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Auction Date: November 30, 2012

Lot 3512: DWM - 1902

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Rare DWM Model 1902 American Eagle U.S. Army "Cartridge Counter" Test Luger
Estimated Price: $35,000 - $47,500
Item Views 270 Bid Activity Average
Serial #DWM - 1902 ManufacturerDWM Model1902
TypePistol Gauge9 Mm Luger Catalog Page178
Barrel3 7/8 Inch Round FinishBlue GripWalnut Checkered
Stock ClassCurio & Relic Handgun RatingSee Condition
DescriptionThis is a very fine example of an extremely rare, original, U.S. Model 1902 DWM "Cartridge Counter" Test Luger pistol that was tested by the U.S. with the unique "Powell Indicating Device" on the left side of the grip. There were exactly "50" of these pistols produced, all in the serial number range of (22401-22450), with the serial number of this specific Luger (22437). This cartridge counter device was ordered by the US Ordnance Board in late 1902 and was scheduled for testing in early 1903. The Powell Indicating Device consists of two things; 1) a special left grip that has a small slot cut length wise down the grip that had a small delicate metal strip attached to the back side that was covered with a 3 1/4 inch very fragile celluloid strip. The metal strip was inscribed with black numbers (1-7) running from the top to the bottom of the strip, which indicated the number of rounds remaining in the magazine; 2) the second part was the special cartridge counter magazine. This magazine, although similar to a standard wood base magazine, had been slotted on the left side of the magazine body and was fitted with a special follower that had a small pin/indicator screw projecting on the left side that slides up and down, under the celluloid strip as the rounds were fired, indicating how many cartridges were actually left in the magazine, a simple but very effective device. In April 1904, these "cartridge counter" Luger pistols were issued to the Cavalry and Light Artillery Boards at Ft. Riley, Kansas for field testing. On July 4, 1904 the Cavalry Board issued the final test report on the Model 1902 Luger, which recommended that these Lugers not be adopted for service. All were returned to Springfield Armory and held for many years before being disposed of in the 1920s and 1930s through local sales and to many Springfield Armory employees. Aside from the unique grip and special cartridge counter magazines, these Lugers were actually a standard Model 1902 Commercial Luger chambered in the 9 mm Luger cartridge, that had the United States "American Eagle'' Crest on the top of the chamber, a short, fat barrel configuration, flat/recessed breech bolt, dished toggles with the toggle lock on the right side, grip safety and first model thumb safety lever, with the polished lower area on the frame. The magazine is nickel plated and has a wooden bottom with round metal inserts on either side. The full serial number, "22437" is located on the front of the frame and the underside of the barrel. The partial serial number, "437" or just "37" is stamped on the all the various smaller parts, except the side plate which is number "52" and the trigger which is number "43". The magazine and firing pin, are correctly unnumbered. These early Lugers have the high polish commercial rust blued finish with the straw color on the various smaller parts. There are distinctive features on this particular cartridge counter Luger such as how the numbers are stamped, the correct wood dowel pin on the back of the left grip (which retains the indicator strip), the aged cut on the top left internal frame to allow the indicator to be at top (indicating no cartridges in magazine), and "dimple" at the top of the magazine rear all are authenticity "indications", pardoning the pun

ConditionVery fine with 85% plus of the original blued finish remaining with wear on the edges on the edges and high spots overall, with some dulling of the blue on the grip straps. The grips are also very fine with nice original checkering on both sides showing minor handling marks and light pressure dents from actual field testing. The small delicate celluloid strip behind the left grip shows some minor age cracks with a very small piece missing directly in the middle of the strip. The original magazine is very fine. The rare, early test Luger has all matching numbers except the side plate and trigger as noted above. Certainly a super rare example of a real DWM Model 1902 Cartridge Counter Test Luger for the advanced Luger or U.S. Martial collector.
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