Today at the Kessler auction house in Kreuzlingen Switzerland we are taking a look at the W+F Bern C42 and E22 rifles. These are the guns supplied by Bern to compete for the Swiss military Sturmgewehr 90 trials. The C=type ones are chambered for the 5.56mm cartridge, but Swiss adoption of that cartridge was not necessarily a foregone conclusion, and so Bern also supplied a version of the rifle in the 6.45x48mm cartridge (97gr @ 3000 fps).
The action is a two-lug rotating bolt with a long stroke gas piston, and the guns’ handling is reminiscent of the Swiss Stgw 57, especially in the shape of the pistol grip. Both carbines and rifles were supplied, and the barrels were easily removed and interchangeable. The rifle version included a bayonet lug, rifle grenade launching capability, and integral simple bipod (all features omitted on the carbines).
Ultimately the Bern design lost out to SIG for military adoption, for a couple reasons. One was better accuracy demonstrated by the IG rifles, and another major issue was the nature of the charging handle on the Bern design. It had to be taken off to remove the bolt from the rifle, and was a small part very easily lost. Since Swiss doctrine includes reservists storing rifles at home with the bolts removed, this easily lost critical part was a serious handicap.