The changing gun culture in Switzerland (and some Sig 550 photos)

There is an interesting video at WorldRadio.ch about the famous unique gun culture of Switzerland. At the start of the video a Swiss guy shows the rifle he used in military service, his fathers service rifle and says that his grandfather’s service rifle is hanging in his office. How cool is that?

This was my father’s military rifle and of course he got to keep it when he was finished. I have my grandfather’s military rifle hanging on the office wall. This was mine when I did service. It’s quite an old one it was introduced in 1957 and used until 1990. And this is my son’s. It’s the current model. That’s what’s being used today. That’s what we’ll be using the shoot the Feldschiessen today.

The Feldschessen, or Tiro Federale in Campagna as it’s known in these parts is an annual Swiss event and the largest shooting festival in the world. Roughly 200 thousand people come out to target practice all across the country. ammunition is provided by the government.

A shooting content with 200,000 people! Crazy!

And for your viewing benefit, here are some swiss made Sig 550 rifles from CS’s collection.

Many thanks to CS for the photos and the link.



Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


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  • swissfreek

    I can completely identify with this gentleman.

    My parents are from Switzerland. I have my father’s Stg-57 (Sig 510). Talk about an “assault” rifle, it’s almost the size of a SAW! Hard to shoulder, and I’m a big guy. I also have his dad’s K-31 and Luger service pistol (he was an officer), complete with the original-issue mags and bayonette, and the little booklet that has all of my grandfathers shooting quals during his whole career (from the mid-30’s to the late 60’s). My dad also had a shortened version of the K-31 called the Kadet that he was given as a youngster before the StG-57 was issued (which means he was 15 or younger!). My grandfather kept all of the guns meticulously oiled until the day he died.

    Those Swiss, they’re funny, aren’t they?

    Unfortunately the guns are all stuck in Switzerland, because even though I keep them for pure sentimental value, the United States (Massachusetts in particular) makes it prohibitively complicated and expensive to import the damned things (the StG-57 will never make it here as it is rigged for full auto), and I’m not deactivating perfectly good rifles. So they all sit in a closet at my uncle’s house. Sad.

    • swissfreek, thats awesome! Pity you cannot bring them home.

  • swissfreek

    For real.

    Also, when they have the gentleman talking who is in favor of banning guns, they show him holding a chart. The orange line is “percentage of suicides committed with a firearm”. The yellow line is “percentage of households possessing a firearm”. From left to right is the US, then Switzerland, Finland, France, Canada, Austria, Sweden, Denmark, Australia, Germany, Netherlands, England & Ireland, Scotland (interesting that they broke that out from the UK), and Japan. The US and Austria are the only ones where the percentage of suicides with guns is higher than the percentage of households that have guns.

    • TATim

      They broke Scotland out from the UK as we have a different legal system to the rest of the UK.

  • SpudGun

    Considering the number of armed conflicts the Swiss have been involved with over the last century and a bit, it comes as no surprise that the grandfather’s rifle is in perfect condition.

    Oh well, they’re keeping the Pope safe, so that’s something I suppose.

    • W

      thats a good thing. there is nothing glorious or proud about being involved in a major war every ten years. It would be wonderful for America, and the world, if it followed Switzerland’s footsteps. Switzerland is proof that a country can be comparatively secure and safe without jumping into every war and harboring a massive, bureaucratic military industrial complex, all the while maintaining a small arms industry and asymmetric military force capable of protecting its borders.

  • Nooky

    Thanks for the video.

    Great pics, the trijicon is perfect for those guns.

    Here is a little story.

    I started shooting at the age of 14 with the Sig 550. As a “young shooter”, I could start enjoy and practice target shooting at 300 meters with a military rifle. The army lends rifles to shooting association so the youngs can discover a great sport and learn about weapons if they are enthouiasts about them.

    My rifle was a great proud. It was a true symbol of trust. Can you imagine a perfectly working full auto rifle that I was responsible for. It did not stay at the shooting range, no, I took the rifle to my home after each session. With my others friends we walk back to our house, weapons on our backs, and it was perfectly fine. We never had a problem.

    Then I had to get it back, but only to get my very own rifle from the army.

    Today I have a same proud, my country believe in me, and trust me. I would be serioulsy ashamed if that tradition was banned.

    And now I own two 550, one 552 and one 57 Commando, I love them and I’m planing to get me a 551 and a 550 sniper.

    But the way it goes, I fear for the future. 10 years ago, the swiss were truly free with weapons, today you need to pay and register for everything and the banned weapons need special autorisations, and they give them if they want. And they want to register every weapon in a big database, one of the worst thing that could happen.

  • What Nooky says is absolutely true. As is stated in the video, we are about to vote (around 2010 or 2011) in a popular referendum on an amendment of the constitution which would virtually ban private gun ownership in Switzerland. So far we have had very liberal laws on gun possession, however carrying guns is legally banned. It is true that gun culture is very important in Switzerland. Sadly, there are many opponents to it. The guy shown in the end of the video is a member of the “Group for a Switzerland without an Army”, a pacfist movement which luckily is not at all representative but yet politically quite important: http://www.gsoa.ch/english/

    Such videos are very valuable since they show that gun owners are law abiding, honest, emotionally stable citizens like you and me and not just some crazy right-wing extremists. This is an important message both in Switzerland and the US (I guess).

    I own a SIG 550, one Swiss K31 carbine (the “grandfather’s gun” shown in the video which is an awesome weapon), a USM1 carbine and a few handguns. I tought my wife and my sister how to shoot pistols and, above all, to respect the four safety rules.

    Cheers, and keep up your great blogging!

    (Make sure to visit my libertarian blog: http://sisyphosmount.blogspot.com/ 🙂 )

  • Carl

    The gentleman in the video has the right idea. It is freedom and peace we ultimately strive for when we keep arms and prepare our defense. War is not a success.

    Switzerland should be applauded for its success in this field.

  • This is not any “Swiss guy” we’re talking about! This is Gunsite “Shooting Master” Marc Heim -one of only eleven- who was a personal friend of the late Jeff Cooper [1920-2006], the Gunner’s Guru…

    His business: http://www.mowe.org/indexoriginale.html

    His shooting club: http://www.smtpticino.ch/

  • subase

    Switzerland’s deterrence strategy of waging a long war of attrition through guerrilla warfare by all it’s population, was the major reason behind Germany delaying their invasion in WWII. So if there is a movement to get rid of the army, then the general population should be more heavily armed and trained, not less.