Researching "Red 9" Unit Markings

Discussion in 'Firearms Research' started by farson135, Aug 11, 2017.

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  1. farson135

    farson135 Member

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    I recently got my hands on a beautiful Red 9. All matching parts (including the grips), the bore was excellent, and the bluing was also excellent. The holster is obviously new, and I had to use my steel picks to clean some crud off the insides. Otherwise it is pretty much perfect.

    I am trying to learn about the unit markings. Pictures below, but the marking is A.M.1.6

    16 might represent a unit number. The obvious answer would be the XVI Army Corps, but I can’t find anything referring to A.M. Perhaps it refers to ArMeekorps, but I would have thought the initials would be A.K. C96s were often issued to artillery units.

    If no one knows, then can anyone point towards research materials? Or an active forum. I am happy to research it myself, but I do not know where to start.

    I would also like to find the manufacturing year, but that is probably hopeless.

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  2. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    Based on light Googling, so await Expert Opinion...
    A.M. MAY stand for Artillerie-Munitionskolonne = Artillery Munitions Column.
    In German notation 1.6 would be the first company, sixth weapon.

    Military ''Red 9'' pistols had a separate serial number range (1-150000) and were manufactured between 1916 and 1918.
     
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  3. farson135

    farson135 Member

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    Thanks Jim. I don't know why i ignored the period between 1 and 6. We will see what everyone else says.

    I know that Red 9s were made between 1916 and 1918. I was hoping for an exact year, but the official records were destroyed in WW2. So, probably hopeless.
     
  4. tark

    tark Member

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    You can thank the French for that....
     
  5. tark

    tark Member

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    The book "SYSTEM MAUSER" by Breathed and Schroeder has some info on your C-96, which is a beaut, by the way. Some, not all, have the German Eagle on the front of the magazine area of the frame. Yours appears to have this. Serial #s ranged from 555- to 135,127. These are observed numbers, not recorded.

    Quality on these guns was spotty, by Mauser standards. Some were poorly polished and had ill- fitting grips. Your gun appears to be fully up to Mauser's commercial standards.

    I wish I could tell you more about the stamping on the grip area of the frame, but the book does not mention any special unit markings.

    Based on your pics the gun itself appears to be pretty high conditioned. Assuming the hammer and recoil spring are good to go it should have no trouble handling any standard pressure 9MM round. Not so sure about +P stuff, probably best to avoid it. After all, we are talking about 100 year old metallurgy.
     
  6. grampajack

    grampajack AR Junkie

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    Absolutely gorgeous.:thumbup:
     
  7. farson135

    farson135 Member

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    Thanks for the replies.

    Tark- My picture is bad, but on the front of the magazine is a crowned Eagle. That implies it is a Prussian contract.

    All the internals look good. No rust, and minimal discoloration. If not for the matching serial numbers, it would almost look refurbished. Still, I will not be shooting +P ammo. This is a collectable, to take out on special occasions.

    I imagine the markings were done at the armorer level, and there would be no official records. Artillerie-Munitionskolonne 1st company, 6th weapon is probably a good guess.
     
  8. bannockburn

    bannockburn Member

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    farson135

    Great acquisition! That's one well preserved Red 9 you've got there! Even the new holster and leather rig look to be fairly decent.
     
  9. tark

    tark Member

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    I've got two Broomhandles, my shooter was made toward the end of production. With new springs, it has happily digested thousands of rounds of assorted Tokarev and Mauser ammo. Some of the late, commercial, 7.62X25 ammo is loaded to pretty high velocities, around 1600 FPS . That matches the WWII German load which was 1575 FPS with the 85 grain bullet. The original German military loads were pretty hot, pressure wise. That often quoted 1410 FPS figure was for the weaker American commercial load.

    The point of all this is that the C-96 is a strong design, but the hammer spring is absolutely critical. It must be full strength or the breech will unlock too soon, and everything that follows during the cycling of the mechanism will be too fast and too violent. This will batter parts and cause accelerated wear on the gun. Wolff sells spring kits if you desire, but I am guessing your gun has been fired so rarely that it probably doesn't need them. If you do get new springs, save the old ones, to insure the originality of the gun.

    I've never shot a pistol that is more fun, or draws more attention at the range, that my Broomhandle. I don't know about the red nines, but a 7.63 will throw its empties pretty much straight up. Occasionally one will go down your shirt, and that's always fun!!..

    When you get that beauty to the range you are going to wear that smile you get for many days afterward. Good shooting.
     
  10. drk1

    drk1 Member

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    Congratulations on a very nice acquisition. I saw it and was very tempted. I just couldn't figure out the unit mark, so I let it pass. I'm glad that it went to a good home. Let me begin by explaining that I am not an "expert." I know just enough to get me into trouble. The book by Gortz and Bryans on German unit marks is always my starting point. As these authors point out and fifty years of experience have shown, the regulations changed over time and the guys in charge of the armoury for each regiment didn't always get everything quite right as specified in the regulations, but Mr. Watson above is on the right trail. A.M is probably Artillerie Munitionskolonne. However.... there were several Artillerie Munitionskollonnen. Which one is the one you have? The regulations stated that along with the unit designation there were to be three groups of numbers, generally but not always, each followed by a period or dot. That would mean this example was from Artillerie Muntionskolonne Nr. 1, company 6, weapon ? That last number would seem to be missing. But then there were all sorts of exceptions and departures from the "regulations." It may simply be Artillerie Munitionskolonne Nr. 1, waffe nr. 6. For a definitive answer, check with the folks over on Jan Still's Luger board, there is a section devoted to unit markings and the people there will be able to help. Please keep us posted as to what you learn and thanks again for sharing.
     
  11. farson135

    farson135 Member

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    Thanks everyone for the replies.

    I got a chance to shoot it last night. That thing is front heavy. Academically, I understood that it must be front heavy, but that handle, wow. After 50 rounds, you feel it. It is accurate. Later, I might break out the stock and try it at 50 yards. Though, I doubt I will be trying for 500 meters. I have seen scopes for it, and I have been tempted to do a bit more research.

    Also, now I understand why people say you need to be an octopus to load it correctly. You know you are dealing with an old firearm when you cut yourself on one of the parts.

    tark- you are on the mark. I can't help but smile. If it wasn't for how hot it is here in Houston, I probably would have been smiling more at the range.

    drk1- Thanks for the book recommendation. I will ask the people over at that forum, and keep y’all posted.
     
  12. Mauser lover

    Mauser lover Member

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    *drool*

    I don't know anything at all about what you are asking, but I wanted to tell you that you had a nice gun.
    I've always wanted a broomhandle (I don't care who made it, Mauser or copycat) but probably passed up the last one I'll see locally for a while.

    Enjoy shooting it!
     
  13. Jim K

    Jim K Member.

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    That gun, as far as I can tell, is completely original, with the original stock. As such, it is exempt from the NFA as a curio/relic and registration is not required. But unless there has been a change in the rules, a C-96 with a modern copy stock is not exempt from the NFA and must be registered.

    As to loading, those guns were not intended to be loaded with single rounds and it is hard to do it that way. They were issued with 10-round clips which were used like the Model 98 rifle clips, the clip holding the bolt open while the rounds were stripped into the magazine.

    Jim
     
  14. tark

    tark Member

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    Find a 5.56 mm NATO stripper clip. The one that holds ten rounds. This will hold the bolt in place while you single load cartridges into the magazine. When you pull the clip out it chambers a round. Trying to load the rounds from the clip itself doesn't seem to work too well. The easiest solution is to make a steel insert the same width and thickness as a stripper clip and use that.
     
  15. MI2600

    MI2600 Member

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    There are several sites that discuss the C96. This is the first one I found: http://askmisterscience.com/1896mauserbackup/index.html. Good information. There's even a site that will tell you how to tell an original stock from a reproduction.

    I went through a "broomhandle phase" and bought several, mostly before the prices went through the roof. I also looked a restoration sites, because one of mine is matching but not an eye-pleaser. Somewhat discouraging because I found that they can make any C96 a "matching" number gun...for a price. I've seen C96s on gun auction sites with the numbers misplaced.
     
  16. Jim K

    Jim K Member.

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    "Your gun appears to be fully up to Mauser's commercial standards."

    A close look indicates that that Mauser might be refinished/reblued. I can't be sure from the pictures but a few areas are rounded that should not be and rebluing on those guns is common because most had literally been through a war or two and were in bad shape,

    Jim
     
  17. Gaucho Gringo

    Gaucho Gringo Member

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    The French screwed up the 20th century more than most realize with their stupid unyielding sense of self pride. Never had much good to say about them.
     
  18. 4v50 Gary

    4v50 Gary Moderator Staff Member

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    Doesn't look like it was milled for a shoulder stock holster. May we please have another image from a different angle.

    Concur with Jim Watson. If you check out pages 96-97 of Charles Pate's The Broomhandle Mauser, 1896-1936, you will see that it is a 9mm German Military Contract which had its own serial # range. Per Pate Mauser delivered 130,000 out of the 150,000 contracted for.
     
  19. Dave Markowitz

    Dave Markowitz Member

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    Farson, that is quite a find. Congrats. Numrich Arms has original stripper clips. I bought a bag of the derusted clips and they work well in my Wartime Commercial C96. As you alluded to, you need 3 hands to load it without clips.

    You cannot tell that from any of the pictures he posted. The slot is in the back of the grip frame, not visible from the side.

    That holster/stock is original German, not a Chinese repro, based on its shape, color, and the shape of the latch. The leather is a replica, probably made in China.
     
  20. farson135

    farson135 Member

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    Sorry, I have been off the board for a while , and I missed your responses. The general consensus on the boards I have been to are, either Artillerie-Munitionskolonne first company, sixth weapon (Thanks again Jim Watson), or possibly some police marking.

    I have a few original stripper clips. It is still rather annoying to load, but I never expect older firearms to be especially user friendly. I always say, you know you are dealing with an older firearm when you cut yourself on one of the parts.

    The stock does not match the firearm (the serial numbers are different), but as far as I can tell from my research, it is original, and the seller also listed it as such (two opinions, take for that what you will). All the parts are correct looking, and I doubt a Chinese copy would have that much detail. I have been told that the telltale sign of an original stock are the use of rounded screws (picture below).

    It is possible that it has been reblued. It is a little too “clean” looking for a 100 year old firearm. But then again, a rear echelon soldier takes a pistol he never fired in action home, and lets it sit in a box for a century. Not impossible, especially since it is not a Versailles rework. In my opinion, the engravings are a little too sharp for a complete rebluing, but I am no expert.

    @Jim K- what specifically should I look for to see if it has been reblued? It varies from firearm to firearm, and I am afraid I do not know for sure.

    @4v50 Gary Here you go, it looks milled to me-

    20180311_133205.jpg
     

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  21. drk1

    drk1 Member

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    Welcome back!
    Since our last postings I've acquired a copy of Handbuck Deutscher Waffenstempel by Wacker and Gortz. It does not include a specific example of the unit mark A.M. 1.6. but it does offer some insight as well as confirmation or clarification of a few points. Among the examples that are cited are: A.M.I.5.50 which was the 5 Artillery Munitionskolonne des I. Armeekorps, Waffe Nr. 50 -- and A.M.VI.5.50 which was 5 Artillerie Munitionskolonne, des 6 Armeekorps, Waffe Nr. 5 but which could also have been Schlesisches Feld Artillerie Regiment Nr. 6, 5 Artillerie Munitionskolonne, Gewehr Nr. 50 or 5 Artillerie Munitionskolonne, 6 Armeekorps, Karbiner Nr. 50. Another interesting one is A.M.A.VI.1.2 (with the 1. being larger than the 2). This was Stab der 1 Munitionskolonne-Abteilung des 6 Armeekorps, Waffee Nr. 2. There is another possibility for this marking but this interpretation and the others offer a couple of points that may be important for your Mauser.

    First, the Germans tried to codify unit marking using an underlying guideline that called for stamping the largest unit first and then the next largest and so on to the smallest unit which was the individual weapon. The most common example is seen in regimental markins with R.32.4.1 meaning that this item belonged to Regiment 32, Company 4, weapon 1. Another general rule was the the stamp began with the largest autonomous unit designation. At the time these practices were instituted, a regiment was considered an autonomous unit as was an artillery column. There didn't seem to be any thought that units such as these would be broken up or subdivided and dispersed in different areas as they were later during the war. At the time this system and topological hierarchy marking was adopted the basic reason seems to have been to provided a means for getting a weapon back to the unit that owned it, for example, if it were lost or misplaced during the yearly training maneuvers. Many units were financially responsible for the equipment that was issued to them and if it was damaged or lost, the unit was expected to pay the cost of replacement. So everything was supposed to be marked--from weapons to bridles to britches. This all changed after 1920 and the police markings are even different from the military ones of the period, so we can eliminate any possibility that the markings on your Mauser might be police markings as someone suggested. (I was really disappointed in the replies to your question over on Jan Stills board back in August!) What this means is that we are able to state, with a pretty good deal of certainty that your Mauser belonged to Artillerie Munitionskolonne ???, weapon nr. 6. But what about that number "1"?

    This brings us to the second point. Your Mauser is stamped with a number 1, not a Roman numeral I. That means that it did not belong to an Armee or Armeekorps or other unit on that level in the military organizational system such as a division. The next units down the hierarchical system were brigades, but brigades were usually designated with a "B," so a kavallerie brigade was KB, and so on. The next units down the hierarchy were regiments and similarily sized units such as artillerie munitionskolonnes. (For more on this organization, see Handbook of Imperial Germany by Janet and Joe Robinson). That means, based on these generalized practices for marking equipment during this period, your Mauser belonged to Artillerie-Munitionskolonne Nr. 1. But that interpretation of the stamp leaves us wondering why there aren't three numbers -- one for the Munitionskolonee, one for the company and one for the weapon. The number for the company seems to be missing. There is at least one possible explanation.

    This brings us to a third point and another of the general principals that guided the marking of weapons in imperial Germany. If the weapon was issued to a staff member (as in the example above) there was no middle number -- there were only two numbers, one for the number of the unit and one for the weapon. The weapons that were issued to staff members had no company number. That explains why your Mauser only has two numbers.

    With all of this in mind, it is my amateur opinion that your Mauser was issued to a member of the staff of 1. Preussischen Artillerie-Munitionskolonne, as weapon number 6. If you go to google advance book search and enter "1. Artillerie-munitionskolonne" you will find a few references that may be of interest to you.

    As to the issue of being reblued, from the original pictures, the dull finish on the side and the complete coverage on the backstrap as well as the wood overhanging the backstrap makes it appear to have been redone at some point, but the recent picture of backstrap appears to be more reasonable for a pistol that has not been refinished. Pictures do not portray bluing very accurately. In the final analysis, as I said in my original post, I noticed this pistol when it was being offered for sale and just really couldn't explain the markings and the condition to warrent bidding on it. That view has now changed. Even if it has been refinished and/or the bluing retouched, I would be thrilled to own it. If you ever decide to sell it, I hope that I can bid on it.
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2018
  22. farson135

    farson135 Member

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    drk1- Thanks for the reply. Your analysis makes sense to me. And this morning I found a copy of "German Small Arms Markings" by Gortz and Bryans on Ebay for $60, and I immediately bought it. I am going to have some fun reading to do.

    Honestly, to figure out if it was reblued, I should take it to someone in person who has a better eye for this sort of thing. To me, it looks a little too clean for its age, but the engravings look sharp, and the bluing is even. Plus, the parts are all matching, and look like they are in excellent condition. So I do not know.

    If i ever end up selling it, I will send you a PM.
     
  23. Mauser lover

    Mauser lover Member

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    Wow... that was quite a read! You didn't happen to be a librarian in a former life, did you?

    I still think it's a cool gun. So.... who was issued number six? Is there any way to know, or even guess? Is there a list of the officers on the staff of that particular artillery unit? If you know names, you could look for pictures...
     
  24. drk1

    drk1 Member

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    Hello again and thank both of you for the compliments. The comment about being a librarian isn't far off, but it wasn't a former life. I earned a Ph.D. in history but couldn't find a real job; my wife, who was a librarian, became ill and I took care of her until she died; and then went back to school to earn a library degree in an attempt to honor her by continuing her work, but once again couldn't find a real job, so here I am.

    Unfortunately, there are no surviving records that indicate who was issued what weapon.... to the best of my knowledge. However, there are lots of folks who are far more knowledgable than me. Probably the current authority on unit marks is Mr. Jeff Noll. He wrote his first book on regimental markings in 1988, so he's been working on them for a while! He released a new edition in 2014 (I believe) and it is available. Check out http://home.earthlink.net/~nopubl/ The page here with the order form says "sold out," but if you are able to contact him at [email protected] or Jeff Noll, P.O. Box 7184, Ventura, CA 93006, he might be able to find one for you. They appear on fleabay and amazon from time to time, but they are generally overpriced. Each edition had significant revisions, so don't buy an early edition, thinking that it may be more valuable as some of the book dealers seem to believe. Mr. Noll also has been known to watch the various collector forums and attend military shows, but I didn't see him at the recent OVMS SOS in Louisville.

    With regard to the bluing and matching parts, showing it to someone is almost always a good idea. The problem is finding someone who is knowledgable and trustworthy. I've seen self annointed "experts" tell a gun owner that the blueing had been redone just to drive down the price so a friend or employee could buy it! I've also had these other "experts" tell me that the blueing was obviously redone when I've knew for a fact that it wasn't. The "matching" numbers are also a problem these days. A few years ago, I was the unfortunate buyer of a regimentally marked 1915 Erfurt luger.... The problem with that is that there is no such thing; it's a fiction, the creation of a now deceased dealer who took a collector's comment that he wanted a 1915 Erfurt seriously, so he had one made! (In my defense, I was so excited about the regiment that I didn't pay attention to the date.) The I've seen more fakes, frauds and what Jan Still calls "boosted" firearms in the last five years than I did in the previous fifty years combined. You can buy almost all of the steel stamps from dealers in Germany to make any gun "matching" and if you can't do it yourself there are guys out there who are doing it for a living. My latest acquisition, for example, is a 1911 Erfurt that I looked at very very closely and I still can't decide if its real, a fake or simply the sloppy work of the factory at Erfurt.

    Well, the point of all of this is to share what little knowledge and insight I might have, so I hope this helps. Thanks again for all of the positive comments from both "farson135" and "Mauser lover". Keep us posted on future developments.
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2018
  25. farson135

    farson135 Member

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    drk1- Thanks for the book recommendation. I sent an email, and hopefully I will have another book to read soon (there just are not enough hours in the day).

    I am continuing to do research, and I will keep y'all updated if I find anything.

    That is a good point about the parts. Someday, I will need to take it to an expert to figure it out.
     
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