The Dreyse Model 1907 is a semi-automatic pistol designed by Louis Schmeisser. The gun was named after Nikolaus von Dreyse, the designer of the Dreyse Needle Gun. The Waffenfabrik von Dreyse company was acquired by Rheinische Metallwaren & Maschinenfabrik Sömmerda in 1901, although the Dreyse Model pistols were marketed under the Dreyse name.
The pistol had an interesting feature for the time: when the gun was ready to fire, the firing pin projected through the back of the breech block, serving as an early handgun-cocking indicator. For cleaning, the frame, receiver and slide pivoted forward on a pin in front of the trigger guard. The pistol and its derivatives (Dreyse Model 1907 Pocket Pistol, Dreyse Model 1912 Parabellum) was of simple blowback recoil operation, though of unusual design.
The same company also manufactured a 6.35 mm pocket version (also named Model 1907). In 1912 the 9 mm Parabellum Dreyse Model 1912 emerged as the gun`s successor. Marked as the RM & M Dreyse, it was chambered for 9 mm Parabellum.
Despite the gun`s limited production time, the gun is relatively common today, in large part due to its use by Volkssturm and Volksgrenadier late in World War II, enabling many Allied servicemen to bring examples home as war trophies.
Dreyse company The Waffenfabrik von Dreyse was founded around 1841 to manufacture the famous Dreyse Needle gun for the Prussian Army, and they also made needle-pistols and caplock revolvers. The Dreyse Factory went into decline after the German Army adopted the Mauser in 1872. In 1901 Rheinische Metallwaren- & Maschinenfabrik of Sömmerda purchased Waffenfabrik von Dreyse.
Development The Model 1907 Dreyse Pistol was designed by Louis Schmeisser (who had previously worked with Theodor Bergmann on the Bergmann Machine Gun) in 19051906 and were marketed from 1907 onward. The first gun, the 7.65 mm Auto was the most unusual. Most of the cranked slide lay along the top of the barrel, with a short section projecting down behind the chamber to serve as the breech block.
The breech block was confined within a flat-sided frame with a bridge to carry the back sight and arrest the upper section of the slide. The recoil spring surrounded the barrel, enclosed in the frame and held by a collar engaging the front end of the slide through a spring catch. Pulling back on the finger grips at the front of the slide brings the breech block into view behind the frame.
The Dreyse pistol was fired by a striker whose tail protruded back through the rear of the breech block when the chamber was loaded. The entire top section of frame and slide could be pivoted on a pin in front of the trigger guard, being locked in the firing position by a catch at the rear of the frame. This final refinement was essential to dismantling; removal of the cranked slide would have been impossible otherwise.
The Dreyse design was strongly influenced by John Browning`s FN M1900, though the Browning had its recoil spring above the barrel, while the Dreyse had a concentric recoil spring. Nonetheless, the overall shape was the same, as was the grip angle and surface design, the magazine release, the positioning of the manual safety and the breech blocks.
Design modifications The only major modification concerned the firing mechanism. Prior to 1915, the cocked striker had been held by the sear before being released by the trigger; pulling the trigger subsequently pushed the striker back before releasing it, compressing the striker spring to a greater extent. This was inspired by the later 9 mm Dreyse due to insensitive wartime ammunition. It allowed a second strike if the first misfired. Another wartime change involved a recess cut in the top front of the slide to facilitate removal of the recoil-spring retaining bush.
Variants Early pistols were marked `DREYSE Rheinische Metallwaren- & Maschinenfabrik ABT. SOMMERDA` on the left side of the frame and an `RMF` monogram on the grips as shown above. Later pistols are usually marked `DREYSE RHEINMETALL ABT. SOMMERDA`.
A few pistols made in 1914 lack the `DREYSE` marking. The pistol was also marketed commercially for police forces, including the Royal Saxon Gendarmerie, examples of which are marked as `K. Sachs. Gend.`
Military Users Primarily used by Austrian troops during World War I, especially officers of the Austro-Hungarian Habsburg Empire. Also used by officers of Imperial Germany during World War I.
Examples issued to the Imperial German Army will have an acceptance proof above the ejection port on the right as well as the normal Crown N commercial proofs on the left side of the frame and slide near the trigger.
Examples saw use by Wehrmacht troops (especially officers) during World War II. Nearing the end of the war many examples were issued to the Volksgrenadiere and Volkssturm, the latter often with so-called "last-ditch" Presstoff holsters. Large numbers of these were brought back to the United States by returning servicemen, which accounts for their availability in the country today. Typically the paper Presstoff holsters have not survived.
A few thousand were purchased by the Czech military in 1921 and 1922, but they were removed from service in 1923 due to unspecified accidents with them.
In 1912 the pope`s Swiss Guard acquired thirty of these pistols for use by officers and non-commissioned officers. They remained in service until 1990 when they were replaced by the SIG P225 pistol as the P75.
During World War II this pistol found its way to the Norwegian resistance. Quite a few of these pistols have, alongside home-made Sten-guns and illegal radios, been found hidden within the house-walls of Norwegian resistance members and sympathisers.
There has not been described any action in Norway with any Dreyse-pistols. As for the unspecified "accidents" with these pistols, the rear latch which holds the hinged upper part, may come loose. If this happens, the striker WILL move forward and ignite the cartridge. An unconfirmed civilian incident happened in the 80`s, where the shooter pierced his foot with the 7.65mm as a result of the latch coming loose.
US Importation The Dreyse M1907 was never imported officially by contract into the United States, but significant numbers of them were brought back by GIs following World War II.
Users - Austria-Hungary - German Empire - Nazi Germany - Lithuania: 110 batches, obtained in 1919-1920 - Ottoman Empire - Vatican City: 30 batches, replaced by SIG P75
Notable examples The Deutsches Panzermuseum in Munster, Germany has an M1907 as the first display in its exhibit of German Army sidearms.
In popular culture The Dreyse M1907 appeared in the earlier versions of the board game Cluedo, mislabeled as a revolver.
The Dreyse 1907 is used in Fritz Lang`s 1933 film The Testament of Dr. Mabuse by former detective Hofmeister, and is the favorite weapon of the assassin Hardy, to kill Dr. Kramm. After Hardy`s death, Inspector Lohmann muses that Hardy must have used the 1907 Dreyse pistol because he was used to it, even though "these guns have been out of style for a long time." The film was banned in Germany by Joseph Goebbels, and was not shown in Germany until 1951.
Wars - World War I - World War II
Small Arms of WWI Primer 020: German Dreyse 1907 Pistol
Weapontype: Semi-automatic pistol
Manufacturer: Rheinmetall and Rheinische Metallwaaren- und Maschinenfabrik AG