Bulgaria bought its first Lugers in 1903; 1000 Old Model guns in 7.65mm. It bought another 1300 New Model Lugers in 1908 (again in 7.65mm), but both of these orders were intended for private purchase by officers. It wasn’t until 1911 that Bulgaria formally adopted the Luger as an army sidearm, and placed an order for 10,000 gun in 9mm to be issued at large. The guns were delivered in 1912, and have a couple unique features:
- The toggle has a Bulgarian crest and the chamber a script DWM logo (the reverse of normal placement).
- A large square lanyard loop on the back of the grip.
- Cyrillic safety and extractor markings.
- A Bulgarian lion acceptance mark in lieu of standard German proof marks.
- Serial numbers from 1 – 5000 and 1C – 5000C
This comprised the largest single batch of Bulgarian Lugers, although they would receiver 5,600 German P08 models in 1943 as military aid. In addition, many of the 1903 and 1908 purchased guns were converted to 9mm to standardize them during World War Two.
Sold for $4,888 at the December 2019 RIA Premier auction.
Wow, one would have thought that 30-year old guns were too old to serve. Apparently the design was good enough to last in service or else Bulgaria would have simply bought something else. I could be wrong.
75-100 year old Lugers still work just fine as long as they’ve been properly cared for, so they were certainly more than serviceable at a much younger age.
“(…)or else Bulgaria would have simply bought something else(…)”
Well, economy of Kingdom of Bulgaria was not in good shape after Balkan War in 1913 in which they fought against ALL adjacent countries (plus Montenegro), which as you might guess they lose.
Although capturing some land after joining Central Powers during Great War (1915), action of Allies in 1918, which launched offensive from Greece, forced signing of disadvantageous treaty, which has further negative effect on Bulgarian economy.
For more so: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kingdom_of_Bulgaria#Economy
Also automatic pistols and revolvers are generally on very end of chain of equipment to replace, note that Nazi Germany during Second World War used huge variety of automatic pistols – own, captured, produce by captured factories (see Pistole 640(b)), bough from neutrals (Astra 600) and even reworked some old Steyr-Hahn automatic pistols to fire 9×19 cartridge.
Soviet Union produced Nagant revolvers until 1945.
When I consider manufacturing tolerances of more than a century ago, stamping serial numbers on critical parts no longer seems obsessive. How much hand-fitting went into Luger manufacturing? Today’s professional gun users take being able to pluck and chuck standardized parts for granted. Look at the issues with the Ruby pistol and magazine interchangeability between different subcontractors.
Given this, serializing magazines would make sense then–not so much today.
also seems the stock lug was omitted on this order.
Under the safety lever is marked “Fire” position instead of “Gesichert” (Safe) at the German pistols.
hi have a 1912 Bulgarian Luger. Serial No 4100 with Cyrillic writing at the safety. All serial numbers match. Plus on one of the two magazines. However the byf displays on the top? But still the same serial number as the rest of the gun. Gun is in VERY good condition. please advise what this gun would be worth. Sent comments to my email and I will sent photo’s of the gun. I also have a replica holster made by Otto Sindel. firstname.lastname@example.org
The toggle has a Bulgarian crest and the chamber a script DWM logo (the reverse of normal placement).