M1870/87 Italian Vetterli-Vitali


GENERALLY:  This rifle is a fairly straightforward conversion of the M1870 Italian Vetterli which has been adapted to the four round Vitali box magazine repeating system designed by Italian Artillery Captain G. Vitali and also utilized in the M1871/88 Dutch Beaumont-Vitali.   Many thousands were converted, the single shot versions being scarce today.  The floor of the receiver was cut out to accept the magazine and a metal floor plate was added to the bottom of the stock surrounding the magazine to strengthen the stock.  In addition to the magazine, the next most conspicuous modification is the addition of a bolt support rail to keep the bolt in line and to prevent from rocking and possibly jamming when fully opened.   Other minor changes included deleting the dust cover and replacing it with a metal ring immediately to the rear of the loading port which served both to further lock in the bolt retaining key and and as a magazine cut-off when the rifle was used in single shot mode.  The M1870/87 mounts only a single bayonet lug and the safety lever has been re-designed.  The large Vecci pattern quadrant sight was an earlier modification to the M1870 Italian Vetterli rifles.  These rifles were finished blued, with the receiver, safety lever and trigger guard being case hardened.

PHOTO: The rifle shown is a M1870/87 Italian Vetterli-Vitali

DISTINGUISHING CHARECTERISTICS:  The Vitali box magazine follower is driven by a unique coil spring which, along with the very bottle-nose shape of the cartridges gives the magazine it's unique shape.  The large Vecci pattern quadrant sight is also found only on this rifle and the earlier M1870 single shot.

MISC NOTES:  Large numbers of these were converted for use during WWI to the Italian 6.5 Carcano round by re-barreling and are designated M1870/87/15.  The same stock was re-used by adding wood to the magazine channel and routing out a bit under and ahead of the receiver.  some stocks show cartouches from the M1870, conversion to the M1870/87 and subsequent conversion to M1870/67/15

Check out this fantastic book by Robert Wilsey on the Italian Vetterli Rifle!

'The Italian Vetterli Rifle; Development, Variants and History in Service' by Robert Wilsey, Mowbray Publishing, 2016. ISBN:‎ 1931464723.



Only a single bayonet lug as compared with the M1870 Intalian Vetterli.


 The Vecci pattern quadrant sight, adopted from 1881 onward.


A good view of all of the major modifications of the M1870 to the M1870/87 configuration:  The addition of the box magazine, addition of the bolt support/guide rail, substitution of the magazine cut-off ring for the dust cover, and the re-designed safety lever.


In this view, the bolt stop key has been pulled out and the bolt removed. Just ahead of the loading port is visible one of the two gas vent holes; there in the event of a cartridge case head rupture.


Two views of the magazine cut-off ring; above in the repeater position, below swung to close off the cartridges in the magazine, i.e., in the single shot position.


View of the safety lever and rear of the case hardened receiver.


Cartouche of a rifle built at the Torre Annunziata arms factory.


Quite a bit of history in Cartouches on this Torino built M1870/87 Italian Vetterli.


close-up views


1870s fit, the bottom of the receiver-barrel junction, below the stock.

Page first built: February 3, 1999
Revised December 11, 1999

Updated: Nov 3, 2021

Updated: Jan 21, 2022