Swiss experiences Part 2: A Visit to RUAG museum

artillery fodder

Earlier this autumn I spent a week in Switzerland. It was a typical leisure trip, colored with couple of “gun nut special” detours. First of those was a visit to B+T factory in the city of Thun, which I already described here. Later on same sunny day I visited another important factory located nearby – the RUAG Ammotec, famous manufacturer of precision small arms ammunition. RUAG Ammotec is an official supplier of small arms ammunition to Swiss and German militaries, and to a much larger number of police and security agencies worldwide. Most unfortunately, RUAG policies prohibited me from taking pictures of their impressive ammunition manufacturing facility. However, I was invited to visit small, but extremely impressive RUAG factory museum, located in an old warehouse building near the factory, and this museum is a topic of current post.

City of Thun has a long history related to Swiss military. Since 1863 it was home to one of most important Swiss ammunition manufactures, originally known as Eidgenössische Munitionsfabrik Thun. Until late 1990s it was a state-owned facility which produced small arms ammunition, grenades, artillery shells, rockets for ground and aerial use, and a number of other related items. In late 1990s it was privatized and formed an essential part of current RUAG concern.

Factory museum of the RUAG Ammotec clearly illustrates all products, delivered to Swiss army and other customers by Thun factory from 1863 and until today. It is located in a large, dimly lit room on a 2nd floor, with maze of glass display cases filled with handgun, rifle and artillery ammunition and other nice stuff. It also hosts a private collection of small arms, originally produced by another Swiss state-owned enterprise, Eidgenössische waffenfabrik Bern. This collection includes most of Swiss service handguns, rifles and rifle-caliber automatic weapons, including some rare experimentals, such as the world’s third submachine gun, one of the earliest intermediate cartridge assault rifles, and a number of other historical gems. All in all, I had a great time running to and fro between glass displays and trying to make best possible photos under the depressingly low light in the room.

Below you can find a selection of photos with some commentaries, where necessary. But before we start, I’d like to express my sincere thanks to Mrs. Sabine, who was my host and guide during the whole RUAG tour.


Max Popenker

Max Popenker is a long-time firearms enthusiast and semi-amateur firearms historian from Russia. His primary interest is in automatic firearms, their evolution and use. He wrote a number of books on the subject and maintains a Modern Firearms website at


  • DiverEngrSL17K

    I was going to ask Max the same question, but you got there first :).

    If you don’t mind my asking, what were your personal and professional impressions of the RUAG museum?

  • DiverEngrSL17K

    Great article, Max — as always. Thanks very much, and your generosity in sharing this experience is much appreciated!

  • FN delivered a pair of FAL chambered in 7.5x55mm for Swiss testing in January 1956. Likewise, FN made three in 6.5x55mm for the Swedes in June 1960. FN also rechambered a .280/30 FAL to 7.62x39mm for Dutch testing in October 1963.

    • Muri

      Thanks for your clarification, Dan. As a L1A1 owner I got pretty curious about that one in the museum. I wonder how the testing results turned out back then!

  • mosinman

    best way to remain Neutral? out gun everyone around you!

    • noob

      and hold all their money.

  • noob

    when sectioning a defused live artillery shell that has the power to level the building you are working in – do you disassemble the remaining body along the filling ports and melt out the explosives, cut the casing and then replace the explosives with plasticine to represent the explosives?

    or is there some other magic that I cannot imagine?

    any eod guys know?