I recently had the opportunity to field strip an Ajax Sauer & Sohn Model 638 .25 ACP with some regularity. Although this is not a gun that I’ve ever really explored before, I was surprised at how well made it is and how interesting it turned out to be in my estimation. It’s not often that you find guns with so many nice features all in one package.
For instance, the magazine catch is in the trigger guard just like on most automatics but it also has a magazine safety feature where regardless of what position the magazine release button is in when you engage the slide hold-open lever (just above and behind the trigger) then when you re-insert your magazine, it will only seat properly in the pistol if your finger is not on the trigger. That way you can’t have an accidental discharge when loading or unloading with the magazine removed so it’s a wise addition to the gun. It uses a double action only system but even though it is double action, you are able to manually cock it in single-action mode which is pretty interesting too. Plus they’ve added some nice touches like the adjustable rear sight that allows for windage and elevation adjustments that can be done by hand without any tools.
The Ajax Sauer Model 638 is chambered for the .25 ACP cartridge, takes six shots in its magazine, has an external hammer with half cock position, steel construction with blued finish, and a lanyard ring on the bottom of the grip.
The bore has six grooves with right hand twist. The gun is small–approximately 4-1/2″ long (with a 2″ barrel) and about 1-3/4″ wide at its widest point (across the grips). Unloaded it weighs about 9 ounces. It takes any .25 ACP cartridges and they load into the magazine from above, rather than underneath like most automatics do. Instead of an ejection port as such, there is simply an opening in the frame through which spent cases are ejected. This seems to be a pretty common feature on old guns so I don’t know if Sauer & Sohn was really first with this idea or not.
The Ajax Sauer & Sohn Model 638 is a pretty interesting little gun that would be fun to shoot and it’s in really nice shape too. Plus it’s made by an obscure German company which appeals to my love of collecting things with unusual origins. I’m glad I acquired this one because finding out about it has sparked my interest in the company and I’ll probably buy more from them going forward, even if they aren’t as well-made as some other brands. At least now I know what to expect when getting guns from this foreign manufacturer–this one was a keeper for sure!
The German gun maker, Sauer & Son, was world-renowned for its high quality and innovative firearms. Its rifles and shotguns, such as the famous Model 72 hunting rifle, were well renowned for their excellence. However this supremacy in firearms manufacturing was not always the case. Up until World War One (1914 – 1918), Sauer & Son was almost exclusively a producer of revolvers and handguns designed for civilian use.
In 1914 war broke out and Germany mobilized millions of men to fight on both eastern and western fronts against Britain, France, Russia and other Allied Powers. To arm this huge standing army machine guns were needed in large numbers. As the war progressed extremely heavy casualties took their tolls on both sides to the point where neither could keep up with demand for machine guns. As a result, Germany began to search for other avenues to produce firearms domestically. The government encouraged companies across Germany to begin manufacturing all kinds of war material, including machine guns and revolvers. This included Sauer & Son.
Under contract from the Imperial German Government, Sauer & son began building revolver parts in 1914 at its factory in Suhl. During this time, however, it was not profitable or practical for them to build complete handguns due largely to harsh import export laws that prohibited the sale of military equipment abroad. Instead they decided on building their own version of the highly popular American Savage Model 1907 self-loading pistol. This weapon was so similar to the Savage Model 1907 that it was patented in 1922 by Franz Pfannl, an Austrian living in Leipzig, Germany.The only real differences between the two were that Sauer & Son’s version had a larger magazine capacity at 9 rounds total and used a blowback design of operation. It was chambered for .32 ACP ammunition instead of 7·63mm Browning (.30 Savage), which allowed for more firepower on-target due to its lighter weight .32 ACP cartridges.
Despite being very similar looking there are many noticeable external differences on the two weapons. Sauer & Son manufactured their pistol with steel while John Moses Browning designed his out of aluminum alloy. This made Sauer & Son’s version much heavier than its predecessor. Another major difference was that the Savage Model 1907 was not made to fire fully automatic, instead it had incorporated into it an odd device that acted as an accelerator which allowed for semi-automatic fire. However, Sauer & Son designed their pistol with a select fire option which controls whether the weapon will work in single shot or fully automatic mode. When manufactured this German pistol could be found chambered in .32 ACP and was sold commercially to law enforcement officers and civilians alike.
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