The Bär was designed as a compact gentleman’s defensive arm with a number of interesting features. These include a “cylinder” or chamber block which held 4 cartridges in a single column, thus giving the pistol a smooth-sided shape easy to conceal while also giving it double the capacity of a typical double-barreled derringer. Thanks for the info on this unusual piece, Peter!
The Bär Pistol
By Peter Rasmussen
There is some confusion on this pistol and it’s inventor’s name – Behr (or Beahr). On the pistol barrel and in advertisements from the time is the pistol is is called “Bär.”
The Bär is a double barreled revolver, with a square 4-chamber block. The barrel is market “Bär Pistol.” The chamber block is marked “Deutschland, 98382 PATENT”, and on the other side: “Belgien 134215, England, Russia and North America.” It carries the double crowned U Suhl proofmark. The serial number is located on the left side of the barrel, and the Sauer trademark is on the front of the frame. The grip plates are of wood, with different styles of serrations. Hard rubber plates may be encountered (possibly replacements?).
The pistols were manufactured by Sauer & Sohn between 1899 and 1914. Very few were made, as the highest known serial number is below 300.
The original chambering of the pistol was 7 mm Bär rim fire (7×15.5mm), a proprietary cartridge designed in conjunction with it. In 1906 a model in the more common .25ACP (6.35mm Browning) was made available as well. The pistol could be had in black or nickel finish. Burchard Behr had a hunting arms factory in Hamburg, and why Sauer & Sohn made them is not known.
The 7 mm rimfire cartridges were made by G Roth, head stamped: GR – 7mm Bär.
Burchard Behr was granted a Swiss patent on March 4, 1898 on this design. He also received:
British patent no. 11998 (in this Behr is described as a Russian citizen living in Bendikon, Switzerland)
USA patents 627,966 and 630,478
Swiss patent 16440
German patents no. 98,382 in 2. /11. 1897,
No. 102 624 on 5. /3. 1898
and No 104 616 on 23. /11. 1897.
The German patents were taken in the name of Miss Valleri Schlapal of Zürich, for unknown reasons.
On the cylinder is written that Behr had Belgian patent (no. 13421) and Russian patent.
The chamber block is removed from the pistol, and loaded with 4 cartridges and replaced. The gun will now fire two shots double action. The button on top of the pistol is then depressed and the chamber block turned by hand. The remaining two shots can now be fired.
The Bär was marketed as a pistol that combined the revolver’s reliability and the flatness of an automatic.
When FN promoted the sale of their model 1900, the competition for the Bär pistol proved too strong and its production stopped. In the Albrecht Kind (Akha) catalog from 1910, it was offered for 42,50 RM and the cartridges 1,25 RM per 100. For comparison, a Roth-Sauer was 40 RM. Adolph Frank (ALFA) offered the Bär in 1911 for 48 RM and 49 RM for a 6.35 mm FN Browning model 1906. After 1914 no dealers offered the Bär pistol for sale.
Articles in DWJ
J. P. Sauer & Sohn by Jim Cate and Nico van Gun
EU Patent office
Sauer & Sohn Archive
Alfa Catalog from 1911