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Book Review: The Italian Vetterli Rifle by Robert Wilsey

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Here in the United States, the Italian Vetterli is overwhelmingly found in the 1870/87/15 guise, and considered unsafe to shoot. However, this is simply the final transformation of a rifle which saw substantial military service and deserves more respect than the often-haggard examples here usually bring.

Robery Wilsey’s new book “The Italian Vetterli Rifle: Development, Variants, and History in Service” does a very nice job documenting the many different iterations of the Vetterli, including the story of its initial adoption and the experimental work surrounds each progressive update. The design began as a single shot 10.35mm weapon, was then upgraded with Vitali’s magazine (after trials with many other types), becomes a 4-round repeater. In addition to the common long rifle, both types were made in a variety of different lengths and configurations for guards, cavalry, etc. These would be again converted to the 6.5mm Carcano cartridge and the 6-round Mannlicher type magazine for WW1 service. As these rebuilds took place, a variety of other changes were made to the sights, safety, receiver, and other elements of the guns – all of which are documented here.

In addition to technical information on the guns, Wilsey has sections covering the ammunition, bayonets, and accessories associated with the system. He has a section on the Italian factories involved in both the manufacture and repair of the guns, and also a section on the far-flung conflicts where the Vetterli saw service (including Russia, Spain, Ethiopia, Libya, Ireland, China, the Balkans, and more).

Cover price is $49.99, and the book is available through Mowbray (the publisher), Amazon, and independent booksellers.

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