesy of JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

Underneath that butt plate was exactly what I had been hoping for.  A small piece of paper with the name of the Swiss citizen-soldier’s who owned it. This rifle was made in 1914. I don’t know when the rifle was issued to him or when he retired, but Mr. Alfonse Sarbach kept it in excellent condition.

W+F BERN 1896/11 rifle butt plate (photo courtesy of JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

The stock clearly has seen some use, with marks from weathering and wear. Taking a close look, I can see why the people at Edelweiss Arms said this stock was a 3/5, one of the factors that made its price much lower than others.

But Mr. Sarbach kept what was most important in perfect working order. The wood is well oiled, as is the leather sling. The metal has been protected and cleaned. The bore is immaculate and the action in perfect working order. I hope that when my children inherit this rifle from me, Mr. Sarbach would be as pleased with the way I leave it.

W+F BERN 1896/11 forestock (photo courtesy of JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

The 1896/11 was the modernization of the standard model 1896, which was an improvement over the previous standard Swiss infantry rifle, the 1889. The ’96 was well-liked, but in 1908 a new cartridge was developed as a response to the new bullet shapes and technologies developed by the Germans. That round would be the the GP11. The GP11 was, and still is, an exceptional cartridge, and would remain a mainstay of the Swiss military for the next 75 years.

W+F BERN 1896/11 rounds (photo courtesy of JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

The GP11 cartridge was designed to operate at fairly moderate pressures, around 45,500psi. It launches a 174gr .3087 diameter round at 2,640fps from a K31’s 25” length barrel and slightly faster from the full-sized 1896/11’s 30.7″ barrel. In terms of rounds you might be more familiar with, the GP11 is slightly more powerful than standard .308 Winchester commercial rounds, and is pretty close to the .30-06 M2 cartridge in terms of energy.

Here’s a photo of the 7.5×55 Swiss between the .308 Winchester and the .30-06 Springfield for comparison. These are all my own hand loads, and I have loaded them all with the same bullet.

7.5x55 comparison (photo courtesy of JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

For the reloader, take note of the diameter of the round. Yup, it’s a .308. You can use the exact same pills you load your other .30 caliber cartridges with.

I’ve found recipes safe for the 1896/11 in several of my reloading manuals. Good brass is available online, I bought a couple hundred Prvi Partizan cases, as well as dies from MidwayUSA. Take note, the case neck is fairly short with a steep shoulder, so you may have a hard time with bullets under 150 grains seating well.

If, by some miracle, you can actually find .284 Winchester brass, it’s possible to form 7.5X55 Swiss cases from them. A few decades ago this was probably your best option, but thankfully, those times are long gone.

There has been a bit of a resurgence in popularity of these rifles over the last few years That’s a very good thing, as it’s gotten more ammunition manufacturers interested. I was surprised to find two of my local gun stores carrying two different brands of ammunition for the rifle.

My local Cabela’s had about ten boxes of ammo made by Hornady and Prvi Partizan on hand. The Prvi Partizan is as close as you can get commercially to the originally Swiss GP11 standard round. The modern 174gr bullet leaves the muzzle at just over 2,500fps, which is actually less than the original GP11 round by about 130fps.

W+F BERN 1896/11 P Stamp (photo courtesy of JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

One of the reasons I chose this particular rifle is because it was “P stamped.”

As you may know the Swiss army is made up of citizen-soldiers. Back in the day, once a man left the army he had a choice; return the rifle to the armory or pay for it and keep it for himself. As you might imagine, many a soldier decided on the latter. When those citizens decided to keep their service weapons, they were stamped with a “P” on the receiver.

At least that’s what I’ve always been told. I’ve never been able to verify it from a Swiss military source. But I’ve heard this for many years, from a lot of gunsmiths and laymen collectors alike.

If you wanted the most “mint condition” rifle, I would suggest one that is not stamped. As for me, I take joy in wondering what Mr. Sarbach did with his service rifle. Did he ever go to a friendly competition with it? I’m told they were quite popular in those days. What about hunting? The round is powerful enough, and the rifle is certainly accurate enough to take down any of the common game in the area.

Did this rifleman put meat on the table for his family with this very gun? Was it somewhere, tucked away, only a reminder of his youth? Did he sit with his children, cleaning it after a day on the range, or in the field, and tell his them of his days in the service, and of the brothers he made there, as I do with mine?

I’ll likely never know. What I do know is that he must have had a great deal of respect for it to keep it in such good condition.

1896/11 Swiss receiver (photo courtesy of JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

Again, this was one of the lower-priced rifles on the Edelweiss Arms website. Although the bore was correctly listed as being in great shape, the bluing was listed at 78%. I was expecting something a little more like one of the crates of Mosin Nagant rifles I’ve bought over the years. I was expecting basically good shape, but maybe a little rust on the receiver, with a little pitting in the finish.

The Swiss, being Swiss and not Russian, have higher standards. There wasn’t a touch of rust anywhere on this gun, and certainly no pitting. The bolt is pristine. There were no areas where the bluing was completely rubbed off, or scratched on the barrel itself. Everything covered by the wood was in perfect shape.  On the receiver, the bluing is worn and grayed. That’s it. For about a grand more you can get one near 100%. They must be gorgeous.

My rifle, like most, also included the original muzzle protector and leather sling. Both were in great condition.

W+F BERN 1896/11 Swiss trigger (photo courtesy of JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

The trigger is a bit of an odd one, as many of these old military guns tend to be. First, the shoe itself forms a fairly tight, small curve. It fits the naked finger just fine, but doesn’t allow much of a choice in placement. Beyond that, its curvature makes the use of heavy gloves difficult. I was able to get my gloved hand into the trigger guard just fine, but then the trigger felt more like just one point on the curve of my index finger than any kind of lever.

The trigger pull is a distinctly two-stage affair. For the first 3/4″ of that pull, absolutely nothing happens at all. There’s no creep or grit or anything, just very light resistance. Then it hits a 4lb wall before a break, with just a bit of mush at the start. Of course, I have no idea if they all came like this, but this is a surprisingly good trigger. I find it telling that this rifle built for a solider over 100 years ago has a trigger far better than anything today’s American infantryman gets issued.

If you take a look at the Edelweiss Arms website, they list a rating of the bores as 1/5 through 5/5. One of the reasons I picked this was that it was one of the lowest priced “P stamped” rifles that still listed the bore as 5/5. And man, it is. Shining a light down the bore at different angles, it absolutely gleamed. Intimidatingly so. I knew I was about to put 100 rounds through this gun and getting the bore back to this clean and shiny was going to be a challenge.

W+F BERN 1896/11 butt plate top (photo courtesy of JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

Unsurprisingly, the rifle functioned flawlessly. I put 100 trouble free rounds through the rifle for this test, 80 of them commercial rounds and 20 of them from my own reloads. At no point did I have problem loading six rounds into the magazine (I could reliably load seven), nor did the magazine ever fail to release or have any difficulty inserting. The straight-pull action had no issues cycling whatsoever, with any round tested.

1896/11 magazine (image courtesy of JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

In fact, the rounds cycled into the breach very quickly. Unfortunately, because of the short length of pull, I couldn’t just keep my cheek-stock weld and pull the bolt back. To do so would have smashed the bolt right into my cheek next to my nose. I’m guessing back in the day people were either shorter, or maybe it was made for soldiers wearing heavy winter coats. I hear it snows in Switzerland.

As it is, I need to angle the stock slightly to the right when I pull back the bolt with force. When I do, the spent cases land almost directly behind me, but a solid 6′ away. Seated in slow fire, the cases landed slightly to my left, just as far away, in a nice, tidy pile. I love it when all the cases land right together. It just says something good about the consistency of the action.

W+F BERN 1896/11 Swiss groups (photo courtesy of JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

Using store bought rounds, accuracy was excellent. Actually, using any round, accuracy was excellent.

With either the 174gr Prvi Partisan Soft Point round or the Hornady 165gr BTSP round, I got consistent 2 ¼” five round groups off a rest at 100 yards. Because of the ease or reloading, I then home rolled some 150gr Hornady SST rounds pushed by 42.6r of H4895, which should give me a muzzle velocity of 2,600fps. How did it shoot? On average, right at 2 1/4”.

When a rifle shoots multiple different loads from multiple manufacturers, as well as my own reloads with such consistency, it is a good indication that the rifle outshoots my eyes.

W+F BERN 1896/11 Swiss rear sight (photo courtesy of JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

Of course, sighting in at the 100 yard mark, all of my groups landed about just over a foot above my point of aim. That’s because the rifle is zeroed at 300 meters, and that is the closest range available on the rear sight. If you wanted to shoot closer in without adjusting, you would need a taller front sight. Of course, that would throw all of the rear sight range markings off.

Since commercial ammunition is fairly close to the original GP11 round, I wanted to see how close the markings really were. I can attest that out to the 600 meter mark, the markings are dead-on. I could regularly strike a 19” silhouette at 600 meters, the rounds striking, on average, just a bit low when using the 600 meter line on the rear sight. To verify much farther than that, I’d need a bigger target.

W+F BERN 1896/11 sling (photo courtesy of JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

I’m more than happy with my purchase. I’ve been a long time buyer and seller of surplus rifles. This isn’t the first Schmidt and Ruben rifle I’ve fired, but it definitely the first one I’ve owned. For $400, I picked up a little bit of history, and a lot of great rifle. I see Edelweiss Arms has very few of them left, and I’m glad I got one of these while I could.

W+F BERN 1896/11 rifle hanging (image courtesy of JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

Specifications: Waffenfabrik Bern Schmidt-Ruben 1896/11 Rifle

Action: Straight Pull Bolt
Overall Length: 51.2″
Barrel Length: 30.7″
Magazine type: detachable box
Capacity: 6 rounds
Weight: 9.94lbs empty
Caliber: 7.5X55mm Swiss
Stock Material: Walnut or Beechwood
Finish: Blue
Price as Purchased: $404.00

Ratings (out of five stars):

Style and Appearance * * * *
That straight pull bolt gives it an unusual appearance, different than the other rifles of its era. That’s a good thing. The wood and metal are in excellent shape, especially considering its age and use.

Customization *
Mess with this rifle and the Allfather will have no mercy on you.

Reliability * * * * *
This gun ran just as well, or better, than most of the modern bolt action rifles I’ve reviewed.

Accuracy * * * *
This might deserve five stars, and with a scope it would almost certainly get it. As is, the front sight is a little wide to get a precise sight picture. Still, it outshoots me.

Overall * * * *
I got more than I bargained for in a $400 military surplus rifle. I’ve seen these rifles actually go for less, but in nowhere nearly as good condition as this one. As it is, I’ve ended up with a piece of history, as well as a rifle that’s fun on the range and supremely capable in the field. To Mr. Sarbach, wherever you are, I’ll keep your rifle in good hands, in the hope that one day we may meet. I hope you tell me all about her.

comments

  1. avatar How_Terrible says:

    It is always nice to see a decent review of an old mil-surp. 🙂

    1. avatar Anonymous says:

      https://edelweissarms.com/rifles.html

      No F way. $675? for a G11?

      A grand for a K31?

      Smoking Crack.

  2. avatar Ralph says:

    It’s wonderful to see an old soldier looking so great.

    I’m talking about the rifle, jwt. The rifle.

    1. avatar jwtaylor says:

      Would it help if you knew I was wearing nothing but ranger panties for the entire review?

      1. avatar surlycmd says:

        So, so wrong.

        1. avatar Gun Free School Zones are a crime against humanity says:

          Ranger panties come pre dyed to a convenient color.

        2. avatar jwtaylor says:

          I just got back from a week down the amazon river on a rescue mission in the jungles of Peru. My ranger panties are green. Your comment is, at this time, particularly accurate.

      2. avatar Gun Free School Zones are a crime against humanity says:

        *shudder*

  3. avatar Ogre says:

    JWT, you said, “because of the short length of pull, I couldn’t just keep my cheek-stock weld and pull the bolt back. To do so would have smashed the bolt right into my cheek next to my nose. I’m guessing back in the day people were either shorter, or maybe it was made for soldiers wearing heavy winter coats. I hear it snows in Switzerland.”

    I used to have a Remington-made M1903A1 rifle that had the same problem – anytime I opened the bolt and drew it to the rear, I had give up my stock-weld to tilt the rifle to the right a bit so the bolt would not impact my right cheek. I suspect all the bolt-guns with medium or long actions had the same problem.

    Anyway, nicely written review. It was my first clear look at how a Swiss straight-pull rifle and its ammo functions.

  4. avatar strych9 says:

    Love the history with the bit of paper.

    Always wanted one of these straight pull rifles but I wanted to get my hands on it before paying for one (the price you paid was a steal) and the only one I’ve ever seen in the flesh had just been sold at a gun show.

    It’s also nice to know about the ammo/safety issues which were a concern of mine.

  5. avatar PeterK says:

    That is a beautiful rifle. Thanks for the review.

  6. avatar ACP_arms says:

    Great review, Jon.

    You’re making me want to have a K31 in my life.

  7. avatar Gun Free School Zones are a crime against humanity says:

    He was a citizen soldier in the truest sense of the word. He may not have been a hunter or a recreational shooter.

    But he spent his life, ready, at a moments notice to go to his country’s aid.

  8. avatar Ovidio says:

    The K11 and K31 triggers are just excellent. I like to shoot my K31 a lot. Accurate, powerful and with the best trigger in my whole milsurp collection, with one exception: my Grandpa’s 91 Carcano prize rifle. That is even better, but it is also a match rifle, not a normal issue rifle.
    The only downside of any Swiss rifle is that it has no “war” flair. Like Swedish rifles. But still, they are great!

  9. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

    What a beauty!

  10. avatar When Bullets Collide says:

    Think a ballistic vest wrapped around a steel plate could contain a K31’s bullet?

    1. avatar jwtaylor says:

      Depending on the level, sure. We tested one last year that even stopped at 375 H&H Magnum.

  11. avatar ironicatbest says:

    Damn JWT you can shoot, 19 inch target, 600 meters open sights. I like old guns also, like old cars, they’ve got a character that plastic just doesn’t process.

    1. avatar jwtaylor says:

      I am a mediocre shooter. The Caldwell Stinger shooting rest and bags are doing all the work. When accuracy testing a rifle, I take all the time it takes to get that rifle as still as possible. For most rifles, I don’t even need to have it tightly pressed into my shoulder. Then I take whatever time it takes to pull the trigger. To do accuracy testing on a rifle like this takes me about 60 rounds. That’s going to take me about 3 hours to shoot.

  12. avatar RocketScientist says:

    Since it didn;t get much mention in the article, the original surplus ammo (known as GP11, Gewehrpatrone 1911) is still available at very reasonable prices. This is literally match-grade non-corrosive ammo (though not reloadable). Like seriously, SUPER high quality ammo, lots of people shoot matches with it. Definitely worth picking up a case or two.

    A few additional notes. The model JWT shows here is what is usually called a 96/11 in the collector market (though they were all referred to as Gewehr 1911s or G11’s by the Swiss). When they converted from their old round-nose loading of the 7.5 cartridge (known as GP90, Gewehrpatrone 1890) to the new modern spitzer bullet loading (GP11), they changes the rifle designation as well. They also added a semi-pistol grip, new sights, updated magazine and a few other minor changes. New rifles came like this from the factory after this date, but as older Gewehr 1896s came back in for service/repair, they were also updated to the new spec by adding the new features, and they would splice in the semi-pistol-grip into the previously-straight stock. These updated 1896s are what are referred to as the 96/11s in the collector market, and are most easily identified by the spliced-in bump on the stock (barely noticeable in some of the pictures here). There was also a Karabiner 1911 (K11), a shorter carbine version of this rifle. Then a few decades later they made some major improvements to the action (mainly by shortening the bolt/action substantially) allowing them to consolidate on a single rifle, called the Karabiner 1931 (K31). The much shorter action length meant they could have a much handier shorter carbine-style rifle (like most modern militaries were going to at the time) while maintaining a barrel length near what the previous Gewehr long rifles had.

    As far as ammo compatibility goes, the old 1889 and 1889/96 rifles (very rare, most got updated to 96/11) should ONLY be shot with the original GP90 cartridge. Unfortunately this is no longer commercially available, and old production rounds are collector’s items (and likely no longer viable). There are some guidelines for wildcatting reloads, though this is for the experienced reloader. The 96/11s, G11, K11, and K31 (and all the sniper variants of K31 etc) are all perfectly suited to shoot the modern GP11 loading (or pretty much any modern commercial rounds). There are some sources that suggest not shooting full-power GP11 in the 96/11 but there is no need, the action is more than strong enough. GP11 is what the rifle was designed for, and its been shooting it for 100+ years in many cases.

    1. avatar jwtaylor says:

      Rocket Scientist,
      I looked around and couldn’t find any surplus GP11. I was really hoping to find some for the article. I found lots of places that said they had it, only to find it Out of Stock or On Backorder whenever I went to purchase. I heard the same from the guns stores I called. If you have a source for surplus GP11 rounds, please post it here, I would really appreciate it.

      1. avatar RocketScientist says:

        John,

        You may have to wait. I’m not sure why, but it always waxes and wanes in availability. It seems like there are regular shipments, but not a huge volume. Every few months, it’ll be in stock at several places for reasonable prices. Then a few months later its all sold out. Then the cycle repeats. I bought 2 cases a year or so back, so I haven’t had to go shopping in awhile. Unless something in the legal situation has changed (import ban or similar) I imagine there will be more in stock again soon-ish. There are TONS of this ammo out there and its still in new production for the Swiss military, so I don’t think supplies will be drying up anytime soon. One suggestion if all the standard online ammo retailers are out, is to look at the online stores of various sellers of collectors/mil-surp/C&R guns, or even just militaria and such. They will often sell surplus ammo, and their inventories aren’t usually as picked-over as the mainstream retailers. May pay a little more though. For example, one of my favorite online C&R sources currently shows 480-rd cases of GP11 in stock for $480. If you give me a way to get it to you (e-mail etc) I’ll send you a link (don’t wanna make it public and have it all bought out by the time you see it). Or if you prefer I can just post the vendor’s name or a link here.

        I STRONGLY suggest you pick up a case of GP11… if you think you won’t use that much, these rifles are a JOY to shoot, especially to shoot fast. And most likely the GP11 will be the most accurate round you run through it (thats the case for every single one of my various models of swiss straight-pull, and most of the ones I know of). I also picked up a 96/11 (my 2nd) from Edelweiss’ opening sale. Haven’t shot mine yet, but I’m in love already. One note, be careful of the bolt knob. The resin/bakelite/whatever brown ones on the older guns are not nearly as durable as the aluminum knobs on the K31s. They are prone to chipping, and some common gun cleaning solvents can do weird things to them. You don’t have to baby it, but just be mindful that its not unbreakable, and its hard to replace. Enjoy your new rifle!!

        1. avatar jwtaylor says:

          Thanks!

        2. avatar LKB says:

          +1. sgammo.com usually has it, but as RocketScientist says the supply ebbs and flows.

          Just keep checking . . . at about $0.50/round for match-grade ammo, it’s well worth stocking up on when they have it.

        3. avatar Matt in SC says:

          Just checked and there’s some on gunbroker. I’ve got a few cases stashed, pretty good stuff. Put a diopter sight on one of my K31s, think it was from Graf & Sons. It really helps get those group sizes down, especially with aging eyes.

  13. avatar Ovidio says:

    I read the name plate. The guy’s name was Alphonse Sarbach, from Sion.
    Born in 1902. He probably got the rifle in 1920.
    That is a very interesting thing in these Swiss rifles.
    Enjoy it.

    1. avatar jwtaylor says:

      Niklause was my best guess, but now that you say it, I can see the Alphonse. I’ll edit the story to show that. Thank you very much for the correction. Did you guess the 1920 because he would have been 18 then?

      1. avatar Ovidio says:

        Yes, exactly.
        Standard draft age also there.

  14. avatar Ovidio says:

    Yes, exactly.
    Standard draft age also there.

  15. avatar M1Lou says:

    I have a K11 I purchased a while ago from Classic Firearms. It’s a great shooting rifle and has a very smooth action. My other straight pull is a Steyr M-95 in 8x56R. It is far from smooth and feels crude next to the Swiss rifle. It also beats you to death. The trigger is the same in K11 as you described. I usually jerk the trigger back to the wall, hold, and then aim. I seem to get good accuracy out of it with PPU.

    I wish stripper clips were easier and cheaper to find than they are. My tag is still in the buttstock. It has the owners name and also his address. I was able to Google Street view the house and village he lived in and it is beautiful. Probably one of the coolest things about owning these rifles.

  16. avatar That Jason says:

    A few links for a new Swiss rifle owner.
    First, learn that you missed out on a great enthusiast as you learn from Guisan
    https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/theswissriflesdotcommessageboard/straight-pull-rifles-f5/?sid=72861938725b988dc4673b2d91defe67

    Order a few clips for that rifle, they work well.
    https://www.northridgeinc.com/product-p/sc-4-2.htm

  17. avatar Ryan W. says:

    For those who read this:
    “A lot of people, me included, tend to look at the straight-pull action and wonder about its safety. That concern is well-founded, but only if something goes wrong, like a bore obstruction or dramatically overpressure round. If that happens, the bolt will indeed drive straight backward into your face, right below your eye. No bueno.”
    This is 99% false. At least on the Swiss straight pull rifles if you are saying that this is not a risk on regular bolt-actions (It is. Every gun design has safety flaws that the user must be aware of to safely use the weapon. The bolt spearing the user is the end result of catastrophic failure for most bolt-action rifles due to the lack of anything behind the bolt to stop it if the locking lugs break.).
    The Schmidt-Rubin action (and the technically different K31 action) are only straight pull in manipulation. The “knob” pulls straight, but the bolt actually rotates within the carrier (“sleeve”) before it pulls back. It is at least as safe as a normal bolt action of its era (safer than some… American version of the Krag-Jorgensen? “Yes, Commander, I am sure that the second locking-lug was unnecessary. No one would ever make more powerful gunpowder… again.”).
    Due to the power of even weak ammo, if there was no mechanism to prevent it, the bolt would always open upon firing. Most (I haven’t studied every design) straight-pull bolt action rifles have a locking lugs that rotate or tilt to lock the action.
    For those with a Swiss straight-pull, notice that the handle pulls back before the bolt moves at all. This is the handle rotating the bolt.
    For those who don’t have a straight-pull rifle, this works on the same concept as a semi-auto rifle. The locking lugs on the bolt-head of an AR (selected for similarity) rotate into place when the action is closed. Short of breaking the locking lugs (which will cause a catastrophic explosion on any gun) no amount of pressure on the bolt-face will push the bolt open. Instead, pressure must be applied to the bolt carrier (through the gas system), which rotates the locking lugs and pulls the bolt back. The only differences are that gasses (not a person) are applying the energy to the carrier and there is a spring to return the bolt to a locked position. (The only guns that work on direct pressure to the bolt face are direct blowback weapons. Notice the weak ammunition used in such weapons.) To see a historical connection for this, read about the Fusil Automatique Modèle 1917 (The original French version of the M1 Garand. The FAM 1917 was designed in part by a Canadian named John Garand, who made some minor modifications to it and sold it to the USA as a new weapon… 20 years later…); the first general issue semi-automatic weapon, which was, due to a tiny gas port like the AR, incompatible with corrosive ammo, causing them to purposeful seal the gas port and use the gun as a spring-loaded straight-pull bolt-action rifle.

    In short: STOP INSULTING STRAIGHT-PULL ACTIONS WITH RUMORS BASED ON A LACK OF UNDERSTANDING OF GUN DESIGN! YOU ARE SCARING PEOPLE! THAT IS THE GUN-GRABBERS JOB, NOT YOURS! (That legendary Ross rifle spearing of the British hunter was not a straight-pull issue; it was an improperly assembled bolt-action issue. They learned that the bolts in guns should never fit in the gun unless assembled properly.) Sorry about the rant, the ignorance about different bolt-action designs is one of those things that I can’t ignore. This comment took me over an hour to write and revise, so I am as sick of it as the rest of you.

    1. avatar Ovidio says:

      Dear Sir, that’s exactly how it is. I don’t know other straight pull actions well, but for the K31 (and previous versions like the K11) that is exactly how it works and how I also tend to explain it: imagine a semiautonomous system and put the shooter in place of the piston.
      Thanks for this very interesting “rant”.

    2. avatar jwtaylor says:

      Ryan W, there’s no need to shout. Your comment highlights exactly what I said would happen. In the event of an overpressure, the bolt will open, flying straight back into your face. If you are particularly short, that might not be as much of an issue. For me, that would certainly mean the bolt would shatter my cheek, and possibly my eye as well.
      It is, as you point out, the exact same issue inherent in the AR pattern rifle, which is why I have always counseled reloaders to be especially careful with the loads for their AR pattern rifles and many manufacturers tell their customers to never use reloads in their ARs.

    3. avatar Robert says:

      I agree with your assertion that all bolt actions have some inherent weakness somewhere.
      My first high power rifle was a ’93 Spanish Mauser I spent $15.00, for back in the late 1960’s. I used to enjoy buying the military surplus ammo and taking it to the range to plink. —— That is, until one “hot” round kicked the firing pin & cocking piece back past the cocked position! The bold never opened, but the thought of a cocking piece coming back so close to my eye was a bit disturbing.

  18. avatar Tom Lane says:

    I have owned the same Schmidt-Rubin model 1911 since 1964. It was my long range target competition rifle. It won me quite a few medals for 200 and 400 yd bulls eye. Back then, the only source for ammunition was Norma. I hand loaded my own for competition, and indeed, I did fire form 284 Win. cases when I needed more brass. Since the renewed popularity of the caliber, I have amassed about 1,000 rounds of surplus GP-11 made anywhere from 1957 through 1978, as well as the PPU from a “local” Cabelas. It all works perfectly, as does my (made in 1918) hundred year old rifle. I removed the battle sight and installed a 7x pistol scope in it’s place, and from the bench, it makes cloverleaf groups @ 200 yds.

  19. avatar Robert says:

    Must have been nice to find one for only $400!
    I had a pristine one back in the 1970’s that I sold (big mistake) for even less than that.
    I’m teaching again, and decided I would like to have one again to use.
    I found ONE of the older ones at a local gun & pawn shop. — He wanted $1,000, and that gun would not have been safe to shoot with the modern ammunition.
    I FINALLY was able to locate one of the shorter rifles (K-31) and ended up having to pay $700+ (including shipping and transfer costs).
    The good thing about these rifles are their accuracy, and most bores are clean (good rifling and no pitting.)
    My rifle is in good condition, but definitely NOT pristine.
    Everything I have been able to find at this time indicates the supply is drying up. In a year or two, you probably won’t be able to find any.

Write a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

button to share on facebook
button to tweet
button to share via email