1902 American Eagle Fat Barrel

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In September 1902 DWM (Deutsche Waffen und Munitionsfabriken) began to manufacture the 9mm which was developed by Georg Luger after the military test trials in the United States.   These had the 4" (100mm) barrel that was a "thick" or "fat barrel" as they are known by collectors.  Production continued into 1903 for the "fat barrel" series to include the American Eagle Fat Barrel, The American Eagle Cartridge Counter and the Commercial  Fat Barrel.       (1696)

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To understand the early Parabellum production you must understand the serial number system and how it was applied. In 1900 at the start of commercial production (although George Luger made Lugers in 1897, 98 and 99 it was in 1900 that the full production of the 1900 Model was underway). There were two assembly plants established to manufacture the gun, one use the Crown U, Crown B proofs the second made guns without  these proofs.  Therefore DWM was exercising strict quality control of the pieces.

The serial number range for the 1900 Luger was from 1 to 9999. The serial number range from 1901 produced Lugers was 1 to 9999.  To differentiate you must go to the design of the thumb safety.   The 1890's - 1900 models used the Type I safety which was long flat and cross checkered. Somewhere around 400 serial number in 1901 they began to use the Type II safety which was high domed and cross checkered.  These Type II also seem to show up on presentation and "B" Model Prototypes.


This early 9mm model with the 100mm barrel that measures 16.6mm at the throat and tapers to 15mm at the sight band. Giving the gun the "fat barrel" look. Compare this to the standard 9mm which measured 15.5 mm at the throat and tapers to 13.7 at the sight band. 


This early Parabellum has all the characteristics of the very early Lugers: flat breech block and old model receiver with the self-retaining extractor up to the classically dished toggles. Also note the early wide trigger guard 14.8mm (.585") and the narrow early trigger .330".

All the small parts have been serial numbered.  This model has the wide grip safety and three digits on the rear toggle the underside of the side plate and the squeeze grip lever. This is a very early "Fat Barrel" and as such shows these early serial number markings.

Bottom view showing the five digit serial number, the two digits on the bottom of the side plate, and locking lever. the wide trigger guard and the Cal 9mm marking on the magazine to alert the owner that this was not the 7.65mm that was prevalent at that time.

Very rarely do this "Fat Barrels become available and mostly they start at $15,000 or better, however this once-in-lifetime this Parabellum comes out of a collection bargain priced to settle an estate and is a super deal.  We are extending out layaway to fifteen months with 20% down.

The most distinctive feature of these pistols is undoubtedly the toggle-lock mechanism, which holds the breech closed by locking in a manner not unlike the human knee, which can sustain a heavy weight when straight, but once bent is quite easy to continue to bend. The toggle joint in its straight position resists the rearward force of the detonating cartridge, then "buckles" after enough time has passed. When a round is fired the entire breech, barrel and toggle move straight rearward (on rails) until the toggle begins to ride up on a pair of cams that "breaks" the toggle (makes it bend at the joint). Once the toggle joint is no longer straight, it bends freely, allowing the bolt to come rearward, and the striker to be cocked. The spent cartridge is extracted by a combination extractor/loaded chamber indicator on the top of the toggle, is ejected as the toggle nears the end of its rearward free travel, returning, and a new round is stripped from the magazine and chambered as the toggle is driven back to the straight position by a spring. 


The decision was made to begin the serial number range for the 7.65mm, 4 3/3" barrel (120mm) 1902 Luger with 10001-21999 and these ran until September 1902. In August 1902 DWM began making carbines in the 21000 range, these are the very early carbines.  In September 1902 DWM began to manufacture the 9mm Luger within the 22000-22999 and included in this group are the 02 American Eagle, the 02 Commercial, the late 9mm commercial carbine, the 1902 American Eagle Cartridge Counter 22401-22450 and the 1902 Danzig Luger.  With the completion of the Cartridge Counter there were the "fat barrels" still on the shelf so DWM continued to assemble the 9mm American Eagle and Commercial Fat Barrel until they ran out. This pushed this model into 1903 when the serial numbers changed to 23000-23999.


One is first impressed with the thick 9mm barrel, 4" (100mm) in length. There are very few of the 'fat' barrels in existence and this one is recognized with the 22694 serial number placing it's production in 1902. 

In 1902 some models showed the three digit serial numbers on the small parts.  By 1903 this practice was discontinued and there were no 120mm 7.65mm Parabellums produced in 1903. Also of note is the wide squeeze grip safety which was eventually phased out.
Above Left: With the introduction of the 9mm x19mm, which became known as the "Luger" cartridge, DWM wanted to provide visual notice of the 9mm on the magazine. These were introducted in 1902 and are prized among collectors because of their rarity.  Above Left: These early models still brushed under the thumb safety to indicate "safe".  One can see the distinct ridge from the marchining on these early models.


The American Eagle was an advertising medium employed by DWM. It began with the Swiss first models when they engraved the Cross and Sunburst on the Swiss guns. The Swiss were overcome by this so when DWM sought the American contract they used the Great Seal of The United States over the chamber. This began the American Eagle series.



Military Lugers were numbered 1-10000 and then 1a-10000a, 1b-1000b, and so on. The commercial guns were five digits up to 1923 when DWM was bought out by Berlin-Karlsruher Industrie-Werke-Aktiengesellschaft (BKIW) in 1924.  By knowledge of the serial number of the early commercial Lugers you can tell which year they were actually produced.


Serial number placement is in the commercial "hidden" style; displayed on the bottom the side plate, the and locking bolt,  the front of the frame, under the barrel, and on the side of the trigger. This example has all matching numbers.  There are no usual proof marks, except for the export "Germany" found on other guns of this period and represents a very clean pristine look to enhance the beauty of the gun.

Above Left: The locking lever of the rear toggle: when the gun is fired it immediately moves to the rear unlocking the lever and the toggle hits the rear of the frame and starts the upward movement of the toggle.  On the down side the lever has a spring to enable it to slide over the latch making it ready to fire. Above Right: You can see the toggle in full recoil.


The Original Model Frame has the wide trigger guard (15mm) and the gun is machined to accept the leaf  recoil spring. Note how the receiver is curved at the top of the rear portion of the receiver ring and not cut away for the extractor as in the new model receiver. These models had the long sear and no visible numbers on the squeeze grip safety stop.


This 1902 Model "Fat Barrel" Luger is characterized by the 9mm  4" (100mm) thick barrel,  the rear "V" cut fixed and front dovetailed sight and the old short frame, short receivers without a the stock lug.  This 9mm model of the Luger was produced from September to December 1902 for export sales in the 22999 serial numbers. 1903 Serial numbers were between 23000-23999.  Serial number recordings appears to support that the "fat barrels" were made in two batches as the "Commercial Fat Barrel" appears within the number range.


The serial number range of the 1902 9mm Lugers was from 22000-22999. These were manufactured from September thru December 1902. Within these 1000 guns was the American Eagle, the Commercial Fat Barrel, the 1902 Cartridge Counter (50 guns), the Commercial Luger Carbine and the 1902 Danzig Luger.  All of these variations are extremely rare. The serial number range of the 1903 9mm Lugers was from 23000-23999. These were manufactured from January thru December 1903.


Below Left: On the left is the frame and barrel matching serial numbers. These guns were intended for sale outside Germany and International Law required that the country of origin be stamped on the gun therefore the "Germany" export stamp denotes this gun was exported. 

The origination of the five digit serial numbers for the commercial Parabellum is shown above on the matching barrel and receiver. The magazine is the original deeply stamped Cal 9mm indicating that this was a change of ammunition for those who were already familiar with the Luger and the up to then standard use of the 7.65mm .30 Caliber Luger guns. Many people today are confused switching between the mm and caliber designations.

The inside of this gun is as clean and pristine at the exterior.  Obviously well cared for this Luger is looking for a good home and another custodian who will treasure its craftsmanship. Note the three digit serial number on the inside of the squeeze grip safety and the early leaf spring of the 1900 models.


1902 was the first year DWM began the 5 digit serial numbers for their commercial guns. 1902 also marked the beginning of the "B" model prototypes which were made only from 1902 until 1905.  1902 also marked the first series of commercial guns without the customary Crown B, U, G proofs as evidenced by the 1902 American Eagle 9mm Fat Barrel.  Later these proof marks were added again. There are writings that assign only 500 American Eagles to this "Fat Barrel" category while others say the "Commercial" versions are more rare.


The true beauty of these early Lugers is the detail, intricacy and craftsmanship. Deep rust blued to an almost black appearance with the bright strawing on the take down, trigger, magazine release, extractor, ejector an thumb safety just high-light the beauty of these guns.  

This is a very rare version of the 1902 Commercial "Fat Barrel", held in such beautiful condition by only a few collectors. This Luger looking for a Good Home. This beautiful example of the '02 Fat Barrel is offered for $8,795.00 over the counter.

Any questions to Josef@phoenixinvestmentarms.com.  This gun may be withdrawn without notice for in-store sale. We reserve the right to sell any internet offering, to a direct sale and do not warrant the availability of any firearm that do not have a cash deposit.

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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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3 Day Return Policy

We honor a three day return policy. We will answer any questions, send you any pictures, as detailed as you want, to insure that what we are showing you is what you want to see, before you buy it.  See Legal.


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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