1917 Death Head S.D. Police  SOLD

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This is a beautiful example of the 1914 Model DWM (Deutsches Waffen Und Munitionsfabriken Co) Manufactured Pistole-08. The chamber marking represent the military contract year of production and this example is a 1917 dated Luger. The Death's Head (Totenkoft) is very rarely found except on 1917 or 1918 Parabellums making this a very difficult Luger for the collector to achieve.   (1540)


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 is chambered for 9mm and has a standard 4" barrel (100mm) fixed sights and walnut grips.   This WWI Luger manufactured for standard issue firearm to the German military. The extractor is marked "Geladen" on the left side and the safety is marked "Gesichert" with the safe position being downward. The proof marks are the amazing story of this gun.

The serial number appears on the front of the frame, on the left side of the receiver, on the side plate sear and trigger. This Luger is all matching including the magazine.  This Luger bears a stock lug and a hold-open. It has the short sear and is unit marked.

The Death Head ordinarily only appears on the 1917 and 1918 when the  Stoßtruppen, "shock troops" were created in the Pioneer Battalions. Note Above Left the Eagle 33 which tells us this gun was re-worked by Mauser and earlier WWI military acceptance stamp.  Above Right is the early Death Head holster marking which did not include the lazy "S" but was the full jaw of the later (1934) SS units.

The right side of the receiver displays all the Imperial Army acceptance stamps. Original grips are finely cut diamond shaped checkering made from walnut or in some cases beech wood. These grips are serial numbered to the gun. The original firing pins were marked with the serial number and  when manufactured the original grips were marked to the gun.  Since firing pins and grips wear and break it is not unusual to find unmarked firing pins or replacement grips.


August von Mackensen; German field marshall.  A type of irregular light horsemen were already well established by the 15th century in medieval Hungary. On the eve of World War I there were still Hussar regiments in the British (including Canadian), French, Spanish, German, Russian, Dutch, Danish, Swedish, Romanian and Austro-Hungarian armies. In most respects, they had now become regular light cavalry, recruited solely from their own countries and trained and equipped along the same lines as other classes of cavalry.


This is a marvelous example of the dreaded SD secret police gun with the two matching magazines and unit marked to the SD (Sicherheitsdienst) the SS intelligence division and early concentration camp guards.

In August 1931 the Nazi Party decided to have its own intelligence and security body. Heinrich Himmler therefore created the SD (Sicherheitsdienst). Reinhard Heydrich was appointed head of the organization and it was kept distinct from the uniformed SS (Schutzstaffel).

When Adolf Hitler became chancellor in 1933 the SD was given extra power to deal with all opposition to the Nazi government. On 30th June 1934, the SD played an important role in the Night of the Long Knives.

On the rear toggle we see the Eagle 63 (Mauser) and a commercial proof on the 2nd toggle link. When the DWM parts were shipped to Mauser in 1930 most of the parts were absorbed into the police guns because of the restrictions of the Treaty of Versailles. Above Right: Here the typical police serial number (matching) is on the loading tool plus another smaller Death Head. 


 Hussars were however still notable for their colorful and elaborate parade uniforms. The German Imperial units had adopted the Deathhead (Skull-Totenkopf) as their symbol and this is probably the origin in German units. Below: German Hussars on the move.

The flamethrower was invented in 1901 by German engineer Richard Fiedler. He tested these devices in the 1908 Engineer Test Company, and equipped two special German Army battalions of former Leipzig firefighter Capt. Hermann Redemann in late 1914.

They were first used in combat against the French trenches at Malancourt north of Verdun Feb. 26, 1915. Due to the success of this engagement, a Third Guard Pioneer Battalion was created, commanded by Redemann, enlarged to 800 men and equipped with improved models from the Fiedler Flame Thrower Works in Berlin.

This unit used the flamethrowers at Ypres on July 30, 1915. Flamethrower assault squads of six men were added to the stormtrooper battalions commanded by Captain Willy Rohr after Aug. 8, 1915. The Allied armies adopted the flamethrower by 1916.


The "dead's head" continued to be used throughout the Prussian and Brunswick Armed forces until 1918, and some of the storm troopers that led the last German offensives on the Western Front in 1918 used Death's Head badges.


Here the barrel, frame and both magazines number 1 & 2 in the police style, all matching, quite a find by whomever captured this weapon.

The rear main axel pin is not numbered indicating this gun was re-worked before 1933. Above Right is the magazine safety. Ordered by the Police in 1932. The magazine safety consists of a "U" shaped leaf spring with two extensions, fitted into the left side of the frame under the grip. (Seen to the left with the hole drilled in the frame.) One of the extensions fits into the front and lodges behind the trigger while the other end fits through the frame into the magazine well.  With the magazine in place the extension is pushed left and out of the path of the trigger. Removing the magazine allows the safety to move to the right so the bar moved behind the trigger and prevents it from being pulled. Rarely is this found on the Luger as they customarily broken off and thrown away because the invention by Carl Walther proved unreliable.

This is a well cared for "bring back" with the brown leather that has turned maroon over the years in excellent condition offered with the second matching magazine and matching loading tool, a spectacular find all complete.


The barrel is stamped with the German Military Acceptance Stamp Adler and it is clear that the Death Head (Skull) was rolled onto the headspace above the date.  We have seen several of these guns and the authentic ones are all the same 1916-1918 which must have been special issue to Pioneer or Sturm force units.

On the left side is plethora of proofs with the E63 indicating work by Mauser, three crown markings and the Imperial acceptance stamp with the lazy Crown N of the commercial genre. What came first is hard to determine but we would suspect this was a commercial Parabellum delivered to the Imperial Army in 1917 and assigned to a Storm Trooper unit and then re-worked as a police gun and assigned to an SS police unit and finally with the S.D. unit as marked below.

Here is the unit mark to the S.D. 7th Division, 285th Luger. From the cross out this Parabellum had been previously assigned

The bottom of the barrel has both the serial number and the gauge marking which matches the frame and the bottom of the magazine.


The Stormtroopers (in German Stoßtruppen, "shock troops") were specialist military troops which were formed in the last years of World War I as the German army developed new methods of attacking enemy trenches, called "infiltration tactics". Men trained in these methods were known in Germany as Sturmmann (correctly "assault man" but usually translated as Stormtrooper), formed into companies of Sturmtruppen ("assault troops", more often and less exactly Storm Troops). The infiltration tactics developed by the stormtroopers are still in use today, in one form or another. Other armies have also used the term "assault troops", "shock troops" or fire teams for specialist soldiers who perform the infiltration tasks of stormtroopers.  Right: Death Head patch worn by German Stoßtruppen

Sturmtruppen overrunning a French position.  The "death's head" continued to be used throughout the Prussian and Brunswick Armed forces until 1918, and some of the storm troopers that led the last German offensives on the Western Front in 1918 used Death's Head badges.

The first major offensive led by the new Assault Detachment was during the first days of the Battle of Verdun in February 1916. Stormtroops from the Assault Detachment was used in the first wave leading some units into the French trenches, attacking seconds after the barrage had lifted. This generally worked very well, even though it worked much better against the first trench line than against the less well-known enemy rear-area.

On April 1, 1916, the Assault Detachment was redesignated "Assault Battalion Rohr". Around this time it also increased its size from two to four pioneer companies. At the same time, work began on transforming several Jäger battalions into new Assault Battalions.


The inside of the gun is as clean and well maintained as the exterior. you can see all the matching serial numbers on all the small parts and the short sear of the post 1915 models, the thumb safety down (Safe) with the German word Gesichert (safe).  Below:  Above the breechblock their is a raised signal marked Geladen    to tell the shooter that the gun is loaded.  This can be felt in the dark so all one had to do was release the safety     and the noise of cocking the gun did not give the shooter away.

1. This was originally an artillery frame cut for the leaf sight. 2. The Death Head Marking 3. Geladen on the Extractor. 4 The Imperial Eagle acceptance mark on the breach block, 5. The Sear Safety installed on police guns only. 6. There was also a magazine safety installed on this police gun.

Magazine Safety:  The magazine safety consists of a "U" shaped leaf spring with two extensions, fitted into the left side of the frame under the grip. (See above picture to the left with the hole drilled in the frame.)One of the extensions fits into the front and lodges behind the trigger while the other end fits through the frame into the magazine well.  With the magazine in place the extension is pushed left and out of the path of the trigger. Removing the magazine allows the safety to move to the right so the bar moved behind the trigger and prevents it from being pulled.  This was patented by Carl Walther in October 1932.

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.


In the early days of the NSDAP, Julius Schreck, (Left) the leader of the Stabswache (Adolf Hitler's bodyguard unit), adopted the Totenkopf to his unit. This later grew into the Schutzstaffel (SS), which continued to use the Totenkopf as insignia throughout its history. As they had done with the Swastika, and the "Stechschritt" (Goose-Step March): the Nazis adopted the Totenkopf from the historical tradition and used it for their own purposes, leaving it marked with a stigma that has continued to the present day.

It is important to note that the SS "Death's Head" symbol has some differences to the original German (Prussian) Totenkopf, the original being much more archaic in appearance (see images above), with the SS version appearing more realistic. Moreover, the Prussian Totenkopf could face left or right in half-profile, but usually it was shown en face. The SS Totenkopf, on the other hand, was always facing left in half-profile.

Reinhard Tristan Eugen Heydrich  (7 March 1904 – 4 June 1942) was a high-ranking German Nazi official, and one of the main architects of the Holocaust. He was SS-Obergruppenführer (General) and General der Polizei, chief of the Reich Main Security Office (including the Gestapo, and Kripo) and Stellvertretender Reichsprotektor (Deputy Reich-Protector) of Bohemia and Moravia.  Heydrich chaired the January 1942 Wannsee Conference, which laid out plans for the final solution to the Jewish Question—the deportation and extermination of all Jews in German-occupied territory.

Historians regard him as the darkest figure within the Nazi elite; Hitler christened him "the man with the iron heart". He was the founding head of the Sicherheitsdienst (SD), an intelligence organization tasked with seeking out and neutralizing resistance to the Nazi Party via arrests, deportations, and killings. He helped organize Kristallnacht, a series of coordinated attacks against Jews throughout Nazi Germany and parts of Austria on 9–10 November 1938. The attacks, which were carried out by SA stormtroopers and civilians, presaged the Holocaust. Upon his arrival in Prague, Heydrich sought to eliminate opposition to the Nazi occupation by suppressing Czech culture and deporting and executing members of the Czech resistance

Note the SD patches on the left sleeve and the SS wings on their sleeves and caps with the Totenkopf on their hats.  This was an SD unit photographed in Poland.

Sicherheitsdienst  (SD) in Poland  on a raid.


This 1917 All-Matching DWM Imperial Death Head is a very difficult gun for the collector to find and the historical paradigm may not be an absolute answer of one theory or another but rather an evolution  from the early Hussar cavalry to the Nazi Death Head of the SD Schutzstaffel.    Items' offered on the internet are subject to in-store sale; call first for availability. Any questions to josef@phoenixinvestmentarms.com. 

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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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