Close window
Article created: Wednesday, 16 October 2013
Article modified: Monday, 24 March 2014
1911-12 Swiss Experimental Holster-Stock and
E.772 Swiss Cross in Shield Experimental Pistol
Text Resize

Click here to increase text size

Click here to decrease text size


1911-12 Swiss Experimental Leather/Metal Holster-Stock as described by Görtz/Sturgess in Pistole Parabellum, Copyright 2010, Volume I, Chapter Four, Adoption in Switzerland, page 99, figure 114-115.

114. A Swiss experimental holster-stock of the pre-WWI era, made for sustained fire experiments with long magazines. This exemplifies the “grip-cup” holder, with external actuating screw working through a bell-crank concealed in the toe which clamps the front and rear grip straps very firmly into the steel cup, whilst allowing access to the magazine. In view of the lack of any stock fitting on the surviving Borchardt-Luger example from those trials, sn5, it seems certain that this must have been the type of stock and fixing used by Luger for the prototypes supplied to the Swiss trial of November 1898. The same cup fitting is also adapted to the M1899 prototypes, and was the type supplied with the Dutch trials pistols, sns 35 and 36, in 1900.

Featured is a circa 1911-12 Swiss Experimental leather/metal Holster-Stock “rig”, basically, a one-of-a-kind Swiss Luger accessory, consisting of a leather/metal, full cover flap with slit and stud closure holster-stock with a very unique attaching mechanism in the form of a cup clamp, mated with a very rare, but otherwise standard configuration 1900-06 Swiss Extra-Serie Cross in Shield Luger, serial number E.772. The Pistol uses an experimental 16 round, continuous extruded magazine body, with a zig-zag spring and wooden bottom, which is stored in an open top leather magazine pouch, attached to the holster-stock body spine. This combination of extended length holster-stock-magazine and pistol, purportedly, has a long provenance, initially part of the Waffenfabrik Bern Collection, along with its “sister”, modified 1900-06 E-series Swiss Luger E.771 mated to experimental solid body wooden stock with an identical cup clamp attaching mechanism, initially of the Waffenfabrik Bern Collection, currently of the M+F Thun Collection/W+F Sammlung, RUAG.

The status of the leather/metal holster-stock and E.772 as a “rig” is uncertain as it wasn’t until the 2010 publication titled: Pistole Parabellum and the later 2010 & 2011 publication titled: The Borchardt & Luger Automatic Pistols, both by Görtz/Sturgess, that made the association of the leather/metal holster-stock with E.772, referring to it, as mentioned above as the “sister” pistol of E.771. E.771 has been clearly associated with the Swiss experimental solid body wooden stock for the last one-hundred years, first being of the Waffenfabrik, Bern Collection, then later of the W+F Thun Collection/W+F Sammlung, RUAG.

The subject Swiss Experimental leather/metal holster-stock, separately, not as a “rig”, is first pictured/identified fifty-seven years later in the 1969 publication titled: Lugers At Random by C. Kenyon, Jr., pictured on page 391 with a text caption description credit as of the Carl F. Wilson Collection.

Interestingly, Charles Kenyon Jr. first identified the subject holster-stock at a 1967 show of which he describes in the April 2001 issue of The Gun Report magazine in an article titled: Genesis and Evolution of the Luger Stock. In the article he identifies a heretofore unknown, similar cup-type holster shoulder stock, which give credence or supports the notion of the use of this type of board/stock cup-type attaching mechanism with the 1899 Swiss and 1900 Dutch test trials submittals, which he describes in 2001 as: Another personal observation for your consideration: In 1971 the editor (Kenyon) visited Holland and there came across a very similar cup-type holster/shoulder stock, but was unable to purchase it. The particular stock was definitely old and the leather was badly cracked and tattered, but looked exactly like Photo 4 – but with the cup-type grip attachment. Odd! These stocks are very rare items – one tied to Switzerland and another to Holland.   (Photo 4)

Next, the identical holster-stock is pictured in a 1992 publication titled: Monograph IV, The Swiss Variations, 1987 - 1947 by the late Fred A. Datig on page 45, again not as a rig. The author states in the picture caption, that as of 1966 it was, apparently, still part of the Waffenfabrik Bern Collection. The subject experimental holster-stock only, is discussed/described again in a 1996 publication titled: Parabellum: A Technical History of Swiss Lugers by Vittorio Bobba on page 120, interestingly, stating in the description that, as of 1996, it is still in the W+F or Waffenfabrik Bern collection, which, appears to be a chronological inconsistency. The Swiss experimental leather/metal holster-stock, next appears in the 2010 publication titled: Pistole Parabellum by Görtz/Sturgess, Volume III Chapter Forty-Seven, Figure 1332, now as a “rig” with E.772 and again as a “rig” in the 2010 & 2011 publication titled: The Borchardt & Luger Automatic Pistols by Görtz/Sturgess, Volume III, Chapter 19-Accessories, Figure 19-299 as part of the G. Sturgess Collection, pictured together with the E.771 wooden stock rig, not of the G. Sturgess Collection as pictured in Pistole Parabellum by Görtz/Sturgess, Volume I, Chapter Four Figure 116.

Interestingly, the subject 1911-12 Swiss experimental leather/metal holster-stock is shown in Pistole Parabellum, Volume I, Chapter Four, Figures 114 and 115 showing the holster stock mated to 1899 Borchardt-Luger 30 with part of the caption description, unambiguously stating of the cup fitting only, part of the holster-stock that: The same cup fitting is also adapted to the M1899 prototypes, and was the type supplied with the Dutch trials pistols, sns 35 and 36, in 1900.

On to 2013 and the James D. Julia, Inc. October 16, 2013 auction, where, as part of the auction sale of the G. Sturgess collection the subject 1911-12 Swiss Experimental Holster-Stock E.772 “rig” is offered with a text description stating that while of the of Dr. Geoffrey Sturgess Collection, it was formally of the ex-(Henk) Visser Collection.

It is interesting to note that all prior published information on the subject circa 1911-12 Swiss experimental leather/metal holster-stock makes no reference or mention of a mating pistol until 2010 in Pistole Parabellum. If, for example, while part of the Carl F. Wilson Collection, as of 1969 that if E.772 was part of the “rig”, and in the possession of Wilson, that it surly would have been either pictured or at a minimum described in the 1969 Lugers at Random publication.

The same identical holster-stock only, pictured by Datig states the source of the 1966 picture to be from the Waffenfabrik, Bern Collection. A possible alternate scenario is that E.772 remained in the Waffenfabrik, Bern Collection until later times. The fact that E.772 is a very rare 1900/06 E - Extra-Serie pistol, one of fifteen and only one-digit after E.771 strongly suggest that E.772 was the pistol used with the subject 1911-12 Swiss Experimental Holster-Stock, despite the fact that there is no documented record of E.772 ever being in the Waffenfabrik, Bern Collection.

It is in Handguns of The World, Copyright © 1981 by Ezell on pages 199 and 200, figures 4-35 and 4-36 that further chronicles the time-line location/status of the two 1911-12 solid body holster-stock examples E.771 and E.772 as of 1981 with E.771 as part of the Waffenfabrik Bern and Holster-Stock mated to E.772 as part of the Visser Collection.

Suffice to say, the information published on these unique circa 1911-12 Swiss Experimental holster/board-stocks since 2010 in Pistole Parabellum and in 2010 & 2011 The Borchardt & Luger Automatic Pistols, both by Görtz/Sturgess is extensive, presenting more detailed pictures, information and theory than in all prior publications with the exception of the rather extensive, original source information and pictures presented by the late Fred A. Datig in the 1992 publication titled: Monograph IV: The Swiss Variations, Chapter three – Swiss Experiments, 1909-1910, page 39 is equally interesting, and is presented herein, with pictures on pages 40 and 41 of wooden holster-stock and E.771 and the subject leather/metal holster-stock, without E.772 on page 45.  

Sturgess claims, regarding the subject Swiss experimental leather/metal holster-stock that the main purpose was: A Swiss experimental holster-stock of the pre-WW1 era, made for sustained-fire experiments for long magazines. If, per Sturgess, the holster-stock was made specifically to demonstrate the elongated 16 round magazine, infers there is nothing “experimental” about the holster-stock. This is not completely accurate as it is obvious that in 1911-12 the Swiss were again toying with the possibility of a pistol-carbine, as why go through all the trouble and expense of designing a holster-stock with a very unique attaching mechanism and with provisions for storing a 120 mm barrel Luger with an attached 16 round magazine pouch? However, in the end, as Datig stated: Unlike their German neighbors, the Swiss decided against adopting the shoulder stock in any form.

Sturgess also states that: In view of the lack of any stock fixing lug on the surviving Borchardt-Luger example from these trials, sn 5, it seems certain that this must have been the type of stock and fixing used by Luger for the prototype supplied to the Swiss trials in November, 1898. These trials were completed by November 28. Essentially, the same conclusions were reached by Charles Kenyon, Jr in 1967 and 2001.

In the 1995 publication titled: The Luger Story by John Walter states on page 47, referring to the same November 1898 time-frame, that: It is assumed that at least five ‘Third Experimental’ (Versuchsmodell III) Borchardt-Lugers were made, three to serve as developmental prototypes and two to be delivered for trials in Switzerland. The surviving gun, no.5, has a 14cm barrel; no.4 had a holster-stock and a short barrel, possibly 12.7cm.

There is no doubt as to the use/existence of a board-stock in the November 1898 Swiss trials as the use of a board-stock in the early 1900 Dutch trials is described in a 1994 publication titled: The Dutch Luger by Bas J. Martens and Guus de Vries. The use of a board-stock with 1899 Borchardt-Lugers, serial numbers 35 or/and 36 is briefly discussed in Chapter two, Dutch Army, Initial Trials 1899 – 1900, page 9 and again extensively in Chapter 9, Holsters and Magazine Pouches, pages 189, 190. Unfortunately, no conclusion in the Dutch Luger book is reached as to the type of holster/board-stock configuration and method of attachment used, yet all information errs to the same style board-stock used in the November 1898 Swiss trials, which leads back to the subject 1911-12 leather/metal Swiss holster-stock and with most certainty, at a minimum, the use of a similar attaching mechanism in the form of a cup clamp.

At the time of the early 1900 Dutch trials of 1899 Borchardt-Lugers 35 and 36 the only holster available through DWM would be of the holsters made for the twenty 1899 Swiss Trials pistols. The holsters did travel with the DWM tool room refurbished 1899 Swiss Trials Borchardt-Lugers submitted to Great Britain in early 1900 and there no reason to think that similar holsters would not accompany the Dutch Trials Borchardt-Lugers. This might explain the Dutch concerns as described in the Dutch Luger book, Chapter two, page 9 where, during the initial trials regarding the multi-step process of removing the pistol from the “holster” and mating it with the attaching stock, making a pistol-carbine, discussed in a rather cryptic, disapproving tone by the Director of the Normaal Schietschool. Also noting, that at no time did the director use the term holster-stock, but only stock or butt-stock.

The conclusion being that the DWM supplied a wooden board-stock configuration only to the Dutch, with a separate 1899 Swiss trials holster, no doubt, the same combination used in the November 1898 Swiss trials, which the board-stock also had no provision for holstering the pistol, probably similar to the 1911-12 Swiss experimental wooden stock (E.771) which, although hollow, as stated above, was not to holster a pistol, but to store two 16 round experimental magazines only.

Apparently, also in The Dutch Luger book in Chapter nine, the authors did not interpret the Normaal Schietschool Director’s comments, as stated above, only to discuss multiple possibilities of configurations regarding the pistol-carbine, yet come to no conclusions. Presented, however, are excerpts from the chapter 19 discussion that lean to a two-holster scenario and tend to support the submission of 1899 Borchardt-Luger test trial holsters in addition to a board-stock, with or without an attached holster:

  1. The most detailed description is the one in the (Dutch) trial report of the 2nd Field-Artillery Regiment. Its commander wrote that “-maybe the pistol without its construction as a shoulder-weapon would be sufficient. But, since the holster for storage of the pistol will remain necessary, the omission of only the wooden stock does not seem important enough to recommend the use of two separate holsters.
  2. Furthermore, the afore-mentioned description by the Dutch Field Artillery shows that without the wooden stock, a separate type of holster had to be used.

Swiss Experimental Leather/Metal Holster-Stock Provenance Summary

1911-12 Waffenfabrik, Bern. Built, tested, rejected, stored. Identity of Luger used-unknown.

1967 Holster/shoulder stock only, identified and photographed at a show by Charles Kenyon Jr. Per Kenyon it had reportedly been obtained in Switzerland from the W + F. Source: The Gun Report, April 2001 Lugers at Random

1969 Lugers At Random, Carl F. Wilson Collection. Holster-stock only.

1981 Handguns of the World by Ezell. Holster-Stock and unidentified pistol believed to be Swiss luger E.772 as part of the Visser Collection.

1992 Monograph IV: The Swiss Variations 1897 – 1947. Identified, as of 1966 to be part of Waffenfabrik Bern Collection. Holster-stock only.

1996 Parabellum. A Technical History of Swiss Lugers. Identified as still part of the Waffenfabrik Bern Collection. Source information, most likely from the late Fred A. Datig 1992 book. Holster-stock only.

2010 Pistole Parabellum. Part of the G. Sturgess Collection. Holster-stock “rig” with E.772 Luger.

2012 The Borchardt & Luger Automatic Pistols. Part of the G. Sturgess Collection. Holster-stock “rig” with E.772 pistol.

2013 James D. Julia, Inc., October 16, 2013 auction, session 3. Holster-Stock “rig” with E.772 Luger.

2013 October 16, Land of Borchardt Collection. Holster-stock “rig” with E.772 Luger.

J.D. Julia Inc. auction description: *◊ SPECTACULAR “E” PREFIX SWISS LUGER WITH EXPERIMENTAL HOLSTER/STOCK AND 16 ROUND MAGAZINE. SN E772. 4¾-inch 30 Cal. bbl. Cross in shield on chamber. "DWM" scroll on center toggle link. Grip safety. "E.772" (Extra-Serie) serial number on front of frame by the Swiss. This matching number appears with either three digits or two digits on many parts. A mix of DWM numbers also appear on internal parts which is proper for this model. Unique Swiss wood bottom magazine with metal disks on a later "P" marked 29 Swiss style body. Pistol housed in a metal reinforced tan leather experimental 1911-12 period holster stock with a steel cup, which surrounds the bottom of the grip frame, having a screw down clamp to grip the frame of the gun and a pouch that contains an experimental extended 16 shot magazine, the holster with straps and a buckle. This gun/stock is featured on pp. 551, 647, and 1408 of Dr. Geoffrey Sturgess' The Borchardt & Luger Automatic Pistols. This is a very rare gun, the New Model P.06 Extra-Serie comprising only 17 pistols (E765 – E781) compared with some 200 Old Model P.00 Extra-Serie pistols, combined with one of the most interesting Luger stocks and magazines ever made. PROVENANCE: Collection of Dr. Geoffrey Sturgess, ex-Visser collection. CONDITION: Excellent retaining 97% original blue and 97% original straw. Bore is bright and sharp. Grips are sharp with minor dings and beautiful color and wood grain. Holster stock is excellent with minor scuffs and nicks in leather, some wrinkling, flaking on the straps. 90% original blue on the metal attachment. 16 round magazine is very good with a broken bottom. 4-52841 BWS89 (25,000-40,000)

Many of the excellent pictures, provided by J.D. Julia, Inc. are used in this article, along with some lesser quality LOB photos taken, however, are important to show significant aspects and features of the subject Experimental Swiss Holster-Stock and pistol E.772 not previously pictured. It should be noted that one of the J.D. Julia, Inc. auction pictures, although correctly describes the 16 round magazine in the auction description as with a broken (wooden) bottom, inaccurately shows the holster-stock with an incorrect inserted magazine, being a standard production 8 round magazine vs. the original 16 round experimental magazine, numbered 14 at the base.  The purpose of the number 14 is unknown, and interestingly, was not mentioned, discussed or pictured in any prior publication, nor for that matter, the reason why the magazine body is blued vs. the standard white metal of the 16 round magazines used/pictured with the 1911-12 experimental wooden Holster-Stock/E.771 rig.

The J.D. Julia auction description of 1900-06 Swiss ordinance Luger E.772 states that the gun consists of: A mix of (other) DWM numbers also appear on internal parts which is proper for this model, other than the normal last two-digits (72) of the serial number placement on the componet parts being the grip safety, left side of the breechblock, the middle link underside, and the take-down side plate underside. The rear link sports the full three-digit serial number 772 as does the receiver stop lug, except with a different numeric font style than used on the frame, barrel and rear link. The JD Julia description of a “mix” of DWM numbers is referring to additional numbers not related to the guns serial number 772, specifically the two-digit number 17 which appears, in addition to the regular serial numbers, on the following parts:

  1. On the right side of the breechblock
  2. The inside tang surface of the take-down side plate
  3. The frame internal lug well, just forward of the take-down lever shaft.

Curiously, the trigger is stamped 17 and the inside surface of the walnut grips are stamped 10 on the left and 47 on the right. Pictured is a collage of the placement or location of serial numbered parts described.

It is clear that E.772 is made up of a mix of spare and used parts. The spare parts consist of the frame, barrel, receiver, unmarked take-down lever, toggle link assembly and the extractor, which is a CV+ marked spare. The used parts consists of the 17 stamped trigger and the wooden grips. The gun lacks the normal factory inspector control punch +/V, +/M with only the expected Swiss cross proof marks on the left side of the receiver, barrel and breechblock. There is no BP or Beschußprobe stamp, usually an indication of release for private sale.

With only seventeen 1900/06 Swiss Ordinance E-Series Lugers identified, including the subject E.772 configuration, the only such 1900/06 E Series Swiss Pistolen described, it cannot be stated, with only one example, that the numeric mix of numbers is typical of the very limited Swiss 1900/06 E Series Pistolen. The Swiss 1900 Ordinance E Series Pistolen examined are found to be complete original assemblies with all serial number stamped components, identical in location to the regular production M1900 Swiss Ordinance Pistolen, including a +/V control stamp. Pictured is a typical M1900 Swiss Ordinance E Series Pistolen E.690.

Sturgess prominently features this unique, 1911-12 Swiss experimental holster-stock as the center piece in a picture of his holster-stock collection on the first, unnumbered page of Volume I of Borchardt & Luger Automatic Pistols.

In Pistole Parabellum in Volume III, page 1405 Sturgess states:

Other Stocks and Holsters
Swiss Prototype Stocks Although none of the prototypes produced by the Swiss entered production, they provide interesting insight into the designs probably submitted for trials by Georg Luger with the 1898 prototype Borchardt-Luger pistols.

Experimental Borchardt-Luger Stocks with Cup Attachments

As noted in Chapter 3 describing these trials, none of the pre-1900 test pistols supplied to the Swiss, or later the Dutch and British Armies, for tests in the 1898 – 1901 period had stock lugs or any other fitting to accept a stock, yet both the Swiss and Dutch trials reports specifically describe the pistols as having had stocks. This has caused doubts as to the accuracy of the reports and the provenance of the surviving examples of such trials pistols, yet the Swiss National Studiensammlung, now housed at the Munitionsfabrik (M+F) Thun (now HQ of RUAG Ammotec GmbH, a division of the RUAG Group), has housed for nearly 100 years an example of an experimental wood stock which uses a steel cup, surrounding approximately the lower 40 mm of the Parabellum grip, without obstructing the magazine opening. At the rear of the cup is a clamping lever actuated by a large turn-knob under the stock and a screw mechanism which clamps the pistol very positively to the stock by pressure on the rear grip strap.

A similar holster of leather and steel construction also exists with the identical cup fitting. Both of these were provided with a storage recess or pocket for an experimental 16 shot straight extended version of the normal magazine. This experimental magazine and these stocks date from ca. 1912 when the Swiss conducted more pistol trials and assessed the 9 mm Parabellum cartridge. It is notable that they use an oval section zigzag spring, pre-dating the Haenel-Schmeisser use of this in the P.08 by nearly 30 years. The pistol associated with the wooden stock in the M+F Thun collection is sn. E.771, one of the small number of New Model Pistole 1900/06 in the Extra-Serie with E prefixed serial numbers, used by the Swiss for experimental, instructional and presentation purposes. This has a replacement 7.65/325 mm barrel fitted by the W+F Bern with a tangent sight adjustable from 50 – 300m. Its “sister” pistol with the leather/steel holster stock is sn E.772, which is a perfectly standard 7.65/120 mm barreled late Pistole 1900/06 with the Swiss cross-in-shield stamped over the chamber, as has E.771.

In Pistole Parabellum in Volume III, page 1408 Sturgess also states: Another of the P.00/06 E series pistols, sn. E.781 in the M+F collection, was modified with a prominent straight T-section lug at the rear of the base of the grip. Two experimental stocks in the collection fit this, one a simple board stock, the other with a high comb and an internal recess for two 16 round magazines closed by a steel butt trap. In the experiments leading to the adoption of the redesigned Pistole 1906/29 an experimental version of this pistol, sn. V21, was made up with a similar prominent straight lug at the base of the grip to accept the earlier stocks for evaluation purposes. None of these Swiss military experimental stocks ever went into production, and only the four examples noted above are known to exist.

It was stated by a well-known, long time major Luger dealer, who, after personally examining the subject 1911-12 Swiss Experimental leather covered steel skeleton holster/stock with unique cup attachment and E.772 series new Model Swiss Cross in Shied Extra- Serie pistol, that the Görtz/Sturgess publication titled The Borchardt & Luger Automatic Pistols description incorrectly credits the association of the subject 1911-12 experimental holster-stock to the 1898 Swiss Test Trials and 1900 Dutch Test Trials holster/stock submittals. The dealer suggested an alternate comparison could be found in examining earlier revolver holster/stock configurations. 

The only earlier, remotely possible comparison, would be to the Schmidt holster-stock for the Swiss M1882 Revolver, which was a private commercial development, with no relationship to the W+F and bears no resemblance to anything ever fitted to a Parabellum, requiring a special locking recess under the grip, totally incompatible with a removable magazine. The conclusion being, that without more compelling evidence or example, the possibility that the Schmidt holster/stock configuration, or any other extant example, was a model for the 1898 Swiss Trials and 1900 Dutch Test Trials Holster/Stock submittals has no merits, whatsoever, leaving the Görtz/Sturgess position as the most plausible.

Schmidt holster/stock specifics:

Per G. Sturgess no Swiss revolvers can be considered "factory original" to any stock, as the stocks were made commercially for private sale. Rudolf Schmidt, designer of the revolver, was also director of the W+F Bern, and designed the revolver to accept his holster/stock, and all M1882 revolvers were made (up to 1929) with the grip socket as standard. However, the Ordnance Department did not officially adopt the stock for service issue, probably to save money in typical Swiss style, but just approved it and recommended it for purchase by unmounted officers, at their own expense.

Schmidt had some 500 holster/stocks made up privately, and offered them for private sale to officers through the W+F, but they were never issued as "rigs", simply assembled as required at the choice of the officer, hence the slight modifications often found. This is the only variant of this holster stock, which is quite rare in Switzerland now.

It is interesting to note that if this was a private, unofficial affair, why is the “Schmidt” holster/revolver “rig” featured/pictured in the fold-out of every M1882 Swiss revolver instruction manual from the 1882 original to the 1907 edition printing. The Schmidt holster/stock was approved for private purchase for use in Army service, which is why it is shown in the manual, but the Swiss Government, being pretty tight-fisted then, never allocated the budget for the Army to purchase them for issue, so those that survive were all private purchase examples.

Pictured are two views of M1882 Swiss Revolver rig 32165, now part of the LOB collection, being fired by G. Sturgess in the DVD titled: PARABELLUM - The Story of the Luger. Example 1, example 2. Click here for the actual video section showing the firing of the subject revolver with attaching holster-stock narrated by G. Sturgess. Please note that the author, G. Sturgess, narrating the video, mistakenly refers to the 1882 Swiss Revolver rig as a Webley Revolver, i.e., stating “and the Webley Revolver is now ready to fire”.

Click to view a collage of the subject 1911-12 Swiss Experimental holster stock.

Click to view a collage of the 1882 Schmidt holster/stock rig and standard issue 1882 revolver holster rig with accessories.

Close window


© 2014, Land of Borchardt, All rights reserved.