Book Review: German Pistols and Holsters

I’d heard some negative things about today’s book before I picked up a copy, and I was happily surprised by its usefulness. The book is German Pistols and Holsters 1934/1945, by Major Robert D. Whittington III. It is a pretty straight-forward work, written to aid collectors and historians in understanding and identifying the handguns that were used by German military, police, and Nazi party officials. Each of those groups used a different procurement process and different associated markings. The military ones are pretty well documented, but it is much rarer to find a useful discussion of police- and party-specific weapons.

The mainstays of the German sidearm at this time were the P08 Luger and the Walther P38, but a wide variety of foreign-made pistols were also used, from Belgian High Powers to Polish vis 35 Radoms to French Uniques. Whittington covers all of these, explaining what specific markings should or could appear on each, when they were procured, and how many were used. It is not a particularly flowery book, but I found it quite useful. The numerical data is well presented, and the descriptive notes about each gun are both concise and pleasantly informative themselves.

Original copies of German Pistols and Holsters are pretty spendy, but the recent reprint has all the information at a quite reasonable price:


  1. It might be worth of mention that Czech made pistols(specifically vz.24 and vz.27) in addition to guns of Austrian and Hungarian provenience were used by elements of German military and security forces. It would make for one huge collection. One has to wonder how they managed to handle this logistically.

  2. Yep, and the book does touch on the vz.27. A complete list of the pistols included by Whittington is:
    P08 Luger
    Walther HP (commercial P38)
    Walther PP
    Walther PPK
    Mauser 1934
    Mauser HSc
    Sauer 38(H)
    Norwegian M1914
    Astra 200
    Astra 300
    Astra 400
    Astra 600
    Star Model B
    Browning HP
    vis 1935 Radom
    MAS 1935A
    Browning 1922
    Femaru M1937
    Czech vz. 27
    Czech vz. 38
    Unique & Unique Kriegsmodell
    MAB Model D
    Steyr M1912

    • That’s quite a list. Those Spanish pistols do not surprise me that much, the vz.38 does. I thought there was just small quantity made and then production seized. The model 24 must have found some user too; I believe it was regular and secret police(Gestapo) primarily. It’s hard to imagine that 200thousands or more units would remain idle.

  3. I’m not sure why he didn’t include the vz.24…possibly because none of them were manufactured for German use, they were simply captured and pressed into service.

    As for the vz.38, it was only in very small numbers. He does have a photo of an example (with no serial number) that has German acceptance marks, so they were at least considered for use.

  4. I bought Whittigton’s German Pistols and Holsters 1934/1945 when It came out new. It was my obsession, it was a list of every thing i needed to buy to have a complete collection! time went on and as I could find and buy an example of a gun in the book I would write the serial number on the page picturing the gun. It was a great QUEST! I aquired almost all of the guns listed except the Amand Gavage and the Astra 200. One Example of each gun was what I wanted. Problems arose though the darn Nazi’s put these Dates,code sand little marks on their guns to show who used them the Police, Navy, Army, Party- Damn I needed one from each of those groups for each gun they used. Another thing I needed was each gun had a holster and spare Mag for each type of gun. Then there was a constant need to upgrade the examples of the one I had. That was easy just buy a better one and trade or sell the poorer condition one I had. The real problem came when It came to NAMED guns! They gave presentation guns to important people. I found several of those but they seemed to be priced just a little higher than what my house was worth. In reality I put together a great collection for a guy on a Letter Carriers wage and 3 boys to bring up. Most of that collection are long gone nowbut It was great fun and I met and made friends with some great men,because of this book.

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