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Thread: Deaths Head Luger 08

  1. #21
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    Took me some time to finally get hold of it, but for Luger collectors as a reference attached pictures of a 98a to K98k conversion that was outcarried by the SS (Edit: this rifle is a bolt mismatch. So everything is original matching numbers aside of the bolt). Part of this conversion was to scrub the original manufacturer markings and acceptance proofs, update the stock to K98k configuration (sling cutout, takedown disc, etc.; when Gew98 were converted to K98k configuration this also meant plugging the cutout for the rear sling swivel in the stock) and when all was finished, commercially proof the rifle at Suhl. For this rifle the commercial proof has the date 6 38, so June 1938. Additionally these rifles were stamped with the SS Deaths Heads in two places: on the pistol grip area, as well as on the barrel shank. These conversions were outcarried by different SS arsenals, some even have more than one Deaths Head markings meaning it went to an arsenal twice (Gew98 to K98k conversion, later then conversion of the straight bolt handle to swept down configuration, etc.).
    I want to point out that ALL 98a to K98k configurations by the SS that I am currently aware of carry ONLY the Deaths Head with the Lazy S atop. The 98a to K98k conversions are much rarer than Gew98 to K98k conversions. It is therefore my believe that the lower number as well as the different work required for conversion might had been a reason that only the SS arsenal using the Lazy S Deaths Head outcarried conversions of this very particular type.

    To the entries in the meantime: Ron Wood, it would be highly appreciated if you could upload the pictures of yours in a higher resolution since they are pixelated what makes comparison very tough. Additionally I'd want to inform you that as above mentioned there are different Deaths Head stamps the SS were using on rifles converted to K98k configuration, depending on the time and the arsenal which used them. They were re-designated over the years, and there were different ones. The Lazy S Deaths Head marked rifles are to be found up to 1938 proof dated rifles only.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  2. #22
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    Dave,
    How do you know that the SS carried out the conversion?
    Is there documentation? or just the fact that it has a "death's head" that is assumed to mean SS.

    The presence of commercial proofing is more than a little strange; I still cannot accept the SS as being so "law abiding" as to use a civilian proof house.
    Or if they did, then the DH becomes redundant as a "proof" and perhaps falls into the "acceptance" or ownership category?

    I'm not sure this example in any way makes the use of the DH/lazy S clearer; only more confused to me.


    Quote Originally Posted by DaveFromSheffield View Post
    Took me some time to finally get hold of it, but for Luger collectors as a reference attached pictures of a 98a to K98k conversion that was outcarried by the SS (Edit: this rifle is a bolt mismatch. So everything is original matching numbers aside of the bolt). Part of this conversion was to scrub the original manufacturer markings and acceptance proofs, update the stock to K98k configuration (sling cutout, takedown disc, etc.; when Gew98 were converted to K98k configuration this also meant plugging the cutout for the rear sling swivel in the stock) and when all was finished, commercially proof the rifle at Suhl. For this rifle the commercial proof has the date 6 38, so June 1938. Additionally these rifles were stamped with the SS Deaths Heads in two places: on the pistol grip area, as well as on the barrel shank. These conversions were outcarried by different SS arsenals, some even have more than one Deaths Head markings meaning it went to an arsenal twice (Gew98 to K98k conversion, later then conversion of the straight bolt handle to swept down configuration, etc.).
    I want to point out that ALL 98a to K98k configurations by the SS that I am currently aware of carry ONLY the Deaths Head with the Lazy S atop. The 98a to K98k conversions are much rarer than Gew98 to K98k conversions. It is therefore my believe that the lower number as well as the different work required for conversion might had been a reason that only the SS arsenal using the Lazy S Deaths Head outcarried conversions of this very particular type.

    To the entries in the meantime: Ron Wood, it would be highly appreciated if you could upload the pictures of yours in a higher resolution since they are pixelated what makes comparison very tough. Additionally I'd want to inform you that as above mentioned there are different Deaths Head stamps the SS were using on rifles converted to K98k configuration, depending on the time and the arsenal which used them. They were re-designated over the years, and there were different ones. The Lazy S Deaths Head marked rifles are to be found up to 1938 proof dated rifles only.
    03man - Don Voigt
    Luger student and collector
    Looking for DWM mil.side plates- 69 and commercial # 32, Dreyse "K.S.Gendarmerie"

  3. #23
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    Hello 03man, there are hundreds of these conversions to be found, all of them carry Deaths Head acceptance stamps. And there are enough pictures that show these rifles in the hands of SS. They are highly distinctive, even from bad pictures, since the rifles have a finger groove plus cannot be confused with Standard Modell rifles due to the barrel band configuration they are in.
    Depending on the arsenal who outcarried the conversion and on the time when this was done you find the Deaths Heads with different insignias above the DH. I would recommend you to buy books covering this topic. For example these currently cover this topic the best: https://www.thirdpartypress.com/category-s/1632.htm (I'd in particular recommend Vol. 1 which has details on early rifles - what the SS conversions were).
    The SS even adopted sniper rifles based on these K98k conversions. The mount they used for these rifles was the so-called "Short Side Rail", which was later also adopted by the Army. The very first SS sniper rifles had Hensoldt Dialytan 4x scopes within a very particular serial range, most of the scopes also had SS Runes and Deaths Heads engraved on the scope. The Hensoldt Dialytan scope however soon was replaced by the Ajack 4x90 scope, which proofed to be one of the best scopes Germans had and which was used for German sniper rifles up until 1945 in all kinds of mounts. The Ajack scopes for the SS were at the very beginning normal serial production scopes (34.XXX serial range), but up until 41.XXX serial range the designation on the scope turret was at factory engraved with a Deaths Head, followed by "SS-Dienstglas". If you don't want to buy books you can also see this website here for some pictorial reference (start reading where it says "History of the SS Short Side Rail"): https://www.wwiigermansniper.com/short-side-rail .
    I have five more rifles which were converted to K98k by the SS and carry Deaths Head stamps on the barrel shank. Three of them are sniper rifles, two are normal service rifles. You can however find these guns also in the US. Even with the Russian captured rifles many came back which still carry the SS Deaths Head stamps on the barrel shank. All of these have in common that they have a commercial proof on bottom of the barrel.

    As a result to this, most of my assumptions that I tried to get feedback on here are based on the simple fact that with rifles these conversions are known and proofed by pictures, as well as the quantity, amount and origin these rifles come from. I do NOT have any proof on the SS doing the same on P.08 pistols. My simple approach was that IF the SS also has had pistols they MAYBE WOULD had done the same for pistols. Repair/rework what they could get, proof them commercially in Suhl and mark them with the same stamps they use for the rifles since these are the official proof stamps from the particular arsenal, as well as it would not had made any sense to use a different stamp for pistols (maybe in size, but not in shape).

  4. #24
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    I would look at the route these rifles followed before jumping to conclusions.

    Before the SS, there was the SA, which in turn was based on Freikorps units before that. So basically the DH could have been applied anywhere between 1918 and 1938, if real. And anywhere between 1918 and yesterday if fake.

    The SS were pretty proud of their logo. Why bother with a poorly executed one like the DH, which looks like an amateur designed it?

    If this DH marking has any legitemacy, the most logical reason for its existance is a post WW1 Freikorps marking. And it would not be impossible for rifles with these markings to travel along with their owners through Freikorps, SA and SS ownership.

    But we must take into account that we know many P08s were marked AFTER the war and cannot assume that 98s did not get the same treatment.

    Co-Author 'The Parabellum Is Back! 1945-2000'.

  5. #25
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    Thanks Dave.
    I just can't make the leap of faith that because the SS carried a particular type of rifle, that the revision was done specifically by or for them.
    Vilm makes a couple good points.

    The civilian proofs are another stumbling block to me.
    If the SS was not a part of the military- but organized and large enough to have their own rework facilities- they would have no reason to
    submit to the "extra" time and cost(yes, proofing cost some money) as they were a "law" or organization unto themselves.
    If a sanctioned part of the military, then civilian proofing would not have been required at all.

    I would even suggest that these conversions were done commercially, as were so many lugers, between the war- and then purchased by
    the SS or some other unit/organization that used the lazy S/DH marking, and some percentage were so marked to show ownership.

    Of course the SS had pistols, but the large numbers of pistols extant that could have been or were SS used, do not show up with DH markings-
    so perhaps we can deduce that not all SS used pistols were marked ? If not, why not- marking their rifles seems to have been a requirement or at least rifles were
    largely or often or mostly marked, or is this incorrect?

    One would think that if helmets were marked with the lighting bolts, that something as important as a rifle or pistol (100% of them) would be similarly marked?

    Another explanation for the presence of the very few DH lugers(compared with the number of rifles you mention) is that some nefarious folks noticed the presence of "SS-DH" rifles and decided to produce a rare variety of luger with the same DH. But as you say no evidence; other than anecdotal stories of the production of the DH lugers in post war Germany for sale to unsuspecting collectors. Observation of a number of pictures of lugers with the DH on the chamber, show "disturbances" in the finish around the DH, but not so for the rifle pictures you have shown- admittedly this is a very small sample- but perhaps suggestive.

    I really like books and have shelves full of them, but I'm reluctant to buy those regarding the SS rifles- why?- because if I do I know I will want one and one will grow to "too" many. It is a defect in my brain- one is not enough. So I'll stay away from them completely.

    I've taken the same stance on Mauser made lugers also, I don't collect them. Well- except for a police marked Banner; and a shooter or two.
    03man - Don Voigt
    Luger student and collector
    Looking for DWM mil.side plates- 69 and commercial # 32, Dreyse "K.S.Gendarmerie"

  6. #26
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    Vlim, I might need to precise my statements: ALL K98k rifles with Deaths Head stamps that are known carry the identical Commerial firing proof from Suhl dating from approx. 1936 to 1940. Additionally ALL of these rifles are either Gew98 to K98k or 98a to K98k conversions - plus ALL of them have the original manufacturer scrubbed. Additionally original period pictures proof that SS have carried these rifles, as well as there are no pictures of Army soldiers carrying these rifles. I therefore see absolutely no other possibility than to assume these guns were converted by the SS and these guns were made up by the SS and the SS applied the Deaths Head stamp. Additionally think of the sniper rifles they had - they are Deaths Head marked too, plus the production of them falls right into the same period where the guns with Deaths Head appears.
    I fully agree with you that many people tried to enhace their gun values by application of stamps which don't belong on the guns. But based on what is known and what I had mentioned above - the combination of commercial proofs and even within certain periods of proof dates only certain variants of Deaths Heads to be found on particular guns it is absolutely impossible that hundreds of collectors all over the world made a secret agreement on what stamp to apply on which gun combination and keep the stamps among themselves, plus these guns still sometimes turn up from attics (and I would guess you agree that when Russia sold the German captured K98k rifles they didn't bother on application fo stamps and became part of any secret Deaths Head stamping group).

    03man, you might know on European proof laws. Any modification done to a rifle results in the requirement of another proof. The only ones outside this law were the Army. Therefore the SS also had to re-proof their guns. Second, most of your points are answered in the book I recommended. This is NOT a book on the SS rifles specifically, but a rifle on the K98k rifle up to 1940 with a chapter on SS rifles as well. So you are not buying a book on SS rifles. As a collector I buy books on guns that I don't even want to have nor have much interest in. But they are great reference if you ever need to look something up, plus they allow to maybe cross-connect information. Plus they are most often a better investment than the guns since they always happen to get out of print and then prices explode. I can guarantee you, the money you pay for this book is worth every penny.
    Second, the SS runes were established at a later point. You can first find them on the Ajack SS Dienstglas scopes which date around 1940. This is also the first time you will find Deaths Head stamps on barrel shanks with the SS runes above them. Later when the SS was allowed to place contracts for rifles many of them got marked not with the double runes, but in fact were stamped with a Single Rune. In fact the only K98k rifles with Double SS Runes you are able to find are either the ones with the Deaths Head and the SS runes above them, or those reworked or accepted by the later SS ZentralZeugamt 2 or 4.

  7. #27
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    Thanks for enhancing my point.

    Your assumption is that the DH was applied during the late 1930s rework. The fact that the DH on the rifles is blued over supports the idea they were already there.

    My assumption is that these rifles came from Freikorps/SA storage and already had the DH marking before the SS or some subcontractor did their thing.

    I think it is impossible to prove that the DH were not present on those rifles before the 1930s rework you mentioned.

    Which brings me back to my original point: they could have been applied at anytime after 1918.

    Co-Author 'The Parabellum Is Back! 1945-2000'.

  8. #28
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    Hello Vlim, no this can be pretty easily be outruled. Some of the Deaths Head stamped rifles have barrels from companies such as Erma with manufacturing date from the barrel manufacturer the same period. How could a barrel date 1940 be stamped with a stamp from 1930s rework on a rifle?
    The rifle above was just one sample. As I had said, I have five more in my own collection. This is just the only one which features the Deaths Head with the „Lazy S“ above it.

  9. #29
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    Interesting.

    But barrels also have a long shelve life. We know, for example, that Mauser never made artillery luger barrels between 1930 and 1947. All artilleries Mauser made in that time frame were built around WW1 era DWM barrels.

    Other suppliers may have resold surplus bits they had lying around for many, many years when the SS was looking for bits 'n pieces.

    Co-Author 'The Parabellum Is Back! 1945-2000'.

  10. #30
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    Lightbulb

    Dave,
    I am not enamored with the SS or their weapons or the 98k; so the two or three books I have that cover the 98k will have to suffice.
    I realize that BBOTW is out of favor at present, but is sufficient for me along with older books on Mauser rifles.

    You're preaching to the choir on books, I have hundreds of arms books; and when I have more room I'll buy more books on subjects peripheral to my many interests!
    I've watched the book I authored on Japanese T99 rifles sell for 5 times what I sold them for, even after reprinting several times.

    I am still of the opinion that the SS was a sufficiently "outlaw" organization that ignoring proof laws
    would not even be on their "radar". JMHO.

    If I'm wrong(a not uncommon occurance )and the answers to my objections in in the book you mentioned, just a short quote will suffice.
    03man - Don Voigt
    Luger student and collector
    Looking for DWM mil.side plates- 69 and commercial # 32, Dreyse "K.S.Gendarmerie"

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