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Alternative Explanation for a Military 42 Dated Banner Luger in the “g” Suffix Block.

6747 Views 16 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  Joop van de Kant
Joop posted:
“Now about your 42 banner serial number xxxxg.
It is a Luger pistol that was inspected and accepted by the German Army inspector 135 (code for Major Rosenhagen). The 42 date on the chamber, and the suffix -g- of the serial number, indicate a production in the month of May 1942. At that time, Mauser was using obsolete replacement parts that were mixed into the production of the military pistols. We see chamber - toggle combinations like: 1940-byf, 42-42, 41-S/42, and, indeed also some banners. It seems that the Army Waffenamt in Berlin had no objections to Mauser's cleaning up party. An estimated total of some 4,500 "out-of-sequence"- pistols are found between 41-byf suffix -x-, and 42-byf suffix -k-.

So this Luger pistol has not been changed later - it came like this from Mauser's production line. It is a pity, however, that it has been reblued.
There are a few more military banners reported in the -g- block. “

There are plausible alternative explanations as to how such a military Luger had its middle byf toggle link exchanged with a matching banner link. The fact that it is re-blued makes a careful collector distrustful that other changes may have been made by the refinisher. One alternate explanation is that this “g” suffix military Luger had its byf middle link changed once it was imported into the United States. This possibility should not be ignored.

Some background information. An old collecting friend of mine, John Erwin, was an employee of Interarmco (sp) many years ago and worked in Alexandria (VA) where barrels full of surplus Lugers were received from Europe. At that time he was a college student that had a fair knowledge of Lugers. He described to me bins of numbered Luger parts. One of his jobs was to replace mismatched or damaged parts in Lugers to make them complete and matched. Interarmco Co sold many many thousands of such Lugers through adds in Shotgun News, The American Rifleman and other gun magazines many many years ago..

Also, the exploits of mechanics exchanging various Luger parts have been exposed on this Forum and in AUTO MAG over many years. Re-manufactured Lugers have been reworked into1916 and 1917 dated Navy Lugers, K date Lugers, Krieghoff Lugers and etc etc.

In my opinion, this pistol left the Mauser Factory as a 42 dated byf code Luger, serial numbered in the “g” suffix block. All its markings support this. At some point the middle toggle byf link (damaged or mismatched) was exchanged for a banner link; probably by the Importer or by a mechanic in the United States.

Joop, please post your data base here of such Banner Army 42 dated “g” suffix Lugers. Please recall your previous data posting in the link below: Accuracy is very important.
1940 Banner Army 782x http://luger.gunboards.com/showthread.php?t=11508&highlight=sear+safety+banner+army
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I thought that the Mauser banner on this luger looked kind of out of place! Thanks, Jan, for the most plausible explanation for this. I had the opportunity in the mid 1960's to visit InterArmco (Ye Old Hunter, etc.) in Alexandria, Virginia. I didn't know it at the time but a "barrel" of frames with movable lanyard loops attached to the grip bottom were told to me to be Bulgarian! I managed to etch this memory in my mind by securing a Simson marked toggle luger!

Thank you for adding this information. I am the original poster that Joop answered in his comments.

Since I bought this refinished Mauser Luger as a "shooter" paying those prices I don't have any vested interest either way.

The quality of the refinishing work was quite good. Things are sharp and not buffed out. Also the fit of parts is very close and smooth (the best fitting of any Luger I have inspected closely). The s/n stamping looks like factory work, so selection from bins of sorted original parts would make sense.

It is not import marked anywhere. Did the Interarmco work take place before 1968?

I was buying Lugers at Hunters Lodge in 1962, well before the '68 gun control {gun defacing} act. No import marks on any of that stuff;)

As you suggested above, I had a look back to the July 2009 thread. Here we discussed the two groups of Luger pistols that have a Banner on the front toggle link, and two SE/655 army acceptance stamps. Some details came up here since.
A short review might be useful for newcomers:

1. The 600 pistols being produced by Mauser in May 1940 for the Dutch Navy
After the Germans occupied the Netherlands in May 1940 this lot was confiscated by the German Army. The pistols which had been proof-tested by the Oberndorf proofhouse will have the crown/U (used until January 15, 1940) or the eagle/N (used after January 15, 1940) proof stamps. Pistols which had not yet been proof-tested received the Army late test proof (LTP-3). All 600 pistols have the army acceptance markings: stick eagle/655 - stick eagle/655.
The serial numbers go from 2655v to 3254v. An out-of-sequence pistol has # 7218v, having the same properties.

2. Appr. 950 pistols having a Banner on the front toggle link, #601x-#1547x
These 1939 or 1940 dated Luger pistols have the Mauser banner (7-lines), and also Oberndorf test-proof stamps, which again can be the crown/U (used until January 15, 1940) or the eagle/N (used after January 15, 1940). No Army test proofs (TP-3) are found on these pistols.
All pistols have the hole, drilled in the left receiver rail, needed for the attachment of a (police) sear safety.
All this is suggesting that Mauser had finished the production and was waiting for the acceptance procedure. In view of the properties of the pistols I dare suggest that this would have been under normal circumstances the police inspector.
As we can see, the pistols have been accepted by the army instead; hence the presence of the double stick eagle/655 on the right receiver.
Most of the (matching) magazines that were reported are of the 2-MM-POL type (blued crimped steel sheet body, aluminum bottom, marked with the serial number and a -1- or -2- on top).

There are two sub-variations:
1. 1939 on the chamber, test proof E/N (estimated only 110)
2. 1940 on the chamber, test proof E/N

Out of sequence:
1. 1939 test proof C/U # 215x, not drilled, 2 x SE/655.
2. 1940 test proof E/N #1575x
3. 1940 test proof E/N #1693x

Within the #601x-#1547x range forty-seven pistols have been reported in the past.
Five pistols have the regular police acceptance stamp (E/L or E/C) and a sear safety (616x, 767x, 1459x, 1519x, 1533x).
One pistol is a commercial pistol, E/N test proof, no acceptance markings. (984x).
One pistol has a sear safety mounted, SE/655-SE/655, no police acceptance. (1482x). (Jan, you might remember that I had seen some more pistols reported in the past to have a sear safety. I could trace this one, which is now in my collection).

What may have caused this particular variation? First the facts:

1. The German Police started to procure Luger pistols directly from Mauser in December 1938. At the end of 1939 approx. 6.700 pistols had been delivered.

2. During January 1939 the HeeresWaffenamt delivered approx. 869 1939-S/42 military Luger pistols to the police in Berlin. These have the army SE/63-SE/63 acceptance markings, and are found in the late -n- block, the sear safety and the police-style marked magazines are safe indicators of use by the police. It is not easy to understand why the German Army continued to send Luger pistols to the Police while there was also a direct police procurement from Mauser going on.

3. When studying the properties of the Luger pistols in the x-block we see the following pattern:
Serial numbers - Date - Test-pr.- Test-month(s)
1x- 600x . . . . . 1939 . . C/U . . . 1939December
601x- 710x. . . . 1939 . . E/N . . . 1940, after January 15
711x-1547x . . . 1940 . . E/N . . . 1940, after January 15
1548x-2500x. . . 1940 . . C/U . . . 1940, before January 15
2500x-5000x. . . 1940 . . E/N . . . 1940, after January 15
Conclusion: the lot 601x -1547x was taken apart after production, and somehow the test-proofing took place later. The pistols between 1548x-2500x were tested before and without delay.

After the facts - now the theories
1. Last year, collector John James suggested that this lot was needed for the German Luftwaffe in view of the coming "Battle of Britain".
2. Many collectors have suggested that the German Army needed these pistols for the military operations which started in March 1940 (Norway, Holland, Belgium, France).
3. My suggestion is now that the army wanted the pistols back that were traditionally distributed from army stock to the police (869 pistols in January 1939), because the police procured them since December 1938 directly from Mauser. The number of pistols involved in this "switch back" is very close. A tempting theory?..

3. Army accepted Luger pistols, having uncommon properties.
In the autumn of 1941 it became very clear that Mauser would have to end the mass production of the Luger pistol a year later - making place for the new ordnance pistol P.38. In a last attempt to postpone this change, August Weiss was asked on 02-24-1942 by the Mauser management to study the production procedures of the Luger pistol deeply, and suggest cost cutting changes.
August Weiss came back with only two suggestions:
-Shaping the stock lug at the low back of the frame could be stopped, as this stock lug was not used by the German Army since 1918.
-Not longer stamping serial numbers under the barrel, inside of the sideplate, the safety lever and safety bar and also the rear toggle axle.
He also calculated the possible cut in costs for the actual monthly production of 13,000 Luger pistols: Reichsmark 2,453.10.
This represented only 0.19 Pfennig (cents) per pistol, or a modest 0.8% of the material + labor costs. It was certainly not enough to stop the arrival of the P.38...

As soon as it became clear that October 1942 would be the last month of the Luger mass production, Mauser started to work on a program that would bring down the huge stocks of army replacement parts for the Luger pistol.
We must understand that there had been recently many changes. In the concealment code and the notation of the chamber date, the change from army inspector Gerbig (SE/655) to inspector Major Rosenhagen (SE/135), and the new P.08 marking on the left frame panel. From every period replacement parts had been made, having the correct markings for that period.

So, from the -x- block in the 41-byf production and until the -k- block of 42-byf production we see seven variations in the chamber-toggle markings. In order of highest to lowest reported:
a. 42-42
b. 1940-S/42
c. 1940-byf
d. 41-S/42
e. 42-S/42
f. 41-42
g. Banner (7-lines)*
Based upon the reported pistols which have one of these markings the total of all non-regular markings is estimated at 4,456 pistols.

* Jan, I agree with you that the presence of a Banner in this listing is arbitrary, all other variations have combinations of known 'Military' markings. I do also agree withe the fact that there has been a period in the USA during which surplus Luger pistols from Europe were imported at very low prices, and refurbished into shooters. This might have caused a mix up of military and commercial parts.

Anyway, reported here are the following 'Army' banners:
- 41-Banner-#5169r,
- 41-Banner-#3763x (one matching fxo magazine)
- I have recently examined 41-Banner 9849s which was found in the Netherlands (so not a product of WaA America) having one matching 2-MM-POL magazine (no sear safety). The full toggle link, including the front toggle link, have the matching two last digit serial numbers all over- same size, same font.
- 42-Banner-#3803g - the pistol that started this thread.

I hope you will excuse me for this rather long reaction to your question. I think that I learned from you that showing the general background is an important element when explaining an exception to a rule.

All the best,
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Your 1940 byf #4340b is a good example of a pistol that was assembled by Mauser from obsolete replacement parts. Notice also that the frame has no P.08 marking - which was mandatory as from January 1941.
Thanks for your information concerning various out of sequence Army and Banner Lugers.

My initial request above was: “Joop, please post your data base here of such Banner Army 42 dated “g” suffix Lugers.”
You only listed the one below in your post above: “- 42-Banner-#3803g - the pistol that started this thread.”

Am I correct to report that your statement: “There are a few more military banners reported in the -g- block. “ is without basis and that “- 42-Banner-#3803g - the pistol that started this thread.” is the only other 42 dated Mauser Banner Army reported to date in the “g” suffix block?

Perhaps I have misunderstood your statements above.

Look forward to your reply
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I have a military proofed "42" date Mauser Luger sn 715g with a Banner toggle, correctly numbered to the rest of the pistol.

I'll PM you with details. Marc
Please post detailed photographs of your "42" date Mauser Luger with a Banner toggle.

Obviously I made an error when writing that there were more military pistols having a banner 7-lines in the 'g' block only. What I wanted to say is that there are more military pistols having a banner 7-lines where a -byf- marked banner might be expected. I gave the known serial numbers above.
Joop, do you have any thoughts as to why the 1940 byf above has the E/655 acceptance stamps on the receiver, barrel and magazine. It would appear to be a standard 1940 (42) b suffix, with a 1942 byf toggle link. If it was assembled during the 41 byf x suffix range through the 42 byf k suffix range, wouldn't it have E/135 accepted receiver stamps? Is it possible that these were out of sequence pistols were rejected at the time of manufacture and later repaired and placed into service?
Hi Jan,

Here are some pictures:

I can provide more photographs. Just let me know what is needed.

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More pictures:

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With Marcs new post and photographs, there are now two reported 42 Banner Army Lugers.
42 Banner sn 715g. (looks more like a g than a q)(may be re-blued)
My Luger was sold to me as a re-blued gun. The safety is blued, and there is variance of color within the receiver ears. The work was rather well done, and markings remain sharp.


Your are right about the fact that all 1940 - byf pistols have a set of SE/655 acceptance stamps on the right receiver. There many pistols reported having this combination of markings. So it is very unlikely that they all started their career as 1940 - 42, while the front toggle link was later replaced with a (matching) byf.
No double serial numbers have been found, these pistols fit nicely into the serialization from the 41 (or 42) -byf- no suffix block to the 42 - byf mid -k- block.

It certainly looks like that these 1940 dated receivers were taken from SE/655 accepted (replacement?) parts. See also Jan Still's TRL page 91 - 96.

Indeed, we can add another Army accepted Luger pistol, having a Banner 7-lines instead of a 41 -byf- marked front toggle link in the -g- block to the four 'bannered' pistols that I mentioned above.
I do not have pictures of the pistols in the 41 -r- and -x- blocks.

There are pictures of the pistol in the -s- block (found in the Netherlands), in the section of the Commercial Mauser Luger pistols.
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