The Mexican Luger

Mexico’s President for nearly 30 years, Porfirio Diaz was very interested in modernizing the Mexican Army. He invested in new artillery, magazine guns, and small arms – such as the Mondragon semiautomatic rifle. In addition, Mexico tested the Luger pistol circa 1903-1905. They found it to be quite satisfactory, and appear to have been interested in purchasing them for artillery and cavalry use, but never followed through – presumably political or monetary problems prevented doing so (and Diaz was removed from power by 1911). Mexican property Lugers are extremely rare, as only a small number were purchased for testing. They can be identified by an “EJERCITO MEXICANO” mark engraved on the left side (done in Mexico, not by DWM). They are otherwise standard Old Model Lugers, in 7.65mm, with the typical traits such as dished toggles and a flat leaf mainspring.

29 Comments

  1. How many people would attempt to counterfeit the Mexican Luger? I hope nobody does, since faking historical guns for profit is just as bad as burning history books and then making “politically correct” versions of the same.

    • That was exactly my thought when I first the video and pictures accessible at the auction site… Fakes of rare Luger export variants are known to exist.

    • “How many people would attempt to counterfeit the Mexican Luger?”
      That depends how many want (and would be ready to pay) for said Luger.

      • I know back in the late Forties and early Fifties, counterfeiting of North and Cheney 1799 model U.S. martial flintlock pistols from French St.Etienne M1777 flintlock pistols (by replacing the barrel with a longer one, usually cut from some nondescript carbine, and altering the markings) reached the point that it was adversely affecting the numbers of surviving French M1777s.

        There was a similar problem in collector circles a decade later with U.S. Aston M1842 percussion martials being spoofed into M1851 Palmetto Armory (Confederate) Aston copies. As a consequence, there are probably more “Palmettos” around today than there were in 1865, and significantly fewer unaltered Astons.

        Trivia note; H. Beam Piper wrote an entire mystery novel about antique arms collecting-and faking. It’s titled “Murder in the Gunroom”;

        http://www.gutenberg.org/files/17866/17866-h/17866-h.htm

        And it’s one of his few published non-science fiction novels. Even if you’re not “into” murder mysteries ala’ Ellery Queen, it’s a fun read for anybody who likes antique arms.

        cheers

        eon

        • “I know back in the late Forties and early Fifties”
          Also IIRC after WWII some “Japanese” Luger appears – which were normal Luger “upgraded” with use of punch captured from Japanese arsenals.

          • Browning M1910s and the DWM knockoffs of same got the same treatment at the time.

            Oddly, S&W Second Model Schofield single-action .45s and 1891 model single-action .38s seem to have escaped the notice of the fakers. In spite of the fact that both were imported by the restored Meiji monarchy to arm their police and military from 1875 on, and substantial numbers of both were captured in the PTO by Allied forces in 1942-45.

            The S&Ws were usually found in the hands of officers who were high enough in status to avoid getting stuck with a Type 26 (1893) DA-only 9 x 22Rmm revolver, but not quite high enough in the pecking order to rate a Nambu or a quality foreign commercial pocket auto or etc.

            cheers

            eon

    • “just as bad as burning history books and then making “politically correct” versions”
      It depend, if motivated by lust of $$$, then maybe. If made without intention of Schwindel – I doubt.
      I will cite В.Маяковский here:
      Что такое
      хорошо
      и что такое
      плохо?

    • Hmmmmmm… not sure if adding engraving to a 100 year old pistol is as bad as revisionist history and book burning. Let me think about that one….

      • Did you forget that some misguided veterans (not all veterans) returning from Japan post-nuke took home trophy rifles with mismatched parts (curtesy general ignorance of Japanese industrial practices with regards to the fact that all Japanese rifles were individually HAND FINISHED) claimed that all Japanese guns were worthless pieces of trash? Similarly, Stalin tried to erase the Siege of Leningrad from Soviet history and even tried to destroy the PPS-43 because it was developed in Leningrad!

        I may have messed up, but people do strange things in order to control what others see, hear, and think!

        • I know that a lot of Arisaka rifles showed up with the Imperial crest ground off the front receiver ring. It turns out that that particular bit of vandalism was conceived by none other than General Douglas MacArthur, as part of his “de-mythologizing” of the Emperor.

          cheers

          eon

          • I assume that Imperial crest is other name for Imperial Chrysanthemum.
            “General Douglas MacArthur”
            Not necessary, IIRC if Japan sold rifle abroad, this mark was erased as it denote Mikado property.

          • Oops, I forgot to review the post before submitting it. In any case, Leningrad’s struggles for recognition eventually paid off after Stalin suffered a stroke and kicked the bucket. Let’s just say that lots of people “romanticized” parts of history for profit. A good example is the problem of Christopher Columbus. He was not a good man nor a smart explorer. He used a flawed mathematical model of the earth and believed that he had reached Asia! Most smart folk already knew that the world is round, and the radius was estimated by good old trigonometry… or have I messed up again?

          • Ian Hogg mentions this in several of his books.

            The gist is that after the siege of Leningrad was lifted, a sort of “personality cult” grew up about the defenders, including the designer of the PPS-42/43, Sudarev.

            Stalin didn’t like such cults about anybody but himself, so the official histories downplayed the role of such people as Sudarev in holding off the Wehrmacht for nearly three years.

            John weeks (Infantry Weapons, Ballantine Illustrated History of World War Two, Weapons book no. 25, 1971) states that the PPS-42/43 was a soud and workmanlike design, cheaper and faster to make than the PPSh-41, but was never adopted by the Red army as a frontline weapon simply because the “Pay-Pay-Shay” was already in full production and perfectly adequate to the Red Army’s requirements.

            Postwar, however, it sort of “migrated” to West Germany by way of Finland (see “Tikkakoski M/44”), where it was the basis of the DUX series of SMGs used by the West German Border Guards prior to the development of the Heckler & Koch HK-54/MP-5 series.

            Also, there was a Polish built variant, the M1943/52, differing mainly in having a fixed wooden buttstock instead of the rather flimsy MP40 type metal folding one.

            cheers

            eon

          • “Most smart folk already knew that the world is round, and the radius was estimated by good old trigonometry… or have I messed up again?”
            Even if globe radius would be know exactly, this would not guarantee that new land would be recognized as new.
            At that time there does NOT exist exact clocks which would work if any condition. Celestial navigation without know time will allow quite precisely find your position North-South (latitude) but not West-East (longitude), for more date see query in Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Harrison

        • Was it that because ejercito had Mauser rifles already then? I thought first Mausers were purchased in 1910.

          • Mexico first bought Spanish Model 93 Mausers in 7 x 57 from Spain in 1894-95. After the Spanish-American war, they got quite a few “second hand” from the U.S., notably through used arms purveyors like Francis Bannerman & Co. in New York.

            The Mausers mainly went to the regulars. Reserve and militia units were generally armed with Remington-type rolling blocks in 7 x 57, mostly made by FN at Liege’ under license. In an odd twist, these 7mm single-shots were also bought from FN and deployed by the French Army in the colonies in WW1, to free up stocks of Lebel and Mannlicher-Berthier bolt-action repeating rifles to be sent to the Western front.

            In an even weirder twist, the French Army also bought U.S. Model 1894 Krag-Jorgenson carbines modified to 7 x 57, intended for shipment to Mexico in mid-1915 to arm the mounted “Guardias”, their 8mm pistol-caliber Pieper-Nagant revolving carbines being considered by that time a bit inadequate versus bandits who were often armed with things like Winchester lever-actions in .44-40.

            Oddest of all, the Mexican army and police were one of the first customers for the British Hale rifle grenade;

            https://books.google.com/books?id=wPZYAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA144&lpg=PA144&dq=Hale+rifle+grenade&source=bl&ots=22FXK33BDz&sig=Ctfv2th5Xfz-iypaQ84IkAP-1fY&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjVoqu__c_TAhXB7yYKHQmrBfwQ6AEIZTAN#v=onepage&q=Hale%20rifle%20grenade&f=false

            Invented by Martin Hale of the Cotton Powder Company of Faversham, Kent, England.

            The Mexican government forces used the Hale grenade(known as the “Manen Hale” there for some reason) as a riot control grenade, notably
            during the “Ten Tragic Days” in Mexico City (9-19 Feb 1913);

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ten_Tragic_Days

            Yes, they used fragmentation grenades for riot duty.

            The Mexican government contracted for over 25,000 (plus 80,000 of the hand-thrown variety of Hale frag)in mid-1912. (That must have been some “riot”.)

            A similar order from the Brazilian government for what were by then called “Mexican pattern” rifle grenades in 1913 was never delivered. With the outbreak of WW1, the British government “expropriated” the Brazilian order, and had the brass rods for the barrels of the Brazilian 7.65 x 53mm Mausers cut down in length to fit the slightly shorter barrel of the SMLE.

            BTW, the Mexican forces never used “proper” blank grenade-launching cartridges. They just pulled the bullets of standard 7 x 57 rounds, and stuffed the empty space above the powder with…bar soap.

            ref; Man at Arms, vol. 37 no. 5, Oct 2015. “The Employment of Rifle Grenades During the Mexican revolution” by James B. Hughes, pp.25-26.

            cheers

            eon

          • @ Eon…
            excellent knowledge of relevant history. It shows how elites always managed to address their needs in order to maintain grip of power, just to loose it shortly to competing groups or individuals.

  2. I’m going to throw a conditional mierda del toro bandera on this one. Three reasons-

    1. Any time something “unique” surfaces, it’s suspect. When it happens to surface twice in the same place… If there were better provenance Julia’s would tell us.

    2. I don’t have it in hand or have a high powered magnification photo, but it looks as though that engraving might have been done with a modern router pantograph engraving machine, the sort you find at cheap jewelers and trophy shops. NOT an early 20th century technology. Here’s how they work- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dh3_iokl7CA Notice how some of the letters are misaligned ever so slightly, which is a typical result from this process.

    If you look at the full screen magnification of the engraving you can see what appears to be the traces of the router chattering inside the letters. I could be wrong- it also looks as though there’s displacement from the letters, which would indicate a stamping or roll mark. Hard to tell for sure.
    (I’m no expert, but the typeface isn’t a 1905 looking one to my eye, either.)

    3. Finally, and most damning, it’s EJÉRCITO. I find it unlikely that the engineers at the Mexican ordnance corps would go to all the trouble of making a rollmark die for this high visibility project for generals and ministers, in their own language, and spel the name of the institution they worked for rong.

    I would find it far easier to believe that the German speaking people at DWM marked it, but you say it’s definitely NOT DWM. I assume you’re right, if the rollmark matched DWM’s other typefaces we’d see examples in the auction description.

    • I have gone thru similar exercise (ejercito) but not to the depth you did.

      Couple of my points
      – what was the size of lot delivered from DWM to Mexico? Two, five, ten pieces? I have no clue. If it was more than two it might make sense to make a roll die (I suppose they knew how to do it then; minting has been perfected trade for a long time)
      – marking is well in-line and is uniform in size and spacing. Also, there is visual and equal rise of material in proximity of tool entry; that spells impression, not engraving.
      – overall visual condition of weapon is “as new” and therefore it makes it hard to believe it would survive in this condition (with or without casual lube & wipe) for so long.

      Really strange… but I do not claim it is necessarily a fake (popular word lately). I am not sure but temptation is there.

  3. @ eon, are you sure about these FN made Rolling Block ? I’d rather think of
    Nagant instead.
    The Nagant brothers were manufacturing Rolling Block under licence from Remington. In fact, Remington recognized them as equal if not better quality than theirs. They improved the basic design, most notably the extractor. They also made underlever RB actions and double barrels shotguns and pistols (the infamous Belgian Gendarmerie twin-barrel pistol) RB.
    In cooperation with Liège Proof House, they also succeeded in a serie of insane tests to proove the strongness and the safety of the RB action.

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