Langenhan pistols

The Langenhan (or „F.L.") pistols were made by Langenhan Gewehre and Fahrradfabrik at ZellaMehlis (Thür. ), Germany. This firm was founded in 1842 and possession was lost by the Langenhan family in 1945. Before World War I the firm made quite a variety of small-caliber arms, air pistols, etc. Early in the war a shortage of side arms developed and the Langenhan firm was commissioned to make a 7.65 mm. automatic pistol designed by Fr. Langenhan. The first mention of this pistol appears to have been made in the June 1915 issue of the German firearms publication Schuss and Wage.

7.65 mm. „F.L."-Production of the Langenhan 7.65 mm. self-loading pistol for the German military forces appears to have begun in 1915. No model designation was assigned to the pistol at that time, but later it became known as the Modell I because of the fact that two other Langenhan pistols were put on the market and these were eventually designated as Mod. II and Mod. III. It is said that the entire production of the 7.65 mm. pistol was taken by the German armed forces and that none were offered for commercial sale. The absence of advertisements in contemporary catalogs bears out this statement. Also, most (but not all) specimens will be found to carry the German military acceptance mark, a capital D with a crown above. It may be that some were offered for sale after the war. No information is available as to the total production, but the fact that, although many have been examined, no specimens have been found with serial numbers higher than ca. 64,000 would seem to indicate that the total production could not have been large (Fig. 182).

The action of this pistol is of the blowback type, with no external hammer. The arm is unique in that the slide and breechblock are separate units which are locked together by means of a stirrup located near the rear end of the slide. This stirrup is held in place by a screw having a large head. Loosening this screw a few turns allows one to lift up the stirrup whereupon the slide and breechblock are separated and may be removed. While this arrangement makes this pistol one of the easiest to disassemble, it also introduces an element of considerable danger, as the screw is likely to work loose thus permitting the breechblock to be blown back into the shooter's face. Although, judging from the size of the screw head, it was the intention of the manufacturer that the screw be tightened by the fingers only, it has been shown by experience that this is not sufficient for safety.

As first issued the pistol had a cartridge ejection port on the right side of the slide, directly above the magazine. just when this was eliminated is not known, but Serial No. 2477 shows this feature while No. 6347 does not. Specimen No. 2477 bears the inscription D.R.G. ANGEW (Pat. applied for), and No. 6347 bears the inscription, on the right side of the frame, F. L. SELBSTLADER - D.R.G.M. 625263 - 633251, indicating that two „design patents" had been issued at some time prior to the manufacture of No. 6347. Apparently the only patent that could be obtained was a design patent. These patent numbers appear on all specimens examined which have higher serial numbers.

The first pistols issued had checkered wood grip pieces without any monogram or decoration of any kind. Later these were replaced with molded hard rubber plates bearing the letters F.L. on a semielliptical field.

One specimen, bearing the serial number 508, presents a confusing anomaly. This pistol has a concealed trigger bar located on the right side, under the frame. All other specimens seen have a disconnector bar on the left side, the protruding end of which is plainly visible. This bar lies on the outside of the frame, under the grip plate. This specimen has wood grip pieces (as would be expected from its low serial number), but it does not have any cartridge ejection port, such as is shown by No. 2477. Furthermore, to add still more to the confusion, this specimen bears the single patent number D.R.G.M. 625,263, which indicates that it was made previous to No. 6347, which specimen bears two patent numbers. The fact that it has any patent number at all and has no ejection port would indicate that it was made after No. 2477, but the presence of the unusual disconnector bar, together with the low serial number (508), seems to indicate a very early stage in production. The inconsistencies seem irreconcilable.

6.35 mm. „F.L."-The 6.35 mm. F.L. appeared commercially in two models, which are known as Modell II and Modell III. Presumably these were both made after World War I, but when they were introduced is not known. It has been rumored that the first 6.35 mm. pistol was of the same design as the 7.65, but this has not been confirmed. Certainly Models II and III are different from the 7.65 model. In these the slide and breechblock are not separate units held together by a stirrup, which is the most prominent and distinguishing feature of the larger model. Here disassembly is accomplished by means of a lever located on the right side of the slide, which actuates a locking mechanism. When this lever, which has an appearance similar to a mechanical safety lever, is turned the slide can be removed.

Mod. II is somewhat larger than Mod. III, as shown in Table 34.

Though the date of introduction of these smaller models is not known, it can be said that German catalogs of the early 1920's (Schilling and Lepper ) illustrate the design that later became known as the Modell II, though no such designation appeared in the illustration or text. It was stated, however, that the pistol could be had for either 6 or 8 rounds, and it would seem logical to assume that there were two grip (and magazine) lengths for the same model of pistol, to which no model designation had at that time been assigned. On the appearance of a new and definitely smaller model, however, it became necessary to assign model designations. The larger (and earlier) 6.35 mm. pistol thereupon became Modell II and the new model became Modell III.

Neither of these pistols is mentioned in the AKAH catalogs of 1922 and 1925, but Modell II is illustrated and described in the AKAH catalog of 1929, so this model at least was still available at that time. Specimens examined have been found to bear the name Langenhan (in script ) instead of the F. L. SELBSTLADER inscription on the frame, and patent numbers are not present on any part of either model. Both have molded hard rubber grips with the letters F.L., together with a somewhat more elaborate floral design than that present on the 7.65 mm. model, in a semi-elliptical field on the grip pieces. No information is at hand regarding the system of serial numbering nor of the total number of these pistols produced. It is believed that the total production was not large, judging by the scarcity of specimens in circulation.

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