Another one of the European 7.62mm pistols of the early 20th Century is the Ortgies. It is named after the designer of the pistol, Heinrich Ortgies. The pistol was made from 1919 to 1924 or 1926 (depending on source) – a total of five or seven years. Sources indicate new (manufactured but not sold) pistols were sold for some time after manufacture ended, perhaps into the early 1930s.
The history of the pistol is a bit involved, as Herr Ortgies died soon after production was underway and the design was taken by another manufacturer. All this is available on line if interested.
My collection currently contains two examples of the Ortgies pistol. They are both .32 ACP. From what I can glean from the internet, there are SEVEN variations of the pistol. All the variations are based on the ‘addresses’ roll-stamped into the slide. The actual design and interior lock work never changed. The two I own represent a ‘fourth’ and ‘fifth’ style address marking.
Ortgies Pistol serial no. 59000 series Fourth Address variation
Ortgies pistol serial no. 104000 series Fifth style Address variation
Sadly, I cannot find any information about the dates of manufacture for a specific serial number, nor can I determine the time periods of the various addresses displayed. However, all of these pistols were manufactured in a fairly short time period.
One of my pistols has a serial number in the 59,000 range. The other, later production obviously, is in the 104,000 range. I shall use these numbers to identify the pistols as needed.
In addition to the address changes, the most obvious change – as production carried on – was the change of the manufacturer’s logo. All the grip panels I have witnessed have been wood. Rather plain, darker – possibly stained – hardwood with obvious grain patterns. All of them have a metal insert – a medallion, perhaps – with the manufacturing logo.
Original Heinrich Ortgies grip logo
The earlier examples display an intertwined “H. O.” at right angles one to another signifying the designer and original manufacturer, Heinrich Ortgies.
Deutch Werke logo
The later pistols, after Herr Ortgies passed on, were manufactured and controlled by Deutsche Werke of Erfurt, Germany and the medallion logo changed to a stylized “D”, which upon close inspection is a cat in profile with the tail curving up past the head. (See picture, it makes more sense that way.) The cat strikes me as having a mystical Egyptian look to it, or perhaps a long necked leopard. Probably, it’s just ‘artsy’.
I have seen photographs of plastic grips. They are the rather unimpressive black plastic of the early portion of the 20th Century. The logo is cast into the plastic in place of a metal medallion inset. I cannot recall seeing an actual pistol so equipped, but that may speak to my limited range more than anything else.
Serial no. marking (partially redacted) and Country of Origin
Second example of redacted serial no. and Country of Origin markings
The serial number is roll stamped – all the markings seem to be very carefully and properly done – on the frame, forward of the trigger guard, underneath and behind the muzzle. Both examples I have bear “Germany” in English – as opposed to Deutschland. This marking is the required ‘country of origin’ marking for importation into the United States. I’m sure these pistols were both imported into the U. S. and sold commercially here in the 1920s or 1930s. This would be prior to the leftist hoplophobic mania and anti-gun hysteria of later years, of course. Ahem; I digress.
Early magazine left side, marked 9 m/m with six observation holes.
Early magazine with faint 7.65 m/m and HO logo marking on right side.
Markings on the magazines changed a bit from beginning to end, but the magazine design didn’t change much. The early magazines would interchange between 9m/m kurz (9 mm short, in English, or .380 ACP for the ‘west-side-of-the-Atlantic’ faction) and 7.65m/m (.32 ACP) without alteration or adjustment. The early magazines are marked on the left side with “9mm” and have six holes in the side of the magazine, presumably for checking round count; while the right side of the magazine is marked“7.65mm” and has seven holes.
Later magazine with caliber marking and “D” logo on base plate.
Later magazines – at least those for 7.65mm – have seven holes on either side, the “7.65m/m” and the manufacturing logo (the stylized “D” for Deutsche Werke) marking is on the base plate. In complete candor, I do not know if the later magazines will function in a 9mm kurz pistol. The magazines appear identical, but I haven’t had opportunity or reason to check.
The pistol is not a shocking departure in terms of design. It is a simple blowback action, with a spring driven striker as the igniter. The standard Ortgies was produced in 7.65mm or .32 ACP, and 9mm Kurz or .380 ACP. Ortgies also produced a 6.35mm or .25 ACP pistol during the same period, which appears to be a smaller pistol. Interesting to me, the only safety on the pistol is the ‘grip’ safety which is the moveable ‘bar’ on the rear of the grip.
Grip safety extended; safety engaged.
Grip safety depressed, safety disengaged.
When extended – safety engaged – the sear is blocked mechanically by some extension of the safety. When depressed – safety disengaged – the firearm is free to fire when the trigger is pulled. Unlike the grip safety on pistols made by Colt and other manufacturers, the safety does is not spring-loaded and does not automatically extend when not manually depressed. The grip safety stays in the depressed condition until a ‘release’ button is pressed. This button is mounted on the frame, near the rear of the slide, on the left side. (That release button is also used to field strip the pistol.
I understand this type of safety is being re-introduced on the new Remington “51” pistol. I haven’t seen a live example yet, so this may not be fully – or partially – correct.
The Ortgies pistol was designed and sold as a personal defense pistol. .32 ACP was considered a normal defensive caliber in that time period. Truth be told, I rather imagine the .32 ACP chambered pistol is still in reasonably popular use today, if for no other reason than many were bought in the past one hundred years, many were brought home from the Second World War – back when our government trusted servicemen to retain firearms as souvenirs of service – and they are all still around. Also in the mix is the factors the pistols are usually easy to load, handle and fire and the recoil doesn’t intimidate many people.
Rear view of front and rear sight.
Sight picture. One should focus the eye on the front sight, a skill my camera lacks at present.
The Ortgies is not a perfect defense pistol by any stretch. The sights are milled from the basic block of steel that forms the slide. The sights are fixed, and rather small by today’s standards.
Lest anyone think sights were considered a mere obligatory addition, the sights on both Ortgies pistols I own shoot quite close to the sights.
These pistols were never adopted for use officially by the German military. However, officers and probably enlisted men could purchase their own sidearm and some Ortgies pistols were so employed. From the sources I can find, one does NOT find Wehrmacht acceptance stamps normally. If a family legend has it that one of your forbearers acquired his example from a German soldier, it is quite possible. (However, it will not usually have the ‘country of origin’ marking which is needed for importation to the U. S.) For collectors of such items, U. S. soldiers should have had ‘bring back’ documents showing they acquired ‘souvenirs’ legally and properly. Such documentation trumps any conjecture based on perceived markings or lack of markings.
The trigger pull is not so heavy; I have two Ortgies pistols, one with a trigger weight of just over 4.5 pounds, the other pull weighs in at 6.1 pounds. Not as heavy as some, but they are long and creepy. When I say creepy, I mean one can feel the sear sliding out of engagement with the cocking piece. They are manageable however. Certainly not the sudden ‘glass rod breaking’ feeling of a top grade target trigger, but capable of discharging the arm while not completely disrupting the sight picture.
Another not often mentioned phenomenon: They bite. Not in the sense of operate poorly, but the slide (in recoil when fired) can easily gouge the upper portion of the web of my hand. I’ve found a number of pistols which share this trait. Perhaps my hands are too fat. Lord knows the rest of me is.
The pistols are all single stack type magazines. These were made for personal defense as concealed carry arms. They are made to fit into a pocket. The 7.65mm versions hold eight rounds in the magazine (and one in chamber). Further, this pistol employs a typical – for the time – European style ‘heel catch’ magazine retainer and release. It is simple to use and make, but IPSC shooters are horrified at the difficulty of making a ‘quick reload’. (I feel a rant about “… thirty round bursts …” coming on; I shall endeavor to avoid such.)
The grip length is long enough for a proper grip. My hands are not huge by any stretch, but reasonably ‘average’, I should think. (No one has yet said, “Gee Arch, you have little tiny – or great big – hands!”) I can get a full shooting grip on the arm; at worst, my little finger somewhat straddles the forward lip of the magazine. Recoil is not great enough to make that a problem.
I purchased these two Orgties designed pistols just over a year apart. The first in December of 2012 and the second one – which is the earlier manufactured – in April of 2014. For that reason I test fired them on two separate occasions. However, I did use ammunition by the same manufacturer – Privi Partizan – and the same lot of ammunition.
I confess I failed to observe the same testing protocols. I’m already dieting, don’t expect any massive penance in addition. Feel free to pronounce ‘fie’ upon me; I’ll man up.
On the good side, I did test both pistols at an initial distance of fifteen yards. Fifteen yards is probably ‘long’ for a personal defense pistol; personal attacks usually are measured in single digits of feet units, but I feel fifteen yards is not a bad distance to evaluate mechanical accuracy of the device, without being distorted by (aging) eyesight and such. In a burst of confidence, I shot the earlier produced pistol at twenty-five yards with suitable results in terms of accuracy.
The later produced pistol competed in one of our local ‘combat’ matches – with my assistance. While the pistol did well in terms of accuracy, hitting pretty much everything on the first attempt, the impact of the 71 grain FMJ bullets did NOT dislodge the plates from the ‘Texas Star’ device. Nor were they impressive on the dueling tree. How discouraging.
The shooting – as always – was performed (committed?) on the Four Rivers’ Sportsman’s Club near Hastings, Nebraska. No one was occupying the outdoor range and I made myself at home.
Setting the CED chronograph, I did – on separate occasions, as mentioned – some velocity testing just as a base line for discussion. Just for the record, from the 3rd Edition of Ammo & Ballistics published by Safari Press and authored by Bob Forker, the SAAMI standards for this round indicate a 71 grain FMJ bullet is ‘expected’ to have a muzzle velocity of 900 feet per second (fps) and an operating pressure of 15,000 copper units of pressure (CUP) or 20,500 pounds per square inch (PSI) by transducer measure.
I cannot measure pressure with my equipment. However, my chronograph does a fair job of bullet velocity. The ammunition used in the testing is Prvi Partizan brand. It bears no particular ‘item’ number but is described as “32 Auto” and “FMJ (full metal jacket) bullet, 4.6 grams/71 grains”. The box has no printed claim to velocity. The end flap interior has a stamped number of 1103, which I presume to be the manufacturing lot number.
According to the chronograph, pistol ‘59’ fires the ammunition with an average velocity of 666 fps.
Pistol ‘104’ runs the same lot of ammunition at an average of 701 fps.
So much for the anticipated 900 fps.
Both pistols using the same ammunition work very well. Ejection and cycling is subjectively positive and regular. The rounds register on target close to point of aim (where the sights line up according to my eyes).
In shooting, I find this pistol to be rather comfortable and ‘ergonomic’, even if that word was NOT in common use when the pistol was designed and made. The tiny sights are a bit difficult to obtain rapidly, but the pistol seems to shoot to the sights. I have complained in the past about the ‘issue’ sights on the Colt Government Model. They are small. The Ortgies sights are ‘tiny’. Plus, as the photos demonstrate, the rear sight on the Ortgies is a narrow ‘V’ shape while the front sight is an inverted ‘V’ or pyramid shape. (These sight profiles were popular in Europe on rifles as well as pistols. I have heard them referred to as ‘barleycorn’ sights. My personal conjecture is they were devised with assistance from “John Barleycorn”. I could be mistaken.)
The groups derived are indicative of repeatability; that is, the shot holes are in an actual group and not just ‘on target’. One has confidence the next shot will go in about the same place. That’s a good feeling in any arm of consequence.
I have attached some photos of the results of the shooting tests. They pretty much speak for themselves, but since I’m blogging, I’ll explain them anyway.
Fifteen yard target
The multiple target (six targets) shows a single, ten shot slow fire group; the lower right hand corner. From the picture, one can see the pistol tends to register on the right side of the target. This group was fired two handed, deliberate aim and trigger pull. I was trying to get all the accuracy from the arm possible.
The five targets with single shot holes was a somewhat rapid fire sequence. I fired one shot at each target in turn, from top left to bottom right (down the left side then down the right side). I did fire this string one handed, for reasons I cannot recall. I note the shot holes are much more centered firing one handed.
Twenty-five yard target
The twenty-five yard target is nothing remarkable, save it was fired with a .32 ACP pistol with really tiny sights. The pistol tended toward the right side of the target, but are all on the scoring rings. I did fire this two handed and as fast as I could get a sight picture and trigger release without moving the sights. The target shown is NOT a standard NRA B27 target for 50 yards. It is the reduced size which simulates a 50 yard target at 25 yards.
These little pistols never fail to amaze me. All my life I was told how poorly they worked; how impossible they are to fire with any degree of accuracy; and they have no real world use. Which just goes to show one should ‘trust but verify’ in many areas of life.