Ortgies pocket pistols

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.

This 6.35 mm. caliber pistol bears some resemblance to the Steyr but is not the same and was not made under any Pieper patent. The pistol is called the O.W.A. because of the presence of these letters in a monogram on the grips, the letters standing for Oesterreichische Werke-gws-Anstalt, a firm which apparently started up following World War 1. It probably had some relation to O.W.G. and may have been manned by former employees of that firm. How long it was in operation is not known.

The pistol is different from the Steyr in that, while hinged at the front end, the whole slide tips up when the catch is released. In the Steyr, only the barrel tips up. Specimens Nos. 5626, 5906, and 18,315 (all dated 1922) are identical, with the exception of markings. The first two bear only the words PATENT ANGEMELDET (Patent Applied For) and the date on the left side of the slide and the words „MADE IN AUSTRIA" on the right. Pistol No. 18,315, however, bears the inscription

CAL 6.35 - ARSENAL VIENNA AUSTRIA „Pat. I. A. KULTURSTAATEN" on the left side of the slide and nothing on the right side. Pistol No. 37,161, dated 1924, (illustrated in the Pistolen Atlas) shows some differences in construction.

The unlocking lever is mounted on the right side of the slide instead of the left, and a lever has been substituted for a sliding catch to operate the mechanical safety. Like most of the nonBrowning types of pistols, the O.W.A. is unnecessarily complicated. Parabellum (Luger) pistols

The German Parabellum, or Luger as it is more commonly called in this country, is one of the best known and most widely used pistols in military history, having been the official weapon of several countries, and having been produced in tremendous numbers for use in two world wars.

Hugo Borchardt, a naturalized American living in Connecticut, designed an automatic pistol which had some unique features, the most outstanding of which was a toggle-joint locking system and a removable magazine which was inserted into the stock or grip. Unable to interest any American arms manufacturer he took his ideas to Germany where both he and his ideas met a quite different reception. He succeeded in interesting the Ludwig Loewe Co. of Berlin and they not only agreed to produce the pistol but also put him in charge of production, which began in 1893 (Figs. 223 to 225).

Despite its clumsy, awkward appearance and apparent lack of balance, the pistol was demonstrated to the U.S. Army authorities who rejected it though it gave a very convincing performance, particularly as to accuracy and lack of malfunctions. A number of weaknesses in construction were noted. The Board did admit that the pistol had advantages over the service revolver then used. When attached to the stock, with which the pistol was provided, the balance and appearance were greatly improved, as was the accuracy of fire. In any case, however, it was not considered suitable as a military side arm.

Borchardt had designed a new cartridge for his pistol, in 7.65 mm. caliber. This is referred to as the Borchardt M. 1893 or M. 1894 cartridge and is sometimes spoken of as the forerunner of the 7.63 Mauser cartridge. Manufacture of this cartridge was continued for several years after the discontinuance of the manufacture of the pistol itself, because of a continuing demand. This shows that there must have been a considerable sale of the pistol, even though its period of production was short.

In 1898 the Borchardt pistol was redesigned by Georg Luger, and prototypes were made at the Deutsche Waffen u. Munitionsfabrik, where he was an engineer. The earliest pistols were known by the combined name Borchardt-Luger. It is said that Borchardt was made the engineer in charge of production.

The Borchardt-Luger pistol as first produced used the Borchardt M. 1893 cartridge. In 1899 the Swiss Government authorities, who were testing the pistol for possible military use, requested a cartridge having less recoil. This resulted in the development of a new cartridge which was given the nomenclature of 7.65 mm. Parabellum. This name is said to have been derived from the fact that this was the code word for the D.W.M. firm. The pistol itself was soon known as the „Parabellum," the name „Luger" not being used in Germany. The widespread use of the name „Luger" for this pistol seems to have arisen, in considerable degree at least, to the fact that the firm of A. F. Stoeger, of New York City, registered this name and applied it to many of the pistols that they imported for sale in this country.

Modell 1900-Late in 1899 the pistol was considered ready for the market but it was not offered commercially until late in 1900. From the time of its appearance and up until about 1905 this model had no designation other than the „Selbstlade Pistole Parabellum," following the general European practice of not giving a model nomenclature to the first of a (possible) series of models. When and if a second or third model was produced the original model would then be given a special designation in order to avoid confusion. The Swiss adopted this first model of the Parabellum in April 1900, and they gave it the definite nomenclature of Pistole 1900. Deliveries of the Swiss order were made in 1901 and 1902.

This model of 1900 had a grip safety, a 43/4-inch slender barrel, a flat stable extractor, and a twolayer, laminated-leaf toggle main spring, the toggle heads being relieved at the rear. Three thousand of this model were delivered for Swiss service use. They may be identified by the „star-burst and cross" crest on the bridge of the receiver. The U.S. Army purchased 1000 in mid-1901, and these may be identified by the U.S. Eagle crest in the same location. In 1902 and 1903 field tests were conducted in several countries, including Austria, Bulgaria, Germany, Spain, and Sweden. In 1903-04 full-knurled head toggles were introduced. Production of the 1900 model continued until mid-1906.

In 1902 a 9 mm. Parabellum pistol was produced in limited numbers. This had a heavier 4-inch barrel, and this heavier barrel may also be found on some specimens of the 7.65 mm. caliber. The receiver was shortened, for pistols of both calibers, but the practice was evidently not universal until 1905, since specimens dated 1903 and 1904 are found with the longer receiver.

The D.W.M. intertwined script initials (as a monogram) were used on all 1900, 1902, and later pistols. No official model nomenclature seems to have been given to the improved model or to the 9 mm. Parabellum model.

Modell 1904-In 1904 the Parabellum Marine Model 1904 was introduced. This was a 9 mm. weapon, using the long receiver and all features of the 1900 Model, but provided with a 6-inch barrel, a stock ridge on the rear edge of the grip frame (for attachment of a shoulder stock), and a two-step adjustable rear sight for 100 and 200 meters. This model was adopted into the German Naval Service in that year and was still in use by them during World War II. In the instance of military use of these pistols, the crowned M acceptance mark and date of manufacture will be found on the arm. None were made after 1920.

Parabellum Karabiner-This pistol, dating from 1903-04, had a forearm, provision for a solid wood butt-stock, and special sights. It was made commercially, fully marked but in limited quantity. A heavier toggle main spring made possible the use of heavier loads. Ammunition for this pistol is distinguished by having a black-oxidized brass cartridge case. It was not produced for many years as the model did not prove to be very popular.

In 1906 a number of changes in the then standard Parabellum pistol were made. The toggle main spring was replaced by a coil spring, the extractor was pivoted and marked to indicate whether the chamber was loaded. The Swiss adopted these new variations in their pistol, which they designated the Pistole 1900/06. These pistols were marked with the shield and cross crest on the receiver bridge. The 1900/06 for military use was marked with the „star-burst and cross."

The U.S. Eagle crest was used on pistols exported to this country, and 1900/06 pistols purchased by the Brazilian, Bulgarian, and Portugese governments were supplied with their special markings. Pistols sold commercially either had the D.W.M. monogram or were without markings.

The 1902/06 variant represents the 9 mm., short receiver, heavy barrel series to which were added the 1906 modifications. By 1906 the pistol was produced in a standard manner, with either the heavier, 4-inch or the slender barrel. The Marine Modell 1904/ 06 was produced in both 7.65 and 9 mm. calibers, the 9 mm. in Naval and commercial form, the 7.65 mm. in limited quantity for commercial sale.

In 1906-07 D.W.M. made two specimens of the 1906 form of the Parabellum in .45 caliber for trials at the U.S. Springfield Armory. An order for 200 additional pistols was received and accepted, but German acceptance of the pistol seems to have prevented the carrying out of this contract, and it was cancelled. No more .45 caliber pistols were made.

Pistole 08-Late in 1907 the grip safety was dropped for all models, and the so-called Modell 1908 appeared. This new 1908 type, without grip safety, was made with several barrel lengths, including 4, 6, 61/2 inches, and a carbine type. It was made in both 7.65 and 9 mm. calibers. It was adopted by the German Army in 1908 and was given the official nomenclature of Pistole 08. The Naval model was also made in the 08 form. By 1911 a special long-barrel (8-inch) model, with adjustable rear sight was produced for military use. This has been erroneously referred to as the 1917 model. This longbarrel type was issued in lieu of carbines to machine gun troops and was widely used during World War I (Figs. 226 to 229).

With the adoption of this model into German service, the Government Arsenal at Erfurt was licensed by D.W.M. to make the pistol for service use. Specimens dated 1909 have been found, but actual production is said to have begun in 1910. Early service and commercial variants of the period will be found either with or without the hold-open device (later standardized) and with or without the stock ridge for shoulder stock (also later standardized). Pistols made at the Erfurt Arsenal are marked ERFURT. Production continued at Erfurt until 1918.

From 1908 to 1914 the Parabellum 1908 type was produced commercially by D.W.M. and with special markings for Chinese, Rumanian, and Turkish use. Several South American countries also used the pistol in 9 mm. caliber. Specially marked military issues of the 9 mm. 1908 pistol were made for Bulgaria and Serbia. Whether Serbia adopted it for service use is not known.

Because of World War I, supplies of the Parabellum to Switzerland and to Holland were naturally cut off. The Swiss decided to produce their own and ultimately did so with their Modell 1924 and, later, with their Modell 1906/29. The Dutch were assisted by the English firm of Vickers (agents for D.W.M.) who are said to have tooled up for the production of the pistol. There is some uncertainty as to the activities of the Vickers Co. in this connection. The Dutch Vickers pistols are clearly marked Vickers Ltd. and are otherwise identified by having large checkering on the grip pieces. All pistols used by the Dutch have brass plates brazed onto the left side of the receiver, and safety markings are in Dutch.

When World War I ended, several million parts, incomplete pistols, and completed wartime pistols were dumped onto the open commercial market. From 1919 to 1931 no standard, systematic manufacture of completely new Parabellum pistols took place but many were assembled from existing parts, plus special parts made to substitute for those of which there were shortages. Numerous variant barrel lengths and markings will be encountered.

Treaty limitations prohibited production of the 9 mm. pistol except for the 100,000-man army which had been authorized. The German staff was allowed to designate a single manufacturer to produce pistols for this specific use and they chose the firm of Simson and Co. of Suhl. Consequently, Parabellum pistols of the „08" style with Simson markings are found from 1920 on. In 1920 a wholesale modification of the safety device was made on many existing pistols. This modification consisted of shortening the blocking surface of the sear, so that the bolt could be partially withdrawn. Pistols so modified were usually counterstamped with the date at which the modification was made, i.e., 1920. It is common, then, to find pistols marked with two dates, one being the 1920 date and the other the wartime date of original production of the specimen.

By the late 1920's, D.W.M. had been sufficiently reorganized to permit resumption of production. Commercial pistols and military shipments to Holland were undertaken. Simson, however, continued to produce the pistols used by the Germany Army. Early in the 1930's, Mauser Werke A.G. purchased the rights, tools, and fixtures for the 7.65 and 9 mm. Parabellum in all models. Up to 1934, toggle links and receivers with D.W.M. markings were used. Having used up all existing inventories of D.W.M. parts by 1934, Mauser began the commercial production of complete pistols. However, although the 7.65 mm. model was listed in factory literature as late as 1940, the pistol in that caliber was not produced after 1935. The 9 mm. Parabellum was made both for commercial sale and military use from 1935 on.

Pistols marked „42" were made by Simson and Co., whose production was stopped after 1937. Obviously the figure „42" has nothing to do with dates of production. It was simply the early manufacturer's code designation assigned to Simson since they happened to be the 42nd on the approved list of suppliers of the German Army after 1919. Pistols made by Mauser in the period 1937 to 1941 will carry either the mark „42" or „S/42." By 1940, all other types of the Parabellum were dropped in favor of the Pistole 08 with the 4-inch barrel.

Pistols are frequently encountered bearing the name (or initials) of Krieghoff. The firm of H. Krieghoff was one that had been very active in the refinishing and reassembly of surplus Parabellum pistols and parts after they were thrown on the market at the end of World War I. Up to 1938 they produced only reworked pistols to which they applied their own name, initials (HK), or trade mark. In 1939, however, the Luftwaffe gave them an order for 15,000 Pistole 08, of „full manufacture." Krieghoff produced these pistols, but this firm was not a large producer, compared to others. Yet they were of sufficient importance to be assigned the wartime code „fzs."

In 1934 two new safety devices, each of which could be added to existing pistols as well as incorporated in new ones, were devised at the Mauser factory. One of these is a dismounting safety which prevents the functioning of the pistol when the side plate is off and the other was a magazine safety. During 1934-35 these devices were added, either together or separately, to both the completely new pistols and to those which were assembled, in part at least, from leftover D.W.M. inventories. Two specimens examined by the author, both with D.W.M. markings and the German WaA acceptance marks (which were introduced in 1933), are equipped with both of these safety devices. But the German military authorities did not approve of them, and they were dropped from the military pistols shortly after 1935. On the commercial models, however, Mauser continued the use of the dismounting safety. Many Mauser Parabellum pistols of post-1935 production show the holes for the dismounting safety but are without the bar itself. The magazine safety, on the other hand, had more (commercial) popularity and many pistols, even including some dating back to World War I in manufacture, will be found to be supplied with this device.

In 1941 the new three-letter manufacturer's code was introduced for all suppliers of military equipment, and Mauser was assigned the designation „byf" which appears on all pistols made by them for the German service until 1945. In addition to the pistols for military use, Mauser was permitted to continue limited production of the pistol for commercial consumption and police use up to 1942. The commercial pistol was marked with the Mauser trade mark and the date of production. All production of the Parabellum stopped in December 1942, at which time all of the Mauser facilities were concentrated on the manufacture of the Pistole 38 (Walther ), or P-38 as it is marked. The last deliveries of the Parabellum, made in 1942, were to the Portugese government and these bore the Mauser trade mark.

As has already been stated, the Parabellum pistols in one form or another have been used as service pistols by many countries as far back as 1900. A list of these countries, which probably does not include them all, is as follows:

Brazil Iran Rumania

Bulgaria Luxemburg Russia

Chile Mexico Switzerland

China Norway Turkey

Holland Portugal

In addition to the successful service trials held in all of the above countries, unproductive trials were held in:

Austria France Serbia

Canada Italy Spain

Finland Japan Sweden

United States

Original .22 caliber versions of the Parabellum pistol were produced experimentally by D.W.M. and also in Switzerland (Fig. 230). Conversion units, to .22 caliber, were made by ERMA and sold commercially. They were used in the German military service from 1934 to 1940. The Swiss service also used a Swiss-made conversion unit.

For an excellent discussion of the Parabellum pistols the reader is referred to The Luger Pistol by Fred A. Datig, Fadco Publishing Co., printed by the Oxford Press, Hollywood, California, in 1955. A second edition appeared in 1959. This consists primarily of additional material secured by the author of the book during a visit to Germany.

Fig. 224. 7.65 mm. Borchardt Mod. 1893. Provided with shoulder stock.

Fig. 225. Borchardt mechanism. Sketches showing three successive positions as action opens.

Fig. 226. Parabellum (Luger) Mod. 08. Sectional view.

Fig. 227. Parabellum (Luger) Mod. 08. Sectional view, with action open.

Fig. 228. Parabellum (Luger) Mod. 08. With „Snail Drum" magazine.

Fig. 229. Parabellum (Luger) Mod. 08. With shoulder stock-case and „Snail Drum" magazine. This magazine holds 32 cartridges.

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  • Bob Payne
    This information is very good and I found it very interesting. Some one has done a lot of homework and study. I learned more reading this,than I have in books I've purchased on lugers etc. in the past Fifty or so years.. Thanks,
    6 years ago
  • Jake Clark
    Who made the pistol firstly?
    6 years ago
  • mikey miller
    How to replace extractor on ortgies 25?
    5 years ago
  • Makda
    What is the substitute 7.65 mm magazine for a 1907 Dreyes pistol?
    4 years ago
  • sheshy
    How to disassemble an 1893 borchardt pistol?
    3 years ago
  • Abbie
    Are all ortgies pistols marked germany?
    2 years ago

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