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Austro-Hungarian Items

 

This Steyr-Pieper model 1908/34 pistol was manufactured by OEWG, "Österreichische Waffenfabriksgesellschaft" or Austrian Weapons Manufacturing Incorporated in 1911. This Steyr model 1908/34 is a self-loading, blowback operated, semi-automatic pistol that is chambered for 7.65mm(.32 ACP) caliber.  The pistol has been designed to operate as a single action firearm that utilizes an internal hammer. The frame is made from steel and has a beautiful and deep blued finish. The pistol incorporates a blade type front sight that is drift adjustable for windage only and a V notch rear sight that is milled into the top of the slide. The model 1908/34 is fed by a single column 7 round detachable box magazine. The pistol has an unloaded weight of at about 23 ounces and an overall length of 6.38 inches. The barrel has 6 grooves with a right hand twist and a total length of 3.62 inches. On the bottom of the backstrap there is a European style heel magazine release lever. An empty magazine will not eject from the pistol under its own weight. This firearm does not incorporate any type of slide hold open mechanism to inform the operator that the last round has been fired. The pistol features a thumb safety lever that is located at the top right hand corner of the left grip. The grip panels are a checkered hard rubber and include the STEYR logo.

The Steyr model 1908/34 pistols were manufactured between 1908 through 1914 and then again after WWI from 1921 through 1939. Although there is some debate among collectors as to the 1939 end date. It appears that pistols manufactured after 1928 have not been reported or confirmed yet by collectors. These pistols have a tip-down barrel design which allows for fast access to the bore for cleaning. Located on the left side of the pistol is a unique barrel locking mechanism thumb latch. When this latch is depressed, the barrel is then allowed to pivot in a downward motion. When the breech is raised, the hook at the end of the recoil spring rod is automatically disengaged from the lug on the slide. The little brother to this pistol is the Steyr-Pieper Model 1909 Pistol in 6.35mm(.25 ACP) caliber.

The model 1908/34 was manufactured according to patents by Nicolas Pieper of Liege, Belgium and originally intended for commercial sales, but the pistols quickly found their way to Austro-Hungarian Military officers and Police departments. For a brief time, the automotive department of Steyr gave away these pistols with each new automobile that a customer purchased. These "give-away" pistols are normally marked with "Steyr - Berlin". At times, the Steyr model 1908 is found with a longer or extended barrel. In these cases, it is a good bet that the pistol was sold to a country that had laws in place that restricted short barrels. On July 25, 1934 this pistol model was made infamous due to the assassination of Austrian Premier Engelbert Dollfuss by Austrian Nazis.

The slide on the original Steyr-Pieper model 1908 was re-designed due to some problems that were experienced from heavy use by the Austrian police. The new heavy duty slide was added to the model 1908 along with a few other changes and giving the pistol a new designation of 1908/34. This stronger slide was devoid of all markings which were moved to the upper frame underneath the slide. A spring recoil buffer was added to the rear of the pistol. A non-adjustable rear sight which replaced a drift adjustable version was milled into the top of the new slide.  

Some history uncovered about this pistol.

Some times when we listen real carefully, these items from the past can speak to us. The pistol featured on this page is all matching, meaning that all of the numbered parts match the serial number. All of the parts that should have a number, has a number. On all of the major parts, a partial number consisting of the last three digits of the serial number can be found. This pistol was manufactured in 1911 according to the date stamp on the barrel assembly. From 1911 until around 1930, the pistol is silent as to its service. Some time around 1930, the pistol was taken into the Sicherheitswache Waffen or Austrian state security police. While in service with the Austrian police, the pistol was arsenal refurbished. There it was reblued, the new heavy duty slide added, new post WWI grips were installed and it was stamped on the backstrap "SW 1310". Later, with the Anschluss Österreichs(Austria link-up) which was when Austria became part of greater Germany on March 12, 1938, the Austrian police forces were then integrated into the Nazi police.

There is also a possibility that this pistol was taken into the Austrian police force as early as 1913. According to an article that appeared in the January 2007 issue of Das Deutsche Waffen Journal, the author states that the Austrian police department first started purchasing these pistols beginning in 1913. Although, another 1908/34 pistol has surfaced that was manufactured in 1928 that has an inventory stamp of only 3 digits away from the pistol on this page. I used that pistol's serial number, inventory number and manufacturing date, to come up with the "1930" date discussed above. As more of these pistols surface, collectors will begin to slowly and accurately piece together the history behind these particular weapons. It is a fun ride that is open and welcome to all.  

The photograph on the left is of the top and bottom of the Steyr model 1908/34 pistol. The picture on the right is of the front and back of the pistol. In this picture on the right, the bore can clearly be seen in the upper photograph. When the pistol is viewed from the side, most folks naturally assume that the bore is the upper portion of the barrel assembly and directly under the sights. As can be seen here, that is not the case. In the lower picture at the right, the small protrusion under the slide houses the spring recoil buffer. The magazine is installed in each of these pictures.

The full serial number is located on the left side of the receiver and directly above the trigger. On all three of the major components(excluding receiver), a partial number consisting of the last three digits of the serial number has been added. The three major parts are the barrel assembly, slide, and upper frame. Neither the serial number nor a partial serial number is found on the magazine, trigger, guide rod, firing pin or other small parts.  

The picture on the left is of the legend that is located on the right side of the barrel assembly. This inscription reads as follows, "PAT. No 40335.". There is also a plus or cross symbol following the period at the end of the abbreviated letters "PAT". The cross symbol indicates that this patent was issued in Switzerland. Research has revealed that the patent number 40335 was issued to Nicolas Pieper on July 1, 1908. The abbreviated letters "PAT." indicate "patent" and the abbreviated letters "No" indicate the word "number".

At the left edge of the left picture is a "NPv" stamp. This mark was applied to weapons that were proofed fired with semi-smokeless powder. This is often referred to as the Nitro-Proof mark. The small letter "v" at the end of this stamp indicates the beginning letter of the proof house where the proof firing took place. For the above example it indicates Vienna.

The photograph on the right is of the legend that is located on the left side of the barrel assembly. This barrel assembly legend reads as follows, "PAT. No 9379-05 No 25025-06 u. No 16715-08.". This inscription indicates that the pistol is made from these three patent numbers that are dated 1905, 1906 and 1908. The last two numbers following the patent number is the date. The abbreviated letter "u" indicates the word "und" which is translated from German to English to mean "and". Underneath the patent information is the number 11.  which indicates the year of manufacture as 1911.

At the center of the right edge in the right photograph is what looks like a fingerprint just above and to the right of the number 11 date stamp. This is not a fingerprint, but rather what is called the third proof stamp and consists of a two headed eagle with the number of the proof house shown on the breast plate. The number on the breast plate in the above mark is the number four which indicates the Vienna proof house.

The proof law of June 23, 1891 made proof compulsory for all barrels manufactured in Austria-Hungary. This law required three different proof steps for shotgun barrels. The unfinished barrels underwent the first proof, the joined barrels of double barreled shotguns, combination guns, and drillings underwent the second proofing, while finished shotguns and handguns had to undergo the third proof.

Each of the proofs consisted of a stiffer load than used in the preceding shot. The propellant was a fine grained Austrian black power(Jagd-und Scheibenpulver Nr.1). For the first two proofs a lead cylinder was used as a projectile, while the third proof load called for the use of a prescribed amount of lead shot. The first proof load was designed to produce twice the normal chamber pressure as created by a standard load; the second proof then increased the pressure by 2/3 over that of a standard load, and the third proof increased the pressure by another 1/3. During the first and second proof firing, the open rear of the barrel was closed by means of a temporary bolt, but for the third proof firing, the firearm had to be completed and ready to use. Handguns will only by stamped with the third proof mark after successfully passing the proof tests. A side by side shotgun or combination gun will show all three proof marks while a single barreled shotgun will only have the first and third proof mark after passing the proof tests.  

  

The photograph on the left is of the back strap or rear grip markings. This inscription reads as follows, "S.W. 1310". This marking indicates Sicherheitswache Waffen or Austrian state security police and is weapon or police inventory item number 1310.

The photograph on the right is of the marking that is found on the bottom of the magazine. This marking reads as follows, "1310" and then followed by the Roman numeral II. The number 1310 is the Austrian police inventory item number or weapon number. The Roman numeral II indicates that it is magazine number 2 for this weapon.

With the Anschluss Österreichs(Austria link-up) which was when Austria became part of greater Germany on March 12, 1938, the Austrian police forces were integrated into the Nazi police. The Steyr model 1908/34 pistols are found listed in Nazi police manuals.

While researching this pistol, two other Steyr model 1908/34 pistol's have surfaced with serial numbers that are very close to the one featured on this page. The first Steyr 1908/34 has a serial number that is just two digits away from the above pistol. That pistol was also used by the Austrian police force and has an inventory number of 1307. Interestingly enough, that pistol was manufactured in 1928 and is also missing magazine number one. The second Steyr 1908/34 has a serial number that is 208 numbers below the pistol featured on this web page. That pistol was also used by the Austrian police force and has an inventory number of 3101. That pistol was manufactured in 1919 and has a set of wood grips installed. This pistol is also missing magazine number one and magazine number two has the inventory number of 3070 and a Roman numeral II.

All three pistols were used by the Austrian police department. Each one is missing the first magazine and they were manufactured many years apart. I have studied the pictures from the pistol that has the serial number very close to the pistol featured above. I have not seen the pistol nor any pictures of the third pistol above. It would seem that either Steyr did not use a sequential numbering system, or some or all of the pistols were refurbished and given a new serial number, possibly when they entered into the Austrian police service.  

  

  

The photograph on the left shows the pistol after the side thumb latch has been depressed. The barrel assembly tips down in such a fashion to give quick and easy access to the bore. If desired, the barrel assembly can open further then is pictured.

The photograph on the right is of the underside of the grip panels. The shiny reflection on the right grip is a trick of the camera.

  

Resource:

The standard directory of proof marks by Gerhard Wirnsberger

German Handguns by Ian Hogg

Official guide to gunmarks by Robert Balderson

History Writ in Steel by Donald Maus

German small arms markings by Joachim Gortz & Don Bryans

Cartridges of the world by Frank C. Barnes  

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