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The First Test Luger

The First Test Luger

Photo credit: Michael Ives

In mid-March 1901, the U.S. military was gearing up to select a new service sidearm. But tests had to be conducted and trials had to be held to determine the best pistol. Would it be another revolver or one of the new semi-automatics? 

Deutsche Waffen- und Munitionsfabriken’s (DWM) American representative in New York, Hans Tauscher, supplied two initial Model 1900 Luger pistols for this testing. These two 7.65 mm Parabellum pistols, marked with the Great Seal of the United States above their chambers, were subjected to exhaustive review—so strenuous that one pistol was destroyed in rust testing.

Serial number 5673 is the only Luger pistol that has been found that bears both U.S. property and Springfield Armory markings. While the later 1,000-pistol test in September 1901 featured similar Lugers in the 6100-7200 serial range, this earlier pistol falls into the correct range for a pistol manufactured in time for the March government testing. This pistol is currently on loan to the NRA's National Firearms Museum from Col. Mark Rendina.

The NRA National Firearms Museum at NRA Headquarters in Fairfax, Va.; the NRA National Sporting Arms Museum at Bass Pro Shops in Springfield, Mo.; and the Frank Brownell Museum of the Southwest at the NRA Whittington Center in Raton, N.M.; each have fine selections of historic arms on display. Admission to each is free, and donations are gratefully accepted. For more information, visit www.nramuseums.com, phone (703) 267-1600 or email nfmstaff@nrahq.org.