Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 557: Salvator-Dormus Semi-Automatic Austrian Military Trials Pistol

Auction Date: May 14, 2021

Rare and Historically Significant 1896 Austrian Military Trials Salvator-Dormus Semi-Automatic Pistol

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $20,000 - $35,000

Rare and Historically Significant 1896 Austrian Military Trials Salvator-Dormus Semi-Automatic Pistol

Manufacturer: European
Model: Semi-Automatic
Type: Pistol
Gauge: 8 mm
Barrel: 5 3/4 inch round
Finish: blue
Grip: walnut
Item Views: 1757
Item Interest: Active
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 379
Class: Antique

Originating with Austrian patent dated July 11th, 1891 by Archduke Karl Salvator and Captain Georg Ritter von Dormus, the Salvator-Dalmus is one of the earliest known semi-automatic pistol designs existent and functions using a blowback system. Although involved with the original design of this pistol, Archduke Karl Salvator died in January 1892 and Captain Georg Ritter von Dormus would continue with improvements. Reportedly 50 of these rare pistols are known to have been manufactured, of which 31 were delivered to the Austrian military in late 1896 and used in troop trials that took place in 1897. The pistols were deemed “too complicated” for the troops and also had claims of repeated cartridge jams between the chamber and bolt, leading to its subsequent rejection and the official adoption of the 1898 Gasser revolver as the primary Austrian military sidearm. On the bottom of the grip frame is an interesting loading cover hinged in between the lanyard ring that is able to be opened, allowing access for bottom feeding of rounds via stripper clip. Inside of the wood grips are guides acting as an internal magazine. To load the first round into the chamber, a knurled charging rod protruding underneath the barrel is pulled backwards against spring pressure. Like a Mauser C96, the bolt pushes against the hammer and cocks it back between every shot. To the left of the hammer is a flip up safety mechanism above a spring loaded bolt release mechanism (currently will not hold the bolt back). Serial number "27" is marked on some internal parts and inside the loading cover. Includes a modern felt-lined wood case with key. Provenance: The Clive Cussler Collection

Rating Definition:

Very fine, retaining 80% original blue finish with some light handling marks, light thinning on the barrel and grip straps, a small chip on the rear grip strap, scratches, and occasional patches of light surface spotting. Grips are very good with some scattered scratches and dents. Mechanically fine, with the bolt release not working (reference above). One of the earliest semi-automatic pistols ever made and a rare piece of evolutionary history.

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