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    At the June 99 Antique Arms Gun Show I discussed with a Luger expert the special features of an early Luger flat follower button magazine I had acquired. The following conclusions were reached. The magazine is a "GAGE" magazine. A gage magazine is a pilot magazine and is fabricated for the sole purpose of determining the dimensions of the two pieces of sheet metal used to make the magazine body. Once a successful magazine body is fabricated and fitted to the gun, the dimensions of the two pieces of sheet metal are established for production. This procedure was necessary because of the many steps, bends, and indents in the magazine body. Even though the DWM machinist was working to a detailed drawing, it would be very difficult to know the exact dimensions of the sheet metal required without first making a successful gage housing. The width of the two separate pieces of metal was more important or critical than the length.

    The gage magazine was not fabricated to be used in a Luger except to test for fit and functionality. The conclusion that this magazine is a gage magazine was determined by the unique features of the magazine body. The magazine body is bright metal and doesn’t have the typical dull nickel plating finish applied after forming and associated with the 1900 through 1908 magazines. The stylized letter L. and the number 3 are stamped in two locations on the magazine body. The magazine body consists to two separate pieces of sheet metal, formed by a mandrel or by wrapping a sheet of metal around a form die (male/female die set) or sheet metal break machine and connected on each side of the magazine by a lock seam or coffin seam, i.e. crimping. The L.3 stampings are on each piece of metal, one stamping being on the side section of the forward curved piece and the 2nd stamping is located on the rear squared section and is significantly stamped in the 90º bend of the metal, meaning that both L. 3 stampings were applied on each section of sheet metal prior to being formed into the magazine housing. Stamped on the wooden bottom are three stylized letters, which appear to be HJh. Before this magazine was determined to be a gage magazine it was thought to be a presentation magazine and the letters representing some unknown early personage, but the letters probably represent or identify the purpose of the magazine and could be the initials of the tool room machinist.

    The following is conjecture and is an attempt to reconstruct the sequence of steps involved in the fabrication of a gage magazine. The very stylized L. could stand for Luger and the 3 could represent a code detailing the specific length and width of the two pieces of sheet metal used in the construction of the "L. 3" magazine housing. The machinist(s), possibly under the instruction of the designer G. Luger was almost certainly working with a list or table of metals of differing characteristics and dimensions. There could have been fabricated, in this case at least three complete gage magazines, L. 1 , L.2 and L. 3. The 1st two L. 1 and L .2 magazine housings could have been probably not successful and were scrapped. The 3rd or L.3 magazine was the successful pilot for production and after being used for fit and functionality was probably set aside for future reference. Possibly long after its purpose was forgotten it was still a functional magazine and actually used in a Luger, thereby explaining its wear. Since it was a gage magazine and its surface not nickel plated and eventually used accounts for its worn and patinated appearance. There may have been other gage magazines required as worn tooling was replaced or as differing techniques of manufacturing dictated. What gives further credence to very early nature and the function of this magazine is the flat follower button which was screwed into the follower and was discontinued very early on in production, about Swiss ordnance Luger, serial number 900 at a maximum. A stronger, beefier, riveted domed follower button design was instituted. The redesign of the follower button did not effect the magazine body except for a couple of minor changes to accommodate the new follower button, ergo no new gage magazine was required as a result of this design change and the magazine dimensions remained unchanged until the early 1920s.