Thursday, February 2, 2012

The last rifle of the last papal army

 a Pontificio

The zouaves and Swiss Guards of the Pope's army were carrying the rifle pictured above, known as the "Pontificio," when they suffered defeat at the Battle of Porta Pia in September 1870.  As a consequence of this defeat,  the Papal States were absorbed into Italy, and the papal army was disbanded.  The rifles, though  marked with the papal tiara and keys, and paid for by the faithful, were distributed to the Italian army.  The Pontificio fired a metal cartridge, and its rolling block action was simple and reliable.  The rifle was advanced for its day, but was soon outpaced by superior designs such as the famous Winchester 1873 and the bolt action Krag-Jorgensen.   More here (h/t New Advent).

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