The Italian 10.35mm Model 1870/87 infantry rifle employed a bolt action mechanism developed by Friedrich Vetterli, whose design was adopted by the Swiss Army in 1869. Initially the Italian rifle was issued as a single-loader but, from 1887, was adapted to accept a box magazine, designed by Giuseppe Vitali. Model 1870/87 rifles were still in service with second line Italian units when Italy entered the First World War. Subsequently, most were re-chambered for the modern smokeless 6.5mm service cartridge (see FIR 8150). Prior to the First World War, as the Italian Army began to be equipped with the Model 1891 rifle (see FIR 7232) many Vetterli-Vitali rifles were sold to arms dealers. A consignment of these, of which this rifle is one, was purchased by the Ulster Volunteer Force during 1913-14. The UVF was a Protestant organization, created to oppose plans for Irish Home Rule. It would appear that most of the Italian rifles were issued to UVF volunteers in the rural counties of Armagh, Fermanagh and Monaghan, with more modern Mannlicher rifles being employed elsewhere.
U P G inscription with Ulster badge awaits identification.
Fucile di Fanteria M1870/87 rifle
1. stamped on top of chamber 2-3. stamped on left of chamber 5. stamped on right of butt 6. stamped on left of butt
1. p.p. in cartouche 2. TERNI 3. 1889 4. B & C & 6 in circle 5. arms of Savoy in hexagon with FABBA D' ARMI DI TERNI 1889 over KM 8681 6. shield with hand of Ulster and U P G
Stamped on right of chamber
Stamped left of stock
V.C. in oval cartouche