Adler Pistol at James D Julia

The Adler is a unique little pocket pistol built in pre-WWI Germany.Not much is known about it, as only about a hundred were manufactured and they failed to be a commercial success. The design is a simple blowback one, using a proprietary 7.25mm cartridge. However, the disassembly method is pretty neat, and the pistol handles quite well. This particular example is the best condition one still known to exist.


  1. “Not much is known about it”
    This pistol is described in Deutsche Reichspatent Nr. 176909 however I can’t find it.

    “7.25mm cartridge” states that this cartridge is somewhat linked with 7 mm Charola y Anitúa (for Charola-Antiua automatic pistol), however I don’t know espanol well enough to figure which this link mean.

      • Thanks Daweo. Your merit of finding documents is amasing. The pistol of first decade of last century has some innovative good features like integrated disconnector spur on trigger bar which has been commonly using today but also some bads like using screws for moving parts which thoroughly unwanted in current manufacturing trends. The breechbolt gives no outside extentions during firing but has very little mass even for more weaker .22″ rounds. The pistol should have had terrible recoil and this may be a reason of not continuation its production.

    • They only say that both are almost identical cartridges, and only direct comparison and precise measurement will show their slight differences.
      Perhaps the Adler 7.25mm was a marketing twist over an existing cartridge (7mm Charola y Anitua), already produced in Austria by “Keller & Co”, whose use was fading away given that the pistol that shot it was out of production for quite some years and never exceeded the 2000 specimens (in both 5 & 7mm Charola).

    • My espanol’ is limited, but it says that the cartridge was designed around 1905, and saw only limited distribution, being completely “extinct” before WW2 began.

      It also calls it the 7 x 17.5, indicating that the actual bullet diameter is a “true” 7mm. From the photo, the Adler round is slightly shorter OA than the 7mm CyA, and from the looks of the photo has a lighter bullet.

      Just a SWAG.



  2. Maybe the pistol should have been chambered for a more readily available cartridge like .32 ACP. Proprietary rounds are a pain in the neck to supply. The rim check slot is just begging for foreign object damage. The bolt handle, while easy to grab and use as a “get your mitts off me” rear sight, might snag on one’s clothes (drawing the Adler from inside a jacket seems to be out of the question). The grip angle seems more like one used on a target pistol rather than a defensive pistol. If the barrel were a tad heavier, would it negate some of the recoil?

    The Adler, overall, is a compact package of pain for both the user and any mugger on the streets, but it could also show up in a science-fiction movie as a laser pistol… Or am I wrong?

    [Optional content below]

    Which would be the most useful in a dark alley scuffle, the Adler, the Glisenti, the Langenhan, or of all things, the Type 94 Nambu?

    • You’ve pretty much covered every comment I was going to make. The thing might have sold better in .32 ACP, but as Strongarm notes, recoil would have been a b-kitty with that lightweight bolt.

      In a dark alley, I’d take the Langenhan over the others on grounds of sheer reliability. At least with it when you pull the trigger you know that (a) it’s going to go “bang” and (b)assuming it’s in good condition (and that spring retaining stirrup thumbscrew is good and tight), it’s not going to undergo “catastrophic self-disassembly”, which is more than you can say for the Glisenti Modelo 10. As long as it hangs together, it’s basically a Browning Model 1900 .32, and about as reliable, not to mention an actual “pocket pistol” that will fit in a pocket.

      The Type 94 would be my second choice. It had a lot of faults, but it at least fed, ejected, and fired somewhere in-between.

      The Glisenti I’d avoid like the plague; never mind blowing it up with 9 x 19 P rounds, it tended to lose its sideplate (and internal mechanisms) with its own ammunition at times.(9 x 19 P case but closer to the .380 ACP in pressures and ME).

      Power-wise, there wasn’t much to choose between them, although if the Adler round was really based on the CyA, I’d expect it to be substantially less powerful than the .32 ACP or 9 x 19 Glisenti.

      Also, if all else failed, the FL and Type 94 were at least solidly-built enough to make a decent sap.



      • Ouch! Getting beaned by a Langenhan heel or a Nambu heel would hurt! Thankfully I did not offer a Chauchat-Ribeyrolles 1918 submachine gun in 8 mm Lebel or a Schuler gas pistol with tear gas rounds…

        • Friendly advice; never hit ’em with the butt. Guns have been known to go off when beat about like that, and you’d be the likely recipient of the slug.

          The business end of either pistol is heavy and solid enough to get the job done. And if the pistol goes off, the other guy has to worry, not you.

          There’s actually an entire school of martial arts that deals with the use of firearms as impact weapons in CQB. Generally, here in the USA only police have even heard of it;

          No, it’s not that “Gun Fu” silliness you see in HK action movies, either.



          • Uh, I meant using the sap strike with the muzzle pointed away from the user or if the gun is out of ammo with no reload possible, in which case the intended recipient of the butt of the gun is going to have two black eyes and “stars” in his optic nerve. Or if you’re really sneaky, have the gun in one hand and a trench knife in the other.

  3. I wonder if the inventor conceived or imagined this design as some form of locking mechanism. Maybe not it’s layout might just have been designed to facilitate easier manufacturing/disassembly, somewhow. Had the Luger already been invented by 1905? This bares a superficial external resemblance to it, in my opinion.

    The swing out rear piece for disassembly could be imagined as a sort of upside down toggle device attempt, if the barrel moved rearward slightly as part of the upper receiver if you will i.e. As per a Luger, but this toggle thing “The swing out piece” was attached to the frame.

    Upon firing the bolt would contact it in it’s closed position. Forcing it to open via it being pushed up, as the bolt pushes against it. But if it couldn’t open, effectively it would lock the gun. So, how would you prevent it from opening initially yet enable it to subsequently- Creating a locking mechanism.

    Well, on a Luger the barrel as part of the upper receiver moves forward again after moving backwards to break the toggle via it enaging with the shaped surfaces on the frame. Perhaps this design intended to allow the bolt to push back against the toggle opening it slightly lifting it’s front you understand, but then preventing it from lifting any higher until the bullet had left the barrel.

    When this happens the upper receiver returns to it’s original position upon hitting a stop, but the case would still wish to blow out of the chamber thus putting pressure onto the bolt so therefore the toggle.

    Ok if the upper receiver had a crossbar like a flat plate “the rear sight could sit on it” with a gap between its lower and the toggles upper.

    The toggle can’t move back only up, but the barrel can move back and forward. So the toggle could be lifted without moving the barrel, to cock it, but on firing the barrel would move temporarily preventing the toggle from moving up until the barrel returned.

    The bolts spring would be separate from that of the barrel and the layout would be similar but different due to the differing action however if you could sort put were they go, that would leave a pistol ressembling this one externally but it would be different.

    I corrected myself halfway through there on more than one occasion, he he. Maybe toggles were patented as swingy out locking things, so they couldn’t use it or it didn’t work, or I just made all that up working or otherwise.

      • Sort of a midway point–form-wise–between the Borschardt (sp?) and the Luger, minus the toggle action, of course. The early autos are always fascinating; who knew what would work? but this one appeals to me more than most. I wonder if it was doomed from the outset by a proprietary cartridge?

        • Apparently Luger patented his design in 1898, it’s rear resembles a Borchardt… He might have originally conceived a different mechanism, than straight blowback but didn’t proceed with it which resulted in it’s unusual shape- Or this was simply related to the take down procedure, .32acp would seem a better cartridge although maybe not without a locking method it’s bolt is quite small.

  4. I wrote a piece about this gun a while ago:

    “This pistol was not actually designed by an “Adler”, but rather by a Mr. Haussler, who patented the original design. On the 22nd of August 1915, one Max Hermsdorff took out German patent #176909 with an improved version of Haussler’s design, which was picked up by the company Engelbrecht & Wolff. They manufactured the pistol, but marketed it under the Adlerwaffenwerke company, which was simply an advertising front for the pistol.

    Ultimately, not many Adler pistols were manufactured; production lasted until 1907 before the design was dropped. It didn’t sell very well due to intense competition from popular designs such as the Mauser C96.

    The Adler was chambered for 7mm Adler, a bottlenecked cartridge of which a very limited quantity was produced. It was a simple blowback design that utilized a reciprocating bolt with a pointed cocking handle protruding from the top of the frame. It also had an odd little opening slot on the left side of the receiver, next to the safety. Upon opening this slot, the firer check if there was a round chambered. It also could be opened to release trapped gases in the event of a jam.”

    • There’s this link to a Pdf which has some information about the Adler on it, an extract of which is below.

      “It has been suggested that there may be links between the Adler and the Swiss →Häussler-Roch pistol, particularly as ‘Haeussler’ is an acceptable alternative spelling to ‘Häussler’ avoiding the use of an umlaut. However, though the Adler and the Häussler-Roch pistol operate on blowback and locked-breech principles respectively, there are distinct similarities in their contruction. Te origins of the 7mm Adler cartridge apparently lie in the 7mm →Charola y Anitua, an early auto-loader designed in Spain in the last years of the nineteenth century. Ultimately made in Belgium for its promoters, the Charola y Anitua had been comparatively widely distributed in western Europe by 1905”

      • “Some writers – including myself – have previously attributed the design of the Glisenti pistol to two Swiss engineers living in Belgium, Paul Hausler and Pierre Roch. While their design is similar to the Glisenti, later research established that the designer of the Glisenti was Bethel Abiel Revelli.” That’s an extract from another webpage.

  5. I own an ADLERWAFFENWERK ZELLA ST/BL HAEUSSLER 7.25MM and was wanting to know if anyone would have a value for it. It has walnut grips which are in great shape. It does have some minor rust but for the age it is in pretty good shape. Thank you for the help.

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