Author Topic: Early Swiss Rifle ?  (Read 6487 times)


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Early Swiss Rifle ?
« on: July 30, 2010, 01:22:00 AM »
Here are some pictures of what I believe to be an early Swiss flintlock hunting/target rifle. I thought this one might be of interest as possibly being one of the old world cousins of our American long rifles.

Total Length: 48 in.
Barrel Length: 34.25 in.
Weight: 8 lbs.
Length of Pull: 12 in.
Drop at heel: 3 in.
Swamped Barrel:    
        At Breech: 1.30 in.
        11 inches from the Muzzle: .87 in.
        At Muzzle: 1.05 in.
Barrel flats: .5 in
Rifled Barrel: Multi-groove spiraled with 32 (if my count is correct) lands and grooves
Caliber: .68
Hardware: brass with a horn fore-end cap
No makers marks that I can locate (I donít count the initialed escutcheon and I have not removed the barrel).

This gun resembles one that can be found in a catalog excerpt located in a reply to a posting on this site from Dec. 2008 ( by Stophel. This is especially true of that strange, high rear sight and the fact that the catalog description, in German, when translated, makes reference to a serpent (snake/ schlange) side plate. The multi-groove rifling, lack of a patchbox and the straight brass trigger guard would all seem to be Swiss features as well.

What is perhaps odd about this example is that there are no sling swivels, as are most often found on European hunting guns. There is also no stud sticking out of the top corner of the butt plate. Iím afraid my efforts to gather much information about this gun have been somewhat limited. There just isnít that much out there (at least readily available in English) so any additional comments/feedback would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks for looking,

Offline alex e.

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Re: Early Swiss Rifle ?
« Reply #1 on: July 30, 2010, 05:01:12 AM »
Neat gun :)
I'll throw this out and see if it sticks to anything :-\
Certain things say "French " to me.
The stock profile bears a resemblance to a couple in Lenk's book.The lock  looks it to me also [see plate 87]
the buttplate also is very close to the one on  plate 91
And the TG bears a close yet plainer likeness to the one on plate
All styles date around to the 1720's give or take

As to some of the other features I am open for suggestion,some are clearly Germanic.
i guess that's what happens when your country borders other gunmaking countries.

Uva uvam videndo varia fit


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Re: Early Swiss Rifle ?
« Reply #2 on: July 30, 2010, 03:44:55 PM »

Thank you much for the input.

I think you are right on the money with the French influence idea. The lock engraving certainly looks more Gallic than German. If the trigger guard and buttplate do as well then those are pretty good indicators. The lettering on the thumbplate is certainly not German Gothic either. The combination with the other more Germanic features may however point to an area that was heavily influenced by both, such as... Switzerland. (Or possibly Alsace ... ?) I wonder if the multiple riflings and tall set rear sight arrangement are to be found on other French pieces? They definitely do appear on Swiss guns.

Offline Jim Chambers

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Re: Early Swiss Rifle ?
« Reply #3 on: July 30, 2010, 04:38:08 PM »
The French lock I got at Dixon's is virtually identical to the lock on this rifle.....different engraving, but almost exactly the same shape.  My lock was purchased from an antique shop in Paris in 1945.

Mike R

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Re: Early Swiss Rifle ?
« Reply #4 on: July 30, 2010, 04:49:16 PM »
much of the hardware, except the serpent sideplate, looks French to me.

Online rich pierce

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Re: Early Swiss Rifle ?
« Reply #5 on: July 30, 2010, 05:36:53 PM »
Great rifle, thanks for showing us this one.  Anyone venturing a date?  1750-1770, or possibly earlier?
Andover, Vermont

Offline Stophel

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Re: Early Swiss Rifle ?
« Reply #6 on: July 30, 2010, 07:45:31 PM »
Could be Swiss, could be from most anywhere in the German-speaking lands, but I would hazard to say the SW regions (which would certainly include Switzerland).

Just because it has "French style" hardware does NOT make it French.  Not by any means.

The rifling is the most interesting part. 
When a reenactor says "They didn't write everything down"   what that really means is: "I'm too lazy to look for documentation."

Offline Mike Brooks

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Re: Early Swiss Rifle ?
« Reply #7 on: July 30, 2010, 07:46:49 PM »
The rifling is the most interesting part.
I have seen French pistols rifled exactly like that.
Say, any of you boys smithies? Or, if not smithies per se, were you otherwise trained in the metallurgic arts before straitened circumstances forced you into a life of aimless wanderin'?

Offline Jim Filipski

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Re: Early Swiss Rifle ?
« Reply #8 on: July 30, 2010, 08:09:53 PM »
Isn't it a fact that the Germanic craftsmen in the 17th & 18th C were quite fond of the artistic elements of the French at this time and tried to emulate their styles?  I have heard this a few times and I am not sure if there is any truth to it.
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Offline Dr. Tim-Boone

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Re: Early Swiss Rifle ?
« Reply #9 on: July 30, 2010, 10:06:46 PM »
Maybe a French Swiss who built guns in a German Swiss area of Switzerland.... or Vice Versa  ;) ;) ;D.......Could we agree Alpen??  :o ;D
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Offline Acer Saccharum

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Re: Early Swiss Rifle ?
« Reply #10 on: July 30, 2010, 11:55:42 PM »
The French made pattern books that were sold all over the Continent and in England.

Rifling is way cool.

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