Swiss 1897 Schmidt-Rubin Kadettengewehr Training Rifle

The Swiss replaced their Vetterli rifles in the late 1880s with the new Schmidt-Rubin pattern, and this eventually trickled down to the cadet corps. These youth programs had been using short single-shot 1870 Vetterli carbines, but as those became obsolete and in need of replacement, the 1897 Kadettengewehr was adopted. This was a single-shot short version of the Schmidt-Rubin 1889/96 action. Just under 8,000 were made between 1898 and 1927, and they would see use at least into the 1950s. The most interesting detail on the rifle is the rear sight, which is graduated for two different rounds – the standard Army GP90, and a reduced cadet load. The reduced load was calibrated to that its muzzle velocity matched the velocity of the GP90 at 100m, thus meaning that the trajectory of the two round matched, with a 100 meter different in range. Therefore, the rear sight to have identical graduations for both rounds, with the 200/300/400 meter settings for the cadet load being equal to the 300/400/500 meter settings for the GP90. Clever!


  1. Interesting that nation states with obligatory military service/conscription, routinely had advanced preparatory training in secondary schools. Thus, military service was a sort “school of the nation” and concomitantly that service was exalted in status–“dulce et decorum est pro patria morir.”

    One can see photos of French school children being inculcated with hatred for the Boche and the proper zeal for revenge/redemption of Alsace-Lorraine, Wilhelmine German school kids avowing that they too would “Fahren gegen England” and so on.

    The Marxist Leninist states kept this up post-WWII, although my limited understanding of the European scene has it that such weapon familiarization is now a thing of the past. I know that in France universal military service was finally done away with, and even in Germany, although high school-aged youths are supposed to go to some kind of informational course on national defense issues and presumably learn about career opportunities in the all volunteer armed forces.

    Sweden brought back conscription recently, since no one is joining the volunteer armed forces, Finland still has it, and the Swiss, although the armed forces themselves are much, much smaller than ever before.

    • “Wilhelmine German school kids avowing that they too would “Fahren gegen England” and so on.”
      Prussia and Austria Hungary have Einjährig-Freiwilliger position:
      In Prussia it was often chosen option for men who graduated high school.
      In Austria-Hungary such service ended with exam, which if passed gave promotion to NCO.

      • Thank you for the reminder, Daweo.
        In fact, there are just such figures in the Jaroslav Hasek novel “The Good Soldier Svejk” where our anti-hero, Josef Svejk lampoons the Austro-Hungarian K.u.K. military during WWI in a sort of mocking parody by a Czech author who also was a PoW in Russia, and later briefly in the Bolshevik Red Army before returning to Praha/Prague and working on his books before tuberculosis finally claimed his life.

        The Germans could afford fewer men in the army pre-WWI than the French, and so units in WWI of men who’d not been called up typically formed what were called “Ersatz Bataillonen” und so weiter.

        • ” Josef Svejk lampoons the Austro-Hungarian K.u.K. military during WWI”
          The situation in Austria-Hungary was more complicated that it mights look at first glance:
          beyond normal army (common for both halves of monarchy) and navy (also common) there existed k.k. Landwehr and k.u. Landwehr, first was entity operating in Cisleithanian part and second in Transleithania, they reported for their respective separate ministries (and also separate from k.u.k. Kriegsministerium, Stubenring 1, Wien of common army).

        • I have brief memories written by my paternal grand-father. We are talkin about A-H empire. He mentions regular periodical military service in duration of several weeks every second or third year in period shortly after 1900. He together with maternal one were involved in Italian campaign – and survived. From all skills the most important one was just that; killing of the enemy counterpart was optional but not always necessary.

        • Hasek did lots of damage to Czech psyche and Czech reputation as fighters (which they proved to contrary during both wars on several fronts). His inept book should be banned. By lampooning Empire’s military he actually lampooned his extreme left leaning inclination. After de-mobilization he did not attempt to physically work, lived from generosity of benefactors and died miserably. not a national hero by any rate.

          • Respectfully, it is a great book. Unfortunately for the history of pre-and-post Czechoslovakia and its two descendants after 1993 is that everyone knows Czechs are super bad-ass fighters…
            Witness the Hussite Wars, the Taborites, the list goes on and on…

            But the Czechs and kindred Slovaks proved to be adept fighters in other people’s armies for the most part: Czech Legions in the Russian and French army, the AH Imperial and Royal Army, the Italian army, etc. etc.

            Britain might well have succumbed to the Luftwaffe without the Polish and Czech pilots in the RAF, no? Part of the “Few.” Tragically, those same allies that served as “guarantors” of Czech independence have always sold ’em out… Munich… Yalta … Potsdam … the Warsaw Pact … Now as a part of Nato in a rather larger and Europe-wide alliance, hopefully the nation might be better respected by the so-called “great powers.”

            As for Svejk, much of the humor is dated, particularly the rather grim-in-retrospect anti-Semitic caricatures and so on. Still, it is one of the books that had me laughing out loud as I read it. The whole point of Svejk’s “anabasis” was for whose benefit the war was being waged, no?

    • Reason for replacing citizen soldier by mercenary is simple – they typically do not mutineer since they are apolitical. Instead of patriotic duty it is a “job”. Our time elites have it figured out quite well.

  2. Where you are currently seeing youth military training expanding are places like the Baltic Republics, Poland, Ukraine an Russia. It never went away in the UK which still has a thriving cadet organisations throughout the country, often based in former Territorial Army Drill Halls in very small places that no longer have an Army Reserve presence. There are analogous Air and Sea Cadet organisations too that are also very popular. There is no compulsory defence training of any kind though, for kids or adults.

    • Yes, thank you for that important point. The amateur military tradition in Britain is an interesting case, and by no means moribund. I do know that in Estonia, for example, there are competitions between various youth/younger adult militia groups… Things like survival, or what in the U.S. is called “SERE–survival, evasion, resistance, and escape,” orienteering/land navigation, map reading, basic marksmanship, etc. etc.

      Former Swedish AK4s, or the Swedish-made version of the G-3 are given to the organization and members are encouraged to hide them away, or cache them for later possible use. Veterans of various Estonian UN missions abroad impart what they saw and learned in various workshops and courses. So, for example, how to build road side bombs and that kind of thing. The idea is that should a great power invade, the conventional defense of such a small nation being virtually impossible, and the Nato alliance decided to renege on commitments to defend the place–something the long history of the Baltic shows is not all that remote–the existence of a pool of such knowledge and the capacity to wage an asymmetric conflict might act as a deterrent of sorts.

      Lithuania has taken this even further, and has propositions and fairly well developed plans for general strikes and passive, non-violent resistance by civil society… Sort of a Gandhian satyagraha to contest and challenge any would-be conqueror and avoid military escalation and alienation of international public opinion.

      Periodically in Cuba there are mobilizations of the MTT militia and the armed forces–such as it is–although the last major crazy mobilization was the “Bastión 2004 Ejércicios estratégicos” where the militia and army and DAFAAR/air foce etc. went all out in a nation-wide exercise. But then, there remains obligatory military service there as folks know.

    • Canada has a very active cadet system as well. I was an army cadet as a teenager. There are also air cadets and sea cadets. My father told me that in his day it was mandatory for all youths.

      Our high school was built to accommodate us with our own underground indoor range (used with 22 cal Lee Enfields). We were affiliated with our local militia regiment and wore their model of beret and cap badge, although our uniforms were still obsolete battledress.

      On outdoor ranges we used FN FALs (C1) with standard 7.62mm NATO. I don’t recall anyone complaining about the amount of recoil and it certainly didn’t bother me.

      I don’t know what the figures are today, but I was told at the time that a high percentage of the all volunteer army had been cadets, and it was seen as a valuable recruiting mechanism.

      At one time all able bodied men had to be part of the militia (reserves). It was the foundation of the national defence system which through the late 18th to late 19th century was primarily concerned with defence against invasion from the US, including various guerilla and terrorist groups operating from American bases.

      • If by terrorist you mean those “bold Fenian men” then yes, certainly. Of course there was also the attack by the filibusters in 1837, attempting to somehow redress the failed territorial expansion into British Canada in the War of Independence when small-pox and the thawing of the St. Lawrence River foiled Benedict Arnold in Québec. Then came the failure of U.S. arms at Detroit and the various battles of the invasion of Upper and Lower Canada in 1812.

        As late as the 1930s, U.S. staff officers regularly updated the U.S.’s “color coded war plans.” Periodically your compatriots re-discover “War Plan Red” in which the U.S. would have to carry the war into “Scarlet” as Canada was code named. Fortunately, most Canadians who read of “War Plan Red” find it vaguely absurd and somewhat comical. The United States fought two world wars against “Black” and yet there was never a “War Plan Black” if that can be believed. Japan, in “War Plan Orange” did receive considerable scrutiny. Mexico, what with “War Plan Green” does not shrug off the old enmities after the original “War of Northern Aggression” in 1846-1848, occupation of the port of Veracruz in 1914, and the “Punitive expedition” against Doroteo Arango/Pancho Villa in 1916…

        I’ve been privileged to visit some of the forts built along the Great Lakes to prevent the U.S. territorial expansion northwards. Kingston in particular was quite impressive, but so too the Martello Towers on the Plains of Abraham.

        In the USA there is Junior ROTC at high schools, and also ROTC at universities, of course. Graduates typically become Second Lieutenants on graduation.

    • Chris Werb, I can not agree with you about Russian youth military training programms. Most of conscripts never touched a gun before the draft. DOSAAF (ДОСААФ – still exists, but their most known role now is education of autodrivers. “ЮнАрмия” – another project… their cadets learning march properly mostly.
      Cossacks – are decorative too. They are still there and even has “army” status, but their role is guarding shops and markets.

  3. I’m surprised that nobody called out the Swiss for “not training their fighting men with proper weapons.” To those who do not value gradual transition into a soldierly life, doing target practice with “under-powered” ammunition from a dedicated training rifle would be “teaching men to politely ballet-dance their way across the battlefield in order to slap their enemies to death with teaspoons or poke them to death with knitting needles.”

    Or, to quote one idiot I heard criticizing dye-marker guns (not paintball guns) and their less-than-lethal ammunition, “Boys play with toys. Men kill with REAL GUNS!! GET REAL, PEOPLE!”

  4. Until 2016 we had a 300 metre swiss rifle range on our farm in south western ontario canada
    The swiss government provided rifles and ammunition
    unfortunatly when I sold my mothers house they had to stop due to noise problems
    During the fenian raids our cathlic neigbours militia in the small town of dublin ontario were not given arms as there was fear that they would rebel them selves
    When I was in highschool in mitchell ont. we used the basement range in the old high school but we were not cadets as had been the case in Palmerston were we shot lee enfields and fals at camp ipperwash
    Here in france I recently bought 2 dummy rifles copies of the gras that were used to train the less then 10 year olds
    The 6mm/22 cal lebel style rifles were still being made in the 1950’s
    Apparently they were used at fairgrounds which had rifle stands
    I bought one with a lovely walnut stock for about 60 francs about 30 years ago

  5. In Cuba there are all sorts of little firing points that use single-shot .177 air rifles. Typically these are populated by young men showing off to their girl friends… Or at times, vice-versa… But every now and then a pretty sober and serious person shows up and shoots for score on little “DIANA” targets emblazoned by quotes about the importance of marksmanship by the late bearded “comandante en jefe” himself. Some of the air rifles were old Soviet jobs–“CCCP” while others bore the “DDR” and so on. Cheap practice.

  6. The dummy training rifles could not shoot at all although some were quite sophisticated
    The real rifle in the add is much nicer then mine and uses an elongated 6mm cartrige imagine a a .22 short case with a short length of copper pipe poking out of it with a 6mm lead bullet at the end
    The article goes on to say that up to 80 companies were making these rifles
    in fact it is common to see these at gun shows

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