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(5 customer reviews)

Ethiopian “Cut Down” Italian Vetterli Model 1870/87/15, Caliber 6.5 Carcano


8 in stock

8 in stock


Ethiopian Cut Down Vetterli rifles available now! The rifles in this batch have been modified by the Ethiopians and generally are all shortened around 12-15 inches roughly. They are in functional condition. There is a variety of configurations on how they were shortened so some have 1 barrel band, others have 2 barrel bands, shorter or longer stock, etc. They might have some cosmetic blemishes like dings, dents, scratches, may have small cracks in the wood such as near the toe or front end. The metal has finish wear, might have some minor corrosion. No cleaning rod included.  Stocks may have trench art.

All rifles are converted for the Carcano 6.5 ammunition.Click here to view our Carcano clip page

Please note: the photo shown above is a rifle in very good to excellent condition.

These rifles are considered Antique and therefore do not
require an FFL transfer. A government Photo ID like Drivers License or passport
will be required to purchase these rifles. Thank you for your business!



The M1870 Vetterli was the Italian service rifle from
1870-1887, when it was gradually replaced with the M1870/87 Italian
Vetterli-Vitali variant. The M1870 was a single-shot bolt action rifle
chambered for the 10.4mm Vetterli centrefire cartridge, at first loaded with black
powder and later with smokeless powder. The M1870 was based upon the M1869
Swiss Vetterli but simplified for economy.


10.4mm Fucile di Fanteria, Modello 1870/87 Vetterli-Vitali

In 1887 (until 1896), the Italian Army began converting the
M1870 to a four-shot repeating rifle, based on the system designed by Italian
artillery captain, G. Vitali. This conversion added a box magazine fed from a
Swiss-style fabricated steel and wood stripper clip holding four cartridges, in
the same caliber (10.4x47R mm) as before. The clip is pressed into the
magazine, until the last round catches under the Cartridge retainer, and then
the clip is withdrawn using the “pull string” in the top wooden frame
of the clip. Clips of cartridges were supplied in a soldered sheet steel box,
holding six clips.

The conversion to the Vitali magazine was done on the long
rifle, the TS (special troops musketoon) and possibly some of the Carabinieri
carbines; No Vitali conversions were done to the Moschetto da Cavalleria for
metropolitan Italian troops. In 1888, the Fondo Coloniale (Eritrea) requested
500 Vitali-converted Vetterli cavalry carbines for the Eritrean Native Cavalry
(“spahi”—Swahili for “horse-soldier”). There are currently
five known examples still in existence ( one in Australia, two in the US, two
in Italy). Collectors refer to it as the M1870/88 V.V.Eritrean cav carbine. The
Regio Esercito (Royal Army) Cavalry units maintained the M1870 single shot
Moschetto da cavalleria until replaced by the M1891 Moschetto da cavalleria, in

The conversion is indicted by a cartouche “Artig. Fab.
D’armi Terni 1888” (dates vary), on the butt stock. The center of the
cartouche displays a Crest of Savoy and the word, Riparazione (Italian for
repair) is directly below the cartouche. Shortages of small arms appeared from
the very beginning of Italy’s entrance into World War I on the side of the

As more of the population mobilized for the first total war
in European history, the supply of modern small arms fell short before the end
of 1915 and a large number of obsolete Modello 1870/87 Vetterli-Vital were
issued to newly formed regiments that were not expected to be in combat,
however, troops carried these antiquated rifles into battle on several

As well, in 1916, Italy sent a large number of
Vetterli-Vitali rifles to Russia; ammunition and components were contracted for
by Britain to the Remington Armory. These “tsarist” rifles eventually
ended up in Republican hands in the Spanish Civil War, as the Soviet Union emptied
its depots of all the old black powder and early smokeless rifles it had
inherited after the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917.


During World War I, many M1870/87 rifles were converted to
share the same 6.5mm smokeless powder round instead of the inferior black
powder rounds as the primary service rifle, the Carcano, by adding a 6.5mm
barrel lining and a modified M91 Carcano magazine. The barrel sleeving was
called the “Salerno method”; The bolt face was also machined to
accept the smaller diameter 6.5 mm cartridge head, and the firing pin
shortened. These conversions were used for rear echelon troops (guards,
training, etc.) and were rarely, if at all, fired with standard 6.5 mm military
ball ammunition. After WWI, many of these rifles were assigned to the colonies
of Tripolitania, Fezzan and Cyrenaica (Libya) and also to Eritrea and Somalia,
again, as rarely-fired training rifles. These rifles were used again in the
Second Italo-Ethiopian War, mostly by native African soldiers.[1] During World
War II, they were used only by fascist Blackshirts paramilitaries.[2]

It is considered by knowledgeable collectors[who?] that due
to the rifle’s age and general condition (manufactured in 1870-1890s) and
converted twice (1887-90s and again 1915-16), that the black powder technology
of the Vetterli design is not suitable for repeated use (i.e. intense combat
use) with normal Italian ball ammunition of 6.5 mm, or its present-day
commercial equivalent. Even back in the 1920s, anecdotal accounts of Salerno sleeves
loosening under “hot” fire (they were soft-soldered in place) and
subsequent “blow-by” experience since the 1950s appearance of these
rifles as surplus has led to safety concerns.[3]

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5 reviews for Ethiopian “Cut Down” Italian Vetterli Model 1870/87/15, Caliber 6.5 Carcano

  1. claytonmarvin (verified owner)

    mine arrived in good shape had bent sling swivels, no major rust,cut down barrel is what you should expect from Ethiopia a hack saw and grinder or hand filed crown,stock is in great shape whole rifle cleaned up really nice mine has only on barrel band and riveted in place nose cap im they used a old nail as the rivet but adds to the history rifling is strong and seems to be in great shape don’t see no cracks along the bolt lugs action seams to lock tight good old hand made short rifle with added history all around a great buy

  2. MichaelBrown (verified owner)

    I purchased one in November 2023. It arrived clean and bright with a dirty dark bore. Bore cleaned to perfect. Mine is a Torre Annunciata 1877 shortened to 550mm/22” with a nose cap, single barrel band & matching numbers Excellent choice, I love it.

  3. claytonmarvin (verified owner)

    ordered a 2nd short rifle the stock has a few cracks but is in great shape and the metal was a little worn but expected the rear band and swivel was hand made and the the front band was a hand made german mauser style front H-barrel band and was really cool history added to the rifle

  4. Roger Kyle (verified owner)

    I was impressed with what I got for 200$. Bore looks rough but still okay, there is a 6 inch crack in the stock but looks like it was fixed along time ago from someone probably in Ethiopia. The bolt, extractor looks good and works. It was dirty and cleaned up nice. The best part is the trench art. Mine had a hobnail from an Italian boot on the stock. This was a good deal in my book.

  5. dos_will (verified owner)

    Received a Brescia 1877 with a single barrel band. Faint AIO marking on the stock. Wood has no splits, besides the wood added to the right side of the magazine when it was converted is missing. Slightly dirty but besides some normal dings and dents is in excellent condition. Metal finish has no rust or pitting. Top sling swivel and barrel band is loosely held in with some tiny ancient nails but both are unbroken and move freely. Overall a fantastic 1st purchase from RTI.

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