Rifle: Dutch Beaumont-Vitali 71/88

 Dutch Rifle Beaumon-Vitali M71-88 tilt

Rifle Beaumont-Vitali M71/88 Manufacturer Various
Cartridge 11.3x51mmR Overall Length 52″
Action Rotation Bolt Barrel Length 32.7″
Magazine 4 rnd fixed box Weight 10 lbs

 

The Beaumont-Vitali was the first Dutch bolt action and featured a unique spring setup in the handle.  In 1888 it saw some updates before finally being replaced with a true smokeless rifle.

Dutch Rifle Beaumon-Vitali M71-88 top

In 1871 the world was still shooting black powder, but had already moved into single shot cartridges in breach loaded rifles.  When the Dutch sought out their first bolt action they tested a number of advanced designs, but ultimately selected an amalgam rifle designed at home.  This somewhat controversial rifle was introduced by Edouard de Beaumont and bears striking resemblance to two contemporary rifles.  It’s overall shape and configuration were clearly inspired by the Chassepot, but the action is strikingly similar to an experimental rifle known as the Norris-Mauser, especially its mainspring configuration.

Dutch Rifle Beaumon-Vitali M71-88 bolt

Disassembled bolt showing the unique spring

Dutch Rifle Beaumon-Vitali M71-88 actionThe Beaumont action uses a rotating bolt with fixed bolt head, the handle drops in place to provide the only locking surface.  It is cock-on-open and the cocking piece itself has no texture surface for manual re-cocking.  Most interestingly, the mainspring is not a coil type, but a flat spring nested inside the bolt handle.  This may have been an attempt to avoid using a coil spring due to manufacturing costs but ultimately worked against the rifle, making carbines and other bent-bolt modifications impossible.  This same spring can be seen on the later Murata rifles.  Originally the Beaumont included a safety on the right side of the action but these were omitted and later removed by the late 1870’s due to their cumbersome operation.  You can still see the remnants on some models as a faint circle on the bulging form on the right side of the receiver, behind the bolt handle.  Model 1871 Beaumonts were also single shot rifles with no provision for a magazine.

Dutch Rifle Beaumon-Vitali M71-88 left actionAfter the adoption of the Lebel Mle.1886, an arms race began.  While the Beaumont’s single locking handle was too weak to support conversion to smokeless powder, it still had to soldier on.  As a stop-gap nod to progress, the 1870’s were re-manufactured to include a four-round, fixed box magazine designed by Giuseppe Vitali and adopted by Italy in order to update their own single-shot Vetterli rifles.  This new Vitali magazine was loaded from a four-round charger which was inserted whole into the magazine and then yanked back out (now emptied) by an attached string.  The addition of the magazine also included a magazine cut-off lever on the left side of the receiver.  This new model 71/88 also included an added ejector, drilled gas escape holes in the receiver for blown cases, and improved sights.

Overall the Beaumont-Vitali is usually not a readily recognized rifle, but they can be quite stunning to see on display.  They are long and heavy, with sleek, French-inspired lines.  They served right up to and slightly beyond the adoption of the M1895 Mannlicher and represent one of the last of the black powder rifles.

Dutch Rifle Beaumon-Vitali M71-88 left

Special thanks goes out to Carolina Arms and Ammo for sharing this piece with us and all of you!

 

4 Responses to “Rifle: Dutch Beaumont-Vitali 71/88”

  1. I am thinking of buying a 71/88 Beaumont Dutch rifle.Do you know where I can get the stock and muzzle end metal parts and other parts that I may need?

  2. Darwin Thier says:

    I have this rifle with the M1871 bayonet. I am looking for the cleaning rod and forearm sling ring. Any ideas as to where to look?

    • fgd135 says:

      Butch’s Antique Gun Parts has reproduction cleaning rods. Ask him as they are not listed on his web page, but are available.
      Numrich may have the front band, and also try Jack First Gun Parts, once again you have to call or email for specifics. Jack First also has Beaumont ejectors, etc. Google those company names for their web sites.
      Cheers!

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