The ERMA pistols were made by the firm Erfurter Maschinen u. Werkzeugfabrik, B. Geipel, G.m.b.H., Abetilung Waffenfabrik. The name ERMA was derived from this name and came into common use for the firm itself as well as for its products. This firm made at least four different models of small-caliber (.22) rifles, as well as the ERMA pistols.
Two types of .22 cal. L.R. pistols were made, at different times. They are referred to as the „Alte Modell" and the „Neues Modell." Both are of the fixed-barrel, blowback type, with full-length slide, the forward end of which is cut away, exposing the barrel. As the breechblock (which is in the slide) moves back upon firing, the extractor (which is mounted in the breechblock) pulls out the fired shell and ejects it on the right side. Both pistols have exposed hammers and safety devices whereby the hammer may be locked in the cocked position. The trigger pull is said to be about 800 grams (ca. 13/4 pounds), the arm being designed particularly for target shooting. The sights are set as far apart as possible so as to give the longest possible sighting radius.
The Alte Modell, which was introduced in about 1936, has been seen in two barrel lengths, but there may well have been others. Barrels of the ones seen were 110 and 200 mm. long (giving total lengths of 230 and 320 mm.). The pistol can be disassembled quickly by pulling back the slide, locking it in position, and then turning the assembly latch on the left side of the slide, in front of the trigger guard.
The grip is of good length, is well shaped (partially streamlined), set at a good angle to absorb shock and to afford a comfortable hold.
The Neues Modell, brought out in about 1939, embodies much the same design but is different in some respects. Three nomenclatures were assigned, depending on the length of the barrel supplied. Actually, the three barrels are interchangeable and one may have all three of them for the same pistol. Each barrel is threaded so that it can be removed and replaced quickly. Despite this interchangeability, the following names were used:
1. ERMA „Meisterschaftmodell"-300 mm. barrel, total length about 390 mm.
2. ERMA „Sportsmodell"-210 mm. barrel, total length about 300 mm., and weight 1 kg. (2.2 lb.).
3. ERMA „Jagersschaftmodell"-100 mm. barrel, total length about 210 mm.
These „model" designations were probably used for the purpose of specifying the barrel length desired, in case a customer wished only one barrel.
This new model was supplied with a more streamlined grip, set at a smaller angle (i.e., less vertical, by 15'). Whether this was an improvement or not depends on the individual shooter. The magazine release was moved from its position on the frame back of the trigger guard to the base of the grip frame, and the „buttons" on the bottom of the magazine (to assist in its withdrawal), a feature borrowed from the Luger, were omitted. The thumb safety, formerly located at the top of the frame, back of the grip plate, was moved to the slide, directly above its former position. One change that might well have been made but was not, probably because of the cost, would have been the substitution of adjustable rear sights. The problem was solved more simply by using as a front sight one whose „bead" could be adjusted vertically and whose base could be adjusted laterally.
Balancing weights, somewhat similar to those used on the Olympia Model Target Pistol, made by several manufacturers, were available. The principal one weighed 250 grams and a supplementary one weighing 100 grams could be added, if desired. These were attached in front of the trigger guard, giving the arm a very awkward appearance, but probably improving accuracy in target shooting.
No figures are available for the total production of either the old or the newer model, but because of the short time intervening between their introduction and the advent of World War II, at which time production was necessarily stopped, the total number produced must have been small. This of course is particularly true for the newer model.
Another ERMA product which should be mentioned is the auxiliary conversion unit developed for the Luger Parabellum pistol, for target practice. The date of its introduction is not known, but it is thought to have been a World War II development as it was not advertised in 1939 catalogs which did advertise ERMA conversion units for military and other larger-bore rifles. These conversion units were made for .22 cal. L. R. ammunition and were available for both the 7.65 and 9 mm. Lugers. The special magazines supplied had capacities of 10 cartridges.
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