Sunday, September 4, 2022

Royal Tiger Imports Italian Vetterli Model 1870/87/15 Part 1 - The Before

Today I received a Royal Tiger Imports Italian Vetterli Model 1870/87/15. This is one of thousands of antique and early 20th century military surplus rifles purchased by RTI in Ethiopia, where they have been sitting in storage for the past 100+ years. Unlike many Eastern European rifles, these were not packed in away cosmoline. These rifles have been sitting in quonset huts, stacked like cord wood, since before your grandpa or great grandpa was living in one during the WWII era.

The article linked above provides an interesting historical background to this large cache of weapons. The Vetterlis were left over from Italy's attempt to occupy and bring the Abyssinian empire under control. Needless to say, they aren't in NRA Very Fine condition, but many are in surprisingly good shape once restored. Ten years ago, I wouldn't have paid a Benjamin for an Italian Vetterli in fair to good condition. They're hardly Ferraris of the military surplus world, and even by the Italian military assessment of the time, this rifle was pretty dodgey to say the least. However, with the prices of surplus going through the roof, and these things to be had for cheap, I decided get one. It's about like picking up a lottery ticket, as it may turn out decent, end up a wall hanger, or blow up in your face. OK, lottery tickets don't blow up in your face. As my daughter would remind me, "You get what you get, and you don't get upset."  

This is definitely a Before/After project. The rifle is about as I'd expect it to be after sitting for a century. It does pass a basic function test. The next steps will be to completely disassemble everything and go to work cleaning and working on rust. Most of the rust appears to be surface, and the barrel looks to be in decent shape, though bluing is non-existent. The wood may clean up nice as well, but there is one major chunk that will need a repair under the receiver. The stock is solid. The fun part will be finding out what emerges as I really get this rifle broken down and get to work on it. After all, there isn't much I can do to screw it up, which is what makes these fun.    

Here are a few more pics of the "before," and I'll document the process and the finished product as well. 

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