A trio of 9x19mm pistols; the Luger P08, Mauser C96 (Red 9), and Walther P38. Each one has a large collectors market and following. Out of the three, the P38 would generally be the cheapest, with some examples selling for $750 and up. Depending on the model, caliber and condition, the P08 and C96 can sometimes enter the $4,000+ range, though more common examples can be had for $1,000~.
The 14.5-inch barrelled carbine is one of the rarest C96s you can find, with only around 1,000 manufactured during early production runs. They do not have the instantly recognisable ‘broom handle’, instead they have a detachable shoulder stock. The carbine’s longer barrel and stock make it the most accurate and controllable C96, with sights ranging out to 500 yards (the standard C96 has sights marked out to an even more ambitious 1000 yards). It feeds from the standard 10 and 15 round box magazines and while not entering military service it became popular with civilian markets in Africa and China especially. Today they can be seen at auction for anything up to $12,000 and many fake reproductions can be found.
Developed shortly before World War II, the German Military wanted a pistol caliber that was somewhere in between the 9mm para and 9mm Kurtz (.380ACP). The 9mm ultra was created by Walther as well as a few prototype automatic pistols to fire it. Unfortunalty the program was dropped when the 9mm Para Walther P-38 was deemed to be sufficient.
want want want, I wonder if 9MM makarov would work in it.
The rare 40 S&W version of the H&K P7. Only a small amount were produced and sold and have become increasingly collectable. It has some differences from the 9x19mm version; mostly the larger, shorter slide and barrel, a polymer heat shield in the trigger guard and a cut-out on the slide to assist in ejecting the 40 S&W.
I don’t recall what they sold for when they first hit the market but going rate is in the $2,500 to $3,500 range. This would be one of my dream guns for concealed carry but the price and rarity make it more of an investment.
By early 1945 Germany’s situation was desperate, with no real hope of victory left desperate holding actions became the order of the day. It was hoped by many in Hitler’s staff that if they could hold back the Russian’s long enough the Western Allies would reach Berlin first. This was no to be as the Red Army was making rapid progress into German territory, covering up to 35km a day by March 1945. Once the Soviets encircled Berlin on the 20th April there was no possibility of a surrender to the Western Allies who in reality had long since lost interest in the ‘Race to Berlin’.
While the war had seemed hopeless for many months the German High Command continued it’s efforts to construct a formidable defence against the oncoming Russian forces. This saw the activation of the German militias and the forming of a new corps, the Volksstrum or in English: “Storm of the People”. This optimistically named force made up of all men aged between 13 and 70 were called up and expected to defend their local areas, much like the British Home Guard formed in 1940.
(Above Volksstrum parade in their own clothes with their newly issued Panzerfaust anti-tank weapons and some older Mauser 98s. One man is lucky enough to have been issued a MG34.)
40,000 Volksstrum were available for the defence of Berlin with an unknown number deployed elsewhere throughout Germany with number perhaps approaching half a million men, on paper at least. In order to arm these men stores of older weapons were re-issued with Volksstrum being issued Mauser 98s, old Maxim guns and even ancient Mauser Model 1871s along with any captured foreign weapons which were in store. There were not enough modern weapons to equip the struggling regular forces let alone the newly improvised ‘volunteers’. As such Germany’s weapons factories looked to creating a series of budget firearms which could be made quickly. This spawned 4 such guns of varying sophistication, these Volks Gewehr or ‘people’s guns’ included:
Two simple rotating- bolt action rifles which used the Gewehr 43’s 8mm Mauser 10-round box magazine were developed, the Volks Gewehr 1 (photo 1) and the Volks Gewehr 2 (see photo 2) which both has simple fixed sights which were zeroed for no further than 100m. The VG.2 featured an unusual modular design using a stamped steel receiver with a bolted wooden butt and front stock. While these rifles were simplistic they did offer magazine capacity and reasonable accuracy at short ranges as well as both having rudimentary safety mechanisms. A third bolt-action rifle, the VK-98 (see photo 4)usedrefurbished Mauser 98 or reclaimed machine gun barrels bolted to a very simple, rough wooden stock. The VK-98 really was a desperate measure, it was a single shot rifle with no magazine capacity and only the most primitive sights and no safety.
The most advanced of the Volksstrum weapons was the VG.1-5 or Gustloff Volkssturmgewehr (see photo 3). This weapon while being crudely made using the same stamped metal process used in the construction of the StG-44 has proved it’s ruggedness with examples still in working order 70 years on. The VG.1-5 used a delayed blow-back system not unlike that found in pistols with the gasses from 4 drilled gas ports near the muzzle being captured in a sliding gas tube which moved backwards under pressure working the bolt. It was capable of semi-automatic fire and was chambered in the new intermediate 7.92x33mm Kurz cartridge used by the Sturmgewehr-44.
While the VG.1-5 offered increased fire-power it did suffer from jamming if not maintained properly, which may have been a tall order for a Volksstrum trooper with little more than half a days practical training, and like its bolt action counterparts it only had fixed sights.
(A well equipped, uniformed Volksstrum unit defend the banks of the Oder in this propoganda photograph, the man in the foreground holds a VG.1-5)
The Volksstrum were a desperate measure for a desperate time, with little to no training - they were supposed to have a 2 days intensive weapons training but were often lucky to receive 2 hours. There were no uniforms to be issued so the men fought in their own clothes often with only an armband to denote they were members of the Volksstrum. Many of the men drafted into the Volksstrum fought until death, terrified of Russian retribution, it is unknown just how many died defending Berlin. While the Volksstrum’s efforts were forlorn the weapons they were issued give us a fascinating insight into the resourcefulness of a country on the verge of collapse.
The Walther designed G43 (see photo 3) was seen as the next generation of infantry weapons for the German Army. The Wehmacht had unexpectedly encountered Russian SVT-40s and been surprised to find such advanced weapons in the hands of Russian forces they felt were inferior. As early as 1941 the German army had requested a new semi-automatic rifle to replace their bolt action Mauser 98Ks. The Walther design was completed in 1942 and production began the following year, eventually 400,000 G43s would be manufactured.
The G43 used a gas-operated system to fire the standard German rifle cartridge the 8mm Mauser. Feeding from a 10-round detachable box magazine this immediately gave double the magazine capacity of the old 98ks. While the G43 was not intended to completely replace the 98k in the short term the goal was to equip the grenadier companies of infantry battalions with approximately 20 of the new rifles. They were intended for use in what would now be described as a designated marksman role and were not fitted with bayonets.
The rifles seen above in images one and two show G43s with distinctly different magazines. These thinner, longer magazines were originally designed for the new Sturmgewehr 44. The StG-44 chambered the smaller intermediate rifle round - the 7.92x33mm Kurz. During the latter stages of the war an unknown number of G43s were adapted to fire the new Kurz cartridge. This gives them a fleeting resemblance to the US M2 Carbine, however the Kurz was a much more powerful round than the M2’s .30 carbine. It is unknown how the Kurz G43 performed but it is likely that the round would have worked quite well, while not matching the fully automatic fire of the StG-44, it would have provided an increased capacity and more sustained rate of fire.