I recently came across the work of Marcel Thalmann, a Swiss gunsmith, who has been crafting pistols from worn out K31 rifles. As many readers will know the K31 has a reputation for being a beautifully made service rifle used in Swiss service for over 40 years. The K31 is was a refined version of the earlier Schmidt-Rubin Models 1889 and 1911. The straight pull rifles are also renowned for their excellent accuracy so when I saw what is essentially an Obrez K31 I was taken by surprise.
I reached out the gunsmith behind the K31 ‘Eidgenoss’ and he was kind enough to answer some of my questions. Marcel is a gunsmith of some 25 years experience and he began making these cut down K31s several years ago. I asked him where he got the idea to cut down the classic rifle, something many would consider sacrilege, he explained: “I first came up with the idea when I saw a guy at the range with a sawed off shotgun, and since there are many unused and worn out K31 in Switzerland, I thought, as a gunsmith, I could make something special out of them.
Marcel notes that “the actions mostly come from original rifles where the barrel doesn’t meet target shooting standards anymore.” and the stocks of many surplus K31s are in bad shape from years of service. All of the K31 pistols are handmade and finished, with the profiling and checkering of the stock done by hand. Marcel uses the same blueing technique as was used on the original K31s to refinish the pistols once he’s cut down the barrel.
The pistols retain the rifle’s original front and rear sights, Marcel says that at the K31’s lowest sight setting (100m), the pistols will shoot to point of aim at about 30 yards, which he says is “the ideal distance to shoot it.” Still chambered in the original 7.5×55mm Swiss rifle cartridge the pistols create quite a light show with much of the round’s powder burning up as it leaves the muzzle. Marcel claims that the K31 ‘Eidgenoss’ “is very smooth to shoot, even one-handed.”
The guns are bespoke and Marcel also offers a more tactical cerakoted version with a muzzle brake by WilTec-Germany.
The K31 pistols take between 10 and 13 hours to build and Marcel sells them from around 990 Swiss Francs or around $990. There are more photos over on Marcel’s site here.