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Ortgies .25acp/6.35mm

Discussion in 'Firearms Research' started by TheBluesMan, Jan 9, 2003.

  1. TheBluesMan

    TheBluesMan Senior Member

    I'm thinking about buying an Ortgies pistol. It is a 6.35mm stamped "Germany" on the underside of the frame in front of the trigger guard. It has what appear to be original wood grip panels with the inlaid stylized 'D' medallions in the center. The S/N is 1454xx. Of course the typical "Deutchewerke -- Werkerfurt" is on one side of the slide and "Ortgies Patent" is on the other. There is also a "crown N" mark on the frame and on the barrel lug near the caliber mark.

    Here's the kicker and my question:

    The gun looks new. I can't help but think that the grips have been refinished and the entire gun re-blued.

    Is there any way to tell if it has been refinished?

    Is there any way to know when the gun was made by the serial number?

    Also, how much would it be worth... $125-150?

    Thanks! :)
  2. Strayhorn

    Strayhorn Member

    Ah, the little Ortgies pistols - I've been looking for one in .380 for some time, having found the .32 and .25 models at various shows over the years. They were well-made and sold to the upscale crowd here in America back in the 'tween-wars period. They were also popular as vet bring-back items.

    As for the refinishing, can't tell from here. Generally, the Ortgies were finished in a nice blue, more of a steel blue than, say, the black of Walther or cobalt of a Colt from that time. Most refinished guns tend to be black-blue from inexpensive cold bluing and lack the "depth" that hand polishing brings. I doubt that someone would take the time to hot blue and polish a little Ortgies.

    The internal parts should all have the last two digits of the serial number on them, some parts (like the safety) will have the whole serial number. I suggest you look at the firing pin - these were often broken by people trying to reassemble them in an incorrect manner. If all the internal parts match, perhaps it is a gun that has sat in a desk drawer all these years. Same goes for the grips - they are attached in a curious manner and are often broken at the internal attach points, then repaired. You can check those, too.

    Sorry, I have no serial number list to check for you.

    As for the price, that's about what I paid for mine a few years ago. I find them to be accurate, reliable and interesting pistols, although when I'm "dressed for the evening" and choose to carry a .25, I prefer the Haenel Schmeisser-patent as it's smaller and lighter.

    Here's an Austrian fellow who's developed a whole website for vest pocket and other smaller pistols:

    Sarco has many parts:

    Best of luck,

  3. dfariswheel

    dfariswheel Well-Known Member

    The best indication of an Ortgies re-blue, is that original condition guns were blued outside, with the internals finished "in the white".
    The usual re-blue will be blued inside too.
    It was made from about 1918 to the late 30's.
    Since your gun had the stylized "D", which is formed by the tail of a mythical animal, it's a later production gun.

    It's not at all unusual to find an Ortgies in like new condition, especially the .25 ACP models.

    The Ortgies was an extremely well made little gun, and was quite popular in both Europe and America. It had American importers, and was a good seller here too.

    One word of warning: The Ortgies is possibly the hardest gun to reassemble ever made, UNLESS you know the "secret". If you know how, it's not too difficult.
  4. TheBluesMan

    TheBluesMan Senior Member

    Thank you very much for your replies. :)

    I have taken the slide off and put it back on with no problem. (Thanks to the learned advice of Jim Keenan) I can't really tell if the inside has been blued or if that is the correct color of the inside of the pistol. Could the inside of the gun look dark just from firing, dirt and lubrication?

    I have dry-fired it a few times (with a foam ear plug in place of a snap-cap) and have noticed that after about three or four trigger pulls, the slide refuses to return completely to the rear. It "feels" like the firing pin guide is hitting one of the coils of the firing pin spring. It could be the main slide spring, but it definitely feels "springy" to me. I also noticed that there is a slight kink in the firing pin spring at the point where it enters the firing pin cylinder, so that could explain it...

    Any additional thoughts?
  5. dfariswheel

    dfariswheel Well-Known Member

    Dark inside??
    Not that dark. Unless it's incredibly dirty, or tarnished, it's probably been reblued. Again, originals are left "in the white" internally, so not everything could be that dirty.

    If you have a kinked spring, I'd strongly recommend buying a new one from Gun Parts Corp. or Jack First.
  6. Jim K

    Jim K Well-Known Member

    I agree with a new firing pin spring, but you might also check to see if there are any sharp edges or burrs on the inside edge of the firing pin hollow. The edge should be smooth and tapered.

    If you want to check on the inside, remove the grips and look at the inside of the magazine well. It should at least show signs of brightness if not reblued. The original finish is a "soft" rust blue, exactly like the Lugers of the same era. Since rust bluing involves swabbing the compound on the outside, rather than dipping the gun in a tank, the outside is blued while the inside remains in the white. (Same applies to Lugers and a way to spot a reblue of the early ones.)

    I covered grip removal in that other posting, but FYI, I will repeat it here:

    To remove the grips, look into the back of the magazine well and notice what looks like a flat plate about 1/2 inch long. Press this in (toward the rear of the gun) with a screwdriver and the grips will come off. DO NOT PRY the grips; you will break them.

    To replace grips, hook the front end into the frame, then press the catch again and let one grip drop into place. Release the catch. You may want to do this with one grip while watching from the other side before trying it with both grips.

  7. Pistolsmith

    Pistolsmith Well-Known Member

    The whole line of Ortgies pistols are DANGEROUS and should be relegated to a collection where they will never be loaded.
    The factory overhardened the strikers during manufacture on all of their pistols, leaving them slightly brittle. They should NEVER be dry fired. They should NEVER be carried with a round in the chamber.
    About two o'clock one morning a good friend of mine heard a loud pop come from his clothes closet. Investigation showed the sear lug on the striker of his .32 Ortgies pistol had sheared off cleanly, allowing the pistol to fire in his jacket pocket. Luckily, the restricted space of the pocket jamed the pistol...otherwise it would have gone full auto.
    A famous gun writer was at a polite gathering one evening when the same thing happened to him, ruining his evening and an expensive sports jacket. This can happen with ANY striker fired weapon, so they should never be carried with a round in the chamber. And, they should be snapped ONLY with a pencil eraser or nylon rod against the slide face.
    Since both of the above mentioned gents went out soon afterward and bought Walther PPK pistols to carry in their jacket pockets, the hint is obvious.
  8. PhilOhio

    PhilOhio New Member

    I joined The High Road board solely because I have read the above 2003 post from "Pistolsmith" several times in the past year, standing as the final word on this thread concerning the fine Ortgies pistols. It contains so much misinformation that I felt it would be a disservice to people considering buying one of these, and searching "Ortgies pistols", that I should add some factual comments for the sake of balance and fairness to the design.

    I am in my middle years, a former overseas intelligence officer with a good bit of firearms experience, own over 200 guns, and have been building, collecting, and maintaining them for a lifetime. I own four Ortgies pocket pistols, in all of the three calibers in which they were regularly manufactured. When I need some of the specialized parts for these and other firearms, including springs, I generally make them myself. So much for background.

    I just finished a total rebuild of the most uncommon Ortgie, my .380, which I purchased as a basket case. There is not a part on these guns with which I am not intimately familiar.

    Now, regarding the above post: "The whole line of Ortgies pistols are DANGEROUS and should be relegated to a collection where they will never be loaded."

    There is no truth to this. These pistols were all extremely well made and hand fitted quite closely. However, the basic design of almost any striker fired pocket pistol, including the Ortgies, is such that, in my opinion, they should not be carried cocked with a round in the chamber. It's simply not a good, safe idea, even though the Ortgies has a very good grip safety mechanism. So there is an element of truth in what "Pistolsmith" says.

    Other than that, all of the Ortgies are strong and perfectly safe to fire, if they have not been damaged or abused.

    And: "The factory overhardened the strikers during manufacture on all of their pistols, leaving them slightly brittle."

    In my considerable research on these pistols, I have not come upon one shred of evidence to suggest that there is any truth to the above sweeping statement. And anyway, if you think about it, it does not make sense that at least two different manufacturers, making many thousands of guns over a period of more than 20 years, would "overharden" all those strikers without discovering and correcting the problem. It didn't happen.

    And: "About two o'clock one morning a good friend of mine heard a loud pop come from his clothes closet. Investigation showed the sear lug on the striker of his .32 Ortgies pistol had sheared off cleanly, allowing the pistol to fire in his jacket pocket. Luckily, the restricted space of the pocket jamed the pistol...otherwise it would have gone full auto."

    I flatly disbelieve this anecdote. I am familiar with the metallurgy of the striker and sear contacting surfaces. There cannot be such a "shearing off cleanly". No way. Unless you allow for the black magic factor. ;)

    As for the "would have gone full auto" claim, this is not only wrong but utterly absurd. The firing pin also serves as the ejector in all Ortgies pistols. If any breakage or failure causes the spring loaded firing pin to stay forward, extending about 1/4" beyond the face of the slide, even the next round in the magazine cannot POSSIBLY be fed into the chamber. It will be jammed below the extended firing pin and the gun will not function. It cannot go full auto. Can't, won't, don't, never did.

    Going even further into Internet nonsense land: "A famous gun writer was at a polite gathering one evening when the same thing happened to him, ruining his evening and an expensive sports jacket."

    This also simply did not happen, I would wager. Can't. Yet my advice is to never ever carry a striker fired, hammerless pocket pistol loaded and chambered, no matter what the design. The Ortgies is no safer or less safe than many others, but all are less ideal than an exposed hammer pistol with multiple safety features, as "Pistolsmith" suggests.

    He says: "And, they should be snapped ONLY with a pencil eraser or nylon rod against the slide face."

    This is of course good advice. With the Ortgies pistols, extended dry firing causes burring, an increase in the outer diameter of the striker just behind the firing pin itself, where it contacts the slide in the forward position. This can eventually lead to weak primer strikes or stoppages. The burr can be carefully filed off, but it's better to avoid the carelessness which causes it in the first place.

    I hope I've prevented any novice from avoiding these fine little pistols, incorrectly believing them to be dangerous pieces of junk, which they most assuredly are not. They are pure quality, but must be treated with the understanding of what they are and are not. And no pistol is designed to be used by idiots.

    Have fun, and don't be afraid to shoot your Ortgies, using any of the commonly available brands of ammo in .25 ACP, .32 ACP, or .380 ACP. It's good and accurate and safe. Just be sure to unload it and clean it when you are done, and snap the firing pin against a pencil eraser or nylon snap cap when you are ready to store it. Don't let the striker spring take a "set". Most of these springs will already be found "bad" and kinked when you buy the gun, because people do not know how to disassemble and reassemble them, or they dry snap them too much. A used Ortgies will almost always require a bit of TLC and checking before it is ready for the new owner to shoot.

    Here's a wonderful place to learn about these fine little pistols, from somebody who knows what he is talking about:


    And here's a great one, from a serious collector with lots of color pictures:


    Have fun. That's what gun collecting is all about; not scaring people away with misinformation.:)
  9. Jim K

    Jim K Well-Known Member

    "This can happen with ANY striker fired weapon, so they should never be carried with a round in the chamber."

    Hmm... Glock, S&W M&P, Ruger SR-9, and a lot more are striker fired. Maybe the statement should be a little less general.

  10. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Well-Known Member

    The gunsmith I think to have posted here as Pistolsmith once descibed that incident as having happened to HIM in a column in American Handgunner.

    All I know is that when I was hanging around Pharr Firearms in Atlanta instead of studying for classes at Georgia Tech in the pre-GCA 68 era, I saw either Cecil Pharr or Jack Smith fabricating an Ortgies striker on a Unimat and silver soldering on the cocking lug. Maybe they have learned something about striker construction in the past 50 years, eh?
  11. Ron James

    Ron James Well-Known Member

    I'm very glad that the Ortgies can not go full auto, I will have to have a talk with mine. Why? because before I repaired it , if you insert a full magazine, rack it, pull the trigger, all six rounds would go down range one after another. A small fully automatic 6.35 sub machine pistol. but hey, I repaired it, now it only doubles. I keep it because it is a beautiful example of machining. I disagree with PhilOhio, while the are very well made firearms, the design leaves a lot to be desired. If I had a choice between carrying one with a round in the chamber of carrying a sharp stick, I'm afraid I would pick the sharp stick. I also feel they are dangerous. Sorry about that. BTW The first time that little pistol went full auto on me I had to throw my underware away:eek:
  12. barnetmill

    barnetmill Well-Known Member

    what kind of disconnector system do these pistols have? It sound like to me that the problem of full auto likely derives from a failure of the disconnector and not a broker sear or firing pin.

    A full auto .25 ACP at point blank range might be useful in a fight.
  13. Jim K

    Jim K Well-Known Member

    Well, the business about breakage is true to a point, and there are a lot of those pistols around with broken strikers. I have made a fair number of replacements but never hardened them as hard as the originals. Usually, only one of the striker "legs" breaks, and it is almost always from dry firing. The only way the gun could fire is if one side was already broken and the other side let go. I think it unlikely that such a thing could happen while the gun is just sitting there, but a crack could extend then let go. In other words, unlike some folks, I will not say it didn't or couldn't happen.

    When the "legs" break off, the striker simply follows down and will usually not have enough momentum to fire the cartridge. If the striker pin is partly broken so that it hangs up a bit on the sear and then the slide going into battery jars it off, the gun will certainly double or even go full auto.

    This is NOT limited to striker fired pistols, though. Hammer fired pistols can do the same thing, and pistols like the 1911 type have. P.38 pistols can do the same thing or, if the safety breaks, go full auto when the hammer is dropped using the safety lever.

    Modern striker fired pistols, like the Glock and its numerous imitators, have a safety block that prevents the striker from going forward unless the trigger is being held to the rear. That prevents the type of accidents under discussion here.

  14. BruM

    BruM Well-Known Member

    I just inherited a later model Ortgies 380. It looks in fine shape with just buing age otherwise a nice clean gun. I have read all the useful comments but have several remaining questions.

    I see a half moon cut into the bottom of the grip safety, shaped like a thumb nail cut. What is the purpose of this cut?

    My Ortgies has the stylized Cat tail G on the slide and matches the pix in all respects except it only has one button the left side below the slide. This seems to be the grip safety release. I don’t find any other safety button. Is this something unusual??

    Lastly the above comments about the firing fin serving as an extractor confuse me as my Ortgies has a separate extractor set into the side of the slide in the common manner. Is this unusual??
  15. Jim K

    Jim K Well-Known Member

    First, PhilOhio didn't say the firing pin served as the extractor, he said it served as the ejector. The firing pin has a long point and when the case comes out of the chamber, the firing pin/ejector kicks it out of the way, using the extractor as a pivot point. Other pistols, like the Browning 1910 and the Colt Model 1908 .25 work the same way. (It is fairly common to find such pistols with broken firing pin tips that will fire but not eject reliably.)

    Second, since I am an expert, I will dig into my vast knowledge and tell you that I haven't the foggiest idea what that little cut in the grip safety is for. It might serve to provide a non-slip place for a tool when installing the grip safety, but that is just a guess.

    Just one interesting point. The Ortgies uses that odd way of retaining the grips because they were sold in the U.S. in the 1920's whan the Browning patent on using a screw to retain the grips was still in effect. That is why other pistols of the time (Remington, S&W, Savage) couldn't use screws either.

  16. BruM

    BruM Well-Known Member

    Thx Jim, I guess I wasn’t reading carefully enough.
  17. Ron James

    Ron James Well-Known Member

    BTW, that on button on the left side is not only the safety button, it is also the take down down button.
  18. Jim K

    Jim K Well-Known Member

    The button is not really a safety. It does not block the trigger or the sear, it merely releases the grip safety. The grip safety does block the sear bar. The grip safety does not have its own spring; it is powered by the firing pin spring.

    I want to correct an error I made in a previous post.* I said that the firing pin has two "feet" and that both would have to break to allow the pistol to fire. That is not correct. The firing pin does have two feet, but only the left hand one is engaged by the sear, so breakage of that one foot could allow the gun to fire.

    The gun does have a disconnector; it is in the sear bar and protrudes through a hole in the frame. The end, which looks like a small pin, is pressed in by the slide when it comes back, and disconnects the trigger from the sear bar.

    * I tried to edit that post but can't seem to do so.

  19. Jim K

    Jim K Well-Known Member

    At the risk of wearing out my welcome on this subject, here is a suggestion for owners of Ortgies pistols (and similar ones). The Ortgies firing pin spring guide has a groove in front of the head. If the firing pin spring does not lock into that, crimp the last coil a bit until it does. (If the guide is a replacement, and does not have a groove, cut one.)

    Then spread the last coil on the other end of the spring until it grips the firing pin. That way, when the pistol is disassembled, the firing pin spring and guide won't take off, and it is easy to remove the firing pin, spring and guide as a unit.

  20. gyvel

    gyvel Well-Known Member

    That really is an interesting point. I'd never heard that before. How did they get away with a patent on that when revolvers had used that method for securing grips for decades previously, as well as the Mauser broomhandle?

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