Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Notes from the gun shop...

A patron brought some guns in for cleaning. This was among them as was a pristine, original Remington over-under derringer (nickel with factor mother of pearl stocks). And there was one of these...

Gas Pistol (Follow the link for the published site!)

[Thanks to Jim Mahaffey for finding this equipment.]
The original owner was with TSD, and reportedly said that it was an 'assassination weapon' acquired from the Nazis, although this is thought to be unlikely, since it has been found to be a mass-produced model.

The maker is "August Schuler in Suhl". The logo on the grips is a stylized "ASS". This maker is known primarily for sporting firearms from about 100 years ago.

This model is described in "The German Encyclopedia of Firearms" (translated) as follows:
"Starting and teargas pistol, by August Schuler in Suhl. Selfloading pocket-pistol, for a completely rimless cartridge. The pistol has neither chamber nor extractor. Ejecting the spent case takes place via gas pressure. Usable as a starting pistol with color cartridges or with gas cartridges as a self-protection weapon. Before 1939 built in two versions - 6 or 10 shots. Length 100mm. Weight 270 grams."
Following is a description of the pistol from a friend in Germany, with an English translation. Many thanks to Reinhard Brusdeylins for this information, and the translation:
Hier handelt es sich um die so genannte "Lacrimae-Pistole". Im AKAH-Katalog von 1939 ist die Pistole abgebildet. Hersteller war wahrscheinlich nicht die Firma August Schüler in Suhl, sondern lediglich der Vertreiber. ASS steht übrigens für August Schuler Suhl. Die „Lacrimae"-Pistole war für eine Spezialpatrone eingerichtet, andere Patronen passen nicht! Diese Patronen sind noch bis in die 1950er-Jahre in Katalogen zu finden, die Waffe selbst nicht mehr. Die Lacrimae-Pistole wird geladen, indem man die Patronen von oben ins Magazin drückt. Zugeführt wird sie durch eine Feder, die im Magazin von unten gegen die Patrone drückt. Die Patronen werden durch den Gasdruck seitlich ausgeworfen. Hier handelt es sich um die so genannte "Lacrimae-Pistole".
This is a so-called "Lacrimae pistol" ['Lacrimae' meaning 'tear gas']. In the AKAH Catalogue from 1939 there is a picture of this pistol. Company August Schuler is assumed to be not the manufacturer, but only the distributor. "ASS" stands for August Schuler Suhl. The Lacrimae was made for a special cartridge, other cartridges won't fit. The cartridges were in the catalogs in the 50's, the weapon itself not any more. The Lacrimae pistol is loaded by pushing the cartridges from the top into the magazine. The cartridges are loaded [into the chamber area] by a spring in the magazine below the cartridges. The cartridges are ejected to the side by gas pressure.

It appears that the cartridge for it would be very close to .25 caliber, and the overall length about 1 inch.

I'm guessing this one is a 6-shot version. The action is interesting: pulling the trigger causes the slide to move back. If you pull the trigger far enough, the slide is released and slams forward (rather hard!). The firing pin is *fixed* to the inside of the rear of the slide. There is a 'port' carved into the left side of the inside of the bore, where it would meet the front edge of the cartridge - I suspect this is the ejection mechanism (gas pressure would push the case out sideways to the right). The magazine is fixed in the grip - the pistol loads thru the ejection port at the top. There is a spring-loaded magazine follower. There is a safety lever on the left side, with German markings for 'safe' and 'fire'. When the safety is on, the slide is pushed back slightly, which keeps the firing pin out of the way for loading. There is a plate protruding from the right side, just under the ejection port - presumably to protect the hand while firing.

There is a stamp on the bottom of the grip that is shaped like a shield, and has "SUHL" in it, along with an image of a hammer. This is a standard Suhl marking. Near the stamp is a marking that says "M.33" (perhaps model of 1933 ??). Also near the stamp is a marking "XX". This is possibly an Agency marking, to mean 'experimental'. I have an early-production RS-6 radio set that also has XX markings. A firearms expert in Germany said that the "XX" is not a known marking, and that legitimate German markings are well-documented. An assembly number "35" is found on the underside of the front edge of the barrel, and also on an interior surface of the slide. The grips have the "ASS" logo. No other markings.

Everything is steel, except for the plastic grips, and the trigger, which is made of a non-ferrous metal (aluminum??). The barrel has a smooth bore, roughly 25 caliber. Sighting down it, there is a slight 'contraction' in the middle section of the barrel - that is, it becomes slightly narrower in the middle, by a few thousands of an inch. This contraction may be part of the ejection mechanism: If the cartridge includes a wad, then this restriction in the bore would cause a momentary increase in gas pressure, to aid in ejecting the empty cartridge.

Two or more other variants of this pistol have been described to me (one is pictured on the web site of a European museum).

The August Schuler gas/starter pistol. Author's collection.

Markings on the bottom of the grip. The "XX" is possibly an Agency marking meaning 'experimental'.

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