This is a fabulous example of a completely original U.S. Model 1902 DWM "Cartridge Counter" Luger pistol as tested by the U.S. Army. It is pictured on page 77 of LUGERS AT RANDOM by Charles Kenyon Jr. As discussed in the book, these rare Lugers feature the unique Powell Indicating Device on the left side of the grip. There were exactly 50 of these pistols produced, and all are in the serial number range of 22401- 22450. This cartridge counter device was ordered by the U.S. 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 lengthwise down the grip with a small delicate metal strip attached to the backside that is covered with a 3 1/4 inch, very fragile, celluloid strip. The metal strip is inscribed with black numbers 1-7 running from the top to the bottom of the strip which indicates the number of rounds remaining in the magazine. 2) The second part is the special cartridge counter magazine. This magazine, although similar to a standard wood base magazine, has been slotted on the left side of the magazine body and is fitted with a special follower that has a small pin/indicator projecting from the left side of the magazine. This small indicator pin has a single horizontal witness mark on top, and the pin slides up and down under the celluloid strip as the rounds are fired indicating how many cartridges are 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 and recommended that these Lugers not be adopted for service as the Powell Indicating Device was too fragile and did not hold up well. All were returned to Springfield Armory and held for many years before being disposed of in the 1920s and 1930s through local sales. Many were sold directly to Springfield Armory employees. Aside from the unique grip and special cartridge counter magazines, these Lugers were a standard Model 1902 Commercial Luger chambered in the 9 mm Luger cartridge. They have 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, and unmarked and correctly blued lower frame/safety area. The magazine is nickel plated and has a wooden bottom with round metal inserts on either side. The full serial number "22428" is located on the front of the frame and the underside of the barrel. The partial serial number "428" or just "28" is stamped on the various small parts. The magazine and firing pin are correctly unnumbered. These early Lugers have primarily a high polish commercial rust blue finish and straw finished various small parts. There are distinctive features on this particular cartridge counter Luger such as how the numbers are stamped, the aged appearance of the internal cut on the upper left corner of the frame which allows the indicator pin of the magazine to be at its top position (indicating no cartridges in magazine), and the small "dimple" at the upper top, spine of the magazine. It is an absolutely all original unaltered authentic "Cartridge Counter" Luger pistol.
Excellent original condition with 99% of the original blue finish overall with just barely a hint of edge wear on the right front frame rail. The various smaller parts all retain 98% of their straw colors overall. The grips are also in exceptional condition with nice sharp checkering and some small handling mark on the upper right rear corner. The celluloid window in the grip is in solid condition, and the cartridge strip inside is clearly viewable. The special cartridge counter magazine is also complete and fully functional. This is probably one of the finest if not the finest known DWM U.S. Cartridge Counter Lugers known. This example is photographed in "Lugers at Random" which was printed in the late 1960s.
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