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Black Bakelite type grips

8830 Views 52 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  Johnolsen
O.K., I’m starting a new thread to try to establish an identifying feature of Black Bakelite type grips. It’s pretty apparent that the market is awash with repro plastic grips.

Gibson in The Krieghoff Parabellum covers both brown and black grips in detail. Gibson states that use of the term Bakelite is technically incorrect as the grips were made of a softer material. Bakelite is a trade name and describes a synthetic made material. One of the properties of Bakelite is it a thermosetting verses a thermoplastic material. Thermosetting material maintains its shape under heat whereas thermoplastic material will alter their shape when subjected to heat. I believe that’s why plastic Repros, thermoplastics, have been reported to bend in hot water and real black grips don’t because like Bakelite the real grips are thermosetting. Bakelite is made from Formaldehyde and Carbolic acid which is related to coal. I’m speculating that black Mauser grips being made from a coal derivative were similar enough, at least in looks, and possibly chemical composition to Bakelite, to result in the term Bakelite being used to describe the grips.
Gibson states that the brown grips were plastic that appears to most likely be made from a petroleum base. The later black grips were made from a coal derivative that was not as strong as the plastic grip but coal supplies were more available than petroleum.
The brown plastic grips were phased out during 1940 and Krieghoff started using the same black bakelite type grips used on Mausers until 1944. The black bakelite material starts to appear in 1939. Gibson doesn’t describe any black grips ever being made of petroleum based plastic. The reason to switch from plastic to bakelite type was because petroleum was in short supply.
From personal observation of grips at gun shows and photos posted on the two Luger forums, I have noticed that one type of grip that has been reported to be an original Mauser black grip possesses a differentiating characteristic that if present in all original black grips would be a basis for identifying real black grips from plastic repros. The characteristic is shown in photos from forum members and is the fibrous material that shows up in the screw holes and other locations that appear as a straw like substance imbedded in the material.
Following photos have been taken from the forums. I don't have the names to give credit.

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My conjecture is that since the grips were not as strong as the plastic type, a binder or filler was utilized to provide some attribute that was considered desirable. Possibly to add strength or keep the grip together if damaged. The grip would be less likely to shatter and break in small pieces since the material was not a strong material and may break apart if subjected to a hard blow. Of course, this doesn’t preclude Bakelite type grips being made without the binder material. In this case it appears that the only true identifier would be the heat test, (hot water?) to determine if the material was thermosetting, i.e. didn’t bend under heat since thermoplastic, (bends under heat) has not been reported being used to make grips.
As an aside, the photos Gibson use in his book for the Mauser grips don’t exhibit the qualities that many folks attribute to real grips e.g. the back of the grips are not machined or exhibit machine marks from the dies. The second addition was published in 1988 and I don’t know when the photos were taken.
For the Mauser grips, the photos and text describe/show one screw hole in each grip located at the inside top of right grip and inside bottom of left grip.
All brown plastic Krieghoffs have two holes in back of each grip; one on top and one on the bottom.

I’m asking all the folks that would be kind enough to participate in trying to establish if original black Bakelite type grips exhibit the fibrous material as shown in the accompanying photos. In many cases you must look with a magnifier/loupe to see the straw like material. It would be nice if folks that could trace the grips and Luger such that there was no question that the grips are real would participate.
Many folks have already used the hot water test and it would be nice to know if the grips that passed the hot water test, i.e. didn’t bend, exhibit the fibrous filler material.
I’d also like to know how the folks that had grips that bent under hot water performed the test. How hot was the water, how long was the grip subjected to the heat?
I’m trying to establish if any bakelite type grips were made without the fibrous material. If someone applied heat and the grip didn’t bend and the grip didn’t exhibit fibrous material it could mean that bakelite grips were made without the fibrous additive.
I’m searching for anything that may zero in on factors that could be utilized to ID real grips.
There are a lot of smart folks out there and I’d appreciate any input that may help in performing this survey.
One last item, Jan Still stated that there was a posting that listed the material that the grips were made of; if anyone knows where this info resides, please let us know.

Thanks in advance.
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exciting that you phoned Herr Römmler, who seems to be a very friendly and helpful person. Strange enough, there is another company which claims to be the successor of H. Römmler AG in Spremberg:


... just `phoned Römmler to ask. Herr Römmler´ll be available tomorrow and I´ll find out. Quite probably this is one of the frequent problems arising out of re-privatisation of previously communist owned companies. But apparently there was no such company as Ritzler (or whatever). Römmler was the only supplier of plastic grips for Krieghoff and Mauser. (Personally, I wouldn´t be seen dead with a plastic gripped Luger).
Patrick.... Let me start my saying of all the things in life I am NOT ...Chemist is high on the list. If Rommler was the only supplier of plastic grips why would there be so many variations? Would the so called "Bakelite" have come from someone else and considered another variation??
First of all allow me to THANK YOU for all your effort in trying to trace down info regarding the Black grips; especially since they’re not in your area of interest.

In your previous conversation with Herr Römmler he said “The grips were made of “Duroplast” (Bakelit and/or Phenol).” I’m with Dave regarding being a Chemist.
I’d like to ask if you could take the info Sauerfan posted (copied below) regarding the different material codes and ask Herr Römmler what material codes were used to make the Black and Brown grips. Was there more than one material code utilized; did they start with one material and then change to another? Is he aware of the different codes? I’m trying to establish if different materials were utilized which- if in fact is what happened- may explain why we see different types of plastic materials. If only one type of material was utilized then the differences would be difficult to explain if they were the only producer of grips other than all others are repros. You stated in another post that “Römmler was the only supplier of plastic grips for Krieghoff and Mauser.” I’m wondering what the basis of that statement is? Did Herr Römmler make that statement in your previous conversation? It’s important to establish if they were the only supplier. If not, who else made grips? Based on the samples, it appears that the Krieghoff grips were made from a different formula of plastic material- no filler obvious- than the later Black grips. Ask Herr Römmler the reason for the change, and if there was a difference, did the Krieghoff formula ever get used for black grips. How many different types of material were utilized throughout the production timeframe?
Also, I’m curious as to why the black grips were not maker marked.
One last item regarding the moulds; the machining marks appear one way on some grips and are different on others. Does Herr Römmler have any insight that may explain these difference e.g. different moulds from different time periods?

List of the material codes of the material testing institution, as per: 31. December, 1938 :

type 1 phenol resin (Bakelite) with inorganic (mineral) filler
type 2 synthetic resin with asbestos and other organic fillers
type 3 synthetic resin with asbestos and other organic fillers
type 4 bitumen with asbestos and other organic fillers
type 6 rosin or bitumen with inorganic filler
type 7 rosin or bitumen with inorganic filler
type 8 bitumen with inorganic filler
type A Acetyl cellulose with or without filler
type K urea resin with organic filler
type M of phenol resin (Bakelite) with inorganic (mineral) filler (asbestos?)
type O phenol resin (Bakelite) with wood flour as a filler
type S phenol resin (Bakelite) with wood flour as a filler
type T of phenol resin (Bakelite) with txtile fibers as a filler
type X cement or glass with asbestos and other inorganic fillers
type Y borate of lead with mica
type Z phenol resin (Bakelite) with cellulose as a filler
to another?

Also, the paragraph below in the last sentence there’s a mention of Bakelite wood flour as filler. I’d like to ask that you query Herr Römmler regarding the relationship of the above codes to the Bakelite wood flour description.
CLASSIFICATION of PRESSMASSEN (molding materials) the unclear market situation with a huge number of Presswerken (molding works) led early to attempts to put through a marking obligation. As first one the association of German electrotechnician (VDE) took the initiative which represented one of the main buyers of the Pressmassen with the electrical industry. The VDE developed as the first directives into the classification. In 1924, finally, the technical union became the manufacturer typed Preßmassen and Preßstoffe (T.V). created, the later technical union of the manufacturers of insulants free of rubber. Their (Her) members underwent a voluntary test by the state material testing office in Berlin Dahlem. In the test character a two-digit code about stylized M identifies the Presswerk, the code under M the type of the Pressmasse. The picture example shows a marking of the Heinrich-Römmler AG in Spremberg and gives (indicates) which is added to the Bakelite wood flour as a filler

Patrick, I’ve attempted to highlight the questions from the statements to make it easier for you. I hope I didn’t make it worse.
Thanks again,
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I´ve printed out your text and am off to the airfield tomorrow. It´s quite near the Römmler factory. I just hope that I´ll be able to arrange an appointment with Herr Römmler some time in the day. I´ll try and go through your text, point for point. Most of what Herr R. knows was told him by his father and further very likely coloured by his pride in the company. I only wish you were here to accompany me as I´m anything but experienced in these matters.
I too wish I was with you to go on your adventure. Hope everything goes well.
Tom, a number of your formulations list asbestos as a filler. Asbestos is a fiberous mineral that when milled can produce fibers like the ones you have observed in the grips. Scrap asbestos fibers would have been available from many applications in the aeronautics and other industries. Asbestos was valued for its heat resistant and fire resistant qualities. I believe the board made from asbestos and a binder used to be called transite. The waste from transite sawing or manufacture would make an excellent filler for the grips.
Thanks Heinz,
I'm very familiar with Transite. We demolished many buildings at a former DOE site that produced Uranium from ore. All the structures that were build in the early 50's were sided with Transite. All kinds of asbestos used in the 50's. Nice stuff to work with in this day and age.
I put a few years in at Fernald in my youth. Glad I did not stay longer :)

I´m just back from Römmler, Herzfelde. It was quite a bit further off than I´d reckoned with; about 50 miles on the motor bike, double figures below freezing and a wicked wind. But worth it, even though I wasn´t able to meet Herr Römmler. Technical manager Herr Witt spent some hours explaining answers to your queries. The material is too complex to post here, so I suggest writing it up a.s.a.p. and mailing it to you personally as a pdf file. Maybe you could then filter the information and post what you think is relevant.
Thanks very much.
Tom, I need an e- mail address to send the (long) PDF file.
This is the file Patrick sent me. I've included all of the file as I wanted everyone to read what he provided. Much thanks to Patrick for all he has done to gather this info. A quick reading will show much more work is required to bring this subject to conclusion. Many questions still remain to be answered. I'll digest this info and see where it leads.

Meeting with Herr Witt, Technical Manager, of Hermann Romler - Kunststofftechnik, 15345
Rehfelde, Brandenburg, Germany.
The Company
The first Herr Rommler founded the company in Spremberg. Production was based on his original patents (1889) for moulding phenol resin using heat and pressure.
The company expanded but experienced difficulties during the depression (1920) and was taken over by the Sprela Company.
Hermann Rommler then started a new company, together with a dormant partner (Schuiz) in Rehfelde (near Berlinwith further production facilities in Spremberg, Lausitz. The new company
adopted the trademark HRS (Hen-mann Rommler & Schuiz), concentrating on Bakelite moulding.
To complicate matters further, there is a large West German plastics company, also named Rommler which has no connection. This company is internationally known for producing Melanin table-top surfaces.
Herr Rommler met the American (Mr. Baker?) who invented the Bakelite substance and they agreed that they had both been working on the same problems at the same time.
Hermann Rommler made pistol and bayonet grips during WWII. The Russians took all the machinery and the factory in Spremberg was destroyed. His production facilities in Rehfelde were taken over by the East German state as a socialist enterprise.
After German re-unification, Herr Rommler successfully applied to have his company returned. Personnel told me today that they also made parts for the East German government (army and
police) during the communist era.
Herr Witt started as a form (mould) maker, and is now in charge of production. He has never heard of a "Ritzmann Company".

The Production Process Phenol, heated to 170 - 180° C is liquid. It is poured into the form. The product is then ejected, the ejectors leaving the flat, round marks on the rear of the grips. The round "screw holes" are NOT threaded. The form (mould) is made with jagged edged extensions that serve to hold the grip down while the top form is lifted off. When the grip is ejected from the form, the jagged edges of the "screw hole" normally break. It is merely a
coincidence that the grip screws fit, as if the holes were threaded.
Herr Witt showed me a collection of early production Bakelite articles and I was impressed by their quality. The weight of the material and the keen edges of these products (a presentation
plate, ash tray etc) put them in a class of their own and I can well believe that Bakelite Luger grips could be as attractive as wood.
The Materialprufungsamt Dahlem (See copy of the Leitfaden Technische Vereinigung, Frankfurt am Main)

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Although Hen- Witt was unwilling to make any definitive pronouncement without being able to view an original grip, this was the only picture (see above) that he was prepared to state as being genuine.
Most of the other pictures are probably of "foreign made" products. He maintains that the surface quality of the grip would enable him to judge on this point. I showed him a cheap, black plastic grip and he immediately said that it was Russian. The sawdust was mixed in with the resin; the surface was chequered and rough.
The left hand stamp in the picture is still in use (see page Techn. Vereinigung). It was first used by the Materialprufungsamt Dahlem (Berlin). This was an administrative auditing bureau. Production companies paid dues to have their products audited (Hermann Rommler still uses their auditing facilities, together with this stamp as proof of quality control).
The Technische Vereinigung (technical Association) took over from the Materialprufungsamt Dahlem after WWII.
The small dot within the D on their present control stamp shows that the stamp is post WWII. So WWII production must have the stamp without the dot.
A closer inspection of the M;D stamp (on the left) would show that two small digits are integrated above and below the M. These are specific to the type of resin (material) and to the manufacturer. The material code number should be identical to one on the list you sent me.
The manufacturer's trade mark is on the right (HRS). The 8964 mark in the centre is "of no consequence". It can only be an item number -either determined by the manufacturer or by the customer.
Herr Witt stated that Herr Rommler could only have meant that he was the only manufacturer of grips with his company code marks on them (within the MD and with his trade mark). But there were most likely further factories making these grips. The number of manufacturers would have been limited by the great expense of making the forms.
Herr Witt was adamant that EVERY manufacturer would have had to use the MD proof mark with his own specific manufacturer's code as well as the material code within the MD mark. The use of a trade mark stamp was a matter of choice.
Grips without the MD stamp MUST be considered as "foreign" - NOT AUTHENTIC, and certainly could not have been manufactured for purchase by the German State.
He advised that this could easily be confirmed by the present Technische Vereinigung in Frankfurt/Main.
Neither the material used, nor the jagged edged holes, or any other criteria could provide positive proof of authenticity as exactly identical material is still in use.
A phone call to the Technische Vereinigung could very likely provide a list of manufacturers and material codes. Or maybe someone is a bit nearer to Frankfurt/Main and could visit their office.
The Technische Vereinigung would also have to verify Herr Witt's statement that the MD stamp is the definitive proof of authenticity for all WWII German manufactured resin grips.
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Tom.... Another one of those things followed me home again this weekend. Don't what I'm doing to cause this to happen...... 42 BYF # 1822c. L/H side low hole and R/H side high hole and the grip screw fits just fine. Can see no filler. I guess the good news is that the last two are the same.......
Römmler says that the grip screw might well fit but that this is a coincidence, as the "threads" are just jagged edges, cut into the hole to anchor the grip during production and usually destroyed while removing the grip from the form.
Patrick.... The reason I am posting the data about the size, location and if the screw fits or not is an attempt to figure out just how many variations there are. My opinion at this point based on the info at hand is there was probably more than one company making them. I appreciate your efforts and the info from Herr Rommler but question the idea that his Company was the only supplier. Regards......

This is a misunderstanding. I agree – there MUST have been more than one black grip manufacturer.

During the past fortnight I have interviewed or `phoned the following:

Römmler´s son and his technical manager in charge of production, Herr Witt,

Dr. Wülbüchler, Head of the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Verstärkte Kunststoffe e.V. (Working Association – re-inforced synthetics) – a sub-division of the BAM (the national German material testing association). The BAM (previously Materialprüfungsamt Dahlem) was the original proprietor of the MD plastics auditing trade mark.

The Technische Vereinigung e.V. – the present auditing association, still using the MD mark,

and have received preliminary information from the Deutsche Kunststoff Museum (a national museum for synthetic materials).

All agree on the following:

Römmler was the sole manufacturer of the first type of Krieghoff brown grips (clearly marked with his trade mark and the MD mark).

The number of other manufacturers of plastic grips for the P 08 is not likely to be more that three or four as (a) the volume of production would not warrant the high cost of the forms. (b) It was generally recognized that production of the P 08 was finite.

The MD auditing mark was apparently NOT used by other small workshops during the later years of WWII. Nor did most of them use a manufacturer´s code

It is as good as impossible to determine the age of a Bakelite phenol-resin product (apparently it does not deteriorate like other plastics).

Production is simple and does not involve complicated machinery. With a set of forms, grips could be made practically anywhere. Bakelite material only has to be heated to 170-180 degrees centigrade – and poured. It is likely that some small manufacturers still have the forms. The Russians took the Römmler forms.

The conclusion is, that it is almost impossible to determine the authenticity of a black plastic grip. Even brown Römmler grips could have been made in Russia after WWII. It is very likely that grips were made in Germany after WWII for the allied occupation forces. Maybe they are still being made. And, if prices on e-bay continue to progress, a new production run my well be envisaged.

So it definitely would be a good idea to collect a number of identical grips for comparison. And that´s about it.
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Patrick..... Thank you for your thoughts and all the good work you are putting into this study. At this point I think I have 4 different variations not counting the HK grips. Very interesting.

To Tom, Patrick and Dave - Thanks a bunch!! Now I don't know what the heck I have!! However, I think I have four pair of originals and one pair of I'll call fakes.

Two pair have both "screw holes" on the bottom end of the grips and they are threaded! Two pair have one hole high on the right grip and one hole low on the left grip and they are threaded!

The last one, I'll call a fake, has two holes high, one on each grip, and they appear to not be threaded, but sort of threaded looking and full of fiberous material. These holes are something like what maybe Patrick described. This I believe is a Soviet Set, maybe an East German Set. The left grip of the Original Luger Grips has a thin strip of plastic (Bakelite) running across the top connecting the thicker sections of the grip. This pair has an exposed section with the rear most large section sticking out like a sore thumb. This is one of my criteria to identify these grips. But a word of caution: the original grips could have the thin section broken away, so a thorough examination is necessary. Because of the hole location, I deem these as "fakes".

Very interesting thread, thanks for the hard work and information!!!

Dave, would you describe the four variations you have? Or maybe some photos? I still think there are only two variations!!
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Frank......(1)2 high holes....too small.....(2) 2 low holes fit ok...(3) R/H high L/H low ....too big and (4) R/H high L/H low fit ok....have two like this and another member posted a similar one. See the earlier posts in this string
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