Swiss K31 7.5x55mm at Samco Global
The Swiss are know for two things, neutrality and precision. There is a lot more going on over there than just those two things, but if you look at history, the Swiss are known for being a neutral country during both World Wars, and for their meticulous precision in things like watches. Swiss neutrality, in fact, could not have been achieved without the precision of the Swiss rifle, called the Schmidt Rubin. There is a famous question: “Why was Switzerland never invaded by the Germans?” The answer is simple. In 1912, the German Kaiser asked a Swiss soldier what Switzerland would do if Germany invaded with 500,000 troops, while the Swiss could only muster 250,000. The soldier answered: “Shoot twice and go home.”
He could never have said that without complete faith in the Swiss rifle. The Schmidt Rubin is a straight pull, bolt action rifle, and it is known to be the most accurate battle rifle ever made. Swiss rifles have their own shooting events, and you can even win actual Swiss medals. There are collector associations and discussion boards, all dedicated exclusively to Swiss rifles. Until recently the supply of any Swiss rifles had dwindled to those already in collections. Like myself, most collectors and accumulators don’t like to give up their Schmidt Rubin style rifles, because there is no comparison to the meticulous precision in a wooden stocked bolt action battle rifle. Fortunately a final shipment has recently come into a company that obviously has a passion for these rifles, because they seem to be the only reliable importer since the early 2000s. Samco Global has the last every shipment from Switzerland of these great guns, and you can even get one in nearly perfect, unissued condition.
The rifle under review here is called the K31, and it is not truly a Schmidt Rubin because Schmidt by 1931 had passed away. You don’t lift the bolt and pull back on these guns. The entire pull is literally straight, and the bolt rotates inside the action, not unlike the AR-15, which is an indirect descendent of the Schmidt Rubin. As the Swiss straight pull rifle most common in circulation, most people, including those who sell them, tend to call the K31 a Schmidt Rubin. This is a World War II battle rifle that never saw battle. Every male over the age of 20 was issued one at the time (and that Swiss custom continues to this day for the most part), but Switzerland was never invaded. Nearly every household in Switzerland has a Sig semi-automatic rifle in the closet today. So most likely Switzerland will not get invaded in the next World War either.
I bought my first K31 back in 2005 at a gunshop when I first moved to Miami. I paid roughly $250, and it was explained to me at the time that most of these guns have very rough buttstocks, because the Swiss used a very soft beechwood. In further research it appears that they only did this up through WWII, and they were walnut after that. My original gun is this rough beechwood, but I never begrudged it the bad looks because oh my goodness did it shoot well. My eyes have gone drastically downhill in the last five years as age takes its course, but back then I could repeatedly shoot groups that you could cover with a nickel. Not just 3 and 5 shot groups either. The gun shot into a ragged hole, period, the end. Today, shooting to compare to the new guns from Samco, I was able to keep most shots into 1.5″ at 100 yards, with most of them within an inch. For a full stocked wood and steel battle rifle that is still pretty awesome.
As you can see from the pictures, I bought one the unissued condition beech stocked rifles for $599.95, and one of the walnut stocked guns in special select condition for $299.95. As of this writing they are both still available at Samco, though this may be one of those cases where our early readers win out. The guns were as gorgeous as I had hoped, and all the numbers match. You probably already know that the most crucial part of a rifle’s accuracy is the crown, at the end of the barrel. A perfectly machined and recessed crown is absolutely required for good accuracy, and the beech rifle from Samco actual came with a muzzle cap. The Swiss don’t mess around.
The ammo for the K31 is 7.5x55mm, or 7.5 Swiss. There are a number of manufacturers making this caliber today, but I prefer to shoot the original Swiss match ammo. It comes in ten round boxes and usually has dates on it from the 1970s. Our test ammo had a 1978 date on it, and I found some 1982 date rounds at Cheaper Than Dirt for $28 per block of six ten round boxes. I grabbed a bunch, and there doesn’t seem to be a lot left of it in the US these days so grab some if you plan to shoot your rifle. It is still perfect because the bullets are sealed with a wax coating. For most people these are not reloadable since they are berdan primed cases. There is such a thing as a berdan priming tool, that punches through the two small offset holes, but most people don’t reload berdan primed brass. Other manufacturers make boxer primed reloadable rounds, available at many gunshops and online.
What I found most surprising was that I could not get either of the new guns to shoot as well as my old rough beech rifle from ’05. What I’ve read, Googling around, is that the guns that are coming into the country now are all civilian owned rifles, which of course weren’t shot that much after the owner qualified with it. I think maybe they just haven’t settled in as well as the old gun has, and that is why I tend to get more fliers, outside of the 1-1.5″ range. The beech gun may actually be unissued judging by its condition. There are handling and bang in to each other marks, but the metal is perfect.
The K31 is different from most other battle rifles because there is such an enthusiast group behind it. If you search Ebay for K31, you’ll find all kinds of clamp on diopter sights and accuracy tools that you just don’t see for really any other rifle of its kind (not that there really is a rifle of its kind). If you want to get into these cool and unique rifles, also check out https://www.swissproductsllc.com/. Brownells actually sells their stuff, so don’t think that the K31 craze is a few old guys congratulating themselves on MOA groups. The K31 is not a well kept secret, and you’ll be lucky if you can pry one out of someone’s hands if Samco runs out. On GunsAmerica we only get a handful of them a year for sale, even though there have to be tens of thousands in the country.
I did also ask the Samco people if this is really the last of the K31s from Switzerland and they said yes, this is it. I don’t know if that means that they are gone, or if the UN has gotten the Swiss to agree not to sell anymore to the US. Suffice to say that you won’t have to wonder if you’ll get your money back out of a K31 that you buy today. Even the $599 guns will double after a couple years once word gets around that they are all gone. I doubt you’ll be able to even get the ones with the rough old beechwood stocks for under $500. Don’t count on wanting to sell yours though. They are really sweet guns.
I am wanting to purchase a nice clean (real good boar) K31 Swiss used rifle. I need help with all the things involved in purchasing one at a reasonable price. Thank you very much. John H Barnett, 1705 Hicks dr. Godfrey, Ill. 62035.
This article was writen in 2010. I just purchased a K31 (2019) and 5 other old rifles from a guy liquidating is inventory. I made him an offer for a bundle deal and got the guns for 266.00 a piece! and he threw in 120 rounds of 6.5×55 rounds…not for the K31 obviously, but for a Swedish Mauser Husqavarna M-38 and a Swedish Mauser Carl Gustav Stads cal. 6.5×55 included in the deal. The other rifles in the deal were a Styer Chilean Model 1012 (all matching), a Mosin Nagant M44, and a Czechoslovakian Persian Mauser Model 98/29. All the rifles are in very good condition all of the barrels are shiny and lands and groves are clean and sharp! I was one luck dude!
were can i buy one please let me know thanks dan.
Regrettably, Samco Global is no more, and it seems that their supply of K31s vanished, as I haven’t seen or heard of any hitting the milsurp market since their assets were auctioned last June [of 2016]. Their stocks of Mosin-Nagants seem to be moving nicely out of Classic Firearms for ~ 2x what Samco was asking; I think I’d better get one of those while they’re still available, altho’ it’s hard to contemplate when I remember the same rifles selling for under $100 only a decade ago. :-\
My wife took a photo of me aiming and squeezing the second round off as the brass from the first round drifted down past my face. This was not intentional and just a lucky photo but if an old disabled man can shoot that fast and accurately how much more devastating is this rifle in the hands of someone trained?
I love straight pulls but try a K-31 vs the Austrian and/or Hungarian M-95 -it is a competition between a swiss watch against a klunky German machine- both functional but oh what a difference.
The Canadian Ross is a smooth shooter too.
I can not afford but would love to try the US Navy Lee straight pull.
I was told it was a Nazi general who was told “shoot twice and go home” but the point is it is a very valid statement no matter who said it.
The K31 is not a Schmidt Rubin. It is a K31. The first of the Swiss straight pull rifles was designed by Colonel Herr Rudolf Schmidt while the cartridge was designed by Colonel Herr Eduard Rubin. The straight pull action originally had the locking lugs at the rear of the bolt but upgrading the ammunition to more powerful specs meant that the action could no longer remain as rigid to retain accuracy nor could it be strong enough to handle proof pressures any longer. The first upgrade was by Colonels Vogelsgang and Rebholz in 1896 which moved the locking lugs from the rear of the bolt to the middle which also allowed them to shorten the receiver slightly. From this point forward the guns were no longer Schmidts and they were never really Rubins since he had nothing to do with the rifle design but only the cartridge used by it. In 1911 the rifles were once again upgraded by going to a 4 groove rifling and a tighter chamber which improved accuracy. The year 1911 also brought in the new GP 11 (gewehr patronen or rifle cartridge) which was now the standard and at the time quite a powerful round. It fired a 174 gr pointed boat tail bullet at just under 2600 fps with a chamber pressure of 44,000 psi (cup or copper units of pressure). This was very good performance for the time and still respectable today. Accuracy is and was outstanding. The short rifle of 1911 or K11 (karbin 11) shortened the overall length of the rifle as well as the barrel length yet retained the accuracy and velocity to do the job as well as the long rifles. In 1931 Col Herr Adolf Furrer brought in the latest design for the Swiss straight pull rifle in the K31. Overall length was the same (almost) as the K11 but the barrel was about an inch longer due to the shorter receiver of the K31. The K31 moved the locking lugs of the bolt to the very front which allowed the reciever to be shortened quite a bit, that in turn allowed a longer barrel without extending the over all length of the rifle. So we have gone from the 1889 Schmidt rifle, the 1886 Vogelsgang/Rebholz rifle to the 1931 Furrer Rifle. Does any of this make a difference? Maybe not to you or your readers. Many of these folks still think the MP40 is a Schmeisser though Schmeisser had nothing to do with the design and actually worked for the competition. An equal number think that class 3 means guns that have to be registered rather than designating a Dealer who is qualified to deal in NFA or Title II weapons (those that need to be registered). Many use these terms interchangeably though they really aren’t. The big deal with the Swiss rifles is that the Gents who actually did the work and managed to refine or design the wonderful new rifles should get credit for their work. Quit calling fords chevys or dodges fords. Give the guys credit where its due and stop calling them all schmidt rubins.
Did you read his article? The author acknowledged in the first paragraph that a k-31 is not a Schmidt Rubin.
Well then than maybe he should of said k-31. Yeah he calls it a k31 after he wrote the title of the story.What a tool!
I purchased two K31s back in the 90’s from Big-5, for around $99 each on sale. One had a horrifically dinged-up beech stock, the other a walnut stock. I disassembled the beech stock from the gun, took an iron (heated to its highest setting), placed a damp towel over the dinged-up areas of the stock, and was able to iron-out all of the dings after two tries. I let the wood dry out, gave the stock a light sanding with a fine-grit sandpaper, and finished the stock with a natural Danish-oil finish. All of the dings are gone, and what is left are some small actual scratches in the stock, which give it a bit of charactor. The now-beautiful stock still has a nice satin finish.
Just purchased a K31 from Classic Firearms. The first one arrived a cracked stock, beech wood with lots of dings, scrapes, etc. Returned the rifle with no questions asked. The replacement rifle is a 1944 built rifle with a 1943 walnut stock, with a lot less damage to the stock, just enough to add character. The bore was dirty, but cleaned up to a mirror finish with five passes of a snake bore cleaner. The action is smooth, tight tolerances, clear, sharp markings. Love this rifle, have to get some ammo and shoot it. Looking forward to seeing the accuracy. Only have a 100 yard range available. Looking to add a clamp on scope mount and a good scope for these failing eyes to squeeze the best accuracy out of this rifle. The troop tag was there, sent a letter to the troop name or his family. The owner was 25 years old in 1944. Researched the name, found a similar name, deceased. Hope to hear back and receive some history of the owner with the rifle in his service during WW2.
I have both a 1911 carbine and a K-31. Bought the 1911 in 1966 for $35.70 and the K-31 in 1977 for $35. I was stationed in germany at the time and bought the K-31 from a G.I. Very few K-31s in the US then. Although it was not mentioned in the article, Swiss military rifles have a tag under the butt plate identifying the soldier it was issued to. Both of my rifles have their tags. Wonderful shooters. So far have only used Swiss military ammo which was. K-31 shoots better than the 1911. I understand the long barreled rifle shoots better still. In the market for a 1911 rifle, may give up 1911 carbine to get one.
@ Cris W and Zack, try Simpson Ltd for K-31’s.
Looks like they have over 100 in stock, and you can read descriptions and select your own rifle.
I picked up several when they were less expensive. Still have two and they shoot better than I am capable of. An interesting fact is that the name of the original owner is on a paper tag inside the butt plate. Mine all had the tags intact. Check yours and you may have a link with the past.
Saw these on their site a couple of weeks ago. Most were sold out but the one wasn’t–don’t remember which one. Should have got one while I had the chance.
My usual luck. Received the newsletter today and checked the suppliers website. SOLD OUT of all models.
You must have just missed it then. They were still showing as available around 4:00 EST today. I wonder how many sales this article generated? I wonder how many were originally in the lot?
I had been contemplating purchasing a Finnish Mosin Nagant M39, but after reading your article today, I instead bought one of these unissued Swiss K31’s being offered by Samco Global. Thanks for the interesting article on these fine rifles and the heads up on this last available bunch.
The brass hood from the barrel end was not for protecting the crown it was to keep the muzzle free of snow when they were stacked in a circle with their muzzles up with the hook under the barrel holding them together. Many of the rifles butts show the results of this sitting in the snow. You also failed to mention the oversized trigger guard and the safety ring were all made to be used with heavy gloves. Accuracy is very satisfying with these rifles, it is very close to a .308. The 1911’s were very accurate as well, I have owned many of these since I was a collector. To the gentlemen than was after the M39 Finnish Mosin, buy that as well it too is a wonderful rifle that is very accurate, I still compete with a M28-30 Finnish Mosin in local club matches.
Just a comment on the neutrality of the Swiss.
Their neutrality is not caused by any benevolence. They just get to do business with both sides this way.
From Arms sales to banking they stole a fortune from Jewish people that entrusted their money in swiss banks and were killed during the Nazi era while they laundered looted gold & art for Hitler. They also continue to do this through conflicts around the world today..
Those K’s are very accurate rifles by the way.
I bought my K31 years ago fo 85.00. I like old or unusual guns of all types. I didn’t shoot it for years, I just wanted to own one and enjoy the precision. I’d planned to find a no gunsmithing scope mount because I wanted to see how well it shot without my fading eyesight holding it back. I finally got the mount, but haven’t tried it yet. This article has motivated me to take it to the range. It has the beat up soft beech stock but the metal is perfect.
I have an 1889, two 1911s and a K31. They are marvelous, accurate old rifles and a blast to shoot. The 1889 has a 10 shot mag and it takes a little finagling to get it to eject the first time you do it. All 4 are in excellent but not “new” shape and are dead on at 100 and 200 yards.
The Remington 700 is also a great rifle but it will be worth $300 in a few years while these rifles will only increase in value – something to consider. (And fellow shooters will flock to the Schmidt Rubins due to their unique character.)
Yes, I know you can wedge 12 rounds into the 1889 mag but I don’t like to stuff it. The 7.5 x 53 is much harder to come by, 7.5 x 55 is available from several sources.
Mick The 1889 has a 12 shot mag.
I have two 31s, one each beech and a walnut stock. One has a LER mounted on it using a http://www.scopemounts.com mount. Both shoot very accurately sub minute of angle with the scoped rifle. When I purchased mine years ago I paid $139 each. They are sort of heavy but for a great general purpose rifle, a great hunting rifle, they can’t be beat. As to reloading Berdan primed brass, it is easier to decap Berdan primed brass than finding Berdan primers for sale in the US> I am lucky to have about 1000 primers left. I use hydraulics and have no problems other than getting a bit wet at times. Another easy way, time consuming tho is to use a very small diameter drill bit, 1/16 works, chuck the case up in a vise under a drill press, drill a hole on the outer edge of the primer but inside the diameter of the hole, then using the RCBS tool the old primer can be popped out with out damaging the anvil if you are careful.
“The brass is boxer primed and reloadable”
No. It is BERDAN PRIMED. Yes, it is reloadable. You will need Berdan primers and a de-capper suited to Berdan, or you can MODIFY THE BRASS.
Or do what I did, buy a few hundred rounds of Prvi 7.6×55 and start reloading with data from swissrifles.com & others…
I think you’re incorrect on the brass being boxer primed. All my surplus 7.5×55 has been berdan primed.
Yes that was a cross pollination from another article and fixed. Thanks for catching it.
I’ll take Matthew’s,place in line, then…
I own a K-31, and it is a hoss. I noticed in one of the pics that you said the beech stocks in some of the old rifles has worn away for some reason…that reason would be- hobnailed boots in winter. Drilling with hobnail boots on, the wood would get scarred up as the citizen soldiers went from port arms to parade rest to attention. The snow pack on the ground didn’t make it easier on the wood, either, with snow being made of about 100% dihydrogen oxide, more commonly known as water. Most K-31s that I have seen have this “character mark” present. That’s the mark of a well-loved gun. The “closet queens” have less, but it is almost always present, short being unissued or owned by a disabled citizen, or a remanufactured stock. I have even seen a re-stocked gun at a show with a composite stock similar to a Rem 700.
Another quick point to make is the free-floating barrel. The wood “furniture” literally does not touch the barrel the whole way down. If your example of the new gun has flyers, check the clearance at the ring clamp near the end and loosen it just a tad so it isn’t contacting the end of the barrel. It may be too tight. It may sound counter-intuitive, but it is well-documented. Check on swissrifles.com about it.
These are some of the best rifles in the world, in my opinion, and thanks for spotlighting them. If I had an extra $599 laying around, I’d pick one up. Like you, I wish my eyes were better these days, I’d be looking to make some one-mile shots with it- the bullet drop on a shot at one mile is 507″…
As always, I remain-
This is not about the money, if you love firearms this is a must have. I have both the 1911 and k 31 models, and say what you will, they are superb shooters. you will not be disappointed….
I’ll pass you can buy a new Remington 700 for $400.
A synthetic 700…
The Remington while you a good gun is no match for a K31 on or off the battlefield. I paid $320 for my K31 a few months ago. Get one while you still can and lots of GP11 ammo also.
You buy old military surplus rifle NOT just for its shooting capability but more for collection and history. The day of old surplus rifle as a substitute for hunting rifle was long gone. New production rifles mostly shoot better than old military surplus and thanks to improvement in mass production process they are mostly less expensive.
I picked up three of these K31s with Walnut stocks about 18 years ago for $65 each. At the time ammo was almost non-existent. The only ammo available was Swiss surplus. Now, commercial ammo is available and these are boxer primed.