Swiss federal carbine.
Q: Garry, I really enjoy your Gun Room articles. I have an old gun I can't find any information on. It is marked "J. MULLER A BERNE." It has a fancy target-style stock with set triggers, 30-inch rifled barrel with graduated rear sight. The muzzle end measures .400 inch. In front of the rear sight is an acorn or shield and "100" stamped on it. On the side and under the block is "301." On top of the rear tang is "768." The top of the breech block is stamped "v. ERLACH u Co. THUN." Inside the breech has a cross over a T small stamp. The stock has a bayonet lug and a cleaning rod hole and a Schuetzen-style buttplate. Any information would be greatly appreciated.
A: Thanks for the nice words. Glad you like the column. You have a really cool rifle there. It is a Model 1851/67 Swiss Eidgensossicher, or "Federal Carbine." This was the first rifle issued generally by the Swiss federal (as opposed to cantonal) government. Made in Belgium and also by several indigenous manufacturers, it was interesting in several different ways. In Helvetian fashion, the rifle looked more like a sporting arm than a military one. It had a Schuetzen-style buttplate, set triggers and was in the revolutionary smallbore caliber of 10.5mm (.41) at a time when most military arms were in the .69 range. During its tenure as a muzzleloader it fired three types of bullets--the first a top-shaped projectile, the second a compression bullet and the third a Minie Ball. In 1867 these rifles were converted to breechloader by way of the trapdoor-style Milbank-Amsler system, which chambered a proprietary .41 rimfire round. Conversion on your rifle was made by von Erlach of Thun who later built Vetterli repeaters. The basic Model 1851 was fitted with a unique triangular bayonet which fit in a special barrel bracket but some, such as your example, had studs to which a Model 1867 "Sharpshooters" yataghan-bladed bayonet could be attached. Neat firearm.