1918 Royal Arsenal at Spandau Luger

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1918 Spandau

This is a 1918 dated early Imperial Luger assembled by the Royal Arsenal at Spandau. The 1918 Chamber date is the year of production by Spandau, in this case at the very end of  the war. This is a 9mm Parabellum with a 100mm barrel. Just like it came from the battlefield of WWI.            (3009)

Serial number placement is in the military ("exposed") style; displayed on the left side of the receiver, the side plate, the locking bolt, the sear bar safety, the extractor, the forward toggle link, the front of the frame, under the barrel, and on the side of the trigger. This example has all matching numbers.

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 Spandau's

We are very fortunate to have available two Spandau Parabellum's that we can observe side-by-side. As always we provide the photographs and you be the judge..
Spandau Luger
The story of the Spandau Luger’s is almost legendary. Some believe that in 1918, 200 Spandau stamped P.08s were assembled from left over parts or parts that failed proof in the desperate days before the last Great Offensive. In a small quantity production is more probable that a subcontract for the machining that few number of toggles was let to a smaller shop, thereby giving an obvious recognition to the number and home for these assembled guns.
Spandau Lugers
At the outbreak of WWI the German Army seemed reasonably equipped with the Luger Pistol. The DWM factory in Berlin moved to peak production by 1915 and were producing 700 Parabellums per day; however this didn't meet the requirements for the massive mobilization.


The Spandau version of the P-08 creates the greatest opportunity for the collectors both proponents and naysayers a chance to argue about the validity of the gun. At first glance they are a multi-proofed Parabellum, extremely similar to the proofing on the Erfurt but having a first toggle link with the words Spandau stamped into the case hardened metal of the toggle.

Another distinction found in the subject guns is the Crown K on multiple parts. Also found on many of the parts is the Crown R/C [Revision Commission]. Having dozens of Erfurt’s to compare with the two known Spandau marked Lugers removes the grainy 1960s analysis by the then “woke” deniers of the Spandau existence.

If you want to reject the Spandau for the toggle link then you would be in turn rejecting the Vickers for toggle link because they too, did not have the machinery to make a Parabellum. We will apply 'Occam’s razor', the problem-solving principal that “entities should not be multiplied without necessity,” or more simply, the simplest explanation is usually the right one. >


This model 1918 Luger appears to have been produced in 1917-1918 from existing stocks of parts that appear to be mostly Erfurt manufactured. These included the machined hold open, the stock lug in the front of the slide mortised to accommodate the leaf site of the artillery Luger that Erfurt never changed back there milling after stopping production of their Lange Pistole.

On the left is the frame and barrel matching serial numbers. Military Lugers were numbered 1-10000 and then 1a-10000a, 1b-10000b, and so on. To properly identify your Luger always use the full serial number with the alphabet identifier. Magazine on right is a correct Erfurt magazine and matching serial number.
The Erfurt/Spandau were the most proofed models of Parabellums. There are inspector marks all over the weapon in a variety of crowned stamps.The extractor is marked "Geladen" (loaded) and the thumb safety is marked "Gesichert" (safe).  Proof marks are well struck and clearly visible. The last two digits of the serial number were used to identify the small parts. While in theory the parts were interchangeable there was some hand fitting that occurred which made it essential that the original parts remained with the gun.

Clean and well kept by its owner this Luger has the short sear a Crown RC indicating it was brought back through the arsenal for either construction or replacement of a part.  The barrel is strong with clear lands and grooves.

There are those that question the “Spandau” on the toggle link in some degree of its replication on the guns. Pantograph seems to be the simple explanation; on the other hand, the stamps were made by engravers, who hand-carved the reverse imprint into the stamp. Multiple stamping and steel would flatten the letters and the edges and produce different patterns as the wear continued.


In March 1965, Guns and Hunting published an article by M. Budd Mittleman in which he examined three Spandau marked Lugers and wrote after significant measuring with various calipers to find the similarity between the guns and point to their origin. Serial number 108 (which is the gun in this offering) was stated as purchased, from a returning G.I. from World War II and traced through successive ownership. Number 108 appears to have come from the Erfurt Arsenal while another appears to have DWM tool markings and machining characteristics. The barrels of all three were “slugged” (lead plug was made to measure the lands & grooves with #108 not matching standard Erfurt 1918 samples. All examinations point to: the Spandau is a partial subcontract, or composite gun, but it is certainly quite real. [Continued]


1918 Spandau

In the book 'Zur Geschichte der Parabellum-pistole des Kaiserreichs', 1966 by Hans Reckendorf he quotes the Reichswehrministerium, dated the 1st of October 1922:

'In Spandau sind in erster Linie die in kurze Pistolen 08 umzuändernden langen Pistole 08 der Truppen und Sollbestände fertiggestellt worden. Die beendigung des Anschusses dieser Waffen wird voraussichtlich bis 15. d. Mo. beendet sein."

Roughly translated: The long pistols 08 that were to be altered to short pistols 08 for the troops and as spares have been finished at Spandau. The proof firing will be expected to be finished at the 15th of this month.

This provides accounting for the mortised frames we see in the majority of the authentic Spandau Parabellum’s. While it doesn’t state when the order was started, it appears that completion was during the period from the abdication of the Kaiser, subsequent armistice in 1918 and the finalization of the IACC regulations in 1922.
1918 Spandau

During the same vacuum DWM also produced new pistols for the police and Reichswehr (1920 - 1921 chamber dates). Since the Gewehrfabrik Spandau became part of 'Deutsche Werke' pretty early on, there is suspiction that the conversion work was done in a smaller arsenal or workshop in Spandau and not at the larger rifle / MG factory which had become part of a commercial outfit.

This also provides a simple explanation as to why the crown/alphabet proofs continued to be used until the, adoption of the Weimar Republic's regulations. From the end of the war (November 1918) until the declaration of Hitler in October 1933, the Army, for all practical purposes, operated under the structure of the Imperial German army of WW I.
Spandau Toggle
It doesn't appear by measurement or by site that this first toggle link was ground down from an Erfurt toggle and then re-stamped or Panografted with the Spandau logo. What is more probable is that some subcontractor simply machined these first toggle links, the crown was the standard crown on all other proofs and Spandau was simply added to the die.
1918 Spandau
The grips are walnut and represent the fine diamond checkering found on all of the Lugers of this time.

[Continue] Study of the toggles within the Mittlemen examination revealed #108 and the 1802g (which shows DWM characteristic machining), showed that the toggles with the crown and Spandau markings were made with a single die –both of the guns were stamped with the same die. Further study of 985d showed the crown was from the Erfurt plant and the Spandau on that gun had been stamped over a reground area of the toggle. This concluded serial number 985d was a forgery. [Continue]

We will always show you the inside of the gun and any view that we might miss we will be glad to provide you with photographs. Here you can see the trigger serial numbered #08 which are the last two digits of the serial number. The rest of the gun is clean with minimal wear. The Imperial dated Luger's went to war in World War I from 1914 to 1918 and those dated in 1918 saw short service as the war ended in August.
Various and miscellaneous proofs appear in the bottom of the receiver and toggles; more so than any other that we have seen.

Original grips are finely cut diamond shaped checkering made from walnut or in some cases beech wood. Original grips were serial numbered to the gun and when installed by the factory.

Serial number 108 was confirmed as a Spandau in 1965 and later it is written was recognized as authentic by The National Pistol Collectors Association convention, Midland TX and authenticated by a former owner. Using #108 as the basis for most authentications, as it meets all of the specified criteria of the known guns, we are proud to present this one for sale.

Spandau Luger

An original decision to produce the Lange (long) barrel, (known by collectors as the artillery model), exclusively at the Erfurt Arsenal caused all of the machines dies to be set with the small mortise over the chamber where the long leaf site would ordinarily be set. The Erfurt Arsenal was unable to keep up with the production requirements of the military and so DWM was assigned the task of producing both the long (200 mm) barrel and short (100 mm) barrel. This milling would indicate the parts were made by DWM or Erfurt.


Mittleman posed an answer to “why the Spandau” when two other manufacturing plants were working to produce the P-08? The history of the First World War records that when the US entered the war in April 1917 the German Imperial High Command launched a series of violent offenses in an attempt to improve its strategic position. These lasted through most of the year but proved extremely costly in men, and materiel; and the certain Allied counteroffensive to be expected. In 1918, signaled still another frantic and final order for production to replenish much-needed supplies. There was hardly enough time for Spandau to gear up to the actual lathing, milling & boring so phase 1 was probably the assembly and finishing of miscellaneous parts from both Erfurt and DWM with the final inspections being performed by Spandau.  It is estimated that as few as 200 Parabellum were assembled and then distributed, to suffer the losses inherent in one of the bloodiest of wars.


This is an excellent proven example of the hard to find early War 1918 dated Spandau Imperial Parabellum as assembled by the Royal Spandau Arsenal for the Imperial German Army. We reserve the right to withdraw any firearm from an auction site that is sold over the counter.   Questions to: josef@phoenixinvestmentarms.com.

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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