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M1899 BORCHARDT-LUGER TYPE 1A "PROTOTYPE" MAGAZINE

    The evolution of the Borchardt-Luger magazine to the M1900 production Parabellum magazine has, up to now, consisted of 2 variations. The first being the flat follower button with a small diameter threaded shaft, plain wooden bottom Borchardt-Luger magazine referred to as the Type 1, which also was used in early production, and the M1900 production magazine with the final design raised or high follower button with a larger diameter riveted shaft which was used with the M1900 Swiss Ordnance production Parabellum with the steel disk insert wooden bottom referred to as the Type II and also used with all M1900 commercials minus the wooden bottom end piece steel inserts. Additionally the wooden bottom of either variation has not been numbered to the gun, a practice started and ended with the C93 Borchardt magazines and not resumed until WW1. The Type 1B and II have no numbers or proofs.

    With the identity of a third type or hybrid flat follower button magazine the restriction of only two variations has to be reassessed. This third variation requires a new identification to be referred to as the Type 1A, the known flat follower button magazine as Type 1B and the final design M1900 production magazine still as Type II.

    This Type 1A magazine has not been tampered with and is of original configuration. Reluctantly, it was disassembled (very carefully) to verify the internal configuration of its parts.

    The Type 1A is different from Type 1B in the following areas as described below and the differences can be seen in Figure 1a and Figure 1b, Figures 2, 3, 4 and 5:

  1. The flat follower button has a thinner cross section, 1.06 mm vs. 1.25 mm and a slightly larger diameter, 9 mm vs. 8.82 mm diameter of the Type 1B.
  2. The forward leading curved edge of the follower has a different non-symmetrical design vs. the perfectly symmetrical design of the Type 1B and Type II. The shallow cut in the sidewall of the follower is clearly meant for clearance of the magazine release catch.
  3. The magazine catch slot is smaller, 5.9 mm wide x 3.9 long vs. 6.7 mm wide x 4.3 mm long for Type 1B and II.
  4. The plain wooden bottom retainer pin is not blued or have the tempered blue appearance of the Type 1B or II. Each end of the pin has a convex surface vs. the flat surface of Types 1B and II.
  5. The magazine follower spring cap is brass as are the two follower spring caps used with the C93 System Borchardt vs. the white metal aluminum magazine follower spring cap of production Type 1B and II. (Figure 6)
  6. The inside flat surface of the magazine body at the bottom edge is stamped with the number 1, 1 mm high. (Figure 5)
  7. The bottom of the wooden base of the magazine is stamped with the number 1, 2.5 mm high, in the same location and serif style as that of the C93 Borchardt magazine. (Figure 7)
  8. On the underside surface of the flat follower button is stamped, in a radial orientation and 1.0 mm high, is the number 1. (Figures 4 & 7)
  9. On the underside flat surface, which would be the rear squared end of the follower is stamped with the number 1, 1 mm high.
  10. The follower is machined vs. the drop forge type of manufacture of the production follower. Figure 2b attempts to show the various machining lines or directions.
  11. The prototype steel spring is tempered blue vs. the non-tempered? steel production spring.
  12. The magazine channel slot for the follower button shaft of both the type 1A prototype and 1B production is 2.86 mm wide vs. 3.50 mm of the type II production magazine.
    One can state that the number "1" stamped on the wooden bottom means "serial number 1". Whether this magazine goes with yet unidentified preproduction Borchardt-Luger, serial number 1 is sheer speculation, but the additional number 1 stamped on the underside of the flat follower button indicates that this magazine is special. Possibly experimental or prototype where the designer didnít want to mix parts although, the differences being minor I tend to believe the first scenario. Further evidence in support of this magazine as a prototype can be seen in photos of the component parts of Borchardt-Luger serial number 5 where the end of the pin retainer of the magazine is shown to be white metal and appears to have a convex end. Since no other early flat button magazines have been identified with these Type 1A features (items 1 through 11) it is quite possible, with the exception of possibly serial number 5 magazine, for serial number 1 to be the only magazine so fabricated.

    Per a conversation with Dr. G.L. Sturgess, an international Luger collector of world renown, he states that there are numbered Borchardt-Luger magazines, but they are not numbered to the guns but rather used as a form of inventory control. Therefore, if the numbering was only a form of inventory control it would imply that number "1" was the first one.