Gunsport of Colorado | Class 3 FFL Dealer | 1707 14th St, Boulder, Colorado 80302 | 303.938.1396
Swiss ZfK-55 Sniper Rifle
The Model 1889 was the first in the series of Schmidt–Rubin rifles which served Switzerland from 1889 to 1953. The rifle takes its name from the designer of its action, Colonel Rudolf Schmidt, and the designer of its ammunition, Colonel Eduard Rubin. Production of the rifle began in 1891. The straight-pull bolt action allows the user to pull the bolt straight back to unlock the action and eject the spent cartridge in one motion, and push the bolt forward to chamber a round, cock the striker, and lock the action. This is as opposed to a traditional bolt action, wherein the user must lift the bolt handle to unlock the action before pulling the bolt back. The rifle is roughly musket length with a free-floating barrel, 12-round magazine and wood stock that extends almost to the tip of the barrel. The Schmidt–Rubin 1889 was an advanced weapon for its time. The Schmidt–Rubin 1889 was one of the first rifles to use copper-jacketed ammunition as its standard ammunition. The GP90 7.5×53.5mm round designed by Col. Rubin in 1882 was revolutionary in that most of the bullets used in Europe at the time, except for the Mle 1886 Lebel rifle metal-jacketed 8mm bullet, were around .45 inches as opposed to the .308 inches of the Schmidt–Rubin ammunition. Strangely enough, the round was "paper patched" meaning that the bullet was surrounded by a piece of paper, much like the cotton patches placed around a musket ball. Paper patching the round was supposed to aid in the lubrication of the bullet. In 1923, long after the discontinuation of the Model 1889, the GP90/23 7.5×54.5mm round was produced without the paper patching. The Model 1889 was eventually replaced by its successor models including the Model 1896, Model 96/11, Model 1911, Model 1911 carbine and the famous K-31.
The rifle is basically a K31 action, with a bunch of modifications to convert it into a very nice marksman's rifle. The more obvious changes are the muzzle brake (very reminiscent of the second model FG-42, which makes sense as the Swiss experimented with those rifle quite a bit after the war), pistol grip stock, bipod, and 3.5x optical scope. In addition, the barrel is significantly heavier than a standard K31 barrel and the whole action has been rotated about 15 degrees to allow clip loading and ejection without interference form the scope. A clever and quite Swiss solution to that problem! Most other countries either simply abandoned the ability to use stripper clips in their sniper rifles (like most Mausers) or offset the scope on the side of the receiver (like the M1 Garand and Arisaka). Rotating the action allows the best of both, with easy loading and a center-mounter scope, at the cost of simply being more expensive to make.