View Full Version : Full-Auto Artillery Luger?

July 13, 2008, 06:36 PM
I was reading recently about some old time outlaws and learned that towards the end of Prohibition, a popular automatic weapon was an Artillery Luger that fired full auto, used with the 32 rd. drum and holster stock. I've done searches and could not find any further info on this machine pistol/SMG. I don't even know if this was a German made original, or an underworld conversion. Standard Lugers were somewhat common in that period, though less popular than Colt autos or even revolvers, having been smuggled back as trophies from WWI. Even when Lugers were brand new, that's why Tom Horn died, couldn't figure out how to cock the newfangled toggle link pistol.

But this was my first time hearing about the full auto Artillery model. Any info would be helpful. Figured some of you NFA buffs might have some info. I'd guess these were (then legal) conversions on a semi only gun, there were several smiths performing similar work on 1911's and Winchester 07's, as well as re-arming dewatted heavy MGs. Harvey Bailey, others in the Holden-Keating crew (so probably Verne Miller too, the best typist of the day), all early post-prohibition, high dollar stick-up men, were some of the users of this unique weapon. That's all I know. A conversion job probably would have came from Chicago. I don't know enough about the Luger action to know the difficulty of setting it up for rock n' roll, but those gunsmiths had ingenuity, and a very decent supply of aftermarket hi-caps, comps, suppressors, and so on. I turned up nothing on machine pistol variants from Luger makers. I think if there was one it would be well known as a Mauser Schnellfeuer.

Jim Watson
July 13, 2008, 07:25 PM
'The Luger Book' by John Walter lists six different full auto conversions for the Luger. None amounted to anything except possibly the Stuttgart Conversion of which a few were done during and after WW II; too late for the Prohibition era gangsters.

4V50 Gary
July 13, 2008, 08:12 PM
My uncle has one of those snail drums. It was cheap back in the '60s when he bought it.

James K
July 13, 2008, 08:30 PM
I seem to recall reading something to that effect, but took it with a grain of salt. There were several patents, in Germany and elsewhere, for full auto Luger conversions, but none seem to have gone beyond the "one off" stage. I have no doubt that a "gangster gunsmith" could make such a conversion, and there were some M1911s so converted in the gangster era, but a full auto pistol, even with a shoulder stock, is not very practical.

The FBI collection has a couple of M1911 pistols converted to full auto, apparently more for psychological effect than any practical use, but I don't recall any Lugers. Full auto pistols are uncontrollable, even with a shoulder stock. I have fired Mausers, Spanish Astras, and several miscellaneous conversions, including two M1911 conversions (all legally owned, BTW). None would hit anything beyond the first or second round.


July 14, 2008, 12:04 AM
Even when Lugers were brand new, that's why Tom Horn died, couldn't figure out how to cock the newfangled toggle link pistol.Oh, puh-leeeaze! Tom Horn was hanged for murder in Cheyenne, WY in 1903, 5 years before the Luger was patented.

Full auto Lugers are relatively rare, but the Model 712 Mauser Schnellfeuer was a relatively common pistol from WWII.

Jim Watson
July 15, 2008, 10:16 AM
Oh, puhleez, Scorch.

The Luger was patented in 1898. The Swiss adopted the Luger in 1900 and the US Army was testing Lugers in 1901, with commercial models selling alongside. John Walter says that at the time, half of DWM's production was going to America.

Five years from 1903 was when the German Army finally got around to adopting the P '08. The German Navy had been using them since 1904. Not an uncommon thing in those days, for many years most navies were technologically ahead of the corresponding armies.

July 15, 2008, 10:49 AM
Hmmmm. OK, I'll stand corrected. But I will still insist that Tom Horn didn't die because he couldn't operate a toggle mechanism.

Johnny Guest
July 16, 2008, 02:30 AM
I've read in at least two places that after being condemned to hang, Horn broke jail and stole an automatic plistol from a desk in the sheriff's office. The stories I read both indicated it was a problem with finding the safety. One story indicated it was a Luger, the other just that it was an automatic pistol. Personally, I think the one about his not understanding the toggle action is somewhat more likely.

Horn was known as an outstanding rifle shot, and he carried a double action revolver for at least part of his career. He was not loath to adopt new technology, as witness his use of the then-newfangled, smokeless powder Winchester Model 1894 in .30-30. Even so, there couldn't have been too many Lugers in circulation, that early and that far west.

The story may be entirely apocryphal, with no basis in fact. Conversely, it may have happened, and is based solely on the fact(?) that Horn grabbed up some sort of auto pistol. News writers, and even editors of the day were not above providing some entirely imaginary "details" to flesh out a good story.

It's mighty difficult to sort out fact from fiction at any remove in time and distance. I personally recall that an early report of the assassination of President Kennedy said that Dallas Police had seized the rifle, "a .30-30 Mauser."

Now, having veered so far from the initial thread topic, there's one more thing that should be said about Ton Horn and his jail break: It probably didn't happen at all. While writing this I Google searched Tom Horn. I read six or seven pages of the references brought up, and not one single one referred to the supposed jailbreak. The only specific recollection I have of my sources was in the novel, I, Tom Horn, by Will Henry, a fictional autobiography. I've long been a fan of Will Henry, aka Clay Fisher, t/n Henry Wilson Allen (d. 1991, age 79.) He was an outstanding novelist. Many of his plots were based on historical characters and incidents, but a historian he was not. This is not to say Mr. Allen didn't hear the jailbreak story somewhere. But it is equally likely that he made it up, in furtherance of the novel.

Oh, well - - :(

July 19, 2008, 06:46 PM
I believe Horn also owned/carried a 1900 Browning .32 or a similar small auto.
Was going by something I always heard on him and the toggle link, no expert on Old West shooters but appeared Tom Horn with a ready gun (and upper hand) was good as gone from the 'clink'. Johnny D. made it out of an airtight jail using a wooden gun with allegedly 200 National Guardsmen and vigilantes standing outside, taking off with Thompsons and the Sheriff's own car.

Irish Glock
February 15, 2012, 08:23 PM
Greetings from the Emerald Isle..My first post here on this august forum.
As I am doing some research on such a gun,I am pleased to inform you that I do know whereabouts there is a genuine full auto Luger as described by
.351 Winchester. Arty model ,wooden stock,snail drum, wooden foldable front grip as an add on, nice wooden case,and a few other bits and pieces with it.
However it is not for sale and rather difficult to view,as it is in custody of the Irish army!! Let me explain...
Back in 1972 when the Northern Ireland troubles kicked off.Our then minister for justice decided it would be a good idea to temporarily withdraw from civillian hands all rifles above .22lr and all handguns inc air pistols for a period of thirty days..The so called tempoary custody order of 1972. This was only supposed to last 31 days and prevent the provisional IRA from arming off the civillian sympathisers to cause mayhem in Northern Ireland.Suffice to say it didnt work,the IRA armed themselves from the US resident sympathisers and later Libya.And Irish gunowners were stuck for appx 35 years in limbo,up until 2004 when we got a few handguns and rifles back....but thats another days work! For those who are intrested in what sort of a mess we are in over here.
I suggest a drop in on www.boards.ie/shooting. This is about the most up to date and informative board on Irish shooting matters.
[Just dont mention self defence or right to keep and bear arms;)]
Short story long..I know we in Ireland belive in taking our time but a month going to 35 years is abit much..Even for Irish standards!:o

Anyways this remarkable Luger is in the main military barracks of the Curragh army camp.No one knows diddley about,who what where or how it came to Ireland.I will dig out an article on it from a german magazine Deutsches waffen journal that has a few pics of it,and a most intresting history of the Luger being used by the Irish army as a secondary issue officer sidearm in world war 2 or with typical Irish understatement "The Emergency" as ww2 was known in Ireland!:eek::D

From what I remember of the article it stated that it has a switch type arrangement on the exposed action bar,which allows it to be selected between FA and semi.However wear has made this somwhat unpredictable and it shoots in FA only.
As soon as I find the article I'll post it.
glad to see that there is some chance that it has some sort of traceability,and I would appreciate any info anyone has on this type of conversion.
Irish Glock

February 15, 2012, 11:07 PM
My uncle has one of those snail drums. It was cheap back in the '60s when he bought it.

Unfortunately I wasn't in a position to buy one until the late 90's. :(

February 16, 2012, 09:40 AM
And Irish gunowners were stuck for appx 35 years in limbo,up until 2004 when we got a few handguns and rifles back...

Interestingly, when rumors of this kind of thing happening in the states get started, lots of guns and rifles seem to get lost on fishing expeditions. :D

February 16, 2012, 10:01 AM
I have to agree with Scorch, The ideal of a Luger being present at that time and place is just wishful thinking. Like Johnny Guest, I also have read a number of stories in reference to Tom Horn,nowhere was a toggle link gun mentioned, only a new fangled automatic.:) I also have never read of a full auto lugers being used in the 1930's by any of the bad guys. Now on the last I could be wrong,, there may have been a minor player or two with a standard luger but I kind of doubt it.

February 16, 2012, 11:01 AM
If you look in Fred Datig's book, you can see several patents for select fire applications for the Luger pistol, including one that was toggle actuated.

February 24, 2012, 11:17 AM
ANot on any topic at all, but, going to a web forum board for suppressor info, I found a posting about an obscure classic pistol and discussion about bootleggers, a refrence to Vern Miller (I live and love the history of KC) and Tom Horn of all people. Its a good day shapeing up fellas lol

March 9, 2012, 09:35 AM
There is a photo showing a lawman in Oklahoma, listed as being taken in 1901, posing with a dish toggle Model 1900 Luger.