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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Forum members,
This weekend I ran into an unusual luger. I thought it likely had been reworked as it appeared all the chamber/toggle markings, all proofs, lower position saftey markings had been reworked and reblued. I did buy the Luger # 4003 (no suffix)as it as It was priced as a shooter/parts gun.
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After looking at several references It appears to be a 1908 Bulgarian that lacked the stock lug and is fitted to accept a lanyard loop at the bottom of the backstrap. It also has a Bulgarian marked extractor and lower saftey markings (machined off). The pistol is mostly matching #'s with the exceptions being the barrel, takedown level, trigger and hold open.
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I have read that both Simpson and Mauser reworked many of the Bulgarian pistols in the early 1930's. However, I have also read these reworks should have military or commercial proofs. This pistol has no proofs...nothing. In addition, it has an unrelieved sear bar... The pistol has been rebarreled (#7275 g), the barrel also lacks proofs. The 4003 on the side receiver is larger than typical. There is a pronounced "G" well mark.
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I currently have spotty information on Weimar reworks, but it doesn't quite fit with that period due to lack of proofs & unrelieved sear. I have also read (Reese) of some Russian imports and interarms reworking of Bulgarian Lugers in 1965... but it lacks any import marks. It doesn't have the look of a bubba either

Again, any thoughts - even best guesses, on this pistol would be greatly appreciated!
Scott
 

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Hi,

I tend to forget about possible German reworking on it. It appears to be 'locally' rebuilt, probably by one of the Eastern European local gunsmiths. The gun has been buffed with a certain amount of enthousiasm, so I don't agree with your 'non-bubba' conclusion. Probably an Eastern Block Bubba rework.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Vlim,
I appreciate your thoughts on the pistol, and I do consider myself a beginner collector. The blank toggle and chamber and machine work on the lower saftey lever markings are well done... In addition the Simpson size/style receiver stamped #4003 made me think of the factory rework possibilities.

However, it sounds like more consistent with a Bulgarian that was East block bubba than a Bulgarian/rework that was unproofed (taken/stolen from the factory before proofs).
Again I appreciate the post on this pistol - it's been bugging me trying to figure it out, and havn't have any comments. Probably no one wanted to indicate bubba... It doesn't hurt my feelings. I have learned a lot from this pistol due to some of the more unique bulgarian characteristics.

This pistol came in a holser, unmarked except for #1304 on the beltloop. Although it fits very well, am pretty sure it is not correct, but the pistol, or another luger has been in it a long time - due to impressions on the leather. If anyone would like to see it I will post photos...
Thanks again Vlim!
 

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Hi Scott,

Although there is a large amount of information available on Lugers, the sheer amount of users, a couple of wars, cold wars and local skermishes combined with large numbers of gun smiths will turn out some interesting ones from time to time, for which it is relatively difficult to find a decent explanation. Add to that that most standard works on Lugers were based upon pre-1989 material, it's even more difficult to work through the large amount of former-USSR/Eastern Block material that has been appearing on the world markes since then.

Add to this the lack of materials that many Eastern-European citizens had to work with and their relatively high craftsmanship skills and you have all the ingredients to produce mystery products. Since later Bulgarian contracts had the Bulgarian crest on the toggle (on the place normally occupied by the DWM logo), there is a possibility it has been removed to denote it was no longer Bulgarian state property, or that it was removed when the communists took up office. The serial number is well into the first contract series.

If no evidence of removal of the DWM logo on top of the chamber(!) are seen, I guess that the entire receiver has been replaced (also since the numbering of the receiver differs in style). It would be nice to see traces of the Bulgarian shield on the toggle link.

I'm not a holster expert, but it reminds me of a shortened navy-style holster.

btw. John Walter stated possible 1939-1940 Mauser reworking of Bulgarian 7.65mm to 9mm pistols after the Bulgarians joined the Axis forces.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Vlim
The chamber and toggle must have have reworked not replaced - It makes the most sense after looking at everything. There there is a # 03 (of consistent size and shape with the other parts) stamped on both the back side of the toggle link and on the bottom of the receiver near the witness marks.
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The large 4003 on the side of the receiver appear to be the only new markings.
Thanks for the additional information I will keep my eyes open for information on recent Soviet/E block reworks...
Scott
 

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In the April, 1996 issue of "AutoMag", Charlie Sorrentino reports a similar Bulgarian P-08, sanitized in the same professional fashion, including retention of the Cyrillic marked extractor. The gun is a mismatch, frame serial# 417, upper serial# 531c. He described it in some detail (including an unrelieved sear with a Farsi number) and asked for information.

In the August 1996 issue, p. 107, he got an answer from Alan Smith, who reported a passage he found in "The War Business" (George Thayer, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1969). Smith paraphrased Thayer's account of the Bulgarian Lugers' importation into the US.

In the late 50s or early 60s Interarms, Inc. bought 5,000 guns in Austria (for $9.00 each) from an unnamed intermediary who obtained them in Bulgaria. These pistols were imported into West Germany, loaded onto a Finnish freighter in Hamburg, and delivered to the Interarms dock/warehouse complex in Alexandria, Virginia. Thayer states that the U.S. State Department, who were aware that the pistols originated in Eastern Europe (and thus illegal to be imported) approved of the transfer, essentially "looked the other way" because the guns were originally made in Western Europe.

Interarms sold these Lugers privately to collectors for $700 each by word of mouth, but there arose concern about selling guns on the open market with markings revealing their Communict-bloc origins [it is ambiguous from Smith's reduction whether the concern was Interarm's or the U.S. Government's]. The remaining guns had their chambers ground and all Bulgarian markings removed, except for the extractor marking, and were sold on the American market for about $35 each.

Smith accepts the substance of the story, but doesn't accept the total number of Lugers involved, and proffers an alternate reason for the guns' alteration.

He feels that if there were really 5,000 of these guns the market would be flooded with Bulgarians, they would appear commonly at gun shows and on sale lists, which is not the case. He believes that Interarms would never "intentionally desecrate" these weapons, and that if the intention was truly to conceal the guns' origin the Bulgarian marking would not have been left on the extractor.He speculates that the markings, all of which were symbols of the pre-Communist monarchy in Bugaria, were removed by the Communist Bulgarian regime.

My only comments are the logical observations that: 1, the Communist Bulgarian government would not have needed to remove the safety marking because it betrays no monarchial context, and would affect safe operation of the pistol; and 2, the extractor mark is not readily visible and it is obvious that its removal could physically compromise the extractor.

--Dwight
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Dwight,

Great information, "sanitized" as you wrote, is the word that best describes this type pistol. You have some great depth in resources.

The Interarms information is interesting, and describes in much more detail what I had read. It seems (makes sense) Interarms may have been forced/pressured into removing the obvious markings, especially considering the 1960's time frame and geo-political atmosphere at the time, all compounded by the shady importation of these Lugers. It wouldn't seem the saftey marking would need to be removed unless the intent was to conceal the origin. In addition, one could always argue, after the other markings were removed, that the extractor was a replacement as it (in this case) not a numbered part.

Again, great information - Thanks! Scott
 

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Inaddition to the statement made in the "War Business", it was the then Senator Samuel Dodd from Connecticult , the father of the current US Senator, Christopher Dodd of Connecticult, who had his henchmen just around the corner, so to speak, that forced the de-marking of these lugers for if as rumored that these were from a Communist-block country then Sam Dodd was going to make certain somebody was going to go to jail.
 
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