With the completion of the reunification of Italy in 1870, together with the break-neck speed of “modern” military development in Europe with the move to bolt action rifles, a solution was needed to replace the ageing Carcano Mod. 67 needle-fire. Various repeating rifle designs were evaluated under the direction of Cesare Ricotti-Magnani, the War Minister and the decision ultimately fell on the adoption of a modified Model 1869 Vetterli rifle by Swiss arms designer Friedrich Vetterli, who was at that time the director of the Schweizerischen Industrie-Gesellschaft (SIG). With limited finances at their disposal, Italy decided to adopt a (cheaper) single shot version of the Vetterli Rifle, the Swiss version having a tubular magazine based on the Winchester design. The biggest difference however was that the Italian version was centre fire whereas the Swiss version was still rimfire. The Italian Army officially adopted their new single shot rifle in 1871 and rifles were produced at Brescia, Turin and Torre Annunziata. During the early 1880’s the Italians discovered that the adoption of a magazine rifle instead of single shot might actually have been a better idea.
The solution to the problem came via Capt. Giuseppe Vitali, a veteran of the Third Italian War of Independence who was stationed at Turin. He studied the newly designed box magazine by Englishman James Paris Lee, who utilised a design that fit directly under the action and used a simple spring design to feed the cartridges. He designed a wood and metal loading clip holding four rounds with a small cord to remove the empty clip after loading (see attached pictures). The Vetteri-Vitali Rifle remained in service through the Scramble for Africa and was present in much of the First Italo-Abyssinian war. While it was unofficially retired in 1891 with the introduction of the 6,5×52 Carcano, it remained in service until early in WW2. Many rifles went through a second conversion process where they were converted to 6,5 Carcano as the Model 1870/87/15.
Micheloni & Colombo. Due to unreliable ammunition supplied to the Royal Army, the company did not survive and was taken over by Fiocchi (Lecco)