Manufacture Dates of Swiss Schmidt-Rubin Rifles

Last updated: 01/27/2001

Swiss Schmidt-Rubin rifles do not have the date of manufacture stamped on any of the rifle parts, so determining when the rifle (and mismatched parts, if any) were manufactured must be determined from the serial numbers. The definitive work on this subject, and Schmidt-Rubin rifles in general, is Die Repetiergewehre der Schweiz, Die Systeme Vetterli und Schmidt-Rubin, by Reinhart, Sallaz, and am Rhyn (ISBN 3-7276-7102-5, copyright 1991 by Verlag Stocker-Schmid AG, Dietikon-Zuerich, Schweiz), from which the tables given here are adapted. The notes about the various models of Schmidt-Rubin rifles are pilfered almost verbatim from Rifles of the World, 2nd edition, by John Walter (ISBN 0-87349-202-1, copyright 1998, published by Krause Publications, 700 E. State Street, Iola, WI 54990-0001, USA). The rifle photographs are from Samco Global Arms, and are used with permission.

Below is a short description of the various models of Swiss Schmidt-Rubin rifles, and then the tables that are necessary to determine when a particular rifle was manufactured (given the model and serial number).


Contents


Introduction

Eduard Rubin (1846-1920) developed the first successful small-caliber copper-jacketed bullets that could withstand velocities higher than were normal in the 1880s. Rubin cartridges with a caliber of 8.1-9.6 mm were tested against an 8.6 mm Hebler pattern in Switzerland in 1882. The Hebler cartridge, which had a paper-mache core, attained a prodigious velocity but the Rubin pattern proved to be far more accurate.

In 1884, Schweizerische Industrie-Gesellschaft converted 130 Vetterli rifles to fire 7.5 mm and 8 mm Rubin cartridges. Most were adapted from obsolete infantry weapons, but a few had been trial guns of 1873-75; these had a distinctive bolt-support guide extending back above the wrist of the butt.

Also chambered for Rubin ammunition, Rudolf Schmidt's first straight-pull bolt mechanism of 1885 relied on an actuating rod, set in a channel on the right side of the breach, to rotate the bolt through a helical channel cut in the bolt sleeve. Twin lugs were provided midway along the bolt sleeve, locking into the receiver directly above the trigger.

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Model 1889

This rifle was officially adopted on June 26, 1889. Tooling had already begun in the state factory, and so the first deliveries were surprisingly speedy. The M1889 was a most unusual design, with a characteristically Swiss nose cap/bayonet lug/stacking rod assembly, and a receiver with a noticeable gap between the trigger guard and the magazine. The great length of the bolt weakened the Schmidt system greatly. Production ceased in 1897 after 211,890 rifles and 40-50 drill rifles (Exerzierwaffen) had been delivered.

Model 1889 rifles are available from Samco Global Arms.

Manufactured 1891-1897 at Eidgenoessische Waffenfabrik, Bern.

Total production: about 212,000

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Model 1889/96

The inherent weaknesses of the 1889-pattern Schmidt action were recognized after protracted experience with the standard 7.5 mm 1890-pattern cartridge had been gained. As soon as attempts were made to increase the muzzle velocity, the problems intensified.

Testing of 50 modified rifles allowed the improved Vogelsang/Rebholz action to be adopted on September 27, 1897. Though the 1889/96 rifle resembled its predecessor externally, the locking lugs had been moved to the front of the bolt-sleeve. This strengthened the action by placing less of the sleeve under compressive stress, and reduced the gap between the trigger and the magazine by 0.4 inches.

The rifles were reclassified as the '[Infantrie-]Gewehr 89/96' in 1909; by November 1912, 127,050 service rifles and about 20 Exerzierwaffen had been made.

Manufactured 1897-1912 at Eidgenoessische Waffenfabrik, Bern.

Total production: 127,000

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Model 1897 Cadet Rifle

The Kadettengewehr was adopted on July 27, 1898, after trials with guns derived from the Mannlicher cavalry carbine and the Schmidt-system rifles. The single-shot M1897 had a special quadrant sight with differing sets of gradations for the Ordonnanzpatrone (to 1200 meters on the left side) or the reduced-charge Kadetten-Patrone (to 400 meters on the right). In addition to standard guns, about 40 sub-caliber trainers were also made.

Manufactured 1898-1927 at Eidgenoessische Waffenfabrik, Bern.

Total production: 7900

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Model 1900 Short Rifle

Adopted on April 9, 1901, the Kurzgewehr was based on the 1896-pattern action; apart from its length, the smaller magazine and reduced-range sight, it was similar to the M1889/96 infantry rifle.

Many surviving 1900-type guns were among the 26,340 carbines and short rifles converted to '1911' standards by Eidgenoessische Waffenfabrik in 1913-1920. Accepting 7.5 mm Ordonnanz 11 cartridges, they had four-groove rifling.

Manufactured 1901-1911 at Eidgenoessische Waffenfabrik, Bern.

Total production: 18,750

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Model 1905 Cavalry Carbine

Preceded by a handful of experimental designs - including one with a folding stock and another with a three-piece cleaning rod carried beneath the forend - the Karabiner 05 was adopted in 1905 to replace the 1893-type Mannlicher. Stocked virtually to the muzzle, preventing the attachment of bayonets, it had a full-length handguard and a sling-slot in the butt.

A decree signed on January 13, 1911, ordered the Eidgenoessische Waffenfabrik to modify 26,340 surviving M1900 short rifles and M1905 carbines to approximate to the 1911 pattern. The work was undertaken in Bern in 1913-1920. The converted guns had four-groove rifling and chambered 7.5x55 1911-type cartridges.

Manufactured 1906-1911 at Eidgenoessische Waffenfabrik, Bern.

Total production: 7900

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Model 1896/11

In 1913, as a result of a decree signed on January 13, 1911, conversion of 1896-type rifles to approximate to the 1911 pattern began in the Eidgenoessische Waffenfabrik. By March 1, 1920, 135,770 rifles had been altered. They had four-groove rifling and chambered the Ordonnanz 11 cartridge.

As might be expected, this model markedly resembled the Model 1911 Rifle, some of the differences being:

Model 1896/11 rifles are available from Samco Global Arms.

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Model 1911

A universal increase in muzzle velocity, arising from widespread adoption of point-bullet ammunition, caused further problems with the Swiss rifles. Trials were undertaken in 1908-10 with modified bullets and rifles embodying a strengthened Vogelsang/Rebholz action. Apart from the tangent sight, these guns resembled their predecessors externally - though, once dismantled, three large holes were found to be bored through the bolt sleeve to reduce weight.

The perfected [Infantrie-]Gewehr 11 was formally approved on January 10, 1913, together with adaptations of several earlier weapons. The new guns had a strengthened action, a hold-open to signify an empty magazine, a pistol-grip stock and an improved rear sight.

Manufactured 1913-1919 at Eidgenoessische Waffenfabrik, Bern.

Total production: 133,000

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Model 1911 Carbine

Adopted concurrently with the 1911-pattern infantry rifle in January 1913, to replace the short rifle and cavalry carbine, this was readily distinguished by its short barrel and stock. It was mechanically identical to the rifle.

Model 1911 carbines are available from Samco Global Arms.

Manufactured 1914-1933 at Eidgenoessische Waffenfabrik, Bern.

Total production: 184,200

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Model 1931 Short Rifle

By 1930, it had become clear that important changes were required in the 1911-type Schmidt action to keep abreast of improved technology. On January 22, 1932, therefore, the Bundesrat approved the manufacture of about 20 experimental short rifles; the Karabiner 31 was formally adopted on June 16, 1933.

Great changes had been made in the action which, though retaining the essence of the original Schmidt principle, locked into the receiver ring rather than behind the magazine well. In addition, the bolt did not project as far beyond the bolt carrier, reducing the length compared with the 1896-type action by 2.4 inches.

The Karabiner 31 had a longer barrel than the Karabiner 11, which was of similar overall length. An improved sight was fitted, and the semi-pistol grip stock - with a sling bar let into the left side of the butt - was retained by a clamping nose cap accepting any of the standard Swiss sword bayonets.

Military production finished in 1958 after more than half a million Karabiner 31 had been made in the Bern factory. A hundred otherwise standard examples were supplied in the 1930s to equip the elite Swiss Guard (or 'Papstliche Schweizergarde') in the Vatican; these guns were apparently numbered 249047-249146.

Several cutaway examples of the Karabiner 31 were also manufactured. Illustrated are photographs of the top and left side of the receiver area of one example (photographs courtesy of Thomas Wenk).

Model 1931 short rifles are available from Samco Global Arms.

Manufactured 1933-1958 at Eidgenoessische Waffenfabrik, Bern.

Total production: 582,230

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Model 1931/42 and 1931/43 Sniper Rifles

Experiments had been undertaken with optically-sighted Karabiner 11 as early as 1919, but the project had been shelved until trials with Karabiner 31 and Zeiss, Wild, Gerber and Kern sights began in 1935 in the Schiessschule Walenstadt.

Though the low-power Kern sight was accepted in November 1940 and a hundred experimental carbines had been manufactured in 1943, the perfected Zf.-Kar.31/42 was not approved until July 1, 1944. It had a 1.8x sight, offset on the left side of the receiver alongside the bolt. Each sight had a small auxiliary tangent sight and a unique pivoting periscope head.

Otherwise identical to its 31/42 predecessor, the Model 31/43 had an improved 2.8x sight on the left side of the receiver.

Manufactured 1944-1946 at Eidgenoessische Waffenfabrik, Bern.

Total production: 2240

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Model 1955 Sniper Rifles

Based on the Model 1931 short rifle and featuring a top-mounted Kern 3.5x sight (graduated to 800m), this rifle was adopted in 1956 to replace the M31/42 and M31/43. The 1955-type guns had a special half-stock with a checkered pistol grip, a folding bipod and a special muzzle brake.

Manufactured 1957-59 at Eidgenoessische Waffenfabrik, Bern.

Total production: 4150

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Bayonets

There are six basic types of sword bayonets for the Schmidt-Rubin rifles, all of which have a muzzle ring and a short, flat quillon approximately 1+3/4 incles in length. There is also a rod bayonet, for which see below. Color photographs courtesy of Ronnie Wilson, and nomenclature from Bayonets from Janzen's Notebook, with alternates (indicated by italics) being from Reinhart, Sallaz, and am Rhyn where they differ from Janzen.

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Manufacture Dates

To determine the date of manufacture of a particular rifle, one needs to know both the model and the serial number. Given the model, go to the appropriate table and look for the range of serial numbers that spans the given serial number. The corresponding date for that serial number is shown in the left column of the table.

For example, given a Model 1911 with a serial number of 2673xx, the tables show no such serial number for a Model 1911. There is a range spanning this serial number for a Model 1889/96, however, showing a manufacture date of 1900. Knowing that the M89/96s were converted to approximate the M1911 form, we conclude that this rifle is a Model 1889/96/11 manufactured in 1900.

As another example, given a Model 1931 with a serial number of 9999xx, the tables indicate that this rifle was manufactured in 1953.

Note: Some rifles will have an uppercase P either after or below the serial number. Upon retirement from active duty, the retiring Swiss soldier was given the opportunity to keep his service rifle. Rifles so obtained were stamped with the uppercase P near the serial number, and should not be confused with the "Private" series of rifles indicated in the tables below. The "Private" series of rifles were manufactured to fill special orders with the factory (such as for export).

Model 1889 - Training Rifles (Instruktionsgewehre)
Year QuantitySerial numbers
1893 40 E1-E39 (E20 doubled)
1895 2E43, E45
1896 2 E42, E44

Model 1889 - Repeating Rifles (Repetiergewehre)
Manufacture ended on April 29, 1897
Year QuantitySerial numbers
1891 24900 1-24900
1892 90100 24901-115000
1893 59100 115001-174100
1894 8787 174101-174887
175001-183000
1895 12500 183001-195500
1896 12500 195501-208000
1897 4000 208001-212000

Cavalry Carbine Model 1893 (Kavalleriekarabiner)
Year QuantitySerial numbers
1896 250 4251-4500
1897 250 4501-4750
1898 250 4751-5000
1899 250 5001-5250
1900 400 5251-5650
1901 500 5651-6150
1902 500 6151-6650
1903 500 6651-7150
1904 300 7151-7450
1905 300 7451-7750
1895-1905 96 P1-P96 - Private series,
numbers P46-P84 for a commercial company, Paris
1897-1903 11 E1-E11, extra series,
entry in the export book of Waffenfabrik Bern

Model 1889/96 - Training Rifles (Instruktionsgewehre)
Year QuantitySerial numbers
1897 2 E2-E3
1899 4 E4-E7
1900 4 E8-E11
1904 4 E12-E15
1908 4 E16-E19

Model 1889/96 - Repeating Rifles (Repetiergewehre)
Manufacture ended in November 1912
Year QuantitySerial numbers
1895 50 1-50
1897 9000 212001-221000
1898 15500 221001-236500
1899 15500 236501-252000
1900 16500 252001-268500
1901 11500 268501-280000
1902 12000 280001-292000
1903 10000 292001-302000
1904 8000 302001-310000
1905 6000 310001-316000
1906 6000 316001-322000
1907 5000 322001-327000
1908 5000 327001-332000
1909 4800 332001-336800
1910 6300 336801-343100
1911 1900 343101-345000
1912 4000 345001-349000

Model 1897 Cadet Rifles (Kadettengewehre)
Sub-caliber Trainers (per J. Walter) (Einsatzgewehre)
Year QuantitySerial numbers
1899 18 E1-E18
1900 6 E19-E24
1901 9 E25-E33
1902 3 E34-E36 (P9+P34?)
1903 2 E37-E38
1904 1 E39
1907 1 E40 (P40)

Model 1897 Cadet Rifles (Kadettengewehre)
Year QuantitySerial numbers
1898 2100 1-2100
1899 1649 2101-3749
1900 1580 3750-5329
1901 499 5330-5828
1902 193 5829-6021
1903 232 6022-6253
1904 151 6254-6404
1905 114 6405-6518
1906 183 6519-6701
1907 150 6702-6851
1908 82 6852-6933
1909 37 6934-6970
1910 236 6971-7206
1911 99 7207-7305
1912 115 7306-7420
1914 231 15001-15231
1915 33 15232-15264
1916 70 15265-15334
1918 2 15335-15336
1924 26 15337-15362
1925 20 15363-15382
1926 80 15383-15462
1927 15 15463-15477
1898-1919 45 P1-P45, Private series
entry in the export book of Waffenfabrik Bern

Model 1889/1900 Short Rifles (Kurze Gewehre)
Year QuantitySerial numbers
1901 5000 1-5000
1902 885 5001-5885
1903 915 5886-6800
1904 1000 6801-7800
1905 1500 7801-9300
1906 1500 9301-10800
1907 1750 10801-12550
1908 1750 12551-14300
1909 1650 14301-15950
1910 1500 15951-17450
1911 1300 17451-18750
? 176 P1-P176 [sic], Private series,
entry in the export book of Waffenfabrik Bern
1903 Zoll 89 P72-P150
1904 Zoll 300 P173-P472
? 50 P501-P550
Zoll 394 P551-P944
Zoll 190 P951-P1140
Zoll 103 P1141-P1243

Note:
Zoll - Customs service

Model 1905 Cavalry Carbines (Kavalleriekarabiner)
Year QuantitySerial numbers
1906 810 1-810
1907 2790 811-3600
1908 2600 3601-6200
1909 500 6201-6700
1910 600 6701-7300
1911 600 7301-7900
1906-1914 39 P1-P39, Private series,
entry in the export book of Waffenfabrik Bern

Model 1896/11 Infantry Rifles (Infanteriegewehre)
These rifles carry the serial numbers of the Model 1896 rifles from which they were modified
Year Quantity
1912 5000
1913 40000
1914 51000
1915 38000
1916 1500
1918 200
1919 50
1920 20

Model 1911 Infantry Rifles (Infanteriegewehre)
Manufacture ended on October 1, 1919
Year QuantitySerial numbers
1912 6000 355001-361000
1913 14000 349001-355000
361001-369000
1914 5000 369001-374000
1915 22000 374001-396000
1916 32000 396001-428000
1917 31000 428001-459000
1918 20000 459001-479000
1919 3000 479001-482000
? 200 P5000-P5200, Private series,
last manufactured on October 10, 1919,
entry in the export book of Waffenfabrik Bern
? 1 P5219
? 698 P5251-P5948

Model 1911 Carbines (Karabiner)
Manufacture ended on July 11, 1933
Year QuantitySerial numbers
1914 6000 30001-36000
1915 4000 36001-40000
1916 13000 40001-53000
1917 16100 53001-54400
55001-62000*
62301-70000**
1918 19000 70001-89000
1919 2000 89001-91000
1920 6500 91001-97500
1921 8500 97501-106000
1922 7500 106001-113500
1923 7900 113501-121400
1924 7600 121401-129000
1925 7500 129001-136500
1926 9900 136501-146400
1927 12600 146401-159000
1928 11500 159001-170500
1929 12800 170501-183300
1930 9900 183301-193200
1931 8800 193201-202000
1932 9200 202001-211200
1933 3900 211201-215100
1913-1919 300 P2001-P2300, Private series
entry in the export book of Waffenfabrik Bern
Zoll 18 P2013-2030
Zoll 8 P2037-P2044
Zoll 30 P2071-P2100
Zoll 100 P2101-P2200
without entries 4 P2201-P2204
? 19 P2205-P2223
Zoll 50 P2251-P2300

Notes:
Zoll - Customs service
* Serial numbers 54401-55000 and 62001-62300 are missing (900 pieces)
** Serial numbers 69701-69750 have double entries, but are only entered once in this list. Consequently, the total of the Model 1911 Carbines listed here comes to 185150 pieces.

Special Model 1911 Rifles (Extra-Gewehre)
Year WhoSerial numbers
1915 Kriegstechnische Abteilung, Bern - E500
1914 Koenigliche Gewehrpruefungskommission, Ruheleben-Spandau -
Spanische Gesandtschaft, Bern -
E501
E502
1919 Emile Galley, Lausanne - E503
1920 Hollaendische Gesandtschaft, Bern -
Englische Gesandtschaft, Bern -
E504
E505
1915 Eidgenpessiosches Militaerdepartement, Bern - E506-E507
1917 Sektion fuer Munition, Thun - E508
1918 Amerikanische Gesandtschaft, Bern - E509
1919 Franzoesische Gesandtschaft, Bern - E510
1920 Franzoesische Kriegsministerium, Paris -
Tiro Suizo, Buenos Aires -
E511-E520
E521-E522
1921 Italienische Gesandtschaft, Bern -
Italienischer Militaerattache, Bern -
Flugplatzdirektion, Duebendorf -
Sektion fuer Schiessversuche, Thun -
E523
E524
E525
E526-E527
1922 Eidgenoessische Munitionsfabrik, Thun -
Eidgenoessische Munitionsfabrik, Thun -
Internationales Wettschiessen, Mailand -
The High Commissioner for the Commonwealth of Australia, London -
E525?
E528-E529
E530
E531

1923 Franzoesisches Kriegsministerium, Paris - E532
1924 Eidgenoessisches Schuetzenfest, Aarau -
KTA, fuer Schweden -
KTA, fuer Tschechoslowakei -
E533-E534
E535
E536
1925 KTA, fuer Waffenfabrik Oviedo -
KTA, Bern -
Schiessschule Walenstadt -
E537
E538-E539
E540-E541
1926 Afghanische Regierung (mit Dolch 18) -
KTA, fuer Tschechoslowakei -
E542
E543
1934 J. Alder W+F, Bern - E544

Notes:
KTA - Kriegstechnischen Abteilung des schweizerischen Militaerdepartements
W+F - Waffenfabrik

Special Model 1911 Carbines (Extra-Karabiner)
Year Who Serial numbers
1918 Amerikanische Gesandtschaft, Bern E1
1919 Amerikanische Gesandtschaft, Bern E2
1920 Hollaendische Gesandtschaft, Bern -
Tiro Suizo, Buenos Aires -
Tiro Suizo, Buenos Aires -
E3
E5
E6
1921 Direktion Eidgenoessische Waffenfabrik, Bern E7
1923 Franzoesisches Kriegsministerium, Paris E4
1926 Afghanische Regierung E8
1932 Wojskorny Zaklad, Warschau -
Werkzeugmaschinenfabrik, Oerlikon -
E9
E10
1952 unreadable E11

Model 1911 Carbines (Karabiner)
Converted from Model 1889/1900 Short Rifles and Model 1905 Cavalry Carbines
Year QuantitySerial numbers
1913 1000 1-1000
1914 8000 1001-9000
1915 8000 9001-17000
1916 8200 17001-25200
1917 900 25201-26100
1918 100 26101-26200
1919 70 26201-26270
1920 65 26271-26335

Model 1911 Trials Carbines (Versuchs-Karabiner)
Year QuantitySerial numbers
1923 KTA, Bern V1-V10
1926 KTA, fuer Schiessschule Walenstadt V1-V200

Note: KTA - Kriegstechnischen Abteilung des schweizerischen Militaerdepartements

Model 1931 Carbines (Karabiner)
Year QuantitySerial numbers
1933 1193 520010-521202
1934 15534 521203-536736
1935 13664 536737-550400
1936 11326 550401-561727
1937 11639 561728-573366
1938 10344 573367-583700
1939 15300 583701-599000
1940 33575 599001-632575
1941 54150 632576-686725
1942 49350 686726-736075
1943 50475 736076-786550
1944 51900 786551-838450
1945 26200 838451-864650
1946 15600 864651-880250
1947 20950 880251-901200
1948 20100 901201-921300
1949 15500 921301-936800
1950 13200 936801-950000
1951 23050 950001-973050
1952 21400 973051-994450
1953 5549
7450
994451-999999
215001-222450
1954 17150 222451-239600
1955 11250 239601-250850
1956 6400 250851-257250
1957 2950 257251-260200
1958 3130 260201-263330

Model 1931 Carbines - Private series
Year QuantitySerial numbers
1934 16 ?
1935 500 400001-400500
1936 100 Zoll 401001-401100
1937 150 Zoll
200
401101-401250
400501-400700
1938 150 400701-400850
1939 20 401501-401520
1940 150
530
50
50
400851-401000
401521-402050
402151-402220
402251-402300
1941 300 402301-402600
1942 650 402501[sic]-403150[sic]
1943 350 403151-403500
1944 400 403501-403900
1945 600 403901-404500
1946 837 404501-405337
1947 929
30
405322[sic]-406250
E519767-E519796
1948 400 406251-406650
1949 650 406651-407300
1950 400
50
407301-407700
408001-408050
1951 300
50
407701-408000
408051-408100
1952 300 408101-408400
1953 450
50
408401-408850
409051-409100
1954 200
100
408851-409050
409101-409200
1955 450
100
409201-409650
410151-410250
1956 450 409651-410100
1957 50
300
410101-410150
410251-410550
1958 475 410551-411025
1959 425 411026-411450
1960 300 411451-411750
1961 300 411751-412050
1962 400 412051-412450
1963 50
400
267331-267380
412451-412850
1968-1969150 various numbers
1971 150
50
269431-269580
269881-269930
Stand (?) 1972 250 various numbers

Note:
Zoll - Customs service

Model 1931 serial number allocation, valid after November 1, 1952
Serial numbers Allocation
215001-350000 K31 Carbine series, ordered by KTA for KMV
350001-400000 K31 Carbine series
P400001-P450000 Private K31 Carbine series
450001-500000 K31 Carbines with telescopic sights (sniper versions)
500001-500200 Trials versions
E519701-E519900 Various special K31s
519901-519999 Cutaway K31s (running backwards?), last number 519970
520001-520150 Carbine series ordered by KTA, delivered by W+F for special purposes
520081-520100 Ditto, reserved for W+F
520151-999999 Carbine series, ordered by KTA for KMV
after 550651 Hardened magazine boxes
after 540001 Hardened receivers

Notes:
KTA - Kriegstechnischen Abteilung des schweizerischen Militaerdepartements
KMV - Kriegsmaterialverwaltung
W+F - Waffenfabrik

Models 1931/42 and 1931/43 Sniper Rifles (Zielfernrohr-Karabiner)
Year QuantitySerial numbers
1943 96 ?
1944 403 ?
1945 1537 ?
1946 205 ?

Model 1955 Sniper Rifles (Zielfernrohr-Karabiner)
Year QuantitySerial numbers
1957 170 1001-1170
1958 3030 1171-4200
1959 800 4201-5000
? 150 5001-5150

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