(6 customer reviews)

Vetterli Model 1870/87 Carbine Caliber 10.4x47mmR


3 in stock

3 in stock

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We just received a small quantity of Italian Vetterli Model 1870/87 factory carbines from Ethiopia. All carbines are chambered in the 10.4x47mmR cartridge. These carbines are very rare and have not been imported for decades. Don’t miss this chance to get a unique carbine!

These Vetterlis are in fair to 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. Please note: there are 2 different types of rear sights found on these carbines, the one shown in the photos is the longer type, however we also have the shorter rear sight leaf type.

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 ffl@rtifirearms.com. 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The clip is pressed into the magazine, until the last round catches under the Cartridge retainer, and then the clip is withdrawn using the “pull string” in the top wooden frame of the clip.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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6 reviews for Vetterli Model 1870/87 Carbine Caliber 10.4x47mmR

  1. Shane

    I ordered one of these and the first one I received was junk. Had a butchered for a cut down rifle stock. Barrel was horrible. Barrel was bulged and bent. And wasn’t even tight on the receiver and couldn’t have tightened it with out shimming it. I contacted RTI and they were Quick about making it right. I sent it back and the replacement I received was a beautiful rifle. Correct stock with no damage, most of the finish was still in tact, and the bore was beautiful. I definitely can not complain about the replacement one. This is a great company and easy to work with. I’ve bought 10 rifles from them and definitely planning to buy more.

  2. Dan M

    Very happy with it. These are rare rifles. On top of that it was an even rarer AOI marked Glisendi 1875 carbine. They only made carbines and only in 1875. If it had Ethiopian script i would’ve been ecstatic because that would make it exceptionally rare. These Ethiopian marked rifles are extremely rare. It was in great condition with a really good bore. strong rifling extending to the muzzle crown with very little pitting. For a black powder gun of this age that is exceptional. I like that it had an early date. Overall it is in great shape. works as it should. correct bolt and stock. Correct sights. It hasn’t been cut down or altered in any way. If it had a cleaning rod or had Ethiopian script i would have been ecstatic. But as is I’m very very pleased. I would buy again and probably will if they still have some left. Really great addition to my collection.

  3. Christopher

    I got a nice carbine, the action was smooth and functional and the magazine cut off operated very smooth. the stock was in great shape and almost no rust was present. It was missing the front sling swivel but in its place was a charming little leather thong. It had no cleaning rod. The receiver had Amharic script. Another good purchase.

  4. LS

    My rifle was in great condition with a very functional ,albeit a little grimy, bore. There are minor chips in the stock but nothing too bad. Overall I am very satisfied!

  5. ThomasStaggs

    I ordered one of these a month ago, hand select. It has not shipped yet even though multiple other orders of mine have. Hope they’re able to find a good one from whatever is left by now.

  6. CharleneOstrowski

    I recieved an 1887 dated carbine, not a cutdown. It is engraved “property of Menelik II” near rear sight, and has little finish, but a near perfect bore inside. Magazine still works, and has a worn through spot on one of the bottom corners, not affecting anything. It took awhile to get here, and had a 6.5 carcano modified bolt installed, which seems to have been in the rifle for ages. Contacted customer service, and I had a return label for the bolt, that very day. Functionality tests, will have to await the replacement. Mine doesn’t have the metal reinforcment plate around the mag, and looks like it never did. Upon dissassembly, for cleaning and repair of other things, this rifle is in a handmade stock, which still looks really good, after cleaning, with only some age cracks by butt plate screws. One plate screw missing, and the action assembly pin to the bolt guide was missing. Some hand modified screws were holding it together, and had the ends peened over, to not fall out. I’ve retapped and installed proper action screws, and replaced the pin. I’m quite impressed with the ingenuity used to keep that rifle on duty, long ago, and repairing it, but not restoring. For those not knowing, the action screws only hold the trigger guard and bolt guide to the stock. The actual reciever is held in place by a tang that tips and swings in, locked by a pin, and assisted by the barrel bands to stay down. Be sure to check for the pin, before firing. 🙂

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