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Thread: Identification on what I believe is a commderical Luger

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
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    Florida
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    9

    Default Identification on what I believe is a commderical Luger

    Good evening,

    My father purchased a Luger at the Florida Gun Show this afternoon, a gun he has wanted for some time. The dealer--a pawn shop owner who came across this weapon as a pawn--said it was made in 1916. As a historian, I dove head first into identifying the weapon, but Id like to be sure.

    Here are the facts:

    1) Everything matches--even the magazine. The serial # is 4032

    2) It has a small crown and N, but it is turned sideways on the top of the barrel. It is straight up and down on the end of it.
    According to this: http://www.germandaggers.com/Gallery/GLP.php it looks like a Nitro Proof.

    Can someone please explain what that means?

    3) It is a DWM manufacture.

    4) The number 32 is stamped on the safety and on back of the slide.

    I would appreciate any help I could get on this. Pictures of the weapon are in the thread. Let me know what you think. We did get excited believing this to be initially a military weapon, but seems this was sold to the general public/possibly the police? Let me know what ever information you can provide. If you need me to post more pictures to assist in identification, please let me know. Dad was very excited about his purchase and he's hoping he didn't get screwed too badly if so.

    Thank you for all your help

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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
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    Default

    Your father's new acquisition is a 1920 "Alphabet Commercial" and the caliber is most likely 7.65mm, also known as ".30 Luger". The full serial number includes the small lower case script "L" under the "GERMANY" export mark on the front of the frame, so the actual serial number is "4032 L". The magazine bottom for a commercial should be made of wood without any markings...the aluminum bottom magazine is not proper and has been "force matched" to the gun. It is a bit difficult to tell for sure but it appears from photos #8 and #10 that the stock lug has been mostly ground off. I do not know what your father paid for the gun and it pains me to say it, but I think the collector value is minimal and is worth probably around $800-$900.
    Ron
    If it is made after 1918...it is a reproduction.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
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    FL (mostly) and NW PA
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    Ron's assessment is right on target, in addition I think it's likely some areas have been reblued. I'd give it a good cleaning/oiling and take it to the range if nothing looks amiss. Look on Youtube first if you've never taken down a Luger before.
    Seeking a 1908 Bulgarian contract Luger magazine (early DWM P.08) with a C suffix. See the example at http://luger.gunboards.com/attachmen...3&d=1414271032 (on the right).

    Also looking for a DWM commercial takedown lever #01 and sideplate #77. Have the following magazines for sale/trade - double-proofed (early) Erfurt #5634a, single-proofed Erfurt #4294d, DWM #3494+, blued fxo / E/37 #5709r, postwar Erma SS w/black plastic bottom.

  4. #4
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    Mar 2017
    Location
    Florida
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Wood View Post
    Your father's new acquisition is a 1920 "Alphabet Commercial" and the caliber is most likely 7.65mm, also known as ".30 Luger". The full serial number includes the small lower case script "L" under the "GERMANY" export mark on the front of the frame, so the actual serial number is "4032 L". The magazine bottom for a commercial should be made of wood without any markings...the aluminum bottom magazine is not proper and has been "force matched" to the gun. It is a bit difficult to tell for sure but it appears from photos #8 and #10 that the stock lug has been mostly ground off. I do not know what your father paid for the gun and it pains me to say it, but I think the collector value is minimal and is worth probably around $800-$900.
    Ron
    Thank you.

    A few questions:

    1) The stamp with the crown and N...is that how you identified it?

    2) Your overall conclusions; dad is a 36 year vet of a major police department. It will be tough for me to convince him of the gun's identification without something of genuine understanding...so I ask with all the appreciation and sincerity I can express over the Internet: How did you reach your conclusions?

    3) Is it 1920s? Or the year 1920?

    4) These models were exported?

    5) The poster after you mentioned possible "rebluing"--can you tell me now I can see that?

    Thank you for all your help

  5. #5
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    Mar 2017
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    Florida
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    We were able to get 9mm ammunition into the mag. Is that ok to use at the range?

  6. #6
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    After WWI Germany was in desperate need of foreign currency because of its economic circumstances. These Alphabet Commercial Lugers were exported to the US through most of the 1920s. I have one just like yours, just a bit earlier with a "K" suffix instead of an "L" (all suffixes are lower case, I just wrote them here as upper so you can see it's not an "I"). Yours was probably made about 1923 or 1924.

    These guns are pretty easy to identify because they are .30 caliber, have Crown/N proofs, lack both a chamber stamp and a grip safety, and have a suffix anywhere from "J" to "R" or thereabouts. Your gun likely had a stock lug when manufactured which someone removed because they were worried about legality (no worries there). However, you are not allowed to attach a stock to a short-barreled Luger because they were never issued with stocks.

    The post-WWI Lugers were limited to a barrel length less than 4". If you put a pencil down your barrel until it stops and measure how far it goes in, it should be about 3-3/4 to 3-7/8". I mentioned that it may be reblued because the area where the lug was removed was likely reblued, also the Crown/N on the receiver is quite indistinct and the safety lever looks reblued as well (although sometimes they turn dark with age).

    Saw your question about the caliber... if a standard pencil fits snugly in the barrel it's .30 caliber (which this one likely is) and 9mm will not chamber even though it fits in the magazine. Unfortunately .30 Luger ammo is expensive and harder to buy than 9mm, many of us who shoot it reload for it. .30 Luger is a very nice shooting round.

    If this was sold to your father as a 9mm Luger and turns out to be .30 Luger, and you don't want to mess with .30 Luger, you probably have good cause to return it to the seller for a refund. If he bought the gun for $600, it was a nice buy, but if he paid $1200 then the seller didn't do him any favors. Hopefully it was the former.
    Seeking a 1908 Bulgarian contract Luger magazine (early DWM P.08) with a C suffix. See the example at http://luger.gunboards.com/attachmen...3&d=1414271032 (on the right).

    Also looking for a DWM commercial takedown lever #01 and sideplate #77. Have the following magazines for sale/trade - double-proofed (early) Erfurt #5634a, single-proofed Erfurt #4294d, DWM #3494+, blued fxo / E/37 #5709r, postwar Erma SS w/black plastic bottom.

  7. #7
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    Mar 2017
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    Florida
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    Sir, I cannot thank you enough.

    I figured something was wrong when we tried to chamber the 9mm round and the slide wouldnt fully close. So your assessment is correct.

    Unfortunately, this is a gun show buy, and a pawn dealer who had it. I dont really blame the pawn guy so much--he probably didnt have a clue. As I stated, I'm the historian--and even I was enraptured with the idea of owning a Luger. It was sold to us as a 1916, and if you take your last two numbers you provided...thats how much was paid. My expertise is in the Cold War and American Revolution, and American era weapons of WWII--not so much with the German side of things. So I believed what I was told. But I was curious to the L marking and you certainly answered that.

    Is this information readily available for folks? I was up rather late last night trying to find information and couldnt...I'd love to know how you came to figure out the IDs and such...is it just tireless research over time?

    Again, thank you so much...you guys have been wonderful in your explanations.

  8. #8
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    Sorry to hear that the gun was misrepresented (no matter the intent), if it all practical it would still be worth pursing a refund IMHO, as there are 9mm shooters that are available in the range of $800-900. Hopefully this does not sour you on Lugers as they are a very well-made and interesting firearm (and occupy a prominent role in history, of course).

    This forum is a very good place to do your research and learn more at little/no cost except time. Your gun fits in the http://luger.gunboards.com/forumdisp...M-Vickers-Bern area of the forum, although you will see a good number of them posted in the New Collectors area (like yours).

    If you like books, there are a good number of them written about Lugers since the late 1950s, although most of the earlier ones (<2010) have significant flaws, omissions and misinformation. Probably the best overall book set covering most/all Lugers currently available is this one - http://www.simpsonltd.com/product_in...ducts_id=23643. It's expensive, but the DVD that accompanies the set is also available from Simpson for only $50 (you have to call them). If your interest is one particular era, then there are a number of very good books by Jan Still (the founder of this forum) that are dedicated to Central Powers Pistols, Weimar Lugers, Axis Pistols, etc. They are also pretty expensive, but well worth it to a serious collector. Occasionally they come up for sale on the "Wanted to Sell" section here as well.
    Seeking a 1908 Bulgarian contract Luger magazine (early DWM P.08) with a C suffix. See the example at http://luger.gunboards.com/attachmen...3&d=1414271032 (on the right).

    Also looking for a DWM commercial takedown lever #01 and sideplate #77. Have the following magazines for sale/trade - double-proofed (early) Erfurt #5634a, single-proofed Erfurt #4294d, DWM #3494+, blued fxo / E/37 #5709r, postwar Erma SS w/black plastic bottom.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    NC
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    3,002

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    Sorry your Dad got "taken", in spite of other opinions, a .30 cal luger with the stock lug ground is worth at best $600, IMO.
    Nice 1920 commercials can be bought for $1000 - 1200 and sometimes a little less.

    As far as info goes, you are on the correct site. Just do a site search for 1920 commercial and you will get dozens of threads to read.

    You ask "simple" questions, that it takes hours and maybe years to learn! Some clues to the id of your pistol:
    the crown/N is a commercial nitro proof, commercial pistols are not dated, the serial number suffix helps to date the pistol,
    military pistols(most, but not all) are dated on the top of the chamber and are 9mm caliber.

    Removal of the stock lug takes the pistol out of "collectable" status and into shooter status, but .30 luger is expensive as was pointed out and not really much in favor for shooting; but if you can find the ammo it is a pleasure to shoot.

    Go to an online book seller and search on "luger" you will find offerings of many books. The cheaper ones are not really good for collectors, but may be of interest to you for general knowledge.

    I'll echo the comments of others, if you know the physical location of the seller, and he mis-represented the luger when he sold it as it appears, take it back. Your Dad's background should be sufficient leverage to achieve a satisfactory outcome.
    In this case the "ignorance of the seller" is not a valid defense, IMO.

    Hope this helps, and welcome to the luger world- of "research first, buy second".
    03man - Don Voigt
    Luger student and collector
    Looking for DWM mil.side plates- 14,17,45
    Art. luger rear sight slide # 03

  10. #10
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    "Lugers at Random" is a good inexpensive first book, often available used under $50 if you don't want to start with the excellent but more expensive books noted above.

    While it is understandable that your father may be disappointed that this pistol is a commercial, he nevertheless has a representative example of a Luger. The tooling used to make military guns in both WWI and II was the same tooling used to make your pistol; in terms of function and most parts it is just like a military Luger. It is only different in caliber, barrel length and markings.

    If your dad has his heart set on a military Luger, you could offer this one for sale on this forum or consign it to a reputable dealer (such as http://www.simpsonltd.com or http://www.legacy-collectibles.com) and use the proceeds toward a genuine military example. If you buy via a dealer you'll pay 15 to 50% higher than private party prices but will no doubt have the genuine article and the ability to return it.

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