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Favorite Firearms: A Vetterli Family Heirloom

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April 15, 2017, was somewhat of a historic day for the Guagliardo family of Tangipahoa Parish, La. At our annual spring reunion, a new milestone was achieved in a family with a rich firearm history. An 1874-dated Italian Vetterli rifle chambered in 10.4×47 mm R that has been in the family for 110 years was fired by a seventh generation of Guagliardos.

The rifle was purchased around 1907 by Antonio Guagliardo, who emigrated from Sicily in 1882. It was then passed on to his son, Frank Guagliardo, Sr. Frank’s six sons enjoyed shooting the rifle periodically until the 1950s, when the original ammunition—which was last manufactured in 1891—would no longer continue to function.

Frank’s son, Nicholas Vincent, became the curator of the family heirloom for the following six decades before eventually handing it down to me, his nephew. After 20 years in my possession, a fellow shooter suggested that, with some homework, it could be fired once again. Being a handloader, I worked up a conversion using modern brass and cast bullets to produce usable 10.4×47 mm R cartridges, which worked well. What a joy it was to fire a rifle that had not been shot in 60 years!

It became a goal to have as many generations of the family as possible fire the rifle. Perhaps seven generations shooting one rifle is one for the record books, but we don’t know; however, we are quite proud of the achievement and plan to keep it going for as long as possible.

We know that Grandpa Antonio would be proud, too.

Article by ROBERT GUAGLIARDO

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