November 04, 2021
Question: I have attached a few photos of my pistol, and I would love to know more about this sidearm. The story goes that my step-grandfather was a machine gunner in World War II in France. He was the lone survivor of a slaughtered machine gun team who played dead beneath his fallen brothers for two days, narrowly avoiding being bayonetted before the Germans moved on to another location. Once they did, he was able to escape the carnage and took this pistol with him from a dead Nazi on his way to safety. He never got too deep into the details, so I cannot prove this, but the pistol is certainly interesting. It has the original owner’s name etched into the slide and written on the accompanying holster. Any information you could provide would be appreciated.
-R.D. via email
Answer: You have a Sauer 38H double-action, semiautomatic pocket pistol. This was an excellent eight-shot repeater. Most were in 7.65mm (.32 ACP), but some were also made in .22 LR and 9mm kurz (.380 ACP). Model 38Hs were designed and manufactured by J.P. Sauer & Sohn beginning in 1938. They were issued to the German army, navy and police as well as being sold on the civilian market. Production ceased in 1945 with the end of World War II. Some 250,000 were made. The pistol in question seems to be a typical example of a 38H, and the electric pencil marking on the pistol’s slide, “Oberstlt König”, and “König” inked on the inside of the flap indicate the pistol was originally owned by a German first lieutenant of that name. Normally, unofficial scratching or marks detract from a gun’s value, but in this case I would say that, based on the past history of yours, these certainly add interest, if not value.
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