A History of the Schwarzlose Model 1909 Pistol
by Ed Buffaloe and Stefan Klein
Der Waffenschmied (The Gunsmith) for 10 July 1907 reports that the A.W. Schwarzlose Gesellschaft für Waffenerzeugnisse m.b.H. has been founded in Berlin. The company was founded for the production and trade of weapons, military equipment, and machines, and the purchase, trade and sale of patents and licenses. The CEO was the enigineer Andreas Wilhelm Schwarzlose of Berlin. Acting partners were listed as Christian Kraft, Prince of Hohenlohe-Oehringen and Duke of Ujest in Schlawentzitz, the engineer Andreas Wilhelm Schwarzlose of Berlin, and the Lord of the manor Dr. Max Schöller of Berlin.
The earliest advertisement we have found thus far for the Schwarzlose Model 1909 pistol is in the Zeitschrift für das gesamte Schiess- und Sprengstoffwesen (magazine for shooting and explosives issues) for 15 December 1909. There are almost certainly other ads that we have not yet located.
Note that the gun is referred to as the Model 1909. In the above ad, as in most succeeding German-language ads, the gun is touted as having machine-made interchangeable parts, the best materials, the greatest simplicity of construction, and an automatic safety that works by relaxation of the mainspring; with a caliber of 7.65mm the gun is smaller than other guns that use the same cartridge and thus its size falls between that of conventional guns in 6.35mm and 7.65mm.
The following advertisement is from Der Waffenschmied (The Gunsmith) for 10 February 1910.
It contains essentially the same language as the previous ad in a different format.
The following advertisement is from Der Waffenschmied for 25 March 1910, only six weeks after the previous one.
This is essentially the same as the previous advertisements, but here the gun is being offered by Moritz Magnus the younger who is listed as the general agent for overseas export. Moritz Magnus was a well-known firearms and munitions dealer in Hamburg.
On 20 May 1910 the A.W. Schwarzlose Gesellschaft für Waffenerzeugnisse m.b.H. declared bankruptcy (this was reported by Der Waffenschmied in the 10 June 1910 issue).
The following advertisement is from Der Waffenschmied for 25 October 1910.
This ad reads something like, “Preferential offer! From the bankruptcy estate of the Schwarzlose arms factory, in order to avoid dumping, the remaining stock of completed Schwarzlose pistols is offered at extraordinarily low prices. Write to request a quote.”
The gun also appeared in the ALFA catalogue for 1911 (which was almost certainly prepared sometime in 1910).
At the bottom of the page of the catalogue (not shown) the price for the Schwarzlose is listed at 50 marks.
We begin to find the Model 1909 being offered for sale in the United States late in 1911. The earliest ad we have found thus far is from the Literary Digest for 26 August 1911. The following advertisement is from Popular Mechanics for October 1911.
The following ad is from Hunter, Trader, Trapper, Volume 21, Issue 5. The date appears to be 1911.
Kirtland Brothers was a sporting goods company in New York City. They have given the gun the name “Faultless”. Identical ads appeared in Farm Journal, Literary Digest, Saturday Evening Post, Scientific American, and other U.S. periodicals.
This advertisement lists the Kirtland Bros. & Co. as the sole distributors. The gun’s price is $15. This appears to still be the standard unmodified Schwarzlose pistol.
The following advertisement appeared in Der Waffenschmied for 25 April 1912.
This ad translates as: “Bargain sale! Limited stock! Automatic pistols Schwarzlose Kal. 7,65 (Browning cartridge), 15.00 Mark per item. The pistols are function tested prior to shipping.” Two similar ads (not shown) appeared on 10 September 1912 and 10 November 1912.
Next we begin to see advertisements for the Warner Schwarzlose pistol. The earliest we have located thus far is from Country Gentleman for 12 July 1913. An identical ad also appeared in the National Sportsman for December 1913, in an unknown issue of The Illustrated Companion, and probably in other periodicals as well.
This is the first time we see the name “Warner Arms Corporation.” However, note that the gun is still referred to as “Faultless” and the picture is identical to the one in earlier ads. Note that the bottom line says “Warner Arms Corporation, Manufacturers.” In the Directory of Directors for New York City, 1915-1916, Franklin B. Warner is listed as the president and director of the Kirtland Brothers & Company as well as of the Warner Arms Corporation, and Marvin J. Warner is listed as vice-president and director of both.
The following ad appeared in the Hardware Dealers magazine for May 1914. It is offering the new gun to hardware dealers and suggests they can make a better profit on the Warner than on other guns they sell.
This is quite clearly a modified Schwarzlose with checkering instead of serrations on the barrel/slide, a magazine release behind the trigger, and WAC monogram grips.
Finally, we find the following advertisement in Der Waffenschmied for 25 February 1915 and again on 25 April 1915.
Clearly, there were still some unsold Model 1909 pistols in Germany, even after WWI had begun. The price was 27.50 marks, with a spare magazine.
Copyright 2014 by Ed Buffaloe and Stefan Klein. All rights reserved.