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(5 customer reviews)

Ethiopian “Cut-Down” Vetterli Model 1870/87 Caliber 10.4x47mmR


4 in stock

4 in stock

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We just received a small quantity of Ethiopian modified Italian Vetterli Model 1870/87 rifles. All rifles are chambered in the 10.4x47mmR cartridge. This particular batch of Vetterli rifles were cut down by the Ethiopian forces during their use. The barrels are usually shortened about 5-12 inches. The modification from a rifle to a carbine length is a process seen throughout a variety of firearms used in Ethiopia, such as with the French Lebel rifles shortened about 6-10 inches, Berthier 1907-15 rifles shortened to a carbine length, and the same process done to 1891 Carcano rifles, FN Mausers, and more. The actions remain completely unmodified besides the shortened barrel and stock. May be missing a small part such as a sling swivel, but are generally all complete. These rifles are an interesting look into a little known practice with Ethiopian rifles. Don’t miss this chance to get a unique rifle!

These Vetterlis are in good overall condition. You may see some small cracks in the stock and finish wear as they are over 130 years old and have endured a long service life. Hand select rifles are generally very good condition. These rifles have been in storage in Ethiopia for about century.

We offer a hand select option for an additional $100.00.

These rifles are ANTIQUES, NO FFL REQUIRED. Photo of Driver’s License required. These rifles can be shipped directly to a business or home address.

After you place your order, please email a photo of your driver’s license with your order number to Thank you for your business!

Please note: please view our Terms and Conditions Section 9 in regards to the condition of 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 1893.

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 Allies.

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 occasions.

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.

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5 reviews for Ethiopian “Cut-Down” Vetterli Model 1870/87 Caliber 10.4x47mmR

  1. Rob

    I ordered the cut down version of the 1870/87 vetterli. It showed up in complete and serviceable condition with a great bore, not bad at all and better than described. Except for the fact that after a close inspection, I discovered that it had the wrong bolt. It had the 1870/87/15 version that had been converted into 6.5. I called customer service right away, within an hour I had a return label emailed to me, and the correct one just showed up in good working condition. I’m not sure how the bolts got switched, an Ethiopian soldier could have done it 100 years ago, who knows, but RTI handled it quickly and properly. The gun is complete and fully functional. They deserve an A on this one.

  2. Christopher Jackson

    My cut down was one of the early Vitali magazine conversions that has two lugs instead of the plate on the bottom of the stock. The bayonet lug brazed back onto the rifle at the five O’clock position, though it will not take my bayonet, the muzzle ring won’t fit. I suspect that barrel diameter is thicker further back. It is 100% functional and intact, minus the cleaning rod which it present but damaged. No pitting at all, just light dirt and some rust on the bolt. It is AOI marked. I’m incredibly pleased with this purchase. I did not pay for hand select either.

  3. Robert

    Better than expected!! All complete except cleaning rod , which I knew was not nesc. Included. I did do extra $100.00. and glad I did!!
    Rifle is in very good condition, with a shootable bore just needs a good cleaning.
    Wood stock is better than expected also.
    Came well packed with bubble wrap and cardboard.
    Was hesitant to order as there was only 5 in stock! But turned out 100 percent satisfied with my purchase.!!

  4. Christopher

    I was pleasantly surprised when I received my Ethiopian cut-down Vetterli-Vitali M1870/87 today. Inasmuch as it was one of only two left when I ordered it I expected it to be “bottom of the barrel” so to speak. It is in very nice condition with the bore being excellent! One very happy customer here!

  5. CharleneOstrowski (verified owner)

    For what it is, I have to leave a great rating. While coated with surface rust, and some wire-wheeling near numbers, it’s actually in decent shape. Stock is solid, only issue being a nail as the through pin on front band. Action cycles very smoothly, though I needed to make a firing pin spring for it. An improvised repair was inside, and working, but kinda intermittent. Handyman Springs SP 9713 cut in half, works great. Bore was good, and only needed some squaring up, of the cut muzzle.

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