John Sabato
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Back in 1969, while on active duty in the Army, I was apprenticing as a gunsmith in my off time with a master gunsmith named John Dusing (God rest his soul) of Waynesboro, PA. I owe most of what I know and appreciate about firearms to him. People drove for hundreds of miles to get him to work on their firearms. If he came across a screw that had a slot that his immense screwdriver collection didn't fit perfectly, he would make a new screwdriver out of drill rod, harden it, and machine a handle to fit and add it to his collection of screwdrivers. He wouldn't take a chance that he might bugger up a customers gun. he was just like that... a perfectionist. In two years of working for John for FREE, just to gain his knowledge of firearms, metalworking and repairs, he took many guns in trade. I had always wanted a Luger of my own since my Dad had brought back one in WW2. I told him that if anyone offered a Luger for sale or trade that I was interested. About a year after I made that statement, a gentleman about my Dad's age came in to get a scope mounted on his new bolt action, and under his arm was a brown paper bag. After making arrangements to pick up his rifle with the new scope on it, he said that he also had this pistol that he wanted to sell or trade. When he emptied the bag, it was a 1941 byf Luger, a so-called "black widow" much like the left pistol on the patch. It was complete with one magazine that had a broken wooden bottom, a black P-08 holster, and the original belt and Nazi buckle. It was all matching parts except for the magazine. With that stuff laid out on the counter, he asked if we knew anyone who would give him $100.00 for this stuff? John looked at me, and I didn't hesitate to pull my checkbook out of my back pocket. (that checkbook made that trip out of my back pocket as often as there was money in the bank to cover my hobby). My hands trembled as I wrote the check. A complete WW2 Luger rig -finally.The top of the receiver and the front toggle was missing some bluing and had some fine pits in it, so I knew I would refinish it, and I asked him why it was like that he told me this story: He had fought in WW2 and had brought this pistol back as a trophy. During a lull in the fighting after taking a small town in France, his squad was taking a break when he and a friend came across a dead German soldier who was holding this Luger. As he reached to pick it up, his friend pulled him back and told him to be careful that it was not the bait in a booby trap. (SIDE BAR: For those of you who don't know, but have heard the term "jury-rigged" it is actually "Gerry-rigged" and was coined by American soldiers who found that retreating German soldiers often left booby-traps with bait that would entice an American to enter the trap. This bait was often a pistol or some other prized trophy.) The dead soldier's arm hung down with the weight of the pistol and a trickle of blood was running over the top of the receiver and the toggle. Upon careful inspection this vet determined that the dead soldier was indeed rigged to a nearby explosive charge and the trigger was based on removal of the luger from his hand. The two of them spent over an hour and carefully disarmed the trap and he took his prize and placed it in the holster. He was not aware that long term exposure to blood would remove the bluing, so that when he finally got around to cleaning the Luger, the blood had left a white steel streak across the top of his prize. This luger stayed in the top of his closet from the close of the war until he sold it to me that year for $100.00. he said he would rather that somebody else own it that would shoot and appreciate it than for it to still be in the top of his closet, and he would rather have the $100.00 I was glad to oblige him. Wanting my Luger to be as "perfect" as possible, I sent it off to the blueing subcontractor and told him I wanted it's finish to look like it was a new highly polished Browning Hi-Power when I got it back. It did, and still does. all the parts that are normally strawed were polished bright and left that way. I was pleased then, but wish now that I had left it in it's original condition. If I had to sell every gun that I own, this would probably be the last one to go, but until that day comes, it is the prize of my small collection.
John M. Sabato