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Early S Date

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A wide variety of opinions have been published; however, has anyone firmly established the year in which the Early S variants were made?

Roger S.
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Hi Roger,

I'm trying to understand your question. Do you mean just "early" S dates - or ALL "S" dated Krieghoffs - as manufactured between the "G" and later "36"? If you are primarily looking at "early" S dates, can I ask why you would make the designation on that particular "S" dated variation, rather then others combined?

Hi Roger,

I'm trying to understand your question. Do you mean just "early" S dates - or ALL "S" dated Krieghoffs - as manufactured between the "G" and later "36"? If you are primarily looking at "early" S dates, can I ask why you would make the designation on that particular "S" dated variation, rather then others combined?

In reply to John D: primarily because I own an "Early S" dated Krieghoff :) As I'm sure you are aware, their markings and grips are different than later S series.

My example has a very low 20xx serial number which would indicate a production overlap into the S code mid series with it's range of 1600-2500. By way of explanation, it is my understanding that approximately 1,800 Early S models, 500-700 S code mid series, and 1,800 S code late series were made (with the late serial number range of 2300-4200).

There could have been S-coded contract models made in 1935 as well as in 1936. When this thought is combined with the fact that I own an early S, I don't think that I have an unreasonable question.

Fair enough? Roger S.
Hi Roger.

Understand - I was not questioning your Krieghoff - but rather why you would make the differention between any Chamber dated "S" as to year of manufactur. There are 3 variations as you correctly noted. For that, my Early "S" in the low 100 serial range, my Mid "S" and late "S" all have unique markings - but, I'm not aware of any data that would differentiate a "1935" to a "1936" between the various "S" production dates? In fact - below is a dialog I had in my notes with another collector (I believe he is on this forum), but I do not know if it was a public discussion, or private - and therefore, will only provide my replies for now.

Further - I am well aware of the serial number "cut overs" that you indicate - however, given HK manufacturing and markings - they are not "concrete" with the various serialization providing the difference between the three "S" variations.

Here are my comments:

"On the "letter code" versus the "digit" - Krieghoff's certainly are not that clean in their "breaks" - as apparently Mauser was with a definite block changeover.

While Kenyon calls the "S" code on HK's the "1935 Year Code" (inferring a 1935 production date - pp. 318-322 "Lugers at Random"), at the same time - Gibson refers to it as the "1936" (See his Synthesis). (as an FYI - Jan Still defers to Gibson's production dates in his "Third Reich Lugers".)

So, if you subscribe to Gibson's view - then yes, letters were intermixed with "digits" for the same production year. If Kenyon is correct, then the "S" was the code for denoting the 1935 production HK Lugers - and then the answer would be "no", letters and digits would not be intermixed in 1936 - but two different chamber letters were used in the same year by HK ("G" and "S" which certainly doesn't make sense either!!)?

However, all seem to agree on the sequence of the chamber marking - "G", followed by "S", followed by "36", followed by "1936".

As you know - Gibson was fairly adamant (based on the serial number ranges and the total HK's made during these years), that in fact the "S" was a 1936 production Luger. If that is true - then your comment of "So isn't Krieghoff unique with this over lapping of codes and digits." would be true as well... However, if Kenyon is correct ("S" is 1935 manufacture) - then HK had both the "G" and the later "S" dates in the same year - but didn't mix codes and digits - as all "1936" production would either be marked "36" or "1936" on HK Lugers... “

Later, I wrote…..

” In Still's production chart for Krieg's, for example, it appears that he has different (updated?) reported serial number's for the various years. The year that caught my eye specifically was the "1938" production date (a total of 50 HKs produced). Gibson has 17 reported serial numbers - but Still is showing 19 (I think it is 19 - I don't have Still's book at the office - but it was a few more then Gibson..).

Anyway - it reinforces your point as to the evolution of information - but also raises the question of where this "new" information is coming from and where it is being collected or how it is disseminated?

As to the 1935 or 1936 manufacture of HK "S" codes, I couldn't agree more that Gibson's work is *much* more extensive and up-to-date on the HK variation. That being said - there is something that has always gnawed at me about the "S" code dates all together. Let me explain….

It was in 1935 that the government did away with the need to conceal the dates of manufacture altogether, as began their period of open re-armament. I'm not sure if this was by decree or how that "order" was handed down (which may shed some light on this discussion) - but it strikes me as peculiar that Krieghoff - given that nature of their position as military contractor - would *not* be in a position to independently/arbitrarily mark an "S" rather then the year chamber date in compliance (especially as it was in 1935 that this government policy changed (the year before the 1936 production date “S” code.)).

To further confuse the issue - since the "36" was an intermediate marking phase, it seems apparent that HK was trying to comply with the digit series chamber markings. However, why would they even bother with the "36" rather then keep the "S" until the full 4-digit dies were available – if indeed, both variations were produced in 1936 (“S” and “36”)?

One of the theoretical answers could be that the "S" chambers were struck in 1935 (before the decree and in anticipation that letter chamber markings would continue to be used the following year). Given the high degree of interchangeability of HK pistols - it is not out of the question that the final assembly did occur early in 1936, but from these parts manufactured/struck in 1935. (This would be somewhat counter to how Gibson portrays the overall production and serialization of HK Lugers, I believe!).

And my final comments….

I started out with a clean piece of paper, and scratched out what we think we know and discounting what we don't know for just now. Let me walk you through this, as it's kind of interesting....

What we know is that Mauser had the "K" and the "G" for 1934 and 1935 respectively. Based on your earlier comment, it appears that Mauser was pretty "clean" in a change over (all 1934s were "K" and all 1935s were "G"). As I stated - HK certainly wasn't that clean - and the comment we were discussing was the "S" date. Well, here is something interesting!

Gibson states in several places that production at HK began in late 1934 - *but* was there ever a "K" dated Krieghoff? Not that I am aware of!!! It would appear that even though they were manufacturing Lugers during Mausers "K" run - that HK was actually stamping for the next years date code - "G" before 1935.! Interesting, if plausible and true!

Also, if that is true that HK would produce Lugers marked with the next years code before that year - then the comments made earlier about "S" code being produced in 1935 and delivered in 1936 seem even a stronger theory - thus explaining the "S" dates and interim "36" markings being delivered in the same year as the "1936" chamber dated HKs...

Now - if there was only a piece of evidence to tell of the "Code" for 1936 was supposed to be "S" before the order of the Digit chamber dates. Perhaps we'll never know...

As for the actual coding system "K" and "G" specifically - I would think that would be issued by the goverment as a "Military Secret" - but what the lead time was for next years code is open to speculation. I would conjecture that it would be a long enough lead time to have new chamber dies made and have the internal nomenclature changed to the new "code" - but have no idea what that might be in weeks or months for a production facility at that time??

Based on the above thesis - I'm not sure the date codes were different between Mauser and HK? Perhaps HK, as a very limited producer, would plan the chamber code based on when they anticipated delivering the pistols against the Military contract - rather then when it was actually "produced"? To be able to do that, they would need to know that code for the next year (again - if that was designated as the "S").

I hope you find this interesting. Please post back any thoughts or research you would agree or disagree with on the subjects above.
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More than just interesting, John: I'm awed with your treatise, and now I better understand your question of me. I hope that others join me when I say thank you for sharing,
Roger S.
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