Here at Brubaker Arms, we love being part of your family history. We are building an American tradition by preserving the history and the legacy of your family. We are an all inclusive gunsmithing / gunmaking shop, but we specialize in restoration of firearms with emotional value and high-end custom builds that are intended to be passed on to the coming generations.
This is the story of a little girl and her Swiss Vetterli. Once upon a time, there was a blue eyed, blond-haired all-American little girl growing up in the peaceful valley of Yakima river. When she was 5 years old, her dad was working really hard to provide for her and her family. He took on a part time job at a gas station, to help make ends meet. One day, a stranger stopped at the gas station and asked to buy gas with no money – all he had was a Swiss Vetterli that he could trade for gas. The man accepted the trade. When he got home, the bond haired, blue eyed 5 years old girl fell in love with the gun that was taller than her! She asked her dad to give her the gun, and he promised that one day, when she’ll be a grown woman, she could have it. A few years went by, and the father forgot he promised the rifle to his daughter. His cousin saw it and wanted it. Before the gun could trade hands, the little girl interfered and stropped the transaction. – “But you promised me this gun! This is MY gun!” Time went by, the little girl turned into a young lady. When she was 21, her father passed away, but the gun stayed in the family’s possession, in the care of the mother). The little girl turned 50 one day; her mother remembered that the firearm was still not in her daughter’s name – so she finally turned over the papers and made the ownership of the firearm official. Now, the little girl is a fulfilled woman, in her prime 60’s. Her donating husband thought it would be a lovely gesture to have it restored for her. The rifle restoration took 2 ½ years and a tremendous amount of effort. But finally, today, 14th February 2023, on Valentine’s Day, the little girl who inherited this Vetterli will once again experience the joy of falling in love with it! The firearm will now be proudly displayed on the wall of their home in honor of the Father who passed on a tremendous legacy of love and support to his daughter. He will be remembered as a trustworthy man who raised a great family!
Today we have a Swiss Vetterli in the works to show you. One fascinating detail about the Swiss Vetterli rifle design is that it has a tubular magazine housed in the long forehand. It’s a tube fed bolt gun, a predecessor to some of the lever types. The carrier is positioned and functions just like a lever action carrier, except that it is a bolt that operates it, not a lever.
We took footage and records of this project in the condition that it came in, then again during the process of restoration and with different elements in different stages of restoration. The final footage is the after-restoration footage. We have here the barrelled action; it is still in the condition that it was brought to us so you can see that it is pretty heavily corroded. There's a good bit of pitting all over the barrel and the receiver. The buttstock has a couple cracks that need to be repaired as well as a lot of dirt and oil that in time have soaked in, around the tangs and in the other metal inlet areas. A few of the metal parts have been polished – they have actually been wire wheeled to remove the surface rust and dirt from surface. This allows you to see all the pitting that needs to be polished out. We still have a lot of pitting to deal with on these.
This other set of parts is further along in the polishing process; we have removed all the pitting, all the machining marks and rust. They have been polished at #240. We're getting close to the finished results of polishing. The main part of the metal polishing, the stock restoration and the bluing are still to be done – so there's still a good bit of work to do. But it's coming along! […2 ½ years later…]
Hi, this is Bryan at Brubaker Arms Manufacturing. Today we have our FINISHED Swiss Vetterli project. This gun had coat hanger shoved down the barrel by the owner's father - because the owner was still very young at the point where she received the rifle as a gift (5 years old) - in hopes that she would not attempt to shoot the gun in the condition it was in. We have removed the coat hangers, restored the inherited gun, and this is what we now have! There were several cracks on the buttstock - you can see that we still have a little divot on the side that had a deeper crack – and along here you can see small traces of the second crack repair. There were a number of parts that were hardened for one reason or another. The trigger bow, the trigger and the cap of the bolt were all hardened; they don't really need to be and so we annealed them before polishing. We were barely making a mark with with the diamond file on the hardened parts. The rest of the metal was extremely pitted - so much so that we started out with a grinder. I have never started polishing a rifle with a grinder before, but we can even get to this end result. The buttplate has been polished out, all the pits have been removed before it was really re-blued. If you look closely, you can see this one little spot that has a slightly different color from the rest of the wood. There were a number of rotted patches underneath the buttplate that I had to dig out in order to bed the buttplate back in place and prevent any more deterioration of the stock. We removed all that rotten wood with some epoxy and sanding dust from the stock. This thick paste mixture was used to fill in the rotten wood channels.
The sanding dust from the same piece of wood preserves the color of the stock, and putting the sanding dust back into the same piece of wood allows it to take whatever kind of stain ends up being put on. We replaced the rear sling swivel just to fill the big gap in the middle that was left by the previous sling swivel. Unfortunately, we could not locate - and the budget did not allow for fabricating - a middle barrel band, which has the front sling swivel in it. As I said, we polished all the metal, all the pits; that took forever. Literally. I thought Jesus was going to come back before we were done. (Fortunately He did not, so we got to finish the rifle - But anytime you're ready, Lord, please do come.) So we have this beautiful piece of wood now - as I said, we polish everything, including the wood. The wood was atrocious; if you have watched this whole video you'll see the before footage. It took a number of whitening sessions for the wood, bleaching it to get all of the grime oil out of it. But we were able to stain it in this beautiful color, that just matches it so well!