name=Swiss Karabiner Model 1931
type=Straight-pull bolt-action carbine
service=1933 to 1958
cartridge=7.5x55mm Swiss / Gewehrpatrone 11
action=Manually-operated magazine-fed breech loader
sights=U notch and post
weight=4.00 kg empty
feed=6 round detachable magazine
The Karabiner Model 1931 is a magazine-fed, straight-pull
bolt-action rifle. It was the standard issue rifle of the Swiss armed forces from 1933 until 1958, though examples remained in service into the 1970s. It has a 6-round removable magazine, and is chambered for the 7.5x55mm Swiss (also known as Gewehrpatrone 1911, GP11, or unofficially 7.5x55mm Schmidt Rubin), a cartridge with ballistic qualities similar to the .308 Winchestercartridge.
The often quoted but incorrect name of "
Schmidt-Rubin" comes from two designers: Rudolf Schmidt, who designed the action for Switzerland's 1889 and 1896 rifles, and Maj. Eduard Rubin, who designed the ammunition.
Although the K31 is a straight-pull
carbinelike many other Swiss rifles, it was not designed by Rudolf Schmidt (1832-1898) as he was not alive to do so. The K31 was a totally new design by Eidgenossische Waffenfabrikin Bern, Switzerlandunder Colonel Furrer, and the gun does not have the Schmidt-designed 1889 or 1896 action. The first 200 K31s were made in May 1931 for troop trials (serials 500,001 - 500,200), thus the model number of 1931.
The K31 is noted for its straight-pull action, meaning that the bolt is pulled directly back, then pushed forward to cycle the action between shots, rather than being turned and pulled back and forth, as in
Mauserpattern rifles such as the K98k.
K31s are also noted for their amazing accuracy and quality. The Swiss considered individual marksmanship to be of utmost importance. Therefore, the K31 was made with tight tolerances and excellent overall craftsmanship. Many shooters are able to achieve one
minute of arcwith unmodified K31s. This means that a group of bullets shot at 100 yards will stay within a 1" diameter area, a group at 200 yards will stay within 2", etc.
Many collectors of the K31 have removed the butt plate and recovered a small slip of plasticized paper from beneath it. This slip contains the name and address of the Swiss citizen to whom the rifle was issued. In some cases, collectors have used the information to contact the previous owners, and have recounted the details of those encounters on a variety of collector's web forums.
Poor stock condition
The stocks of many K31s are in poor condition, especially around the butt area. Most are very gouged and scratched. One theory for explaining this is that the Swiss soldiers would use the butts of their rifles as
boot jacks for their cleated boots. They may have used the butts to clean snow and mud from their boots as well. Soldiers may also have carried the rifles in backpacks, with the buttstock exposed to the elements.
Another explanation for the poor condition of the stocks is that the Swiss soldiers would stick the butts of their rifles into the snow when they needed to put them down. When it was time to move out, the soldiers would kick their rifles (with their cleated boots) to dislodge them, as they had become partially frozen and stuck in the snow. This would also explain the discoloration from
water damageon many stocks in the butt area.
These theories, however, are all speculation, as there is no hard evidence to definitively prove any of them. Collectors affectionately refer to the stocks as "beaver chewed" and "head bonkers".
The majority of K31 rifles were used during
World War IIin the "active service" ("Aktivdienst"), and were exposed to all weather conditions. After all repetition courses, soldiers took their rifles back home. Most of the rifles available today as surplus were used during training courses over many years through the late 1970s.
The standard sights on a K31 are
open sightsthat can be adjusted for both windage and elevation. The rear sight is graduated up to 1500 meters. Starting at 300 meters the shooter should aim just below the bottom of the target, so that the front sight's post is out of the way. [ [http://www.swissrifles.com/sr/english_k11_k31_manual.pdf] K31 manual, see page 56, figures 32 & 33 for aiming points.] Mounting a scope is not easily done because of the design of the action, but there are specialized scope mounts available. [ [http://www.brownells.com/aspx/ns/store/productdetail.aspx?p=1666 SCHMIDT-RUBIN K31 SCOPE MOUNT at Brownells ] ]
As a standard service rifle of the Swiss armed forces, the K31 was replaced by the
SIG 510in 1958. As of 2006, the K31 is readily available from most military surplusvendors. As noted above, the stocks are usually in average condition, but the barrel and bolt assembly are usually in very good condition.
*A video of the K31 straight pull bolt in action:
* [http://www.swissrifles.com/sr/ Swiss Rifles]
* [http://www.surplusrifle.com/swissk31/index.asp Surplusrifle.com's articles on the K31]
* [http://world.guns.ru/rifle/rfl15-e.htm Modern Firearms entry on the K31]
* [http://www.swissrifles.com/sr/ History and manufacturing information on Schmidt-Rubin pattern rifles]
* [http://www.chuckhawks.com/schmidt-rubin_K31.htm chuckhawks.com article on the K31]
* [http://www.radix.net/~bbrown/schmidt_rubin.html Manufacture Dates of Swiss Schmidt-Rubin Rifles]
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