<1DOCTYPE TYPE> 1900/03 Transitional Luger
 1900-03 Transitional Luger

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This is a 1900/1903 Model Transitional early numbered Parabellum manufactured by DWM (Deutsche Waffen und Munitions Fabriken) in Berlin. The early Lugers were being tested by the Germans, Swiss and in 1904 the Dutch trials had begun.  This is the classic 7.65mm Luger with the old frame, 120mm pencil barrel, long sear, steel spring flat extractor and dished toggles to name a few of the characteristics of the early 1900 Luger represents the transition between the the two leaf and the coil spring. (1438)

 

NOTE: Photographs taken today with the high mega-pixel camera show more than we sometimes can see with the human eye. Magnified close-ups show us tool marks and natural surface conditions that one normally doesn't see in the ordinary handling of the weapon.  Photographs are copyrighted, all rights reserved, any extraction, reproduction or display of gun pictures without the express consent of the Phoenix Investment Arms is strictly prohibited. Thank you for your cooperation.

 

This Parabellum is 7.65mm which was the preferred caliber for accuracy at that time. However, Georg Luger had either been experimenting or had produced the 9mm Parabellum and in turn had discovered some changes that had to be made to the original design. This gun began with all the old characteristics which are rare to find. The extractor is still the spring steel and the thumb safety is a Type II was buffed, still checkered but reduced and barrel shaped on a silvered background. The trigger guard is the wide version and the trigger is the narrow and beginning in this series it is moved more to the center to accommodate both left and right handed shooter.

IN December 1904 when the Dutch military placed an order with DWM. for 174Luger pistols - 109 in cal.7.65 mm and 65 in Cal. 9mm - for ongoing trials and evaluations for the possibility of adopting the Luger as their service pistol.  The Swiss were similarly testing, evaluating and recommending changes to DWM to improve the Luger to what turned out to be one of the most recognized and longest performing semi-automatics in the world.

The most intriguing aspect of this order, per Dutch Archives, is the notation [per "The Dutch Luger"] that: "For about ten 9 mm pistols the main spring construction, the breechblock, the extractor, etc., will be altered according to the latest agreements. These ten pistols will be named "Dutch Model." On the left side of the frame an arrow and the word "RUST" [safe] must be placed according to the facing indication, namely near the safety catch. Toggle-lock and toggle Lock-catch .will not be installed. This reveals that in 1903/1904 the Dutch were being shown experimental guns with 9mm, marked thumb safeties, with a main spring construction and new extractor and breach block to accommodate it. This Luger represents one of the steps in the transition with its display of old and new characteristics.

Old model characteristics include the low serial number with the early DWM proof above the barrel serial number.  This was a transitional before the 10,000 series was reach and the prototypes were machined and sent as "B" suffixed for testing. The blank bottom magazine, log frame (below) with the dished checkered toggles, a serial number on the opposite side of the magazine release and the smaller grip safety. The front sight is first production also found on the early Swiss trial guns.

The above Dutch Archive notation was discovered and presented in "The Dutch Luger," Bas J. Martens and Guus de Vries by Ironside International Publishers, Inc., 1994, Alexandria VA. [This Book is available in our "Accessories" section under "Book"]

The authors go on to state that: "In the archives of the War Ministry no evidence has been found that the Luger pistols tested previously had been altered. That the new coil spring was designed by the Dutch is, in our opinion, without any doubt."

Here the conclusions are based on two logical premises. First, the specific description of the Lugers to be altered with the reference to the pistols so altered to be named "Dutch Model" and second, the lack of evidence that Luger pistols tested previously [by the Dutch Military] had been so altered. Anyone having the most basic familiarity with Luger pistols can see that these Dutch archival notations precisely and fully technically describe ALL the pertinent features of the "New Model" Luger pistols in at least an engineering concept stage and quite possibly a form of pilot example of some features actually executed at the point in time December 23, 1904.

At this point, let's set the Dutch aspects aside and examine the several specific mechanical modifications by which the "Old Model" (1900) Luger evolved into the "New Model" (1906 Luger. These mechanical alterations or changes brought the Luger pistol to its final perfected state. The pistol in the "New Model" form was as mechanically perfected and reliable as possible.  Aside from minor features - barrel  length, sights, provisions for stock attachment, etc. - the basic operational mechanical features of the Luger remained identical from 1905/06 until the end of WWII.

 

The Recoil Spring was the most inherent weakness of the  "Old Model" (1900) Luger.  This spring was of two-piece leaf flat construction riveted together near the upper portion. Although very smooth in action, this type of spring, in general firearms use since their inception in lock works, was prone to lose its "set" and become weak in use, and was susceptible to breaking. Also, with this type of spring, the remaining spring force is greatly lessened as the flexed spring nears its relaxed or restored position. This near relaxed position is exactly the point when the Luger requires a positive action to strip a cartridge from the magazine and into the chamber, drive the barrel/receiver assembly forward and pull the "knee" toggle links into the full horizontal locked position.

 This was the number one negative aspect of the Luger pistol as reported by various military trial boards: frequent failure to fully close and lock the breech. To overcome the weak main spring problem, a complete re-design of the spring drive was necessary. This was achieved by incorporating a coil type spring within the physical limitations of the Luger's grip frame, behind the magazine well. The problem was to convert the force of a coil spring set into the rear grip at an angle of 55degrees to the horizontal (up and down) into a horizontal force (back and forth) per the drive angle of the barrel/receiver. Removing the magazine, grips and squeeze grip safety for an "under the hood" examination, of one of the transitional model, on how this was achieved.

To affect the change from the leaf spring to the coil spring a minimum of  four components has to be created and incorporated in the early frame. (A) A recoil spring lever or bell crank to connect the (B) Recoil Spring Bar and coupling link (toggle assembly to recoil spring. (C) A pivot pin fixing the lever to the frame creating an axis for the lever to rotate.

Left: The Pivot Pin for the new Recoil Spring Bar, The checker lines of the early 1900 toggles and the serial number on the magazine release button:   Right: This early model coil spring bracket was dadoed into the back rail of the magazine slide and rear frame which was is silver soldered for the metal  to hold the bracket.

The precise hand fitting of the coil spring bracket on each of the altered examples noted to date is - in a word -remarkable. Given the variance in tolerances in "Old Model" frames personally measured in this area, each one would have been hand fitted to a particular frame.

Replacing the the grip  safety lever it is good to understand the mechanics of the Luger action.  As the Luger recoils to the rear, a coupling hook pinned to the rear toggle link forces the Recoil Lever on the pivot pin to the rear and up. . As the lever moves, being hooked to the recoil spring bar, the bar is  pulled upward. The recoil spring, fitted about the shank of the recoil spring bracket, is pulled up by the flared portion (bell shape) at the lower part of the guide, thus compressing the spring, while the upper part of the spring is retained or abutted against the fixed bridging or yoking part of the frame. Then in return movement, the compressed spring forces the guide down, then the bell crank is pulled forward (Arrow E) restoring the barrel/receiver toggle assembly to battery position.

This model was another step in the development of internal Luger mechanism on the factory prototype guns to determine the viability of the drawn mechanisms and employed on the early long framed receivers.  This is truly of one of one gun for someone looking for the early DWM 1900 with a prototype modification installed.

 

The first of the 1900's didn't have the gauge markings, and for the early guns DWM used three digits on the rear toggle.

(A) is clear shot of the first checkering found on the 1900 dish toggle, (b) while this style was also employed on the thumb safety. (C) shows the insertion of the Coil Spring Bracket; (D) you can see the workman's initials who installed the Coiled Spring Bracket in the Old Assembly. One can see under the Locking Lever the 4.3mm thickness of the frame which is another indicator of the early long frame (131mm) 1900 Parabellum. One may also note the flush side plate of the early 1900.

Left: A close up of the insertion of the bar at the bottom bracket  of the recoil lever with the "J" of the installer's initials. Note the smoothness of the workmanship. The "B" Model prototype bracket was changed to a more dove-tailed design at rear before the actual machining of the framing was accepted. Right: at the bottom of the locking well is the early DWM proof of the what was perceived as a "flaming bomb" but was in fact a circle with three prongs (withdrawn in August 1905).  .

Detailed close-ups of the checkering on the very early toggles with the cross-hatching as compared to the Lower Left picture (not the sale gun) production 1900 with the circle of straight lines. Narrow unsupported rear "v" sight on rear toggle.  Both early style Lugers have the Type II rounded checkered thumb safety. Below Right the trigger is numbered and the dimensions around the front and bottom of the locking lever along with the thickness of the trigger guard denote this a long-frame old style,

Below: Note the flush side plate of the early 1900 Classic Luger Long Frame. After the Swiss 2nd  (Serial's 2000+)  testing the thickness of the side plate was increased by by approximately 5mm to increase its strength.

It is entirely subjective to give any Luger a rating of excellent or fine, just as it is to declare it xx% blued or strawed. Few Lugers are out of the box new and these are premium priced. Bluing percentages is like Beauty, in the eye of the beholder.  We strive to provide pictures so you can judge for yourself if the gun meets your criteria. It is evident that the clean lines of the Classic 1900 American Eagle have emerged and this prized possession will make an integral part of any serious collector of the Early Luger.

 

 

This 1900-1903 prototype of the coil spring insertion modification to the classic Parabellum offers one not only the beauty of the workmanship of the pre-production guns but lends insight on the step by step development of this world recognized handgun.   This Luger is offered for $26,895.00 over the counter with the reservation that the gun may be sold before being posted as such on the internet.  to the serious 1900 collector/investor requiring the best and most unique guns for their collections. (This Luger, as all the others, have already been discounted for a cash sale).  Call for availability, subject to over-the-counter sales.

Any questions to josef@phoenixinvestmentarms.com.  Thanks for looking!


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LAYAWAYS:  Sometimes our "significant other" doesn't understand the beauty, craftsmanship and investment potential of one of these investor grade weapons.  In these circumstances where discretion becomes the better part of valor we will accept layaways of up to one year with at least 20% down and some activity occurring monthly to insure that after one year the sale is completed.  Cancellations of layaways forfeit 33% if done within two months, otherwise 100%. You can transfer a layaway to a consignment sale at any time. See "Legal" for exact terms.

 

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