2a) M1900 first style unmarked DWM holster for M1900 prototype Chilean Test Trials multi-position adjustable rear sight Chilean Carbine rig 10003, Pistole Parabellum, Volume 3, pages 1246 and 1247, figures 1152 and 1153.
The early evolution of the holster for the 120mm barrel 30 Cal Swiss Test Trials 1899 Borchardt-Luger to the finalized production holster for the old model commercial production Parabellum occurs in a brief time period of late 1899 to 1900-1901 and can be basically summarized in three examples. Example 1a and example 1b being the holsters supplied with the 20 preproduction Swiss Test Trials 1899 Borchardt-Luger. The example 2a is the holster supplied with the 1900 Chilean 175 mm barrel, multi-position rear sight, 30 Cal carbine prototype. By 21 April 1900 the Borchardt-Luger had been renamed Selbstlade-Pistole Parabellum with the example 3a and example 3b being the first DWM holster made for the early two and three digit serial number M1900 old model “commercial” production Parabellums.
These early 1899 – 1900 - 1901 DWM commercial holsters for the 120mm barrel 30 Cal, Borchardt-Luger and the domestic German commercial BUG proofed Parabellum are currently 112 to 113 years old, are extremely rare and have only been recently pictured and described in any detail, not until 2010 by Joachim Görtz and G.L. Sturgess in Pistole Parabellum with conclusions and theories based on only a few surviving extant examples. This discussion is restricted to only the initial 1899 – 1901 DWM commercial holster offerings. For more information on the 1899 – 1901 holsters and other early German commercial holsters, the reader is directed to the only current, expert source, the three volume book set Pistole Parabellum, Copyright ©2010, by Görtz/Sturgess of which the early holster history is offered in Volume III, Chapter 41, starting with pages 1242 and 1244 and the much improved publication, The Borchardt & Luger Automatic Pistols, A Technical History for Collectors from C93 to P.08, Volume III, Copyright © 2010 & 2011 by Görtz/Sturgess where, essentially, the same material is presented in text and figures in Chapter 19, Accessories, pages 1166 through 1172.
Pistole Parabellum pictures on page 1245, figure 1151 another period unidentified holster maker, defined as a commercially offered "old" model holster. Several of these holsters are part of the LOB collection and will be discussed at the end of this article.
It has been established that a slightly different design of the 1899 Swiss Test Trials holster, except with a deeper holster body entrace cut-out, was used with the first, longer length 1900 prototype Chilean multi-position rear sight carbines. The subject 1900 example 3b, transitional design was used again, except for the longer length, with the example 2b, second series production prototype fixed rear sight Chilean carbines. This design was eventually adapted for the 9mm caliber P.04 navy 150mm barrel production carbine, albeit the center pictured number 2 holster for a board-stock, thus lacking a belt loop, and pictured examples 1 and 3 with the single belt-loop, respectively 31mm and 37mm wide. It is the evolutionary path of the subject examples 3a and 3b 1900 transitional holster, made for or by DWM, one has to assume, specifically for very early two and three digit serial number production, domestically offered 120mm barrel, 30 Cal commercial Parabellums that is discussed herein.
Since the example 2a holster supplied with the Chilean multi-position rear sight carbine is in the low 10000 serial number range, it is difficult to chronologically place it as the second in the design evolution of the holster and would seem to come after the stated third example, based solely on the fact that the Chilean holster lacks the loading tool under the cover flap, which places it as similar to example two, making it still in the mix, combined with other differences from the examples one and three discussed below.
As to whether the designation of example three for the holster with the added loading tool pouch under the cover flap is correct is complicated by the fact that there are two dimensionally different original loading tools, one being 53.5mm in length with the other being 50mm in length. Per Pistole Parabellum the 53.5mm loading tools have been found mostly in early production offered Luger commercial and presentation cases and rarely in some early style M1900 DWM holsters, and the 50mm Loading tools are found in early style DWM holsters only. The subject LOB example 3b holster has the 50mm loading tool. The longer 54.5mm loading tool has been identified in two very early DWM holsters, Pistole Parabellum examples 3a and 3c, one unmarked and the other example 3c, made by G. Reinhardt, however, the current loading tools maybe replacements as measurements of the tool and loading tool pouches of examples 3a and 3c indicate long term storage of the 50mm loading tool. Both holsters share similar characteristics, such as a single, 37mm wide belt-loop, same holster body opening shape and tear drop style, slit and brass stud closure cover flap and holster body pull-up strap.
Alternately, the evolution of the holster proper, viewed without the evolution of the actual loading tool is as follows:
It is difficult to establish an evolutionally progression of design for the early DWM holsters since there are very few surviving examples. Pictured are the only three known published 1899 and 1900 holster examples of the preproduction cleaning rod cover flap. Each 1899 example cover flap is positioned/located differently on the holster body and the 1900 - 1901 Chilean holster body cover flap, although basically identical, has a totally different, possibly improved, hinge arrangement. The cleaning rod cover flap differences do not necessarily indicate any specific evolutionally progression of design, especially the two 1899 examples as they are otherwise unmarked and not necessarily sequential, and basically represent a dead-end design as the cleaning rod cover design is changed in the 1900 – 1901 DWM old model production holster. Additionally, with these three interim holster examples, there are two different cleaning rod designs. The 1899 all brass cleaning rod is a shorter version adaption of the 1893 Borchardt pistol C93 barring block, sectionalized cleaning rod and the 1900 - 1901 Chilean cleaning rod is a preproduction variation of the final brass and steel production cleaning rod.
The only inconsistency is the holster supplied with the second Chilean, fixed rear sight prototype carbine production style 1900 holster, with the exception of the longer length holster body, is identical to the example one and three holsters for the 4¾-inch barrel Parabellum, with two exceptions, the first being a slightly different shape holster body entrance lip cut-out and secondly, and most significantly, lacking the loading tool leather pouch.
One exception to the identical example 3a and 3b M1900 Parabellum holsters is that there is actually another, otherwise identical holster identified here as example 3c, with the first or examples 3a and 3b having no markings and the example 3c having a leather makers name of G. REINHARDT or Gustav Reinhardt, chronologically identified by Pistole Parabellum as circa 1902/03. It has been suggested that the Pistole Parabellum examples 3a and 3c holsters with the longer 54.5mm loading tool, with the examples 3a and 3b being the first DWM made holster after the 1899 example 1 Swiss Test Trials holster and that the subject example 3b holster with the shorter 50mm loading tool, what is described as the finalized standardized design P.08 loading tool as dimensioned in a 1913 German Army inspection drawing.
However, the subject example 3b holster with the original 50mm long loading tool should be more accurately categorized as the first design loading tool that lead to the finalized P.08 loading tool, dimensioned as 50.5mm in length. This is based on the fact that a very early drawing exists for the loading tool with a original measurement of 50mm in length vs. the later P.08 loading tool drawing dimension of 50.5mm. There is another early combination drawing for a M1900 production magazine with domed follower button, pin punch and 50mm loading tool titled, interestingly, Selbstlade Pistole, Mod ---- with the date covered in the reprinting of this blueprint, which is also determined to be circa 1901, based partly on the pictured M1900 production magazine with domed follower button, introduced certainly before M1900 Swiss Ordnance contract Luger sn 1000 and a similar combination drawing of the loading tool, along with an early brass and steel cleaning rod and pin punch, dated 25. – VII. – 01. or July 25, 1901, signed by George Luger. There is another drawing, undated, also for the early 53.5mm long dimensioned loading tool, pictured in Bender’s book on page 117 with the caption statement: Early DWM drawing for pin-punch and loading tool. Undated., identified in Pistole Parabellum as 54.5mm in length, interestingly, with the drawing titled: Selbstlade-Pistole, System, „Borchardt-Luger.”, the name itself indicating an early drawing, possibly earlier than the July 1901 drawing. However, as it turns out, the Bender drawing caption is incorrect and misleading as the actual drawing is dated, with the drawing as provided to Bender being extracted by the owner, N.v.Gijn from the above described 25. – VII. – 01 complete, original blueprint drawing. There are other similarly identified N.v.Gijn modified drawings pictured in Bender’s book, however, not considered generic to this discussion.
Since the 50mm in length loading tool has been established to have been made sometime in 1901 and is associated with the example 3b DWM holster, whereas, the 53.5mm loading tool is assoatiated with the example 3a unmarked DWM holster and the example 3c G.REINHARDT circa 1902/3 holster, which, as discussed above, both examples 3a and 3c holsters with the 53.5mm loading tool are not original to the holsters, and that the example 3b holster, with the original 50mm loading tool should be considered, chronologically, the first DWM commercial holster loading tool.
Examples 3a and 3b loading tool pouch body and cover flap dimensions are generally equal, especially the pouch body lengths, which is expected since both holsters are identical, both being made for or by DWM. The loading tool pouch dimensions of the example 3c Reinhardt holster is also very close to the unmarked DWM examples, even though being made by a different leather maker. The slight dimensional differences can be attributed to the materiel being used, as tolerances for leather cannot be held to the same tight standards used with machined objects. Based solely on comparison measurements of the long time storage inside cover flap indents of the example 3a and 3c M1900 Parabellum holsters it would appear that both pouches originally had 50mm loading tools.
Pictures and dimensions of early M1900 holster loading tool leather pouches and tools, examples 3a and 3c were provided by G. Sturgess who states that the loading tools that came inserted in the leather loading tool pouches are of the first 53.5mm design, actually 54mm and 54.5mm as measured per Sturgess, yet measurement comparisons of the long term storage indent on the inside loading tool pouch cover flap surface of both example 3a and 3c indicates long-term storage of a 50mm loading tool. With no other long-term storage indents of the 53.5/54mm loading tool present, suggest these longer tools were added some time later, for reasons unknown. This is especially perplexing since the longer 53.5mm loading tools per an earlier drawing or 54mm as stated in Pistole Parabellum are only found in early commercial and presentation cased Lugers and rarely found in the first manufactured 1900 Parabellum holsters. Since the Sturgess examples 3a and 3c M1900 holsters have been determined to have been originally fitted with the shorter, circa 1901, 50mm loading tool, not to be confused with the later P.08 50.5mm loading tool, that these longer 53.5/54mm loading tools, for reasons unknown can be associated only with cased commercial and presentation Lugers.
In conclusion, the 50mm loading tools are circa 1900 based on an early, undated drawing with those dimensions as compared against a later Pistole 04 drawing of 50.5mm and the P.08 drawing of 50.5mm. Why there are two period drawings for two different length loading tools, the purpose is unknown, however, both drawings are convincing and the original drawings still exist in a private collection. Regarding the suggestion that there are two different dimensions or types of original loading tool leather pouches, one being larger in certain dimensions to accommodate the longer 53.5mm loading tool is purely speculative, as inserting the longer “53.5”mm (actual length of 53.75mm nominal) loading tool in the subject example two loading tool pouch, which came with an original 50mm loading tool, the cover flap closes perfectly, with no apparent additional tension or stretching of the 66mm long cover flap.
Differences and comparisons:
The subject example 3b, M1900 holster, with tear drop style cover flap is identical in style, size and shape to the approximately twenty 1899 Swiss Test Trials, example one holsters, except that it has the first documented, added combination screwdriver/loading tool leather pouch and cover flap, stitched to the holster inside cover flap with an original loading tool inserted. The forward holster body spine attached cleaning rod pouch length of the 1899 example one is 7¾-inch vs. the 1900 holster example two length of 7⅝ inches. The length of the 1899 holster body is 9½-inches, whereas, the length of the 1900 Parabellum holster body is 10-inches, the reason for the added ½-inch is unknown. The 1899 example one holster body front cut-out is shallow and encompasses almost the entire width of the holster body opening vs. the not as wide, but deeper cut-out of the 1900 Chilean holster supplied with the prototype multi-position rear sight Chilean Carbine and the yet deeper cut-out of the M1900 holster body example two opening, probably done for easier insertion and withdrawal of the pistol. The holster body brass stud of both holsters, in profile, are shaped slightly different. Pictured are three holster examples showing the early evolution of the holster body entrance cut-out.
The example two cleaning rod cover flap has been changed to the more recognizable production cleaning rod cover flap with circular leather discs or “ears”, which are loosely attached on each side, interestingly, with only a few stitched threads at the top. The redesign of the cleaning rod cover flap is a vast improvement over the 1899 Borchardt-Luger holster cleaning rod cover flap, making it much easier to insert or remove the cleaning rod. This design is an interesting subject in of itself. The first design cleaning rod cover flap, used a single piece of leather, stitched at the corners to create a shroud type of cover, making the cover rather inflexible, not allowing the cover to completely open unless the hinged portion was stitched very close to the top of the holster body spine entrance lip, as in the Borchardt-Luger 30 pistol holster, which interestingly the cleaning rod cover flap retains its original shape.
The only other surviving example 1899 Borchardt-Luger holster, currently associated with 1899 Borchardt-Luger 22, the cleaning rod cover flap has collapsed or deformed, due in part because of its inflexible design as discussed above, but mostly because it was stitched lower or further down on the holster body spine entrance lip, which, in order to open the cover flap to the maximum to allow insertion or removal of the cleaning rod, required an inward bending of the holster body spine entrance lip, immediately above the stitched/hinged attaching point of the cover flap. Since the spine section is a short distance and curved with corner support, makes it very stiff or resistant to bending, subsequently, with several removals and insertions of the cleaning rod, eventually it was the cover flap that collapsed. Insertion or removal of the all brass, sectional Borchardt-Luger cleaning rod that came with the holster is very difficult, severely stressing the cover flap, however, with the cleaning rod fully inserted, leather being what it is, the cover flap basically recovers to its original shape.
The example two M1900 holster cleaning rod cover flap was redesigned to eliminate the problem, also using a single piece of leather to form the cover flap, but adding circular leather ears on each end of the cover flap. The ears were attached by stitching in a small approximately 30 degree section at the top of the ear to the cover flap, thereby allowing the cover flap to completely open flush to the holster body spine entrance lip, regardless of the location of the cover flap stitched hinge on the holster body spine. If, for example, the ears were attached to the cover flap using a 180 degree pattern would have created to the same restrictive opening situation encountered in the first design. Interestingly, the P.04 navy holster cleaning rod cover flap ears are attached to the cover flap ends with a 180 degree stitching pattern.
This is not the end of the design, as the total length of the cleaning rod grease container barrel and cap is 38 mm vs. the smaller length of approximately 35 mm of the cover flap width between the cover flap attached ears, thereby, with cleaning rod inserted and the cover flap closed, forces the ears to flare out. Given the Teutonic penchant for detail, precision and purpose, there is a likely reason for the cleaning rod cover flap ears to flare out at the bottom, probably to deflect water away and out of the cleaning rod pouch. This flare-out is made possible by the apparently intentional minimal 30 degree attaching area of only two or three stitches of the ears to the cover flap, creating a defacto hinge.
1899 and 1900 holster cleaning rod cover flap designs, pros and cons
It is interesting to note that the later P.04 navy holsters, the ears were sewn to the cleaning rod cover flap in a 180 degree pattern, although still maintaining the 35 mm distance between the ears, and that the cleaning rod pouch, although using the same shaft diameter, albeit longer cleaning rod, creates the same scenario as described above. Another difference is the size of the cleaning rod body attached leather pouch. The P.04 navy holster cleaning rod body pouch is larger in width, being a nominal 18 mm distance between the tapered stitching lines vs. the narrower 13 mm distance of the tapered stitching attachments of the 1899 and early M1990 holster body spine attached cleaning rod pouches.
Since the subject example two, M1900 holster was acquired without a cleaning rod inserted in the forward spine attached pouch, and as such, it is indeterminate as to whether the steel grease barrel and continuous 7-inch length brass cleaning rod was introduced with this holster, especially with the attached leather cleaning rod pouch body lengths being equal or approximately 7¾-inches, coincidently, being the exact length of the 2-section, all brass Borchardt-Luger cleaning rods, supplied with the 1899 trials holsters. Pictured together are the two holsters with the cleaning rods outside and next to the holsters for comparison.
The most noticeable characteristic of both holsters is the continuation of the very frail, thin, approximately five degree offset angle attached leather belt-loop to the holster rear, folded over and double row stitched at the top and double row stitched at the bottom. The only difference being the slighty wider width of 37mm and slightly higher attached location of the 1900 transitional holster belt-loop vs. the 31mm belt-loop width of the example one, 1899 Swiss Test Trials holster.
Early 1900 – 1906 unidentified maker, brown leather holsters for old or new model 120 mm, 30 Cal Lugers
Pistole Parabellum in volume III, chapter forty-one, page 1245, figure 1151A picture of the holster rear, which is considered important to the discussion, has been provided by G. Sturgess and is pictured herein.full depth, inner rear wall lining is pictured in two views. The first shows the front and rear full view and the second shows the holster body with the cover flap open, with and without a Luger inserted.Also pictured is a side-by-side comparison of the LOB example two and the G. Sturgess example holster body with the cover flaps open.The example two LOB holster has the reinforcing stitching, but uses a smaller thread and stitching pattern vs. the larger thread used with the balance of the holster.As evidenced by the fourth example,twin magazine pouches were offered with some of these holsters.All four holsters have an identical loading tool pouch sewn to the inside cover flap, all with a brown enamel cover flap snap fastener assembly.Interestingly, these holsters represent a change from the single belt belt loop used in the first production offered DWM frail black leather holsters to the use of twin, widely spaced, narrow belt loops, yet both holsters utilized the same forward attaching angles.
The following comments are offered by G. Sturgess: There were only three Bavarian Foot Artillery Regiments, and the first character of this line cannot be a 2 (or a 3, as this was only formed in 1914), so I conclude that it is a 1 written in the German style with a long leading upward serif. The marking, if officially applied, would have been B.1.A.F.3.X. with X being the weapon number in the Battery. Batteries 2 & 3 were garrisoned in Munich, Battery 1 in Neu-Ulm. Since A. Hartmann was a Reserve officer, he would have had complete freedom in his choice of sidearm, and the pistol would have simply been his personal preference, in this instance the only available pistol would be a 1900 – 1906 commercial Luger. This practice dates from early times before unification of Germany in 1870 and continued until WWII, though junior officers were issued with service P.08s after WWI, but still had the choice to select another, usually smaller pistol, which could be bought at discounted cost price through the Army procurement office, as many senior officers did, having no practical use for a large calibre pistol, as they rarely saw front line active service.
The original, narrow width, widely spaced, forward angled twin belt loops have been replaced with more substantial twin belt loops and although also attached at the same forward angle, mostly to utilize or cover the existing stitch holes are sturdier, effectively due to their wider width, are closer together and most notably allow the holster to hang more perpendicular to the belt as evidenced by the near parallel belt/belt loop bulge at the top resting edge of the belt. Since the holster is in excellent condition and the changed-out belt loops are of the same leather materiel and color of the holster, it is believed that the original belt loops were changed-out early on, possibly requested as part of the sale resulting from a “fit check”, or shortly thereafter being purchased by the reserve officer.
The LOB example two, of the four pictured holsters, is unique as it is actually the only known example of these early style, no-maker-marked commercial holsters used in the pre-WW1 Imperial Germany army as evidenced by a hand written, in ink identification on the inside cover flap as belonging to: Lt. d Res A. Hartmann, 1 Bayr. Fuß art. Regt. 3 Batt. or Lieutenant of the Reserve, A. Hartmann, 1st Bavarian Foot Artillery Regiment, 3rd Battery.
Another iteration of the commercial holster is difficult to identify, but a logical candidate would be a similar style, full cover tear drop style, slit and stud cover flap.Under the cover flap is a loading tool pouch, also secured with a snap fastenerLugers At Random, Copyright © 1969 by Charlie Kenyon, Jr. on pages 138, 139, 408.Pictured with the holster is a very early contract M1906 Brazilian Luger, serial number 14. Please note that the G. Sturgess Collection unmarked commercial holster number 1 that the rear side lacks the reinforcing stitch line on the holster back side mid-section, which, as stated above, is believed to add support to the full depth, inner rear wall lining is also missing on, what is believed to be the Brazilian contract Luger holster which also has a full depth inner wall lining. What this means in relation to the other pictured, unmarked commercial, new model holsters that do have the reinforcing stitching, is indeterminate at this time.
The loading tool was designed primarily in response to the Swiss complaint regarding the difficulty in loading 8 rounds in the magazine, with a secondary function as a screwdriver, however, the early DWM drawings for the combination loading tool/screwdriver is simply described as Schraubenzieher or screwdriver.
The lack of the loading tool pouch in the second series, fixed rear sight Chilean carbine pistol holsters is discussed at length in Pistole Parabellum by Görtz/Sturgess, Copyright © 2010, Volume III, Chapter 41, page 1247, Figure 1153.
Pistole Parabellum by Görtz/Sturgess, Copyright © 2010, Volume III, Chapter 41, page 1242, Figure 1147 in the text caption with the figure titled: DWM Offers the M1899 Pattern Commercially.
Interestingly the undated drawing or blueprint shows only three views of the magazine body, the front, rear and right-side view. Missing or absent is the left side view showing the special hole required to peen or anchor the follower button integral shaft to the follower as part of initial assembly. Even without the left side magazine body view, the hole should clearly seen from right side magazine body view at the lower end of the magazine body follower button slot.
 Luger Holsters and Their Accessories of the 20th Century by E. Bender, Copyright © 1992, page 117.
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