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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Now is the time to clear this up! I have a very nice BYF 41 P.08 pistol. Lets say it is a Black Widow. There is some mystique about this gun..and,perhaps, MYTH. Please correct me, but didn't Luger production cease in 1942? I've been told by various Luger collectors that this particular gun was a favorite of the SS and was produced again starting in early 1944 for the SS. Fabrication utilized all the spare parts left over at mauser in 1942. What would keep an enterprising person from changing an average BYF 41-42 to a Black Widow by just switching the grips to black plastic and using an fxo magazine? Is there a serial # block difference? Is there any truth to any of this? Jm
 

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I've asked the same question. Here's a compilation of the replies.
Black Widow is a term invented by a Luger vendor in the US, namely, Shatuck. There are varied opinions regarding this individual, most of the ones that I have heard are not favorable. The term has no historical significance at all, merely fabricated to create a demand. Note, you must be careful to verify the correct war-time grips, and not repros. Here's one:
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Pancho
Excellent answer!

Jim said "that this particular gun was a favorite of the SS and was produced again starting in early 1944 for the SS. Fabrication utilized all the spare parts left over at mauser in 1942."
Jim
I would be very interested to know, who is the source of this story.
Jan
 
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Jan: I heard this from "esteemed(?)luger collectors" at the gun shows over the years. I thought at the time it was probably a fantasy, but I was younger and hungry for such stories. I've never found it in print, though. Jim
 

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Jim -

The most likely explanation is that Mauser simply found Bakelite to be less expensive, more durable, and less difficult to produce than the checkered wood grips used in previous years. Note that the East German reworks are often found with reddish-brown plastic grips, probably for the same reasons.

Luke
 

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Hello Jim,

Mr. Don Hallock (a collector and fellow NAPCA member) posted the following info. on another Internet gun discussion board over the past year or so.

I saved the text to my hard drive, for future reference. Thought you might find the info. useful...

" Black plastic grips were authorized for issue in June of 1941 on the 41-byf Luger. Considering the 41-byf was made with the n, o, p , q, r, s, t, u, v, w, x, y, z, ns, a and b letter suffix, Which of these represent June of 1941. Clue The - n - block was mostly 1940-42 and 41-42 Lugers with a few 41-byf. the - o - block was a 50-50 41-42 and 41.byf. The 42-byf appeared in the ns block so the 41-byf shared the ns a and b with the 42-byf. I know the answer, so lets consider it a quiz question and see who comes up with the answer (suffix letter) that most collectors like. "

" Actually, the black plastic grips appeared in June of 1941 and became standard issue in concert with the wood grips on 41-byf Lugers. What happened in the - u - block of the 41-byf production had to do with the numbering of Luger magazines. The records indicate that Mauser seriously curtailed the numbering of Luger magazines at this point. I suspect it was because the black plastic magazine bottoms were to difficult to number (They numbered a few) consequently, about 97% of the magazine numbering ceased. For what it's worth, I have recorded gobs of - u - block magazine numbers, None in the - v - block, two in the - w - block, four in the - x - block and two in the - y - block. The common magazine during this period was the C.G. Haenel magazine marked "fxo-SE37-P08" the P 08 was rightside up vs the earlier fxo magazines with the upside down P 08 mark. Just another opinion. "

I have noticed that other dealers (the folks at Simpsons and at FGS) are using the term "Black Widow" as well...and such guns, if in the legit serial range, seem to command $ 200-$400 more in their asking price...so maybe the marketing ploy has paid off...(???)
 

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Based on Don Hallock's date of acceptance for the black bakelite grips of mid June 1941 and making the assumption it would take a little while before these grips turned up in Luger Production, the following might be interesting:

First, if one assumes a uniform production, July 1941 would cover the serial numbers from about the 7000 T-Block to the 7500 U-Block. August 1941 would cover the 7500 U-block to the 8000 V-Block.

Next, Don Hallock's records show a large number of U-Block magazine numbers, then decreasing rapidly, but this only pertains to magazines, not grips. They may or may not have occurred at the same time, but surely during the same time period.

The molds for bakelite grips had already been around for many years, since they were used on brown Krieghoff Grips. The black material must have been available or they wouldn't have authorized the acceptance of bakelite grips in June of 1941.

Based on these assumptions, the black bakelite grips could have shown up somewhere around the mid T-Block and the black plastic bottoms around the mid U-Block.

It would not surprise me to find a mid T-Block Luger with both black grips and black bottom magazine, but it probably left the factory with black grips and a numbered aluminum bottom magazine.

One should also note that most of the byf 41 Lugers have wooden grips!! In fact, many of the byf 42 Lugers had wooden grips. I have yet to be able to identify the ratio of wood to bakelite grips for any of the late 1941 or 1942 production. I do know most of the late 1941 and 1942 Lugers were shipped with black plastic bottom magazines.

Because of the fairly low number of black bakelite grips, they may demand a slight premium. The biggest question to ask, were they original to the pistol or were they replaced post 1945. If they are numbered wooden grips, the chances are much greater they belong to the pistol.

Just my 2 cents worth!
 

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quote:Originally posted by Frank

The molds for bakelite grips had already been around for many years, since they were used on brown Krieghoff Grips.
Frank,

Do you have a source or observations for this? I admit to no experience with Krieghoff plastic grips, but a quick check in Gibson's "Krieghoff Parabellum" (grip comparison photographs, pp44-50) shows the Mauser-style grips to be distinctly different the other plastic grips pictured, thus very different molds.

--Dwight
 

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When the research for Third Reich Lugers was accomplished prior to 1988,I had observed a few 1940 dated Lugers with proper black plastic grips (Third Reich Lugers page 65, 71) and a few late 1939 dated Lugers were reported with black plastic grips. Gibsom (1980)page 43 also reports "This coarse checkered black grip is encountered on a very few 1939 dated Mauser Lugers, both banners and the Coded Militaries. They are found intermittently in those pistols manufactured by Mauser in 1940." It is my opinion that plastic grips on late 1939 and 1940 dated Lugers were installed at the factory.

An Army directive (As I recall dated 1939) authorized that wood grips could be replaced by black plastic grips when wood grips were not available. Apparentally the wood grips were the first choice and the black plastic second.

Mauser type black plastic grips were being used by Krieghoff on their 1940 dated Lugers, so such grips were being manufactured and available in 1940. See page 42 of Gibson for a detailed discussion and description of bakelite, and brown and black plastic.
(Note: bakelite is more proper that plastic in the above paragraphs)
Jan

Added 12/6/03 (As I recall dated 1939)This statement was made when I did not have my book in front of me. This is reflective of my memory of the date in the book and not the date in the book which is as stated.
 

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Jan,

quote

An Army directive (As I recall dated 1939) authorized that wood grips could be replaced by black plastic grips when wood grips were not available. Apparentally the wood grips were the first choice and the black plastic second.


Is there a chance we could identify this document? And perhaps get a copy of it? This sounds like the document that Don Hallock was talking about, except the year is different.

In your research prior to "Third Reich Lugers" how can one tell that bakelite grips were not substituted for wood by Armorers or even post 1945? And they were applied at the Mauser Factory?

This has puzzled me for some time and I sure would like to get it resolved. Without good documentation, and there doesn't seem to be much, the whole subject is pretty much open.
 

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For an "esteemed luger collector" to say the W/SS prefered being issued with "black widow" lugers is rediculous.

It is also a myth that W/SS units were supplied with the best weapons, equipment etc.

As with all other branches of the German army, they got what they were given.

Just my two pence worth........

Regards,

Steve.
 

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The observations of Gibson (pre 1980) and Still (pre 1988) of late 1939 and 1940 Lugers with black plastic grips is hard evidence that such Lugers exist. I will also note that these black plastic grips did not appear on earlier military Lugers (prior to late 1939). This leads me to believe that the plastic grips were not replacements or they would have been observed on the older earlier Mauser military Lugers (K-early 1939). (I have not to date observed a correct K, G, 1936-early 1939 Luger with original Mauser black plastic grips.) It is the observations stated above, that I base my opinion that the plastic grips are not armory replacements. I would be the first to agree that the evidence is not very strong, and that it is possible that these plastic grips are post factory (armory or post 1945) replacements. However, in my opinion the armory replacement of wood grips for plastic grips on these late 1939 and 1940 dated lugers is the less likely option.

I have a copy of the 1939 Army directive covering plastic grips someplace in my files. I may be able to locate it. I believe that the 1939 directive is also mentioned in some other publication, probably in one of John Walters books.
Jan

Added 12/6/03 (As I recall dated 1939)This statement was made when I did not have my book in front of me. This is reflective of my memory of the date in the book and not the date in the book which is as stated.
 

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Jim

Buy the Luger, not the story.
Lugers had no special esteem in the Germany military, compared to the P-38. They were tools of war. The SS was very happy to get any weapons they could from the Army or from the Radom or Browning assembly lines.
In 1944 nobody had the luxery to set up special assembly lines at Mauser to build an obsolete and time consuming pistol. Things were not going well with the war for Germany.
The "esteemed Luger collector" would like you to believe that these bakelite griped Lugers were manufactured special for the SS or the Gestapo, so you would be willing to pay more $$$ for one of them.
Joe
 
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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Gercolctor: At that time in my collecting history I wasn't too interested in Lugers..only Mauser military rifles. I remember that these "esteemed guys" always had these mammoth displays of nice Lugers at the shows, but didn't seem to want to sale any of them. They seemed to be so expert..they had reference books of the time(1970s-1980s)with them. I suppose I naively associated all of the trappings with authoritative knowledge. I bought my "Black Widow" last year..as me interest in Lugers is peaking. Strangely and recently, a friend of mine-a luger collector-advised me "Those things have bad kharma..you know they were favored by the SS." I guess it will never die. Jim
 
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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
As I recall, black plastic grips were submitted for testing in 1939 and accepted for use in June of 1941.

In my opinion, I do not accept any black plastic grips as being original issue on anything prior to the "r" block of the byf 41 Lugers. All 1939 and 1940 code 42's were issued with 2 matching numbered magazines and to my knowledge I am not aware of any of these black plastic 1939 or 1940 code 42 Lugers with 2 matching magazines. Funny there isn't a few complete rigs. All the complete rigs that I am aware of have wooden grips. The earlist black plastic complete rig that I am aware of is an "r" block byf 41. There are complete 2 matching magazine rigs in the byf 41 "r" block, "s" block, "t" block, and numerous are found in the "u" block.

Perhaps some of the black plastic 1939 or 1940 code 42's were installed at the factory, but there is absolutely no way of knowing at this time. So, I guess one can accept all these black plastic 1939 and 1940 code 42's as being "test" pieces if one chooses to. With all the switching of stuff in the last 40 years I choose not to put much faith in these being original issue, but perhaps you want to, as it's your choice. -- Bill
 

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Bill said “I am not aware of any of these black plastic 1939 or 1940 code 42 Lugers with 2 matching magazines.....All the complete rigs that I am aware of have wooden grips.”The earlist black plastic complete rig that I am aware of is an "r" block byf 41.

It is clear that for you to accept a luger as original it must have two matching magazines. The numerous lugers with one or no matching magazines are not considered by you. Apparently you are not aware that adding two matching magazines to a Luger is the most common recent (last 15 years) boosting operation and adds greatly to a lugers asking price. Such a criteria is seriously flawed. In my opinion two matching magazines does not put a stamp of credibility on a Luger. As an example, I recently recall a well documented K date fake with two matching magazines.

The largest portion of Lugers used in the research to complete Third Reich Lugers had no or sometimes one matching mag. The two matching magazine rigs were rare prior to 1988.

The rough estimate made prior to 1988 concerning the 1940 dated 42 code Lugers was "about 2% have black plastic grips...." (Third Reich Lugers page 65) This was a ballpark estimate. To have a reasonable chance of observing even one 1940-42 plastic gripped Luger rig with two matching magazines you would have to observe at least 50 to 100 correct rigs with two matching mags. Added on to the number of 50 to 100 1940-42 rigs to observe, how could you be sure that they were all original. I doubt that this has been done, but stand to be corrected if it has.

To accept your contention that "I do not accept any black plastic grips as being original issue on anything prior to the "r" block of the byf 41 Lugers." I would have to accept the 41-42 sn 3562o owned by long time collector Don Rousseau (page 77, Third Reich Lugers)as having bogus grips.

Bill said: "So, I guess one can accept all these black plastic 1939 and 1940 code 42's as being "test" pieces if one chooses to. With all the switching of stuff in the last 40 years I choose not to put much faith in these being original issue, but perhaps you want to, as it's your choice. -- Bill"

I doubt that the choice is so stark. You are the only one that has determined that the few black plastic grips on late 1939 and 1940 42 code lugers are ""test” pieces". In my opinion the Lugers with plastic grips were normal production and the plastic was substituted for wood as the supply determined. Krieghoff had been using plastic grips on their Luftwaffe Lugers since 1935 and in 1940 the grips that they used were the same as those that were used on Mauser Lugers (Gibson, page 42, 43, 47).

Bill, to accept your contention that black plastic grips on late 1939 and early 1940 dated Lugers are bogus, I would have to ignore the previous published research by Gibson (Krieghoff Parabellum) Still (Third Reich Lugers) and numerous collectors in the National Automatic Collectors Association that helped with Third Reich Lugers. In my opinion, you have ignored previous research and your research is based on a flawed premise.
Jan
 

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I recently Exported to the USA from Canada a Luger 1940-42code ser#6747

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51.36KB with the grips in Question...here are some photos....I removed the grips and I would say they had been on for many,many years......I have also noticed that these black grips are "custom fitted" at the factory....ie not easily interchangeable between Lugers ...I would venture to say that the gun probaly......??!! came from the factory that way...
 

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I discussed the subject of black plastic grips on late 1939 and 1940 dated Lugers with Mauser Lugers (Bill Munis) this morning. It turns out that we agree more than we disagree. I apologize if I have misunderstood his posts and if my reply was unnecessarily harsh(hammering). Jan
 
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