Jan C. Still Lugerforums banner
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The Dutch were among the earliest adopters of the Luger; in fact, the salient feature of the "new model" Luger, the coiled recoil spring, was instituted at their behest. Designated "Pistool M 11", these 1906-model Lugers, with "Rust" (Dutch for "safe") stamped above the thumb safety lever and "Geladen" stamped on -both- sides of the extractor, were procured in small lots totalling 4,000 weapons from 1911 until the First World War. These guns were sent for use by the Royal Netherlands [east] Indies Army (K.N.I.L).

In 1919 the Dutch government ordered an additional 6,000 M 11s. Due to the conditions of the Treaty of Versailles, DWM was unable to manufacture and export pistols to fulfill this contract. A long-standing, complex connection existed between DWM and the British arms manufacturer Vickers, Ltd., and so to circumvent the Treaty the order was essentially "subcontracted" to Vickers. Unfinished parts manufactured by DWM to assemble these guns were sent to to Vickers, where they were finished and assembled. It took Vickers two years to accomplish the work, and even then they were sent without grips plates; grips were manufactured at the Geweermakersschool (GS) in Batavia, Indonesia.

6,000 Vickers Lugers were manufactured, serial number range from 4182 to 10181 inclusive. Many sources, including two large price guide catalogs, list Vickers production at 10,000 pistols, beginning with serial# 1. This is an error, probably originating with Fred Datig in "The Luger Pistol" where he does not differentiate between the pre-war DWM-manufactured pistols and the Vickers serial# ranges (the correct information may not have been available to him at the time).

Vickers Lugers are marked with British proofs under the barrel and on the toggle links, and the Crown-over-W Wilhelmina Dutch acceptance mark on the left side of the receiver. The front toggle is stamped Vickers Ltd. Many of the pistols bear a brass panel soldered to the side plate (sometimes the plates are on the front of the trigger guard), stamped with Dutch unit marks; those which do not were officer issue. The grips are characteristically made of native wood, coarse-checkered, and stamped inside with the gun's serial number. Tropical service was hard on these Lugers, and they were re-worked by the GS many times--parts were replaced, guns were re-barrelled (with a small date-stamp on the top of the barrel), guns were refinished. Few pristine examples are to be found.

(Information for the foregoing comes mostly from "The Dutch Luger", Bas J. Martens & Guus de Vries, Ironside International Publishers Inc., ©1994)

Pictured here is Vickers Luger serial# 7927. It is a mismatched piece, the toggle train is stamped 86. There is no brass plate on the side panel, and no evidence of anything ever having been soldered there, indicating this gun was issued to an officer. The "Rust" safety mark with its arrow is plainly visible. The left grip is native wood, coarsely checkered, quite crudely manufactured.



Leftside.jpg


The right side. The right grip is very different from the left. The checkering is very shallow, the diamonds large and flat, and the plate itself is quite thin and flat in profile. There are no markings on the inside. I wondered about this grip, as it appears very new. However, I recently picked up a set of Dutch grips, very much older-appearing and used, in the same style. They appear to be a much later design. In the 1930s Dutch contract pistols of the P-08 design were delivered by Mauser, and the grips in question appear to have been made for these pistols, having no cut-away for a grip safety.


Rightside.jpg

Top view, showing the Vickers stamp on the toggle, and the Crown-over-V English stamps on the toggle pieces and breechblock.


VTop.jpg

In the bottom view it can be seen that the barrel is original--an unusual circumastance, particularly considering the poor condition of the bore. The markings are: the NP British Nitro-proof; the Crown-over-intertwined GP, the London proof-house mark; and the Crown/V. The cryptic mark under the serial# is unidentified. "The Dutch Luger" pictures two guns in this view, one has this mark and the other has a different mark, equally cryptic. The authors do not explain the mark, and Costanzo does not include it.

This gun has been refinished at least once. As can be seen in the inset, the receiver proof has been ground away. This causes me some concern about the origin of the receiver, as the witness marks seem excessively misaligned. On the other hand, the numbers stamped on the receiver lug are the proper font, and it would make little sense for an armory to replace only the receiver, retaining such a worn-out barrel.


Baaarrel-NoProof.jpg

The left grip is serial# stamped 9843, within the Vickers serial number range. It does not bear a GS mark. In fact, the only GS mark on the gun is the right end of the rear toggle pin. Although the K.N.I.L. originally bought spare and repair parts from DWM, eventually the GS armory was able to manufacture all but the most complex or specialized parts on their own.

Vickers were serial-number stamped in the commercial style, and the matching side plate is so marked on its bottom edge. The inside of the side plate is stamped 22, in the distinctive GS number font, for unknown reason.


GripMult.jpg

As pictured, this is not the configuration the gun was in when I bought it. It had a toggle train which was clearly Dutch--Geladen on both sides of the extractor, proper markings which I will describe--and matching serial number, but of DWM manufacture and mark.

Because most parts of a Luger are only stamped with the last two digits of the serial number, it is relatively easy to have multiple parts with the same numbers--a circumstance on which gun boosters depend. The GS armory apparently felt that possible misassembly because of this was a problem, and so in circumstances where Lugers with identical final digits were issued to the same unit they added the second digit of the serial number to the parts--thus making parts with three-digit numbers.

As can be seen in the picture below, the armory apparently force-matched a surplus DWM toggle to the gun, and then stamped the additional digit. You can see that the number style of the 2 is different from the DWM number 2 on the toggle tail; the number was also added--badly--under the front toggle, and appears to be the same style as the numbers stamped inside the side plate.


Propriety.jpg

The Vickers toggle train came from another mismatched gun, a Durch frame in the KOL number series with a crown/N commercial receiver proof and an unidentifiable barrel.

I retain both toggles to go with this gun so, although on the lowest end of the collector spectrum, this is a Vickers Luger which represents two aspects of Vickers production and Dutch armory practices. With the Vickers toggle train it is a representitive (though mismatched) sample of a Vickers Luger. With the DWM toggle train it is the historically authentic object result of this pistol's singular life passage through the Dutch Indonesian military system.

--Dwight
 
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