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Range Classic of the Week
P.38 Pistole byf 43 was manufactured by Mauser in 1943. All matching serial numbers 1903 n. Original Mauser manufactured magazine marked E/135.

Walther Pistole 38

In 1908, the German Army introduced the 9mm pistol P.08, also known as the Luger, as its main sidearm. Thirty years later, in 1938, this pistol was replaced by a more cost-efficient and modern 9mm pistol. The new pistol was designed at the Walther firearms plant and was called the P.38, an abbreviation for Pistole 38. Fritz Walther and Fritz Barthelmes are the two major names involved in the design and development of this pistol.

During WW II Walther could not keep up with the military’s demand for P-38 pistols. As a result, P-38 pistols were produced by Mauser and Spreewerk in addition to Walther.

An example of a Mauser produced P-38 is featured as this week’s Range Classic

Mauser: byf series
In 1942 the Mauser factory started the production of P38 pistols to fulfill the huge demand for these pistols by the German army. The secret code for Mauser is byf and is stamped on the slide just above the production year (last two digits).
Mauser employed a comparable serial numbering system to the one used by Walther. Serial numbers ranged from 1 to 10,000. Mauser started over at serial number 1 each time the number 10,000 was reached. After the first 10,000 pistols were completed, the firm added a suffix letter to ensure that each pistol had a unique serial number. The suffix letter increased each time the plant started at serial number 1 again. In contrast to Walther, Mauser did not start over with serial numbers at the beginning of every year. After reaching serial number10,000z in late 1944, Mauser started again with serial number 1, without a letter suffix. The combination serial number + suffix + production year is unique for every Mauser pistol. The Mauser acceptance stamp is E/135 (until mid-1944) and E/WaA135 (late 1944-45). In total 323.000 P.38 pistols were produced by Mauser during the Nazi regime.