|Pistol||Dreyse M1907||Manufacturer||Rheinische M. u. M.|
|Magazine||7 rnds dtch||Weight||1.5 lb|
This unusual looking pistol was an attempt to enter the then-new market of semi-automatic pocket pistols without stumbling on John Browning’s patents.
Browning’s Model 1900 .32 ACP hand gun was a revolution. Its popularity was so great that in many parts of the world “Browning” became the generic name for “pistol” over generations. More importantly, it introduced the slide-operated semi-automatic pistol to the world. This handy little sidearm was snapped up by police and military and, in many instances, was their first to displace the revolver. So, of course, it inspired competition.
Rheinische Metallwaaren u. Maschinenfabrik of Sommerda, Germany had acquired control of the sporting rifle company Waffenfabrik von Dreyse in 1901. This latter company had been created to manufacture and was named for Nikolaus von Dreyse’s Needle Rifle. After acquisition, Rheinische began using the name “Dreyse” with various small arms in attempts to capitalize on the brand recognition and prestige. While his name is not present on the 1908 patent, Rheinische’s Model 1907 is generally attributed to the work of Louis Schmeisser.
The gun shares a number of features with Browning’s Model 1900. Its overall profile, grip angle, and layout is extremely similar. It chambers the same cartridge, uses the same heel release, and its magazine carries the same seven cartridges. It is also a simple blowback, slide operated, and the overall breech block layout is very similar to the 1900. This block, like the 1900, also extends out of the rear of the pistol when discharged. The safety is also similarly shaped and positioned.
The Dreyse differentiates itself by having a very unusual slide, set over the action and to the front. It is retracted by gripping at the front and, when fired, this blowback slide is stopped when its semi-circular top strikes the rear of a matching channel in the frame. Unlike the 1900’s overhead spring, the Dreyse uses one concentric to the barrel. When cocked the rear of the striker protrudes slightly from the rear of the block, providing a rudimentary cocking indicator. The bolt face is removable for the disassembly of the breech block. Most unique to the Model 1907 is its hinged frame. A switch on the rear of the gun can be pressed to the right in order to release the top half and allow it to flip forward, exposing the underside of the breech block. This is a great disassembly aid over the Model 1900 and makes cleaning and oiling easier as well. Later model pistols were modified so that a pull of the trigger would first press the striker further rearward before releasing it, assuring a strong strike. This was likely in response to loose standards on wartime ammunition manufacture. Despite the somewhat short production period there are a number of variations in this pistol, most notably the slide serrations.
Produced from 1907-1918, the Dreyse M1907 was mostly a military pistol. The bulk of production is believed to be acquired by German military and police forces, Austrian contracts, and only lastly as a commercial pistol. Given the years of production, even the commercial examples were likely to find their way into the war. From known serials, it appears roughly 250,000 units were produced. It served not only in WWI but because of its ease of use, extremely robust construction, reliability, and Germany’s continued use of .32ACP many of these pistols continued to serve all the way through WWII. It is thought that many of them were still on rear echelon duty or in storage when the U.S. settled in at the end of the war, because a great many were brought back by soldiers returning home. This makes the Dreyse an inexpensive collectible to this day!