1902 American Eagle
Cartridge Counter

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This is a DWM, 1902 American Eagle Cartridge Counter, in 9mm with the 100mm (4") Fat Barrel with the early dished toggles and toggle lock on the right side of the receiver. This has the grip and thumb safety, walnut checkered grips and came with the decorative disc in the magazine (commonly called Swiss magazine because it started with their models).   (2147)   

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.  Please visit Legal (tabbed) for Conditions of Sale.


 The American Eagle series produced by DWM began with the early introduction of the Parabellum (Only called the Luger in the US) in the 1900's. In the spring of 1901, the US Board of Ordinance & Fortifications, commanding officer Col. Frank H. Phillips, ordered from Hans Tauscher, the DWM representative in the US, two 7.65mm 1900 model Parabellums for preliminary tests and evaluation by the Board. On March 18, 1901 the Board began testing the German Parabellum and based on favorable results they recommended that the U.S. Army purchase 1,000 of the 7.65mm Parabellums and the necessary rounds at $14.75/Parabellum and $ .85 for the magazines. After arrival they were shipped to Springfield Armory for official acceptance.


 1902 Luger

These 9mm Lugers were manufactured for the "third round" of US Testing, after the initial test trials resulted in unfavorable comments regarding the "stopping power" of the 7.65mm original rounds. Exactly fifty of the original guns were exchanged for the newly developed 9mm cartridge and the U.S. was the one who required the modification of the magazines and installation of the slotted grip to indicate the number of rounds remaining.
 9mm Luger
The frame is the early "short" frame with the long sear and no import marks or stock lug. The extractor is the early model, leaf type, and unnumbered.  This was really a developmental Luger with the 9mm "fat barrel".  The DWM logo (Deutsche Waffen und Munitionsfabriken) and the American Eagle are characteristic of this rare model.  As was the commercial 1902 series version, you can see the three digits of the serial number on the rear toggle.
Above Left: The serial number places this Parabellum as the 8th model manufactured with the Powell Cartridge Counting Device mounted on the magazine; along with a serial number on the barrel, the frame and three digits on the bottom of the side plate and two digits on the locking lever. Above Right: The silver sleeved magazine with the blank disc on the wooden bottom is usually referred to as the "Swiss" magazine because they first appeared on the 1900 Swiss Lugers with bordered grips.
The serial numbers on the bottom of the barrel, the locking lever and side plate are clearly visible. The magazine has no marks as the original guns were not marked with Cal 9mm due to the rush of production.  The Cal 9mm magazines are found on the fat barrels in addition to the more decorative "flashed discs" is found on presentation models. The metal discs are nothing but decorative and were begun on the Swiss models giving some collectors to call them "Swiss magazines".


During the US Government testing in 1901/02 of the 1900 Parabellum the American Eagle was employed as a sales tool and when the second test began in 1907, with the order for another 1000 pistols from DWM and 1000 holsters from the Rock Island Arsenal, they all had the American Eagle. The acceptance by first the Swiss and then the Americans for their national symbol on the gun highlights the "contract gun series".  The test pistols were delivered in two lots in October 1901 and were disseminated as follows:

     10 - United State Military Academy, West Point

     15 - The Presidio of San Francisco

     10 - Fort Hamilton, New York

     40 - Fort Riley, Kansas

   925 - 5 Each commanding officer of the 185 troops of cavalry

The initial response of the military, in addition to the concerns over the "new automatic pistol" was the power of the 7.65mm round. Georg Luger set about to design a 9x19mm round (in use today) in 1903 and personally brought test firearms for military to test. After Luger's discussion with the Board they ordered 50 of the 7.65mm test guns to be traded in for 50 of the new 9mm pistols with the G.H. Powell indicating device. Michael Reese II in the book 1900 Luger, US Test Trials, provided ballistic information between the two calibers, 7.65mm and 9mm, from the 1903 tests. 


The front site is dovetailed fixed with the standard site blade. The rear sight is "V" cut, there are no export (Germany) markings. The Great Seal of United Stated is roll stamped over chamber, with no proofs, commercial style numbering, rust blue finish and strawed small parts.
Above: We inserted four dummy rounds in the magazine to illustrate the function of the Powell Cartridge Counting Device. In the window you can see the number three indicating four ("4") rounds are remaining in the magazine.

The official designation of this grip is the Powell Indicating Device.  The slotted grip has a metal strip numbered 1-7 and works with a special magazine which is slotted on the left side and fitted with a pin assembled to the magazine floor plate.  The left side of the frame, under the grip,  is cut out to allow the pin to move fully to the top. on the right side of the magazine they have repositioned the thumb pin for use with the loading tool making this a very unique magazine.
On The first toggle link has the serial number (three digits) on the bottom of the toggle. The rear toggle has the serial number on the back. the bottom of the 1st toggle link
The frame is the new model with the American Eagle seal over the chamber. The thumb safety is the Type III and the extractor is the leaf type. The safety is the squeeze grip with the thumb safety "safe" in the up position. The Serial Number is 5 digits with no "Germany" marked export stamp. These models did not have a stock lug but do have a hold open.


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.

 The decision was made to begin the serial number range for the 7.65mm, 4 3/4" 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.



The American Eagle Cartridge Counter is the crown jewel of anyone's collection. The solid feel of the experimental "fat barrel" and the great lines created by the worlds most recognized handgun plus the feature of the Powell Cartridge Counter will only bring pride in ownership.

The grips are walnut and the pointed has to be 98%+ with signs of very little handling. Inside the grips are maker's marks, the last two digits of the serial number and the clear cut of the space for the grip safety.
Each of the fifty guns had to have the frame modified at the top of the grip opening to accommodate the Cartridge Counting Device.  The frame also had to be relieved on the left side to permit the bullet indicator to be inserted. This was done after the guns were prepared from the basic lot of American Eagle 9mm Fat Barrels that were on the shelf.  Most of the guns were then re-blued but some of them will reveal the cut are in-the-white.  These usually exhibit the polished frame under the thumb safety where the factory re bluing covered that in the early models. This hand build modification slowed down the delivery to outside the time frame of the appointed test period.
ABOVE LEFT: By the time the 1902 American Eagle 9mm Fat Barrel went into production the dicing on the grip toggles had changed to concentric grooves and the retention pin was in the middle of toggle. ABOVE RIGHT:  The detent for the toggle lock was brazed into a hole milled in the frame and brazing does not take to rust bluing.  This area is always revealing to collectors regarding re-finishing.
ABOVE: The Great Seal was not a request from the US but was found to be a great sales tool by DWM when used on the Swiss Lugers. It was so well accepted that DWM began to put various Country/State crests on all their contract gun leaving us with these beautiful pieces today.      


From the three 9mm tested Parabellums that Georg Luger brought with him the U.S. Board wanted them modified to accept a cartridge counting device that G.H. Powell, an American, designed. This was accepted by the US military who then asked DWM to fit these devices on the fifty Parabellums. This caused another delay beyond the preparation of the American Eagle Fat Barrel 9mm design. This included cutting the frame to accommodate the top edge of the cartridge counting device in addition to installing this device in the grip.


The magazines of the Cartridge Counter, slotted on both sides, are wrapped metal and crimped at the top and bottom. The DWM crimp is a half-moon and distinct from other manufacturers crimps.  Most obvious is the crimps made for Erfurt which is thin straight crimp.  

Clean of any proofs or manufacturers markings and done with the deep DWM rust blue these are the epitome of 'old country' craftsmanship. It is generally accepted that these guns were built following the prototypes for the new 9x19mm cartridge Georg Luger had developed, built in the DWM tool room on the newly develop 9mm short frame and receiver, not being modified from other guns. Not being from the factory floor they didn't receive the standard proof marks and became the beginning of the 9mm Legend.
Note the three digit numbers on the stop lug; going back to the pre-1900 prototype guns when numbers were stamped on the stop lug to keep track of what parts came from which test gun.
LEFT ABOVE: This was at one time thought to be a US Ordinance proof but it has been established that this was a DWM inspectors proof and has nothing to do with the Army Test Guns. This proof is also found on other similar period Parabellums.  ABOVE RIGHT: Magazines for the cartridge counter have a specific detent on the rear to position the follower and only permit the special follower from being installed in case of repair, (Only found on the original magazines).
Notethe last 3 digits of the serial number on the inside of the 1st toggle link and then below these numbers appear on the breach block and on the back 2nd toggle link. All in all making these guns unique unto themselves.
Here is the rear toggle of the Luger which displays the three digit serial number. One of the characteristics of the true 1902 Luger is the application of three numbers of the five number serial number on various parts.  In this case the rear toggle and the lower left the grip safety and lower right at the bottom of the side plate. Truly an outstanding example of the Cartridge Counter within the known serial number range of 22401-22450.
Beside the .45 Cal Luger this model is probably one of the most famous and most difficult to obtain.  The disposition of the 50 guns is unknown with 40 going to Ft. Riley Kansas and then 24 being shipped to Springfield Armory. Springfield Armory is known to have auctioned off the test guns for as little as $10.00.


 On April 10th, 1907, 24 of the Powell Indicating Device were shipped to the Springfield Armory from Ft. Riley, KS, where the Board of Officers were convened by Special Order #305 for the military tests.  Col. Phillip Reade was the President of this Board and he is known to have left the Armory on March 28th, 1907 so it is believed that none of the Cartridge Counters were tested by the Board.

The follow-on to the non-testing was the request by the U.S. Army for the .45 calibre Luger which was produced in a limited number (speculated at 15). Europe in the meantime had selected the Parabellum as a weapon of choice and DWM doubting the sincerity of the US requests for additional guns formally turned down the request for additional "test" Lugers' and began work on the German order for hundreds of thousands of Parabellums for WWI.

So ended America's flirtation with the most widely recognized handgun in the world.

Above the frame of the Cartridge Counter had to be modified by DWM  Type III thumb safety, long sear and grip safety numbered on the flat of the grip and not on the above frame extension. Clearly visible is the three digit serial number on the grip safety, the two digits on the opposing grip and trigger.
The grips and magazine separate the catridge counter from the "American Eagle Fat Barrel"in the air exquisite in the original design. Above left one can see where the metal strip with numbers is pinned into the slot cut left grip. Over the numbers and creating a clear space that one can see the pin in the magazine is product known as isinglass or "hausen blas" (DE) made in early days from dried swim bladders of fish. Over time (past 117 yrs) this material has yellowed and in that is the essence of originality.
Georg Luger brought three 9mm prototype test guns on May 6, 1903. These tests were sufficiently productive to order more on August 14, 1903 for testing. There is always talk by some bloggers and 'experts' about the testing of the fifty Cartridge Counter 9mm gun order that arrived late in New York on April 20th, 1904. This delay was of course caused by the remanufacturing of the frame and creations and installation of the Powell Cartridge Counting Device.
Note thereplication of the last 3 digits of the serial number on the slide stop and on the 1st toggle link. Originally thought these numbers were added during the test series so that individual parts, when interchanged on the firing line could be tracked the guns that fired them. This made sense because the Luger was constantly being tested and evaluated by someone and improvements were made until almost the end of German production in 1945.
Upon receipt of the guns they were shipped to Ft. Riley Kansas on April 22, 1904. On March 28th, 1904 twenty-four of the 9mm Parabellums with the Powell Cartridge Counter device were received at the Springfield Armory from Ft. Riley.  There appears to be no documentation to support special tests were made on these late arrival Cartridge Counters.  Rather there is a letter from an officer of the Armory on June 10th, 1908 stating that only a brief test of #22433.
The clean top of the 1902 version continued the practice of level, smooth fitting 1st and 2nd toggle (later modified by increasing the strength of the 2nd toggle because of the power of the 9mm). This is the classic Luger out of a old-time collection, preserved in a minty condition.
It is entirely subjective to give any firearm a rating of excellent or fine, just as it is to declare it xx% blued or strawed. Few collectible weapons 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. Any questions or request for additional purchases email to josef@phoenixinvestmentarms.com This firearm is eligible for transfer to C&R permit holder, even in California.  We are registered with CA DOJ for firearms shipment.


The lack of a paper trail for the Cartridge Counter Models points us to a conclusion that several of these guns became "prizes" or presentation guns to individuals of rank and privilege. 9mm Cartridge Counters that have surfaced over the years from private collections rarely show the wear and tear that a calvary troop or testing facility would have inflicted on a firearms.              

While the US Military did not select the Luger they didn't reject it either.  After many tests of both the 7.65mm and 9mm Lugers the US Army was provided the .45 Cal Luger which after April 1908 DWM suspended the US Tests due to the military contracts for the Luger by Germany.   



Offered is the holy grail of American gun collectors, the 1902 American Eagle Fat Barrel with the Powell Cartridge Counter grips, a documented one of fifty. This gun may be sold before being posted as such on the internet. We are offering this well documented classic Parabellum for $55,000.00 to the advanced collector who wants a "top gun" for the collection. In very good condition and offered for $48,895.00 over the counter.

We reserve the right to sell any internet offering to a direct sale and do not warrant the availability of any firearm that does not have a physical deposit. This gun may be withdrawn without notice for in-store sale.  Call for availability.

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