Luger vs. Colt, the M1911 saga.....
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Thread: Luger vs. Colt, the M1911 saga.....

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    Luger vs. Colt, the M1911 saga.....

    The article in the Feburary 2020 The American Rifleman about the Luger in US Army trials is interesting to me, as I've studied that subject and written about it hereabouts, likely to your consternation.

    Samples of handguns were received as early as 1900, including the Luger. The Luger pistol was tried by units of the Cavalry and given good report as to reliability of the pistol and performance of the ammunition. The pistols were .30 Luger (7.65 mm Parabellum) and tests showed it to be a potent round. However, the Ordnance Board had had a very bad experience with the .38 caliber revolvers, and no way were they to adopt a .30 caliber pistol!

    The agents, Ludwig Lowe, then submitted the Luger in 9 mm Parabellum, and again the pistol found favor in most circles. In 1906 Frankford Arsenal was directed to produce a .45 caliber cartridge, and all contestants must chamber and fire this round. Actually, two cartridges, one an auto cartridge and one a revolver cartridge. By this time three pistols remained in contention, the Colt, the Luger, and a Savage pistol. Luger had been submitted in .45 caliber, and again had fared well. The Army kept suggesting minor changes to the Colt, and Browning was quick to incorporate these into the Colt entry. It finally came down to two, the Colt and the Luger. The Army requested 200 pistols for field trials. Lowe, as agents for DWM simply withdrew from the competition in exasperation. They were not about to make 200 pistols without a firm contract!

    The Browning designed Colt pistol had, so far, had a near vertical grip, and the Army officers did like the angle of the Luger's grip. Knowing this, Browning hastened to adjust the angle of the grip to more closely match that of the Luger. That being done, and a few changes made, and the Browning designed via Army suggestions Colt pistol became the M-1911 .45 Automatic pistol which served through two wars, a police action, and several skirmishes.


    Bob Wright

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    As noted, the Luger and the M1911 were in competition with the Savage.

    The following two are not mine, but were offered at the Poulin Auction. I decided to take pictures, as I might not ever get another chance. Both in .45 caliber. One was identified as an Army Trial pistol, and the other as a Test Pistol.

    These early guns are much larger than the Savage Model 1907 in .32 or .380 caliber.


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    The initial test of the 7.65mm Luger was two examples obtained through Hans Tauscher who was the U.S. representative for the German firm DWM who made the pistols. From the initial tests an order was placed for 1000 of the 7.65 Lugers for field trials. The 1000 pistols arrived in Late October of 1901, and 900 were issued out to Cavalry units with 100 being held in reserve. In 1903 Georg Luger brought several of the new 9mm pistols to the U.S., and from the tests DWM agreed to exchange 50 of the original 7.65mm pistols for 50 of the new 9mm pistols, which arrived in April of 1904. From the tests of the 9mm pistols and field trials of the 7.65mm pistols it was decided not to purchase the Luger pistol.

    Georg Luger did start development of a .45 caliber Luger for the next series of tests for a U.S. handgun. Two were submitted and tested, but by this time the military had decided against purchasing a Luger for the new service pistol, but when Savage originally declined an order to submit 200 .45 caliber pistols for the next series of tests, a request was made to DWM to furnish 200 of the .45 caliber Lugers. By this time DWM had enough world wide orders, plus the German Navy had adopted a 6" version of the Luger, and the German Army was about to adopt the 4" Luger as it's standard pistol that Georg Luger declined the order for 200 of the big pistols.

    As an aside, one of the .45 caliber Lugers is in the Norton Gallery, in Shreveport, Louisiana. The pistol is thought to be one possibly retained in Germany for cartridge development as there was considerable disagreement about the difference in quality of the ammunition produced in Germany and the U.S.

    The 1000 7.65mm Lugers tested by the U.S. were virtually identical to the commercial version sent to the U.S. with the Great Seal of the United States on the chamber, but did not have the GERMANY import mark on the front of the frame.

    This commercial is about 350 serial numbers earlier than the 1000 Test Lugers.


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    Thank y'all both for your input on this subject. I'm certainly not in the same playing field with collectors with very limited knowledge on this subject. But I have been fascinated with the Army's search that ended with the adoption of the M-1911 pistol.

    Again, than y'all very much. And especially for the photos!

    Bob Wright
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    I came into a small Luger collection some years ago, and since sold them all, but I should have kept the 1900 American Eagle and the Artillery with the drum magazine.
    The 1900 was just above the serial number block for the Test Lugers, I just bet it was one.
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    There is a lot of info within the Jan Still Luger Forum covering the U.S. Test Lugers, including a list of known serial numbers that Francis Bannerman purchased. Bannerman purchased the surplus test Lugers from the Springfield Armory in 1907. Just over 300 of the original 1,000 were purchased by Bannerman and documented by serial numbers. There are a few other test Lugers documented by SN from individual test reports or memoes. Any Luger's serial number that isn't part of the known listing is generally described as being in "the known range" but can't be documented as specifically used in the test trials. Two very specific features of any documented Test Luger are: 1) Lack of the Germany export mark, and 2) the right side of the takedown lever (rounded knob that protrudes through the frame) has the last 2 sigits of the SN.

    I'm fortunate enough to own 3 Bannerman US Test Lugers myself and have had upwards of 10 more pass through my hands. Here are some pictures of one I traded last year (SN 7044). In the last picture, you'll see the how the TD lever is numbered on the right side.

    Right overview.jpg Left overview.jpgRight closeup.jpg

    They are a true piece of American and global firearms history.

    Greg

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    While the serial number on the round end of the take down lever is pretty much a feature found only in the U.S. test range, the no GERMANY continued on through production into the late 7900 serial number range.

    In the 8300/8400 serial number range the serial number on the end of the take down lever shows up again, but is completely out of the test range.
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    You have a nice one there! Mine was not that nice,
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    Quote Originally Posted by hornsfan View Post
    There is a lot of info within the Jan Still Luger Forum covering the U.S. Test Lugers, including a list of known serial numbers that Francis Bannerman purchased. Bannerman purchased the surplus test Lugers from the Springfield Armory in 1907. Just over 300 of the original 1,000 were purchased by Bannerman and documented by serial numbers. There are a few other test Lugers documented by SN from individual test reports or memoes. Any Luger's serial number that isn't part of the known listing is generally described as being in "the known range" but can't be documented as specifically used in the test trials. Two very specific features of any documented Test Luger are: 1) Lack of the Germany export mark, and 2) the right side of the takedown lever (rounded knob that protrudes through the frame) has the last 2 sigits of the SN.

    I'm fortunate enough to own 3 Bannerman US Test Lugers myself and have had upwards of 10 more pass through my hands. Here are some pictures of one I traded last year (SN 7044). In the last picture, you'll see the how the TD lever is numbered on the right side.

    Right overview.jpg Left overview.jpgRight closeup.jpg

    They are a true piece of American and global firearms history.

    Greg
    A little different take on a commercial DWM - 1902 luger carbine in 30 cal.20180913_184531.jpg20180915_181146.jpg
    For those who fought for it- Life has a flavor the protected will never know

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    I suppose that this thread topic also requires a picture of a Colt 1911. Best I can do is a 1917 production.



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