Chapter 3.3 – Miniatures of German Revolvers and Pistols from the 2nd Half of the 19th Century

3.3.2 Reichsrevolver M1883: A new 1:2 scale revolver miniature was added to the herd. U.S. collectors call it Reichsrevolver 83 but their German colleagues prefer the term Deutscher Ordonnanz-Revolver Mod. 1883 or M1883. This is one of the great romantic era Imperial German Army revolvers. It was recently liberated in the U.S.A. 

In below paragraphs we will be bringing both miniature and full-size gun of this improved version of its ancestor M1879 into some perspective. 

Scale is 1:2: This is the only currently known miniature of a Reichsrevolver M1883 displayed on its mahogany presentation case

The later model was seemingly better engineered and fitted with a shortened barrel. Despite the similar appearance, the construction of the M1883 is different from the full-size version. There are only few interchangeable parts with the M1879.

Close-up of plaque on the lid of the display case: EBy stands for one Edgar Budischowsky maker of this unique miniature at the end of the 1970s

Both models had the reputation of being very durable but not conductive to fast efficient shooting. They share the solid frame and the single action designs. Their cylinders hold six rounds of the indigenous cal. 10.6 mm Deutsche Ordonnanz (German Ordnance) black powder cartridge loaded via a gate on the right side quite similar to the Colt 1873 SAA. They also share the two-piece smooth walnut grip panels and the lanyard ring for attachment to the uniform. 

German soldier with Reichsrevolver M1883 in a cross-draw holster

Compared to other service pistols of that period the two models of the Reichsrevolver are somewhat strange animals. One of their unusual features is the characteristic lever safety on the left side. Some feel this looks like a good idea. In practice it blocks the hammer from cocking only. There is also no built-in ejector. Actually, the ejector was a separate stick worn on a string attached to the holster. Initiates propose this lack of an integrated ejector on the M1879 and M1883 Reichsrevolver was likely a design feature to simplify production. 

Major visible differences of the two models are listed in the table below. 

Model

Also known as

Mass

Barrel

Muzzle

Butt

M1879

"Cavalry Model"

2.9 lb/1,3 Kg

7" (7.1"/181 mm)

protective

ring

square, with butt cap

M1883

"Officer's/Infantry Model"

2.0 lb/0,9 Kg

5" (4.6"/117 mm)

straight, no ring

round, w/o

butt cap

Full-size "father" #16 and Budischowsky "son" displayed on the Imperial German State flag: Both guns carry the V.C.S.*C.G.H. makers' mark of the Suhl Consortium

As the name implies the Reichsrevolver M1883 was accepted by the Imperial German Army in 1883. Deliveries of the later model to the Army commenced in 1885 only, however. Four manufacturers produced the later model, namely the companies

Suhl Consortium V. C. Schilling & Cie. &  C. G. Haenel & Cie. (ca. 29%)

Ferdinand von Dreyse, Sömmerda (ca. 8 %)

Waffenfabrik Mauser (< 1%)

Staatliche Gewehrfabrik Erfurt (62%, from 1882)

French fit presentation case opened with miniature Reichsrevolver and six dummy cartridges

Close-up left side of frame and cylinder: Note maker's mark below the cylinder on the frame of the miniature 

400,000 units is the estimated total production of the model M1883. It served as the standard-issue sidearm with the Imperial German Army until 1908 when it was replaced by the classic Luger 9 mm semi-auto P08. Later both models of the Reichsrevolver were used by non-frontline troops in WWI and even into WWII6,7,8).

Period drawing of Reichsrevolver M1883 …

This exquisite 1:2 scale miniature Reichsrevolver M1883 is most probably one-of-a-kind! If you ask initiates of the trade no one has heard of comparable specimens from any other miniature gun artists. 

The attention to detail, fit, polish and finishing of this model is just outstanding! The revolver is a machined steel construction and fully functional. The finish is a deep black blue of frame, cylinder, barrel including front sight whereas hammer, trigger, cylinder pin, cylinder pin spring loaded release, the pivoting safety, screws and a few other small parts are strawed. 

The hammer spur and the safety are very finely checkered. The only markings of the miniature are in an oval found on the lower left side of the frame reading 

V.C.S * C.G.H.

.SUHL.

… and clinical view of the miniature with a 2 €-Cent for size comparison

Two-piece varnished walnut grips with German silver escutcheons and a single screw entering from the left. There is a lanyard stud on the bottom of the grip frame with a lanyard ring. The case was found complete with six (6) dummy rounds display ammo fitted with bullets for outside lubrication.

The M1883 came in the original mahogany hinged top case with two flip down latches. There is a rectangular brass plaque attached to the top center of the case. It is engraved reading

Deutscher Ordonnanz-Revolver

Reichsrevolver

Mod. 1883

V.C. Schilling * C.G. Haenel

Miniatur 1:2 von EBy

The case interior is French fit lined with a green felt with a gold rope border. There is another rectangular brass plaque affixed to the bottom front center like the one on the lid.

Clinical left side view of the miniature Reichsrevolver with 6 German Ordnance dummy cartridges: Note strawed small parts 

Clinical close-ups of the details of the miniature Reichsrevolver: Left side view of the front of frame and cylinder with the cylinder pin in place …

Budischowsky's most prominent design, however, was the delayed blowback semi-auto HSP 701 chambered in both 9 mm Luger and .45 ACP cal. This model was produced at Korriphilia-Präzisionsmachanik in Heidelberg, made to measure and in very low volumes. 

Budischowsky system pistols are considered the Rolls Royce of their class. As a semi-auto pistol designer Edgar Budischowsky is a legend in his time.

The maker's mark EBy found on the plaques stands for Edgar Budischowsky (* July 20, 1940 in Sudetenland). Budischowsky is a famed German firearms designer. In 2020 he celebrated his 60th anniversary as a master gunsmith. His sought after TP70 .22 and .25 cal. pocket pistols were produced by his company Korriphilia first in Ulm and later in Heidelberg, Germany but also under license by Norton Armament of Mount Clemens, MI, in the U.S.A.

… right side view of the front of frame and cylinder with the cylinder pin in place …

Little is known about Budischowsky in his capacity as a miniature gun artist. That is until Nov. 21, 2021. On that date this writer had the privilege of a phone conversation with the master. Budischowsky explained how he got into the making of miniatures of his TP70 pistol at the request of one Heinrich Schiefer. Late Mr. Schiefer was a close friend and the owner of then well-known Collector Guns in Altenkirchen, Germany during the 1960s and 1970s. He suggested the offering of cased sets of the Korriphilia full-size TP70 together with a 1:2 scale miniature TP. Budischowsky remembered that he made less than ten (10) such sets only. Our research indicates that these sets are highly sought after demanding premium prices if at all offered.

… rear side view of sight line, hammer and safety …

Budischowsky also mentioned his miniature of the cased Reichsrevolver M1883 with the six (6) dummy shells which he remembered very well. He made this little gem very late during the 1970s after the relocation of the family to Heidelberg. He feels certain he made one such cased Reichsrevolver only9, 10)!

… rear side view of hammer on half coc, loading gate opened and breech side of cylinder with dummy shells chambered

The Reichsrevolver M1883 is a quite often seen handgun in movies produced in the East before the wall came down like in East German westerns and Russian dramas. Prop masters issue them rarely in films of the West, however. 

One of the few exceptions of this rule is SLAVERS (original: Die Sklavenjäger). This 1978 German historical-adventure drama is about the slave trade in 1884 in Africa directed by Jürgen Goslar starring Trevor Howard, Britt Ekland and Ron Ely. As Steven Hamilton character Ron Ely carried a Reichsrevolver M188311).

Another view of the full-size "father" #16 and its Budischowsky "son" pictured on the Imperial German State flag

References

1. McCollum: KÖNIGLICHE MARINE (PRUSSIAN NAVY9 COLT 1851 RIG – FORGOTTEN WEAPONS, Oct. 28, 2020, https://www.forgottenweapons.com/konigliche-marine-prussian-navy-colt-1851-rig/

2. Jacob, A.: ABOUT 900 COLT MODEL 1851 "KM" (KONIGLICHE MARINE) NAVY …, Oct. 23, 2019,  https://www.barnebys.com/auctions/lot/about-900-colt-model-1851-km-konigliche-marine-navy-i6a3pwcvfn

3. Jan C. Still Lugerforums Mike C.: THE GERMAN NAVY'S FIRST REPEATING PISTOL, Apr. 9, 2016,  https://www.lugerforums.com/threads/the-german-navys-first-repeating-pistol.51481/

4. ARMS HERITAGE Magazine: THOSE KRIEGSMARINE, KM COLT NAVIES, AHM Volume 6, Issue 1, https://www.collectorsfirearms.com/blog/post/those-kriegsmarine-km-colt-navies.html

5. War drama TV mini-series: 1864, 2014, http://www.imfdb.org/wiki/1864

6. Wikipedia: M1879 REICHSREVOLVERhttps://wikipedia.org/wiki/M1879_Reichsrevolver

7. Internet Movie Firearms Database: REICHSREVOLVER M1879,  http://www.imfdb.org/wiki/Reichsrevolver_M1879

8. Recktendorf, H.: GESCHICHTE DES REVOLVERS M / 83https://www.waffensammler-kuratorium.de/Revolver83/revolver83ge.html

9. Wikipedia: EDGAR BUDISCHOWSKYhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edgar_Budischowsky

10. Phone conversation with Edgar Budischowsky, Nov. 21, 2021

11. Internet Movie Firearms Database: SLAVERS, 1978 http://www.imfdb.org/wiki/Slavers

 

January 13, 2022/WDN

© Wolf D. Niederastroth, Hofheim/Germany 2022

In this chapter we like to introduce to you two unique miniature military revolvers. Their originals were property of the Kingdom of Prussia and the German Empire, respectively. These two guns could be added to the Hunzinger Collection recently. The miniature of the earlier revolver is a front stuffer, a Hartford, U.S.A. made Colt 1851 Navy in .36 cal. A sizeable number of these pistols were issued to the Königlich Preußische Marine or Prussian Royal Navy in 1858 (other sources 1857) eventually. You recognize these Prussian Colt Navies by their KM mark for Königliche Marine and an inventory number stamped on the backstrap.

Property mark KM and inventory number 422 stamped on the backstrap of Colt 1851 Navy right below its "ears": Typical placement of the KM marking which made this Colt 1851 Navy a Prussian Navy pistol

The other six-shooter is a variant of the first German cartridge loading revolver developed after the Franco-Prussian War of 1870/71, the no nonsense Reichsrevolver. What we are pleased to present here is its improved version known as Reichsrevolver M1883.

 

3.3.1 Prussian Colt 1851 Navy: In August of 1855 at Aachen in Prussia custom officials discovered a shipment of contraband of Colt 1851 Navy revolvers plus their accouterments hidden in 145 bales of cotton. Apparently the cotton was forwarded from London to Prussia, to be re-routed to Russia. At that time Prussia was a neutral power in the ongoing Crimean War (Oct. 1853 to Feb. 1856). Britain, France and the Ottoman Turks were at war with Russia. The Kingdom of Prussia had prohibited transit of arms across its borders. Squeezed by a British blockade of its ports in the Baltic, Russia tried to bring in these pistols through Prussia anyway and was caught in the act. 3,480 Colt Navies and accessories were confiscated.

Size comparison Colt 1851 Navy "father and son" (top down): Gregorelli & Uberti 1962 (XVIII) #5239 made full size "father" and Uberti miniature #805 "son" transformed into a KM marked Prussian Navy, inventory nr. 261

Another 3,000 of these Colts were intercepted and confiscated in September 1956 at Bremen, Prussia. Although this shipment was made after the war, permission was still needed to send the guns, and none had been granted. The guns were held and a fine and duty fees imposed.

This whole story caused Samuel Colt considerable embarrassment and resulted in the Prussian Navy issuing their first repeating pistols.

Uberti miniature Colt 1851 Navy transformed to KM 261 displayed on the Prussian State flag

The Prussian King Wilhelm IV released the guns to be sold. Some were probably sold to officers and outsiders, but most were sold at auction. The Prussian government decided to keep 1,000 (900 according to other sources) of these revolvers to issue to its own navy. Their serial numbers are in the range of #31627 to #39496. All are 3rd Model Navies - small size round triggerguards - and have the American address barrel marking. The pistols were each stamped with a KM (Königliche Marine) property mark and sequential inventory numbers on top of the flat part of the backstrap, just behind the hammer. 

Prussian sailor with Colt 1851 Navy in proprietary half flap cross-draw holster

An article in the Allgemeine Militär-Zeitung from December 25, 1858 indicated that the 1,000 pistols were already in Danzig, Prussia for issue in the coming year. These KM marked Colt 1851 Navies were used by the Prussian Navy until 1874 and then taken out of service. Only commissioned officers kept them until 18851, 2, 3, 4).

Adding a Colt 1851 Navy miniature marked KM required some creative approach since no miniature gun artist ever seemed to have made such a pistol. It called for the "transformation" into a KM variant of one of the 1:2.125 scale Uberti miniature Colt 1851 Navy doublets with round trigger guard from the Hunzinger Collection. #805 was selected as project gun for the alteration into a Prussian KM Colt Navy. Rather than stamped the two line mark was engraved in the backstrap of #805. This task was executed by Kati Mau, master gun engraver from  Steinbach-Hallenberg in Thuringia, Germany https://jagdwaffengravuren-mau.de/.

Like you would find on the real thing: Prussian Navy property mark KM and inventory nr. 261 stamped on the backstrap of the miniature Navy

1864 is a Danish TV mini-series directed by Ole Bornedal dealing with Denmark's defeat in the Second Schleswig War between the Kingdom of Denmark and the German Confederation of Prussia and Austria in 1864. The main story is about the two Danish brothers Laust and Peter Jensen who both fall in love with Inge Juhl and later fight in the Battle of Dybbøl on April 18, 1864. The series was originally aired to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the battle in 2014.

Danish and Prussian soldiers can be seen with Colt 1851 Navy revolvers. According to our background story above it is historically correct that the Prussians used the Colt 1851 Navy.

1864 is based on the books "Slagtebænk Dybbøl" and "Dommedag Als" by Tom Buk-Swienty. It is also the most expensive Danish TV production until now5)

Didrich (Pilou Asbæk, left) holds Colt 1851 Navy