1903 Commercial Luger

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This is a 1900/1903 Model Transitional early numbered "10055" 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, new extractor and hatched toggles to name a few of the characteristics of the early transitional 1903 Luger.  This is a rare example representing the transition between the the 1900 dished toggles and leaf extractor and the 1906 model with a new extractor and curled knob toggles but still retaining the grip safety and thumb-up safety. This is a very rare collector Parabellum offered cased. (1594)

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.

 

The development of the Luger began with Georg Luger's first Pistol Patent on 30 September 1898. In the next two years Luger worked closely with the German War Technology Department (Kriegstechnische Abteilung) and the Swiss Bureau of Ordinance (Kriegsmaterialverwaltung). Each design until the adoption by the Swiss on May 4, 1900 as the "Selbstladepistole System Borchardt-Luger" and for Army Service Pistole Ordonnanz 1900.  Each Model was an evolution of design with changes and improvements change in many details.

 

This Parabellum is 7.65mm which was the preferred caliber for accuracy at that time. However, Georg Luger had continued experimenting with the design listening to the results of the trials 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 now a machined design to replace the leaf spring and the thumb safety is a Type II is 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 174 Luger 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. Note the wide trigger guard holding a narrow trigger.  The blank bottom magazine, long 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.

This early variation has the early bordered grips which are found on several of the transitional Swiss Parabellums'. 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 55 degrees 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.

The inside of this 1903 reflects the years of owner's maintenance and provides us a minty condition today. Above: A) The new extractor marked "GELADEN" (Loaded);  B) the sear and sear stop; C) the Type II thumb safety rarely seen because of the adoption of the grooved present thumb safety; D) the grip safety serial numbered "55" which is spring loaded and extends to the sear stop. E) This is the numbered narrow trigger; F) the full serial number under the barrel (five digits).

The stop lug, as it is expected on these early models has the serial number horizontal to the line of the barrel.

An internal picture of the act of firing the Parabellum: as the toggle break and moves to the rear it pulls the extractor [GELADEN] removing the spent cartridge from the chamber. Noted is the hatched thumb safety (Type II), the narrow grip safety with the last two digits of the serial number and the leaf main spring.  The coil spring was in testing during this time and emerged in the Model 1904 Navy.

As the slide travels to the rear the empty cartridge is withdrawn and engages the ejector which throws the round overhead, the main spring then bring the toggle train forward, stripping the next round from the magazine and placing it in battery and locking the toggles down.

Hiram Maxim is generally credited with production of the toggle break extractor system which he incorporated in the patents he filed in 1882-1885 to produce the first portable machine gun.  Later sold to Vickers his concept to use the guns own energy to cycle the gun was unique at that time.

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 flat top and clean lines of the early Luger's began the legend that lasted 556 years in an ever evolving and completive firearms market first in the European armies and then across the globe to make the Luger the most recognized handgun in the world.

Front and Rear, Right and Left this gun with the 10000 serial (from whence "B" Model test series would evolve put this gun right in the of the historical development of the Parabellum an a significant piece of its history.

Included with this offering of the 1903 Transitional Commercial Parabellum is a case with the DWM label, two Swiss magazines, a Swiss Cleaning Kit and later day oiler.

 

The new machined extractor, the serial number on the rear toggle and Type II thumb safety.  The 1903 is a very rare gun and the serial number of this model places it early in the production line.

The 1900 models had the elegantly curved dish toggles have given way to the checkered toggles with the radial cut knobs on the both sides. The right toggle had a spring loaded latch that caught a small lip that was silver soldered into the frame.

Above Left: The 1903 hatched toggle with the rear toggle latch in the ready position holding the toggles in place until the firing of the gun causes the rearward movement and causes the camming action of the toggle to break in the middle and ascend into the full recoil position (Above Right).  Note also the early Type II thumb safety and the exposed serial number on the 2nd toggle.

The ejection process on the 1900-1903 model is a study in physics.  When the round is fired the action pushes the breach block reward and the toggle release the lock on the right side, break in the middle absorbing the pressure from the bullet and begin their reward travel simultaneous pulling the bullet from the chamber with the newly designed extractor (distinct to the 1906 from the 1900 models).

In full recoil we can see the silver soldering under the toggle catch, the fire blued rear main axel pin and the straw blued locking lever, trigger and ejector.

Above Left: At the bottom of the locking well are two early DWM proofs of the what was perceived as a "flaming bomb" but was in fact a circle with two prongs and another with three prongs (withdrawn in August 1905). Collectors may want to study these.  The original grease is still present on these interior parts (preservation at its finest).  Above Right; is the magazine extended with the dark walnut wood base and silver body crimped magazine.

Close-ups of the left and right side of the chamber, trigger, magazine release and breach, breach block region of the Parabellum.  Note the clean sharp lines of the machining and as on any commercial Luger there are no military marks, just the hidden numbers.

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 rarely see 1903 model is a link in the development chain in the evolution of the Luger. Offered with this all matching firearm, is a DWM case, a later series Swiss magazines and cleaning rod plus a period oiler,

             This Luger is offered for $18,850.00 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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WARNING: We do not represent these guns as safe to fire. They are not test fired before sale; they are sold as collectibles only. Prior to firing you should have it inspected by a qualified individual and abide by all safety requirements.

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