To the Luger collector who “squirms” when he hears the word “reblued” or cries “fake” when the phrase “different font style” is uttered and immediately dismisses the item “out of hand” this article is not for you. However, if you are open to possibilities and plausible explanations, read on. Many of the references cited herein are from an excellent book by Jan C. Still titled Weimar and Early Nazi Lugers and Their Accessories and should be at hand.
The following is a description of a 1920 receiver chamber stamped DWM commercial short frame Luger, shown above, with vertical crown N proofed receiver, breechblock and 102 mm (4 inch) 9mm barrel, serial number 9754r. The original serial number placement is in the hidden commercial style. The gun subsequently went through several iterations described herein including modification to a Police Luger and early Nazi navy, but not necessarily in the sequence presented. The gun is part of a rig with a 1915 dated Imperial holster which was, with the pistol, rerouted to the early Nazi navy as evidenced by the EM(4) Nazi Eagle M stamp on the holster rear. The loading tool is M over Anchor stamped. Both magazines are mismatched.
The gun serialization was later changed to the military style by adding the four digit serial number to the left forward side of the receiver. The last two digits of the serial number were added to the face of the side plate, take down lever, the top edge of the thumb safety lever, the sear safety bar, the firing pin, the top of the middle link and breechblock extractor and the top of the hold open device. As a result the side plate and take down lever have dual serial numbers. Apparently all of the parts were not originally manufactured with the last two digits in the commercial style as the middle link with the DWM logo, while being numbered on the top rear in the military style, lacks the commercial style placement on the middle link underside. Also the receiver would appear to be manufactured with the military style of serial number placement with the full serial number on the receiver left side as the stop lug lacks the last two digits of the serial number. Usually the military style placement serial numbers includes stamping the last two digits on the sear bar. The 9754r sear bar is not so marked because it is a replacement. The original was probably had the military style serial number placement and an added hole to accept a sear safety pin. The rear axle pin is also stamped with the last two digits of the serial number. It should be noted that all observed late 1920s and early 1930s newly manufactured Lugers chamber stamped with the 1920 Reichwehr property stamp have military style serial number placement.
The serializationThe full four digit serial number of 9754r is on the frame, barrel underside and on the receiver left side. The font size or height of 2.5mm and style of all three locations, including the last 2 digits of the serial number located on the top of the middle and rear link are identical in font size and style, implying that that they were applied at the time of manufacture. The first thoughts would be that despite the “r” suffix this gun was put together with Imperial parts of which some could have been used however it does not make 9754r an Imperial era military Luger, which can be immediately dismissed solely on the crown N commercial proofs and additionally as the last 2 digits of the serial number with the correct standard smaller font size height of 2mm and similar font style are stamped on the underside of the take down lever and the side plate in the hidden commercial style and additionally with the same 2mm height last two digits of the serial number added in the military style to the take down lever and the other small parts listed in the above paragraph. The gun is therefore a 1928 DWM/BKIW commercially manufactured Alphabet Luger. However the 2.5mm “54” stamped on the side plate, which on Imperial era military Lugers is the same size and font style of the full serial number is not the same or does not appear to be the same font style of the frame, barrel and receiver serial numbers. When examining the serial numbers of an Imperial era Luger one finds the last two digits of the side plate to be of the same font size and style of the frame, receiver and barrel serial numbers. This is because the complete serialization of an Imperial military Luger was done at the same time. A late 1920s or early 1930s newly manufactured commercially proofed Luger identified with additional military serialization would be by definition, done post manufacture. With that stated the possibility that the Reichwehr or local armory would have the identical factory font style is remote. The balance of the additional military style 9754r small parts stampings are of the same size and font style but are different than the original manufacture commercial style hidden placement located on the bottom side of the take down lever and side plate again, which would be consistent with post manufacture application. Seeing that the font style and size of the full serial number on the frame, barrel and receiver, the top of the middle link, breechblock and the rear link are identical leaves no doubt that they are correct and that they were applied at original manufacture.
With the exception of the 2.5mm side plate stamping the balance of 2.5mm font height serialization of the gun is totally correct an original along with the correct 2mm font height commercial hidden style stamping of the side plate and take down lever makes 9754r a totally correct 1928 manufactured crown N commercially proofed DWM/BKIW “Alphabet” Luger with military style serialization. The configuration as stated would be correct, even without the added small parts stampings. There is another documented Luger with the same mix of commercial/military stamping with a correct appearing stamping of side plate.1 The fact that the 9457r frame and side plate were reblued, possibly aftermarket is when an enterprising technician for whatever reason, restamped over the original “54” on the side plate with a different style font or the re-stamping could have occurred in the 1930s by a local armory, i.e. the same organization that originally stamped the balance of the small parts.
Luger 9754r side plate and small part serial number stampings.
There is no question as to the correct serial number stamping of an Imperial military Luger; however that cannot be stated with the late 1920s and early 1930s commercially manufactured Lugers with mixed commercial/military serial number placement. More examples need to be examined.
The gun was converted to a German Police Luger during the Nazi era sometime between 1928, the year of manufacture, and 1934 by adding a sear safety and forward gripstrap Police marking, longitudinally stamped “S.M. 1074.” or Schultzpolizei Münster with pistol number 10742 and post 1934 by adding a magazine safety. Evidence or remnants of the 1934 or later installed magazine safety, which is less frequently encountered than the sear safety, is verified by a round hole located in the lower portion of the left frame panel just above the grip. A slot in the lower forward edge of the left side frame panel was required for the magazine safety mechanism along with a clearance modification of the lower inside edge of the side plate. The slot has been filled and the frame panel and side plate reblued, probably when the magazine safety was removed. The rebluing apparently was done only to the frame as the barrel, receiver and toggle link assembly retain their original finish as of the application of a droop wing eagle proof and the M/A stamp on the receiver were stamped through the bluing as was the identical barrel droop wing eagle proof, evidenced by displaced metal and a “frosting” or “halo” appearance. The sear safety was probably retained until the gun was rerouted to the early Nazi navy.
Both wooden grips appear to be original to the gun as both are stamped on the inside surface with the last two digits of the serial number. However a more detailed examination of the left side wooden grip has determined that, despite evidence or remnants of the required frame and side plate machining modifications for a magazine safety being installed on 9754r, the wooden grip lacks the required clearance modification to accommodate a magazine safety, therefore an actual magazine safety device may not have been installed.
Typical Police magazine safety installation with completely intact magazine safety.
Several parts of a Luger have to be modified to install a magazine safety (as shown above), referred to as a “Schiwy (sear safety) Walther (magazine safety)” safety. A 6mm hole has to be drilled through the frame left side just above and rear of the trigger axle pin. A 1 mm wide x 4 mm high slot has to be cut in the lower edge of the left side frame panel, 8.5 mm rearward from the frame panel forward edge to accept the magazine safety rearward tang. The thickness of the take down side plate on the lower rear edge has to be cut back 3.75 mm and 9.5 mm in length to clear the lower forward part of the magazine safety mechanism in its maximum outward extension with the magazine fully inserted. Finally the upper left forward edge of the wooden grip has to be similarly cut back, along with the inside surface to allow proper clearance for the installed magazine safety. It is exactly this modification that is not present on the currently installed left wooden grip. In other words with a magazine safety installed in 9754r the existing grip wouldn’t fit. Despite the fact that the wooden grips are indeed serialized to the gun they are possibly not the original grips. What happened to the original grips that came with the new manufacture 1928 alphabet Luger sn 9754r is unclear. The grips could have been replaced at the same time the magazine and sear safety devices were removed, possibly when the gun was rerouted to the navy. However, it is difficult to explain the presence of the correct grip serial numbers. A more probable and alternate possibility is that a magazine safety was never installed despite all the machining modifications done to accept a magazine safety. There are documented examples of Police Lugers with a sear and magazine safety added without the noticeable modification to the left wooden grip.3 Therefore, a magazine safety can be fitted without modification to the wooden grip, the grips are replacements or there is an alternative, internal clearance modification to the grip.
It is suggested that some military frames were used by “grinding off the frame serial number and leaving the letter suffix and a new serial number was stamped to match the top of the gun.”4 However, that is not the case with the 9754r frame. It has been examined both internally and externally and compared to several Imperial and 1920s frames and one finds that 9754r is different from Imperial era frames. The 9754r frame as compared against several 1920s era DWM/BKIW commercial frames exhibits identically placed factory stamped inspection letters and numbers, similar rear frame machining characteristics and a uniquely larger lanyard loop than Imperial era DWM frames. The larger lanyard loop of 9754r is typical of all 1920s era DWM/BKIW commercial frames. In further support of the correctness of the grips, there is no doubt as to the 1920s origins of the frame.
Early Nazi Navy ConnectionsThe “S.M. 1074.” Police stamping on the forward grip strap was later crossed out by stamping an X through the letters and numbers and a Reichsmarine or early Nazi navy property number O.1057 for Marinestation der Ostsee or Baltic Sea Station was added by stamping laterally, below the longitudinally placed Schultzpolizei ID. Also added, prior to the navy property stamp was a stylized M/A stamp on the forward left side receiver along with a droop wing eagle proof to the left of the M/A. stamping. Also the same style and size eagle droop wing proof was stamped on the barrel right side. All three of these stampings appear to be applied at the same time as evidenced the identical eagle stampings and by the similar metal frosting.
Possibly as part of the process of the (post 1934) modification of 9754r from a German Police Luger to a Weimar navy Luger was the removal of the sear and magazine safety. This modification required some machining to “fill” the slot in the lower forward left side frame panel, which required the frame side panel and side plate to be reblued. There is precedence for this type of rework as other identically modified Police magazine safety fitted Lugers have been observed.4 The only bothersome part of the refinishing is the restrawing of the trigger, the magazine release and the take down lever which look suspiciously contemporary and according to most collectors, restrawing was not part of the refurbishing or rework process.
This gun is part of a rig and includes two magazines and a holster; unfortunately although both are Police style magazines, neither magazine is numbered to the gun. A surplus 1915 Imperial Army holster was used, which is totally correct, having a 1934-1945 Nazi Eagle M German Navy Acceptance stamp E/M(4)5 added to the rear of the holster between the twin belt loops.
That pretty much describes the gun. The exact manufacturing time frame or date is certain, based on the serial number and suffix. Assuming the 1920 chamber stamping is a Reichwehr property stamping, although the Alphabet DWM 9754r serial number indicates a manufacturing time frame of 1928 which would be extremely late for the 1920 property stamp. Yet the 1920 Reichswehr stamp is apparently correct as; “In a very few cases the 1920 Reichswehr stamp was applied to Lugers manufactured much later than 1921. It is found on a very few 29 DWM Lugers.”6 Apparently the 1920 Reichwehr property stamp is found even less on “Alphabet” DWM Lugers as they are not mentioned.
The conversion of 9754r from a 1928 manufactured “Alphabet” DWM commercial proofed Luger to a German Police Luger could have been done by the Heereswaffenamt as German Army Weapons Office inspectors also accepted Lugers for the German Police, except that an additional early army proof is found on the receiver right side. Actually the modification may have been done by whatever organization one believes to be the meaning of the M/A stamp on the receiver left side.
The M/A stampThe M/A stamp, believed by some collectors to represent a navy arsenal, although not convincingly supported by documentation or example, as Lugers have been identified with the M/A stamp that have no association with the navy. The 9754r M/A stamp and early style droop wing eagle stamp on the receiver left side along with an identical early droop wing eagle stamp on the barrel right side more likely represents modification from commercial manufacture to a Police configuration.
The last published explanation promoted is that M/A signifies Marine Arsenal7. In the same publication the M/A is defined as a German Navy acceptance stamp. An example cited being an M/A stamp found on the left side receiver of a “29” DWM Luger serial number 9757s along with a “late applied” 1920 Reichswehr property stamp and an O.408 Navy property number. Other than the commercial proofs there are no other inspection stamps or proofs on the gun, nor is any convincing8 explanation given to support the meaning or purpose of the M/A stamp.
The 29 DWM Luger serial number 9757s is the only documented Luger with only the M/A stamp and is similar to the subject Alphabet DWM Luger serial number 9754r except to the immediate left of the M/A stamp is accompanied with a 1934-1937 Mauser style rework droop-winged eagle proof. The closest navy property number identified to the subject 9754r O.1057 is another Alphabet DWM Luger serial number 6757q, E/M(3) O.10969.
An alternate or first definition of the M/A stamp was presented in 196910 as “Mauser Arbeiten” (Mauser Reworked) proof noted on a very few 1930-1933 reworks.” The German translation of Arbeiten is “work”. This explanation was expanded in 1977;11 1933-1934 “Mauser Arbeiten” abbreviation (Mauser rework). Found on early 9mm 4” Mauser reworks for the military. Note: A Mauser eagle will precede the MA proof and serial numbers will follow the MA proof. Locations noted: left receiver.”
The subject 9754r Luger with the Eagle proof, the M/A stamp and the 4-digit serial number, in that order, on the receiver left side fits exactly the 1977 description. The Mauser rework theory is further supported by an identical Mauser Eagle proof on the right side of the barrel. The Mauser Eagle proof is similar to but not the same as the early Waffenamt Army Eagle proof located on the receiver and barrel right side of Mauser manufactured Lugers. The Mauser rework status or definition of the subject Alphabet DWM Luger 9754r is further supported by the only other published and identified, similarly stamped Mauser rework serial number 9469 (suffix unknown), is described as; “Reworked by Mauser. Only a few examples bear this distinctive proofing. The “MA” indicated Mauser Arbeiten (Mauser reworked). Examples of this variation have a better finish than most reworks, and are considered by most collectors to be the “classic” rework due to their better workmanship and distinctive proofing. The barrels of all examples examined are of MAUSER manufacture, as evidenced by the sharp shoulder at the barrel band, a typical MAUSER machining technique. Mauser Arbeiten proof on left side of receiver, Eagle proof on barrel, breechblock*. Most have a Waffen Amt proof on the left side of the receiver.”12
The Mauser rework theory was also, one of several, espoused in 198613 “(i) On Mauser P.08, a monogram formed by a cursive ‘M’ above ‘A’: allegedly ‘Mauser Arbeiten’ (‘Mauser-made’), but possibly only an inspector’s mark.”
It should be noted that the “Mauser” rework of 9754r was done, which included the added military style serial number placement before or of part of the addition of the German Police sear safety and magazine safety, then followed by the later deletion of the forward grip strap Police property number and lastly the addition of the Reichsmarine or early Nazi navy 0.1057 property number. The M/A stamp on the 9757s without the Mauser rework eagle is correct per the above description with commercial serial number placement only, shows no external evidence of rework except the gun appears to be reblued, meaning possibly removal of a chamber date or other marks.
The later 1993 explanation of Marine Arsenal used to describe the M/A stamp on 29 DWM Luger 9757s is based on “Research by Görtz (Naval Official Gazette) indicates that this M/A signifies Marine Arsenal (the former Imperial dockyard at Kiel, Baltic Station)14 The only inference or association being the O.408 Navy property number and the anchor M stamped on the back of the holster.
The fact that the two “navy marked” examples, 9754r and 9757s15, based on their serial numbers and letter suffix have DWM Berlin crown N proofed barrels, the barrels easily distinguished by the rather sharp or abrupt barrel band transition, strongly suggests new manufacture DWM parts guns; 9757s assembled by Mauser with DWM/BKIW parts and 9457r assembled by DWM/BKIW in Berlin. The barrels, not to be confused with later produced Mauser double crown N proofed barrels with the same sharp or abrupt barrel band transition. However M/A and drooped wing eagle stamped receiver or serial number 9469 is an exception as the description of this gun which states that there is a WaA66 stamped on the receiver right side which is described as a Waffen Amt (Ordnance Department) proof found on receivers of 1930-1933 Mauser and Simson reworks16 which tends to disassociate the M/A mark with the navy. Whether 9469 is of new Mauser manufacture is unclear as the description mentions an eagle proof only on the barrel and breechblock which is by the authors’ description a rework proof. If indeed the gun is of Mauser manufacture and Mauser parts there should be an additional double crown proof on the barrel underside in addition to a similar proof on the breechblock and receiver, in addition to the M/A rework proof.
As a matter of note, work done such as grip safety/Gesichert modifications or property numbers applied by the German naval dockyards, be it Imperial (W.erft W.ilhelmshaven-W.erft K.iel) or Weimar era (N.ordsee or O.stsee), other than the work itself, no property marked example has ever been accompanied by any dockyard specific proof or inspection marks, especially eagle stamps, one exception being an E/O Eagle found on the receiver and barrel left side of a few reworked Lugers, an example being an early 1920 Reichswehr property stamped chamber, modified 1916 Artillery Luger to navy, serial number 9513.
The E/O stamp is more than likely a Navy specific Simson mark applied to navy reworked pistols of the late 1920s/early 1930s of which may actually be the mark of a Navy inspector in the Simson factory.17
ConclusionsTo the critic that would point out that there are no other documented navy “r” series serialized navy property marked “Alphabet” Lugers is based solely on data published 12 years ago in 1993,18 although there is one other listed navy property marked Alphabet Luger serial number 6757q, navy property number O.1096. This new 1928 manufactured Luger was assembled before 9754r yet with a higher navy property number, which is undoubtedly correct and emphasizes the eclectic or random 1930s German navy acquisition of new and previously manufactured Lugers as there are additionally several documented higher Ostsee navy property numbered of even earlier manufactured Imperial era Lugers. There is one other documented similarly stamped Alphabet Luger serial number 6169m with a 1920 Reichwehr chamber property stamp, Crown N commercial proofs, hidden and added military styled serial numbered small parts19. Interestingly the “69” on the side plate, as pictured could be interpreted to be of a different font style than the 6169 on the receiver, depending on ones’ point of view.
As to why 9754r has both Police and Navy gripstrap property numbers is possibly explained in the German Army reoccupation of the Rhineland in March 1936 when due to manpower requirements, many State Police Personnel (mainly officers) were transferred to the Army along with their weapons, explaining why Lugers bearing sear and magazine safety fittings may have additional army style inspection markings.20 It is not a stretch to believe that in this period of intense, accelerated German military buildup in the army and to a lesser extent the navy that, in the same political climate a few Police Lugers found their way into the Kriegsmarine. Serial number 9754r being one such example. It should also be pointed out that most N or O (more N then O) navy gripstrap property marks appear to be pantograph or engraved, yet some appear to be stamped, whereas 9754r navy property number is definitely stamped. This does no diminish its authenticity as there are many variations of font sizes, stampings vs. engravings, positions and variations noted on navy property marked Lugers.
It is tempting to associate the M/A stamp with the German navy especially if the M/A stamp is found on a gun with a navy property number, however in the case of 9754r being first a commercial Luger manufactured with all DWM parts, second a Police Luger and third a navy Luger, is association without substantiation. Since all new manufactured (Alphabet or 29 DWM) vertical crown N proofed commercial Lugers in the late 1920s and early 1930s that were subsequently converted to Police Lugers have some added inspection or proof mark, be it an army depot E/WaA66, Dove/WaA4, E/ArA4, E3321 usually on the receiver right side and in the case of the subject “Police” Luger 9754r it is the M/A and droop wing army inspection stamp, on the receiver left side.
In summary the three phases or configurations of 9754r are sequential, not concurrent therefore the M/A stamp cannot represent rework or refurbishment for both the Police modification and the final rerouting of 9754r to the German navy.