Unblinking Eye

Our Disassembly Saga

by Ed Buffaloe and Ed Dittus

The law of unintended consequences means that the older and more rare a gun is the more likely you are to encounter problems if you take it apart.  And sometimes what you don’t know about a gun can cause you to learn more than you ever wanted to know.  The authors took a 1909 Schwarzlose apart and encountered just such a situation.


Our intention was simply to field strip the gun, which should have been a relatively simple process.  First, we removed the grip plates (that was a mistake), then locked the recoil spring guide rod into its detente in the frame.  The slide/barrel came off the frame with relative ease, after which we proceeded to photograph and examine both parts, including wiggling the sear in the barrel/slide, which moves from side to side as well as up and down.


The keeper plate for the sear shown in its proper flush position.

What we didn’t realize was that in the process of wiggling the sear the keeper plate and pin that the sear turns on worked its way out slightly from its flush position in the bottom of the slide, so when we tried to reinstall the slide it would only go on half way.


The keeper plate for the sear slightly raised from its proper flush position.

While we were trying to solve this conundrum, the hammer pin fell out--it seems the hammer pin is normally held in by the left side grip plate.  In fact, while determining why the slide wouldn’t go back on the frame, the hammer pin fell out repeatedly, and eventually the hammer fell out, followed shortly thereafter by the mainspring.  A considerable amount of time was spent determining that the central portion of the hammer pin which fits through the hole in the hammer is not round but eccentric--it has a flat place.  The hole in the hammer is also not round, but eccentric.  This means the hammer pin will only go in one way, and the pin turns with the hammer.

The gun was reassembled several times, but there was insufficient tension on the hammer to make it fire, and similarly the grip safety was not properly tensioned.  Finally, we resolved to disassemble the magazine release, since it is also tensioned by the mainspring.  We discovered a small protrusion on the bottom rear of the mainspring that fits into a tiny slot in the central portion of the U-shaped connector bar at the base of the grip.  When this protrusion was properly positioned in the safety connector bar, the magazine release and its pin were installed, followed by the hammer and hammer pin, and when the gun was fully reassembled, the mainspring was properly tensioned, and the gun worked fine.  We do not recommend that anyone disassemble a Schwarzlose to this extent, and to avoid doing so we recommend leaving the left grip plate on the gun to hold the hammer pin in place.

In the process, we did learn that nearly every part on the Schwarzlose, even the smallest, is stamped with the serial number of the gun.


Recoil Spring Guide Rod


Hammer Pin




Magazine Release Lever

Copyright 2014 by Ed Buffaloe and Ed Dittus.  All rights reserved..

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