The Ortgies pistols are unique in design, although inevitably they have some features in common with other automatic pistols. The pistol was designed by Heinrich Ortgies, said to have been a German by birth but who was a resident of Liege, Belgium, until about the close of World War I. The first prototypes are thought to have been made in Belgium in 191516. The pistol has an outward appearance similar to the F.N. Browning Mod. 1910, but internally it is quite different (Fig. 222).
To disassemble, the magazine is first removed and the slide is pulled back and then allowed to move forward slowly until it comes into a position where it can easily be lifted off. The barrel is pivoted at the rear end and can be removed by turning it at right angles, in which position it can be slid out. This pistol has but one safety and this is a grip safety which operates in an unconventional manner. When the grip safety is in the „in" position the gun can be fired by pulling the trigger, but when it is in the „out" position pulling the trigger alone, without depressing the safety, will not cause the gun to fire. To apply the safety, one must push in a little button which is located on the left side of the grip frame, below the rear end of the slide. This causes the safety to spring out, and when in this pisition it must be depressed before the trigger can be pulled. This safety device is certainly not one to be recommended because it is a very dangerous one. Firstly, when one pulls the slide back in the normal manner to transfer a cartridge from the magazine to the barrel chamber, the safety member is pushed in (as one grips the pistol) and it remains there unless one releases it by pushing in the release button. If one forgets this little detail he may be courting disaster. Secondly, in some specimens seen it is very easy to push the grip safety in accidentally, as the pressure required is very small. Cases are known where this has happened and accidental discharges have occurred in consequence. Any grip safety which does not require a substantial pressure to depress it is dangerous, and obviously more so when it automatically locks itself in this position when it is depressed-as is the case with the Ortgies.
Some time soon after World War I, Ortgies went to Erfurt where he organized the firm Ortgies and Co. to manufacture his pistol. Production of the 7.65 mm. pistol seems to have started in 1920, and because the weapons were attractive in appearance and were well made they soon attained popularity, which fact naturally attracted the notice of other manufacturers, including Deutsche Werke, A.G., of Erfurt. This firm purchased the rights, tools, designs, and unfinished parts from Ortgies and Co. but just when this purchase was made is not known. The 7.65 mm. caliber was the only one produced by Ortgies and Co., but apparently they had been tooling up for the 6.35 mm. model, because soon after Deutsche Werke took over the business a pistol of this caliber was produced. A short time later the 9 mm. Browning Short (.380) was brought out, but this did not enjoy the popularity attained by the smaller models. Production of the pistol in this caliber seems to have stopped somewhere around 192527. Deutsche Werke continued the manufacture of the pistol in the 6.35 and 7.65 mm. calibers until late in the 1920's.
An Ortgies manual, thought to have been issued in 1919, describes the 7.65 mm. model, listing it as available, and it also mentions but does not describe the 6.35 model. It also mentions a 9 mm. barrel, interchangeable with the 7.65, but does not infer that it was in production at that time. This was actually done later by Deutsche Werke.
Dealers lists of 1920 and 1921 include the 6.35 and 7.65 mm. models but do not mention a 9 mm. caliber. An Ortgies instruction booklet dated February 1922 describes the smaller-caliber pistols but does not mention the 9 mm. caliber. The first mention found of the 9 mm. caliber, as being in production, is in the AKAH Catalog of May 1922. From this it seems likely that the pistol was furnished in the 9 mm. caliber for the first time in about March or April of 1922.
The total number of Ortgies pistols made by either the original Ortgies and Co. or its successor, Deutsche Werke, A.G., is not known, but there were at least upwards of 250,000 and possibly more. The lowest serial number encountered in the author's laboratory for a pistol made by Ortgies and Co. (7.65 mm., of course) is No. 195, and the highest number seen on a pistol similarly marked is No. 10,614. The former has plain wood grips while the latter has wood grips with the HO (Heinrich Ortgies ) monogram. No Ortgies pistols with grips of material other than wood have been seen. It appears that Ortgies and Co. probably started their serial numbers at No. 1 and that they made upwards of 11,000 guns, at least.
The lowest serial number observed on an Ortgies marked as made by Deutsche Werke is No. 5834 and the highest is No. 227,576. Because of the overlapping of serial numbers it would seem that Deutsche Werke had its own serial numbering system. Whether the 6.35 mm. pistols were numbered along with the 7.65 in the same series or whether they were numbered in a series of their own is not known. The lowest number observed for a 6.35 mm. pistol is No. 283.
Pistols made by Ortgies and Co. had either plain wood grips or grips with the HO monogram. Pistols made by Deutsche Werke may be found to have plain grips with no monogram, or they may have grips with the HO monogram (probably from the supply of left-over parts at the time of purchase), or, more frequently, they will have a monogram which at first sight appears to be a rather fancy letter D (for Deutsche) but which when examined closely turns out to be a „lion couchant" with his tail raised to form the upper part of the letter D. This monogram usually appears also on the slide between the words Deutsche and Werke. A still different monogram is seen in the advertisements of the Ortgies pistol in the AKAH Catalog, consisting of the capital letters DW, the D being above the W. This monogram has not been observed on any of the large number of pistols examined, and whether it was actually used or not is not known.
Fig. 222. 7.65 mm. Ortgies. Sectional view.
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