At the Rock Island Auction last month, there were several Swiss ZfK-55 sniper rifles up for sale. 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 rifles 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.
Anyway, I took some video of the rifle, which will hopefully help folks get a better feel for them. I am really looking forward to being able to shoot one of these some day!
Beryl sent this vintage photo of a group of Swiss troops with a ZfK-55 (and a big ol’ rifle grenade as well):
The first is a basic operation manual printed (in German) in 1957, right after the rifle was adopted. The other is a much more details armorer’s manual dating from 1967. That one is in German as well, but an English translation has been floating around the ‘net, and I’ve included it here as well:
FYI, if anyone is interested in acquiring a 31/42 or 31/43 (or virtually any other variant of Swiss straight-pull rifle), Simpson Ltd has them available (31/42, 31/43, 31/43, 31/43). But, I digress – here’s the English manual covering all of these guns: