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Austro-Hungarian Items


This Steyr-Pieper model 1909 pistol was manufactured by OEWG, "Österreichische Waffenfabriksgesellschaft" or Austrian Weapons Manufacturing Incorporated in 1914. This Steyr model 1909 is a self-loading, blowback operated, semi-automatic pistol that is chambered in 6.35mm(.25 ACP) caliber which is the smallest centerfire pistol round in production. This pistol utilizes a 6 round detachable box magazine and weighs in at 11.5 ounces unloaded. The overall length is 4.92 inches and the total barrel length is 2.24 inches. The pistol incorporates a blade type front sight and a V notch rear sight, both of which are not adjustable. On the bottom of the backstrap is found 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 frame is made from steel and has a beautiful and deep blued finish. The checkered hard rubber grips have the OEWG logo on top and then STEYR underneath. The pistol incorporates a  thumb safety lever that is located at the top right hand corner of the left grip.

The Steyr model 1909 pistols were manufactured between 1909 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. It is thought that approximately 130.000 of these pistols were produced. It has been noted that all of these pistols have the letter A at the end of the serial number. The model 1909 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. 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 big brother to this pistol is the Steyr-Pieper Model 1908 Selbstlade Pistole in 7.65mm(.32 ACP) caliber.

The .25 ACP round can propel a bullet with a weight of 35 to 50 grains between 750 to 1200 feet per second, which yields a muzzle energy of between 65 and 103 foot pounds. Although the .22 long rifle cartridge is slightly more powerful when fired from an equal length barrel, the .25 ACP is often viewed as a better choice for personal defense due to its more reliable semi-rimmed centerfire case design.  



These next two photographs are of the markings that are found on the left side of this Steyr model 1909 pistol. In the photograph on the left, the pistol is stamped on the left side of the barrel assembly as follows, "PAT. No 9379-05 u. No. 25025-06."  This inscription indicates that the pistol is made from these two patent numbers that are dated 1905 and 1906. The last two numbers following the patent number is the date. The abbreviated "PAT." indicates "patent", the abbreviated "No" indicates "number" and 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 "14." which indicates the year of manufacture for the pistol as 1914.

At the center of the right edge in the left photograph is what looks like a fingerprint. This is 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 slide legend in the picture on the right reads as follows, "OESTERR. WAFFENFABRIKS-GES." and then underneath that is "STEYR." This inscription indicates "Österreichische Waffenfabriksgesellschaft" or "Austrian Weapons Manufacturing Incorporated".

The lever at the rear in the picture on the right is the thumb safety which is shown in the fire position.  

These next two photographs are of the markings that are found on the right side of this Steyr model 1909 pistol. The picture on the left shows the "N. PIEPER PATENT" slide legend. This inscription informs us that the pistol is manufactured under patents by Nicolas Pieper.

The photograph on the right is of the inscription that is stamped on the right side of the barrel assembly. This inscription reads as follows, "PAT.ENGL. No.16715-08. + No. 40335". The abbreviated letters "PAT." indicate "patent" and the abbreviated letters "ENGL" indicate a patent that was issued in England. The abbreviated letters "No" indicate the word "number". The cross symbol indicates that the following patent number was issued in Switzerland. Research has revealed that the patent number 40335 was issued to Nicolas Pieper on July 1, 1908.

At the left edge of the picture on the right is the "NPv" stamp. This mark was applied to weapons that were proofed fired with semi-smokeless powder. This is 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 left is of the top and bottom of the Steyr model1909 pistol.

In the bottom picture on the left we can see that the magazine is inserted into the firearm and that the letters "LV" have been scribed into the bottom of the magazine. As of this writing, I have been unable to decode the meaning of these letters. They could indicate any thing from the initials of a former owner to some type of unit or property markings.

The photograph on the right is of the front and back of the pistol. In this picture at the right, the bore can clearly be seen. 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.



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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