KrauseWerke .45ACP Luger at RIA

The story of the .45ACP Lugers is a bit complex, and widely misunderstood. What most people believe is that two such guns were made for US military testing, one was lost, and the other is worth a million dollars. Well, that’s virtually all incorrect. In actuality, probably about a half dozen were made in a couple different forms by DWM. That does include two for US trials, but neither of those guns is known to still exist. What is interesting is that it is actually pretty easy to know that. We have a photo of one of the original trials Lugers in the 1907 trial report, and when compared to the “million dollar Luger” (which actually went for just under $500,000 when it was last sold in 2010), it clearly has a slightly different grip angle. Fact is, the US insisted on a 60 degree grip angle instead of the standard 55.5 degrees for the Luger. The two trials guns were made with 60 degree grips, but the handful of other experimental and prototype .45ACP Lugers – including both of the ones currently known in the US – have the standard 55.5 degree grips. In addition, both of the ones in the US are chambered for standard .45ACP, where the trials guns used a 1906 version of the .45ACP cartridge which was a millimeter longer. The two guns in the US today are authentic DWM Lugers made by the factory in .45ACP, but they were made for purposes other than US military trials. There would have been potential for commercial sales, and other countries interested in a .45 version besides the US, and that was the reason those two guns (and probably a couple others since lost) were built.

Anyway, the point of this is to set the backdrop for a .45ACP Luger being sold by RIA in their April Premiere auction. It is a gorgeous museum-quality reproduction made by Mike Krause in California, serial number 5. It is unfired and immaculate, so far as I can tell. However, I did have a chance to put a few rounds through Krause gun #4, which was a very cool opportunity. I included some slow motion footage of it in today’s video. I suspect whoever buys it will leave it unfired, but they will be missing out on a lot of fun if they do.


  1. It’s a good historical reminder that the U.S.A. military wasn’t the biggest bidder on the block, and pistols weren’t a priority.

  2. Had U.S. military actually receive this wunder-pistole, would they be happy with it?

    No one can be sure. What is rather obvious however that with mass dislocation close to grip it tends o produce rather noticeable muzzle rise. In comparison, having shot .45 cal. Para in compact package, I felt the recoil was manageable and rise not significantly bigger than with std. 1911.

    This saying should not be of priority here. There is a unique piece of kit to be had and that’s where the excitement should go. And it surely is unique piece!

  3. I am wondering – assuming that .45 Luger would be adopted US Army and ordered into production, wouldn’t be the metric system-inch system difference obstacle? How many time is needed to convert metric documentation to inch?
    For example when Tupolev reverse-engineered B-29 to get Tu-4, he encounter problem like other sheet thickness and bolt sizes that available from Soviet manufacturers. I know the automatic pistol is far simpler that four-engined bomber, but still it doesn’t guarantee that metric to inch conversion will be successful.
    Does US Army considered the supplied trial pistol from manufacturing point of view i.e. how much hours is needed to produce one pistol? So far I know Luger automatic pistol was hard (expensive) in production.

    • This is what Russians had to deal with about all the materiel they received as part of War lend-lease. My father told me that 2 years after end of war he saw Russian made copy of Dodge truck; so they apparently knew how to do it – with conversion or without.

    • The Tu-4 did work quite well in the end, although some Soviet aircraft designers later complained that with the resources required for reverse-engineering the B-29 they could have designed an entirely new bomber with similar performance in about the same time.

      So, I don’t think it would have been THAT difficult to convert the Luger to imperial measurements, although it probably would have required some additional testing before mass production.

      • “The Tu-4 did work quite well in the end, although some Soviet aircraft designers later complained that with the resources required for reverse-engineering the B-29 they could have designed an entirely new bomber with similar performance in about the same time.”
        The Tupolev start designing their own long-range four-engine bomber before the copy of B-29 was ordered – it was ANT-64 also known as “plane 64” or “64”. Moreover there was few other design done by other construction bureaus, so far I know Tupolev has use his connection to knock-out rivals designs (before the copy of B-29 was ordered) – for example Myasishchev designed four-engine DVB-202 bomber based on his earlier design – twin-engine DVB-102, the DVB-202 was later developed into DVB-302. The DVB-202 and DVB-302 never go beyond project stage, but one prototype of DVB-102 was completed (first flight: 1942) and contain many novel features: pressures cabins (one for navigator+pilot and one for gunners), remote controlled turrets and others.
        (DVB is acronym for Long-range, High-Altitude, Bomber)

          • This is impressive knowledge Daweo. I am glad it is not just me who presents ‘diversion’ on this page…:-).

            Seriously – you have throughout knowledge of many war-machine related subjects; I used to be aircraft buff myself in the past and like to review what you brought up. That designer (Myasishchev) also produced design of supersonic bomber which resembles B-58 Hustler, but did not see production AFAIK.

          • “Myasishchev”
            Myasishchev was working on many projects through his long carrier. When he was student in 1920s, he work in Klimov (aerial engines design) team, his graduation project was all-metal fighter design. Later he take part in designing many Soviet aircraft, the last part of his carrier was heading the TsAGI in 1960-67, so as you can see he was active in airplane designing for about 40 years.

        • The DVB-102 was actually a very good albeit expensive, aircraft. I am quite sure that either Tupolev or Myasishchev OKBs could have produced a capable strategic high-altitude bomber if given the oportunity (at least in the same league as the B-29), but I think Tupolev’s ANT-64 was in far more advance design stage when the whole effort got cancelled by the order to reverse-engineer the B-29. I also think it was Tupolev, the ‘high priest’ of Soviet bomber design, who actually complained that with the resources needed for the reverse-engineering a local clone of the B-29 they could have designed an entirely new bomber with similar performance in more or less the same time, as Daweo pointed out.

      • It is apocryphal, but I rather like the story that the Tu-4 engineers included the Boeing stamp on the control pedals to protest the demands of reverse engineering.

  4. Re-dimensioning and re-tolerancing the FAL for inch mfg took something like 2 years…..

    As for the slow motion video there, wow, what a muzzle-flip that thing has!

  5. I was just going to say that… it was for CDN Forces. They even had “rifle steering committee” for that purpose. Yet, Canada had become officially metric country in some 15 years after.

    Btw, recall a man I met in southern States who looked at me with envy that we are ‘metric’ country. He was ex-German.

  6. Thanks for the history Ian.

    The US had started work on converting the FAL to English Units when it looked to be certain of being adopted.

    In working for US companies over the last 25 years or so, some have used English units, and some have used Metric. It really depends on the industry. Some industries that do machining have gone over to metric units. Any industry that measures things with tape measures, though, will be using the English system. For carpentry or steel fabrication or piping work I think feet and inches are a more useful unit, but that is just me. Traditions die hard–in Texas varas (Spanish yards, about 33 inches) were used for land records well into the 1900’s, generations after Texas was no longer part of a Spanish speaking country, and my understanding is that some land records are still in varas in that state.

    For American scope mount screws the usual screw hole is not metric and it is not the common national coarse or national fine thread (the English-units standard threards in the US) either, it is an obsolete “national standard” thread and other than the gun trade I’m not sure that any industry still uses the “national standard” threads for anything. And the drill to make the hole (before it is taped) is one of the number-series drill bits. As opposed to one of the letter-series drill bits. Which is different still from the fraction (English unit) drill bits. I could see that sort of thing being hard to convert a blue print to metric if they did not have some of the “tribal knowledge” that went along with the country of origin.

    • In North America, for several decades it was Engineering drawing standard ANSI/ASME Y.14 which was base for conduct of mechanical design and its final output – drawings. It covers for practices in both “imperial” and “metric” units. However, this does not necessarily mean that same practices apply here as elsewhere in “genuinely metric” world.

      For one thing, during my practice thru more then 3 decades on this continent, I have not seen application of such basics as tolerance symbols in system of united hole/ shaft eg. xx.xx H7 or xx.xx e8. This is the staple of tolerancing techniques thru-out Europe and Asia and everyone understands them. On this system are based for example off-shelve standard gauges, which unifies and simplifies checking (QC). Nothing like that here though; every dimension is typically accompanied by limit tolerances, unless specified by general note.

      So, this is just a hint that there is lot more to metric system, then people dare to think. At the same time I know that there are some rare companies (usually related to parent or sister companies elsewhere), who mastered this stuff and use it to their advantage.

  7. There is a third old 45 cal luger! I think # 3. It is in a college museum near New Orleans La. That will not allow It to be Handled.

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