H.P. Police Lugers are among the most enigmatic of Luger variations. The elements which identify them--the unit marking on the right receiver in addition to the front grip strap, the unit markings on the magazine spines, and most characteristically the ground-away stock lugs--are unique.
Conventionally, the unit mark is interpreted as "Hohere Polizeischul" (Senior Service Police Academy), as specified in the 1932 Prussian Police marking instructions. It has been noted, however, that the marking instruction for the Hohere Polizeischul is HP., while the Lugers themselves are marked H.P. (note the diference in the periods).
This discrepancy, along with the non-standard physical characteristics, has caused a number of advanced collectors to assert that these are not Senior Police School guns following the Prussian regulations, that the mark stands for something else entirely. Don Maus, in his research on Weimar Police Lugers, has addressed the H.P. question specifically, and has suggested an intriguing alternative. His report can be found here http://members.aol.com/donmaus1/Weimar_Police_Unit_Marks/
The Lugers presented here extend the characteristics of H.P. marked Lugers, shed new light on the practices of the H.P. Police and provoke new questions about this variation. While doing so, they also exemplify the broad range of rework practice in arming Weimar Germany.
The reported examples of H.P. Lugers are almost exclusively 1929 DWM in the u suffix block (one is a v suffix). They are consistently marked on the right chamber, and the stock lug is consistently removed. H.P.495., DWM serial# 7428u, is a representitive example of these Lugers. It is a standard Police style, with sear safety but not a magazine safety.
Download Attachment: HP495-Denim1-LAll2.jpg
Download Attachment: HP495-Denim1-RAll.jpg
Download Attachment: HP495-Denim1-Top.jpg
1929 Lugers were manufactured as Luger production was moved from the DWM plant in Berlin to the Mauser factory in Oberndorf. Whether these guns were newly manufactued or assembled from parts by Mauser is an ongoing question. It is clear that in the manufacture of #7428u the front of the frame was faced off, as if removing an existing serial number and stamping a new one in its place. Note how the front of the frame becomes abruptly vertical, and the front of the receiver sticks out forward just a bit.
Download Attachment: HP495-Denim1-FrontSlant.jpg
Although this pistol (as with practically Police Lugers) is in 9mm, the practices of the Treaty of Versailles forbade DWM to manufacture Lugers in this military caliber, a requirement which was honored more or less. It appears that in the case of this gun the H.P. organization obtained a standard Commercial Luger in .30 cal., and had it rebarrelled in 9mm. The barrel of this gun does not have a witness mark corresponding to the mark on the receiver, a strong indication that a replacement barrel was installed.
Download Attachment: PoliceWitness.jpg
The commercial Crown/N power-proof can be seen on the barrel as well as on the left receiver; there is no power-proof on the breechblock or toggles. The gun is completely serial numbered, the extractor, front toggle link and sear bar are in the military, exposed style. The rear toggle pin is numbered, as required by a 1932 Instruction.
The front grip strap is stamped with the Police unit mark in the conventional manner as is customary following the 1932 marking instructions.
Unlike other known Police Lugers, H.P. Lugers have their unit marks repeated on their right receivers, in a very small, distinctive letter style.
Download Attachment: HP495-Denim1-RcvrMark.jpg
H.P. magazines have their unit marks stamped on the spine. Although this is not completely unique--examples of other spine-marked magazines are known--reported matching H.P. mags are consistently so marked.
Download Attachment: MagMarks.jpg
Download Attachment: HP495-Denim1-Mag.jpg
H.P. magazine bases are reported in both wood and aluminum, with various markings. H.P. 495. has one matching magazine, wood base, stamped number 2 as the spare.
The most noteworthy defining characteristic of reported H.P. Lugers is the ground-away stock lug. These guns are not well known, so they may be passed up by collectors who don't want a Luger which has been "butchered" as so many were during the mid-to-late 20th century. Auto-Mag has letters from correspondents wondering and regretting the "ruin" of these otherwise fine Lugers. H.P.495. was obtained at an advantageous price because of this "flaw"; it was not until later, in a chance discussion on the Luger Forum, that an experienced collector pointed this out as an actual variation.
The removal of the stock lug from this pistol is not simply a "slicking-off" of the excess metal. Some care was taken in its removal: the back of the remaining metal was rounded a bit, and the sides of the grip strap were chamfered to match.
Download Attachment: HP495-Denim1-Grind.jpg
The holster in this set is made by Albrecht Kind AG. According to Walter the company was founded in 1853, and provided commercial Parabellum holsters during the Third Reich. They may not have been a manufacturer, but had the work done by subcontractors.
This holster was modified from the buckle type military/commercial style, to the strap-and-stud Police type closure. The reported examples of H.P. holsters are by this maker.
Download Attachment: HP-Denim1-HolsterFront.jpg
Download Attachment: HP-Denim1-HolsterBack.jpg
The characteristic mark of Albrechk Kind is crossed rifles/crossed laurels/crossed pistols over Akah . The mark on this holster has been mostly (intentionally, it appears) obliterated; the inset shows a complete mark.
Download Attachment: HP-Denim1-AkahInset.jpg
This holster is stamped H.P., but with no weapon number. Examples are known both with and without number.
Download Attachment: HP-Denim1-HolsterOpen.jpg
Perhaps the most noteworthy characteristic of this holster I only noticed while looking at the picture and preparing this presentation. The wear mark on the lid, above the pistol butt, shows the pattern of having been made by a stock lug--clearly in contradiction to what is known about H.P. marked Lugers. This is as good an introduction as any to
H.P. 54 is a 1917 Erfurt, serial# 1357h . It was reworked in the Weimar era, its most immediately obvious change is a DWM replacement center toggle. There are smaller details which will be seen. The barrel is original, demonstrated by the remains of its Erfurt inspection stamp and proof eagle; it does not have a 1920 property stamp on the receiver.
Some of the markings presented here are difficult to see in photographs. I have chosen not to whiten them (except for the H.P. marks) so that detail is not obscured, and because the surface condition of parts of this gun make its application problematic.
Download Attachment: HP54-Denim1-LAll.jpg
Download Attachment: HP54-Denim1-RAll.jpg
Download Attachment: HP54-Denim1-TopMod.jpg
Download Attachment: HP54-Denim1-Slant1917.jpg
The toggle train actually appears to be a complete replacement. The rear link is stamped with a Simson Eagle/6 where one would expect to find an Erfurt Inspector stamp. The front link is, very crudely, numbered to this gun.
Download Attachment: HP54-Denim-E6.jpg
The breechblock is numbered to the gun, again crudely, and has neither inspection stamp nor power proof--indication of replacement. Not pictured, the firing pin has its original number 'X'ed out and 57 numbered above it--the crudest renumber of the lot.
The breechblock connecting pin is numbered 005, indicating to me an oversized replacement part. Rear toggle pins are known to have oversize stamps on them, but I have not been aware of front pins so numbered until now. It doesn't solve whatever fitting problem this gun has, the pin is so wobbly in the front toggle that I'm not sure that I'd want to shoot this Luger.
Download Attachment: HP54-Denim1-BblockL.jpg
The rear toggle pin is numbered, appearing to overstamp another number.
Download Attachment: HP54-Denim1-Pin.jpg
The sear bar is stamped with an eagle over HZAJt18. This is the marking of a Heeres Zeugamt, an Army repair depot. A search of these Forums yields a number of discussions on the topic, and several Lugers whose sear bars bear this stamp. Although there is some speculation about where these depots were and how they worked, much research is yet to be done before it is possible to assign a date to the Jt depot--if it is, indeed, Jt. At this stage one can only wonder what vagaries sent this Luger from its Imperial origins through Simson's rework system, into a Heeres Zeugamt depot, finally to end up in the H.P. Police organization. Very often these Lugers speak, but such eloquence is beyond this one at the moment.
Download Attachment: HP54-Denim1-HZa.jpg
The grips are numbered to the pistol but have no Imperial inspection stamps, indicating that they are rework replacements.
Download Attachment: HP54-Denim1-Grips.jpg
This Luger shares some of the recognized charcteristics of H.P. Police Lugers but remarkabley, not all. The right receiver is unit marked, in the same tiny, distinctive font, and the front grip strap is marked as well, in the H.P. designation which is so unlike the Prussian HP. designation. However, if you look at the overall pictures of this gun, you will see that it still has its stock lug.
Download Attachment: HP54-Denim1-RcvrMark.jpg
The most perplexing characteristic of these Lugers continues to be the ground-away stock lug. Early on in my consideration of this topic I wondered if all the H.P. stock lugs were ground the same way. If they were, it would be an indication that they were all done near the same time, or by the same technician, or both. This would be an indicator that the ground stock lug was truly characteristic of the variation, rather than random, coincidental U.S. postwar modification.
Pictured below are, from left to right, the rear grip straps of H.P.54., H.P.495., and H.P.213., also a converted Alphabet Commercial with a u suffix. The two u suffix Commercials are modified so similarly as to be done by the same hand or held to the same specification.
Download Attachment: HP-Denim1-GrindCompare.jpg
The Prussian Instructions for the unit marking of Police weapons are so precise that they specify the sizes of the letters to be stamped on the grip strap. Don Maus, in his H.P. research, noticed that the grip strap marks on the Lugers he observed seemed to be larger and differently proportioned than regular Police grip strap marks. He performed measurements based on the mathematical scaling and measurement of photos of H.P. grip strap marks avaialable to him, and discovered that, indeed, they are different sizes from the Prussian instructions. See Don's report, linked upscreen, for the measurement details.
This difference would seem to reinforce the opinions of those who assert that these are not Prussian Police Lugers. H.P.54. requires a reexamination of this idea.
The photo below shows the front grip strap markings of H.P.54., H.P.495., H.P.213., and L.M.184. (Landespolezei Münster) for comparison. They are all presented at the same scale, measured by grip strap width; slight differences in appearance are due to perspective changes resulting from photographing non-flat surfaces.
It is easy to see that the two u suffix guns are stamped with same-size dies, and that both the letters and the numbers are larger than the the L.M. example. It is also easy to see that H.P.54 differs from the other two guns. I performed some overlay comparisons with these images, with the result that: the letters and numbers of the two u suffix guns are the same size; the letters of H.P.54. are the same size as those of the L.M. comparison gun; the numbers of H.P.54. are the same size as the numbers on H.P.495. (and larger than the L.M. example), and were likely made with the same dies.
Download Attachment: HP-Denim1-MarksCompare.jpg
Conclusions and Questions
I obtained H.P.54. in the hopes that it would help provide greater understanding of the H.P. Police Lugers. It is ironic that it does so by prompting more questions than answers; at least it expands the topic. The recent appearance of H.P.88. http://www.gunboards.com/luger/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=4704&whichpage=1 and more detailed information about H.P.109. actually throw the whole topic into a state of statistical confusion.
After trying to draft this section four times now, I conclude that I have no conclusion regarding these guns.The evidence in steel is too contradictory, and documentation is not forthcoming to support even the wildest of WAG speculation. I will go so far as to say that I suspect that the more fruitful course of inquiry lies along the line of H.P. being something other than a Prussian Police unit mark.
I am by no means giving up on this topic. I invite anyone with any H.P. marked Luger or accessories to submit detailed descriptions of them, preferably with detailed photographs, to help make up a comprehensive catalog of this variation. Post them on the the Forum, or send them to me [email protected] . I don't mean to duplicate Don Maus's work, but rather to augment it. Reports of an HP. marked Luger--note the single period--would be fundamental to the understanding of this mark.
Before leaving this post I must express my appreciation to several individuals. To Don Maus, for taking the bit and doing serious research on this topic, without which this would just be pictures and descriptions of some guns. To Ron Smith and Bill Munis, for allowing me to use pictures of their Lugers in the comparison photographs. And a special thanks to Bill Munis, whose comments on the Luger Forum regarding the H.P. variation sparked the interest which has resulted in what you just read.