View Full Version : JP Sauer & Sohn, Suhl 12 Ga External Hammers

April 1, 2009, 09:32 AM
I recently bought at estate auction a J. P. Sauer & Sohn SxS double 12 Guage, serial #45906. I think I have sorted out most of the proofmarks (corrections welcome!) but I don't yet have a fix on the date of manufacture or value. I would appreciate any help. It does have external hammers, double triggers, 29-1/2 " Bbls, a round-body rebounding hammer lock system, a buffalo horn trigger guard, steel buttplate, and walnut cheekpiece stock.
Receiver and locks have gone to gray finish, barrels have pretty good blue ahead of the receiver. There is some surface pitting on the outside rear of the left barrel. Wood shows lots of dings and dents but is in overall good shape. Bores mostly bright but with some discoloration and light pits just ahead of chambers. There are 2 small dents on left barrel. Action is crisp with tight lockup. Unfortunately, sling swivels have been discarded. I think this gun began life as a black powder gun sometime before 1891 (Crown/V proofmark). It does have some more recent marks, including Eagle/J, Eagle/N, and 442. I think this means that it was repaired and reproofed in Suhl in April 1942. The ejector is suspiciously bright and smooth, and the lockup between barrels and receiver is also suspiciously tight. Take a look at the photos to see the proofs and condition. I have more photos if any of you have any specific questions. I have not found many examples of this particular gun on the Internet and I would like to know the approximate value (I paid $420 at the auction). Thanks for any help you can give!!

J F Cooper
April 5, 2009, 12:46 PM
The Island lock style is not as desireable as the traditional sidelock.. In the condition you describe, I would say the gun is worth in the $300 range. Sorry I can't help on dating it.. JFC

April 7, 2009, 03:45 PM

Thanks. I have been told since I posted that the gun was made in the first half of 1890, based on serial number.


April 10, 2009, 12:59 PM
Here are some more photos detailing the proofmarks under the barrels and on the water table. The right hand barrel has data that I assume described the proof powder and shot charges: 5-3/4 S.P. 34-1/2 B.L. Left hand barrel has serial number (45906), under the serial is 717Q (?) and "Nicht fur Kugel" (not for slugs). Can anyone tell me what the powder/shot marks mean? Also, what is the 13 with the circled 9? Thanks!


April 10, 2009, 01:03 PM
It looks like a great gun to collect or display, really nice :D

Like your carpet too .... troo bloo :D

Jim Watson
April 10, 2009, 02:25 PM
All I have to go on is Lee Kennett's article in the 1975 Gun Digest and he does not decode the alphanumeric soup.

The 13 is the measured bore diameter given in nominal gauge but translating to a diameter of 18.03mm or .71" - lots of European makers bored them tight.

I don't know what the (circle) 9 means, that used to be the format for the nominal gauge but this gun is marked in the later style 12-65 as a 12 gauge with 65mm (2 9/16") chambers.

April 11, 2009, 06:31 AM
Hi Slivver,

You have an interesting J. P. Sauer shot gun there. And quiet old. You are correct:

I think this gun began life as a black powder gun sometime before 1891 (Crown/V proofmark). It does have some more recent marks, including Eagle/J, Eagle/N, and 442. I think this means that it was repaired and reproofed in Suhl in April 1942.

Yes, it was already there, when the German Gun Law came into force on April 01, 1893. The crown/V was only used between January 01, 1893 and March 31, 1893 for existing guns which did not need to be proofed. The c/V was a “proof” to make a gun legit not being proofed. But most guns were proofed according to the new law anyway, just like your gun. And yes, some repair was carried out in 1942.

Regarding the “13”: well, this isn’t unusual, but quiet common on German prewar shot guns in 12 gauge. Much more unusual is the “9 within circle”. This combination doesn’t make any sense at all, because the combination should be: “12 within circle” = calibre of the chamber (i.e. 12 with a case length of 65 mm = 2 9/16”) and 13 = calibre of the barrel. It’s an odd German system to mark the calibre. Rifle calibers are even more odd before 1912.

Why the chamber should be in 9 gauge….. I have no explanation.

The other calibre stamping on the barrel is quiet unusual also:

Pappe 12-65 (Pappe = cardbox) 5 ¾ (no explanation for this, maybe 5 ¾ gram ) S.P. (= Schwarzpulver = black powder) 34 ½ BL. (? Probably the abbreviaition of “Blei” = lead).

Seems to be a proof load, but in this form I haven’t seen it before. The other marking “Nicht für Kugel” (not for balls) can be found quiet often.

The 717Q probably is an internal Sauer marking. Such markings can be found regularly on Sauers.

Regarding the age: a 45xxx SN is very old. OK, you knew this already, I know. But it is hard to give an exact figure due to missing records in the Suhl archive where also the Sauer files are kept. At least, I can tell you, that I’ve seen an other Sauer shot gun, also with a SN in the 40.000s and also having c/V markings. Obviously, this must have been made before April 1893.

Best regards


April 11, 2009, 09:40 AM
JFC, Dingoboyx, Jim, Martin,

Many thanks for the information--I don't know where else I could have received it. I had searched the internet as far as I could go without help.

My main collecting interest is European pocket pistols, so I knew a bit about German proofs from the Wars, but the shotgun opened up an entirely new area to learn. The gun turned up totally unexpectedly and I have really enjoyed learning about its history as well as the proofing systems. You fellows have really helped!

I do have a couple of follow-up questions. Does the Eagle/N mean that the gun was reproofed with smokeless powder following the 1942 repair (I want to fire it)? I would also like to replace the missing sling swivels (I expect that I will need to make them unless by some miracle some can be found somewhere)--do you have a source for old parts like these, or, do you have a photograph of a Sauer gun with the barrel swivel attached?

Since I am allowed to add more photos with this reply, here are some other views.

Thanks again!


April 11, 2009, 10:33 AM
Hi Slivver,

yes, the 1942 proof was carried out with Nitro powder. Consequently, it was safe then (!). If it is still safe to shoot, that is another question. I’d contact a gunsmith for checking the gun.

BTW: the 1942 repair proof wasn’t the only one. Marking crown/R indicates, that a reproof or repair was done sometimes in the Imperial times.

So, your main interest are European pocket pistol, huh? Nice, because I also do collect mainly European pocket, i. e. pistols made by J. P. Sauer until 1945.

A nice forum specialized in these European pockets is the forum of Jan C. Still:


Check it out, I guess, you’ll like it.

Regarding the swivels: well, of course I am not able to tell you a source in the US, but swivels of Sauers are nothing special. Every standard (German) swivel will fit.



April 11, 2009, 04:47 PM

Regarding the powder/lead shot proof information--I looked on the internet for the recommended Black Powder loading for "Heavy" 12 Ga.--the reco. is for 6.2 grams black powder and 35.5 grams lead shot--so that is close to the proof markings of 5.75 grams powder and 34.5 grams shot (assuming that both are in grams (did/does Germany use grams or drams for powder?)

I can't guess what the circled 9 means.

Don't worry, I won't fire the shotgun until I know it is safe. I am concerned that the 2-9/16 chambers would need to be extended to 2-3/4 to avoid overpressure--I will check with a smith to be sure. If so I will just not fire it.

Regarding the swivel replacement--can you suggest a vendor or a contact in Germany that might provide swivels? If they are common as you said, the only dimension that would be critical is the distance between the holes on the barrel swivel.

I am glad to hear that you are a fellow pocket pistol collector. I do have some Sauers and they are amazing little machines. I have lately gotten interested in very early Walther PP guns--90 degree safety, 2 piece striker, and so forth. Walther made lots of small changes to the PP and PPK in the first few years and the variations are very interesting.



April 13, 2009, 04:08 AM
Hi Slivver,

please, don’t extend the chambers to 2 ¾“. This will decrease the value, as it will ruin originality of the gun. Better use cartridges in 2 9/16” ( 2 ½) or in 67.5 mm = 2 5/8. The latter (2 5/8) was created for no other purposes to be shot both in the 65mm and 70 mm length. Here in Germany, the 67.5 mm (2 5/8”) length can easily be purchased and used. Of course, I don’t know, if the 2 5/8 length is available in the US without any problems also.

Please find a table of US vs. European calibre denominations here:


Regarding the swivels: sorry, no, I don’t have a source here. But check the usual US sites, like Brownell’s, they also have European swivels.

Regarding the Sauer pistol: I sent a PM to you.



April 13, 2009, 12:49 PM

Don't worry, I will not alter the shotgun--I was just saying that if it did need alteration to be safely fired I would not fire the longer shells in it. I will check to see if I can find the 2-9/16 lengths, as I would enjoy shooting it.

I will forward separately some photos and info on my Sauers.

Thanks and regards,


April 17, 2009, 08:08 AM
Midway sells 2-1/2" shells.

Thanks again everyone...