Baboon Pirates

Scribbles and Scrawls from an unrepentant swashbuckling primate.

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Location: Texas, United States

Sunday, February 26, 2006

El Capitan's New Swiss Rifle

I Must Fix The Cuckoo Clock In The Stock...

As I threatened earlier, I did indeed go out and procure another firearm. This one hasn't been on my list as long as a lot of others I intend to acquire, but due to the low cost and easy availability, it jumped to the head of the line.

I ventured 40 miles north to go to the gun show at the Conroe, TX convention center yesterday, hoping to find a bargain or two. Despite the crowds and the cramped space (more on that in another post...) I got almost everything I was looking for.

I was sorely tempted by a lovely Sveedish Mauser in 6.5 x 55 cal, and there were Mosin-Nagants aplenty, most in passable shape. I knew I'd hit the motherlode, though, when I found a table with half a dozen Swiss K31's on the rack. I had to wait quite a while as the dealer was calling in multiple orders to the *spit* ATF *spit* for approval, but that gave me a chance to dig out the pick of the litter.

And.... here it is!

OK, the old birdbath isn't the best photography platform, but that's where the light was best. It's a Swiss K31 Short Rifle, based on the Model 1889 Swiss Schmidt-Rubin. It's chambered for 7.5 x 55 Swiss, and according to was manufactured around 1955. I thought it was older based on the tag I found under the buttplate, but it turns out the date on the tag (1934) is the birthdate of the soldier that carried it, not the date of issue.

Like Swiss timepieces and banking laws, the rifle is intricate, precise and impeccably crafted. The straight-pull bolt takes some getting used to, especially after a lifetime of lift & turn bolts. The magazine holds 6 rounds, and it ejects out the top of the receiver.

Once I got the gunk out of the barrel, it turned out to have one of the prettiest, shiniest bores I've seen on a surplus rifle. I spent all morning with a cleaning rod, patches and Q-tips getting old cosmoline out of every nook & cranny.

The soldier's ID tag under the buttplate is kind of hard to read. Here's a look:

The Swiss soldier's name is/was Josef Their, or Stein, or Scheire, or something like that. Euro handwriting plus water damage is hard to translate. He was a rifleman in Company 4 in the 23rd Something-or-other. The 3rd line reads 'seminar' which leads me to believe he may have been a theology student attending seminary. The town name is also garbled, but ends in "bach" in the canton of Schwyz.

I had a brainstorm last night when cleaning the initial goo out of the barrel. I'd wondered earlier why all the K31s I'd seen had the toe of the butt all messed up. Mine doesn't look too bad, though as you can see there's damage to the wood and the metal buttplate.

I thought at first that the rifles must have been stored in such a fashion that the tips of the stock got immersed in water. That idea didn't wash, though, 'cause most times rifles are stored in crates, or kept in huge crisscross stacks on pallets.

Then, I saw this and it all became abundantly clear:

That's called a stacking hook, and it's why all the stocks are buggered up on the toe area. See, when you're out tenting tonight on the old campground with 800 of your close personal army buddies, you use that stacking hook to lock your squad's rifles into a cone-shaped arrangement so the action and barrels stay out of the muck. One part by necessity remains dug into the ground, the toe of the stock. Hence, all the damage on the old K31s.

I bought 50 rounds of surplus ammo while I was there, all I could justify at $4.95 for a box of 10. I'll get some more via mail order, but I wanted some on hand. Dunno why they call it surplus... the quality of the ammo and the packaging is nicer than a lot of commercial ammo you see these days!

I have a feeling this might replace the scattergun as the SHTF gun I keep in the Cad's trunk. It's got a lot more reach, hits harder, and if someone steals it (along with the Caddy), I'm only out a C-note and change.

I found one guy with a K31 bayonet. (which I buy for the primary purpose of annoying my friend Zibig, who has given me shit for years over my blade collection!) Unfortunately, I could have bought a second K31 for what he was asking for it. Maybe next year!