This was first posted on the airgunbbs.com by John Griffiths, the author of The Encyclopedia of Spring Air Pistols. He wrote:
Could this be the remains of the mythical Haenel 27 air pistol?This uninspiring relic of a Haenel pistol was recently up for auction, along with another incomplete Haenel 28. However, despite its appearance, it turned out to have some unusual features which suggest it could just possibly be an example of the as-yet undiscovered Haenel 27 pistol.
The carcass is stamped “The Haenel Air Pistol”, so making it a pre-Model 28. Nothing unusual in that of course, but it also has no serial number on the heel of the grip, which is exceptional (only two other such pistols are known) and this makes it a particularly early example. Most importantly it has a unique, and original, barrel pivot pin, which is a simple straight pin instead of the slot-headed bolt found on all other Haenel Air Pistols and Haenel 28’s. This means that the relic is probably the earliest example yet of Hugo Schmeisser’s iconic design, and could even be a contender as a Haenel 27.
Close inspection confirmed that the gun definitely never had a serial number. The clear model name stamping on the cylinder shows that the gun, despite its rough appearance, has not had much surface wear, so there is no real possibility that the serial number could have worn off by natural surface erosion.The pivot pin hole, (6 mm diameter) was also original to the gun and could not have been a drilled out modification of a standard hole, as the standard pivot hole on all other examples (on the right hand side of the gun) has a larger diameter ( 8 mm ) . The pin itself is parallel sided, but the hole is very slightly tapered, such that the pin can only be removed by knocking it from right to left.The following sequence of pictures shows the evolution of the pivot pin in the “Haenel Air Pistol”. The introduction of a keeper screw was the final modification, taking place after about one third of the total production run.It is quite a leap of faith to suggest that this relic might be a Haenel 27, so it is worth considering what current evidence we have about these first “Haenal Air Pistols” (as opposed to the later pistols marked “Haenel Mod. 28”). The following table gives information about examples where both the serial number and the type of pivot pin are known.( It should be noted that quite a few known serial-numbered guns have been excluded, as their pivot pin type was not on record.) In putting together this table, many thanks are due to Haenel specialist Bruce Jr (Buck25 on here) whose eagle eye first spotted the unusual pivot pin. He was able to add much valuable material to the table, using examples from his collection and drawing on his own extensive research data. Thanks are also due to Paul ( a.k.a. watchsapart on this forum), the first purchaser of the relic at auction, who has provided more key data based on his own collection of Haenel Air Pistols. The rest of the information was gleaned from various sources, including my own collection.There are some interesting conclusions that can be reached from the table:
• No examples with a serial number below four figures are known, so serial numbering most probably started at 1000 rather than 0
• The highest serial number seen yet is 6882, so probably no more than about 6-7000 pistols were made before the pistol was replace by the Haenel Mod. 28.
• Many Mod. 28 examples are known which have a serial number below 6882, so the Haenel 28 must have had its own serial numbering sequence.
• The slotted pivot screw was introduced before serial numbering started, and it continued in use unchanged up to at least serial number 2009.
• By serial number 2251 a keeper screw was added to the pivot screw, and this continued throughout the whole remainder of the production run of the pistol (and also that of its “Haenel Mod. 28” successor).
So what do we know about the Haenel 27 air pistol itself? The designation “ Haenel Mod. 27” appeared in more than one 1927 German catalogue, and so the pistol must have sold quite widely in that year, and yet no definitive example has ever been found. An authenticated example would be the Holy Grail for any Haenel collector.
As far as its appearance goes, here are three illustrated catalogue entries for the pistol, all of which can be precisely dated to 1927:
If we look closely at the 1927 catalogue pictures, we can see that there is some discrepancy between the illustrations. The Geco picture shows a pistol with what appears to be a finely chequered plastic grip, with an emblem marked “HS” (for Haenel Suhl). The cylinder end cap has no knurling. The Gecado picture shows the same “HS” grip emblem, but the grips now appear to be smooth wood, and the cylinder cap is knurled. The Noris picture looks identical to the Gecado picture. The Noris entry does not specifically call the gun the Model 27, but the catalogue is from 1927 and the blurb proclaims “New! New! Just appeared : The New Haenel Air Pistol”, so it is safe to assume that this is also an illustration of a version of the Haenel 27.
The first pistol to appear in 1927 would have been virtually identical structurally to our familiar “Haenel Air Pistols”, and presumably had the hatched bakelite grip plates depicted in the Geco catalogue. However, this cannot be assumed with complete certainty as Geco was the only catalogue to show this version, and they continued to use the same printing block in later catalogues, even using it alongside pictures of the Haenel 28-R and Haenel 26. They were obviously not very particular about pictorial accuracy and were more concerned with saving money on printing blocks. It is possible that the original printing block was provided by Haenel exclusively to Geco and could have been the image of a prototype version that never actually made it into production. Geco could have continued to use this, while other distributors used more accurate new printing blocks. Whether the plastic grip version ever came onto the market in any significant numbers or not, the grips were soon replaced by more durable smooth walnut plates. A possible reason for this change could be that plastic grips were not deemed durable enough for repeated strenuous grip cocking, especially if the plastic was too brittle. According to the catalogue illustrations, both types of grip at this time had emblems marked “HS” , rather than with the more familiar later “Haenel” signature. The smooth cyljnder end cap was also replaced by a more convenient milled cap.
One can reasonably assume that all these “Mod. 27” pistols had no serial number and were stamped “Haenel Air Pistol”. Those made after September of that year would have also had the stamping “Brit. Pat. No. 277265”, as that was when the first patent (interestingly British rather than German) was granted. Presumably all the 1927 pistols also had a simple straight pivot pin. This latter point cannot be confirmed directly from catalogue pictures, as all the illustrations show the left side of the pistol only, where the two types of pin look identical, but it is reasonable to assume that the cruder smooth pivot pin would have preceded a slot-headed screw.
By 1928 there was no further mention of a Model 27 in catalogues, and the pistol was just described as the “Haenel Air Pistol” throughout that year and also the following year, as shown by two dated 1929 catalogues. We can’t be sure when they started calling the pistol the “Haenel Mod. 28” as accurate catalogue dating becomes obscure after 1929, but it was probably 1930. We can be a bit more certain about the 28-R repeater and the cheaper Model 26, which despite being introduced in 1929, were apparently not described by model numbers until 1930. So it seems that the serial-numbered “Haenel Air Pistol” was probably sold over the years 1928 and 1929. A two year period of manufacture would be consistent with a the production run of about 6000 and what we know about the production capabilities of Haenel at the time. Over the 10 year period 1931-1940 Haenel was able to produce an average of about 3000 Model 28 and 28R pistols a year.
So, in summary, it seems that the “Haenel Mod. 27” was not a distinct model, but was more an evolving series of the non-serial-numbered “Haenel Air Pistol” made exclusively in the year 1927, that happened to be labelled by catalogues as the “Model 27”
As the carcass pistol has no serial number and a smooth pivot pin, at the very least it has to be the earliest yet known 1928 production model of the “Haenel Air Pistol”. However, it could have been made in 1927 and so would then be technically a “Model 27”. Unfortunately what might have been the clinching piece of evidence, namely “HS” badging on the grips, has long since disappeared, and so we will never be sure. But until an example with such grips turns up, this could be the best contender we have.
So what of the carcass? This is a good example of something that has no real market value, but does have historical significance, and is definitely not a contender for extensive restoration. It is also not exactly something that one would want to display in one’s collection, so it will be kept at the back of cupboard as a curiosity, until new research makes it redundant as a historical artefact.
If anyone has any information to add to my musings, or would like to disagree with any of my interpretations, I would be very glad to hear from you.. More serial numbers. structural variations and catalogue information would be a great help in clearing up some of the mysteries still surrounding the history of these iconic Haenel pistols.
Another similar Haenel was posted on the airgunbbs.com:
This early pistol is serial no.2130:
and this is serial no. 1924: