Luger pistol

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Luger P08 (Parabellum)
Luger P08 (6971793777).jpg
Luger P08
Type Semi-automatic pistol
Place of origin German Empire
Service history
In service German Empire (1904–1918)
Weimar Republic (1919–1933)
Nazi Germany (1933–1945)
Switzerland (1900–early 1970s)
Other countries (1900–present)
Used by See Users
Wars World War I
German Revolution
Spanish Civil War
World War II
Second Sino-Japanese War
Indonesian National Revolution
Chinese Civil War
Korean War (limited use)
Vietnam War (limited use)
Rhodesian Bush War
Production history
Designer Georg J. Luger
Designed 1898
Manufacturer Deutsche Waffen und Munitionsfabriken, Imperial Arsenals of Erfurt, Simson, Krieghoff, Mauser, Vickers Ltd, Waffenfabrik Bern
Unit cost $13 or 32 RM
Produced 1900–1942
Weight 871 grams (1.92 pounds)
Length 222 mm (8.74 in)
Barrel length 120 mm / 4.7 in (Pistole 00)
100 mm / 3.9 in (Pistole 08)
200 mm / 7.9 in (Artillery model)

Cartridge 7.65×21mm Parabellum
9×19mm Parabellum[1]
Action Toggle-locked, short recoil
Muzzle velocity 350–400 m/s (1148–1312 f/s; 9mm, 100 mm barrel)
Effective firing range 50 m (9mm, 100 mm barrel; short barrel)
Feed system 8-round detachable box magazine, 32-round detachable drum
Sights Iron sights

The Pistole Parabellum 1908—or Parabellum-Pistole (Pistol Parabellum), commonly also known as just Luger[2]—is a toggle-locked recoil-operated semi-automatic pistol. The design was patented by Georg Luger in 1898 and produced by German arms manufacturer Deutsche Waffen- und Munitionsfabriken (DWM) starting in 1900 with other manufacturers such as W+F Bern, Krieghoff, Simson, Mauser, and Vickers;[3] it was an evolution of the 1893 Hugo Borchardt–designed C-93. The first Parabellum pistol was adopted by the Swiss army in May 1900. In German Army service, it was succeeded and partly replaced by the Walther P38 in caliber 9×19mm Parabellum.

The Luger is well known from its use by Germans during World War I and World War II, along with the interwar Weimar Republic and the postwar East German Volkspolizei. Although the P.08 was introduced in 7.65mm Parabellum, it is notable for being the pistol for which the 9×19mm Parabellum (also known as the 9×19mm Luger) cartridge was developed. Because of its association with Nazi Germany, the pistol has been used in fictional works by many villainous characters over the past several decades.

Design details[edit]

A P-08, BYF-41, 1941, 9×19mm caliber Parabellum Luger Mauser pistol—with the safety on, and with breech opened, showing the jointed arm in its most bent and locked position
Cutaway drawing of the Luger design from Georg Luger's 1904 US patent[4]

One of the first semi-automatic pistols, the Luger was designed to use a toggle-lock action, which uses a jointed arm to lock, as opposed to the slide actions of almost every other semi-automatic pistol. After a round is fired, the barrel and toggle assembly (both locked together at this point) travel rearward due to recoil. After moving roughly 13 mm (0.5 in) rearward, the toggle strikes a cam built into the frame, causing the knee joint to hinge and the toggle and breech assembly to unlock. At this point the barrel impacts the frame and stops its rearward movement, but the toggle assembly continues moving (bending the knee joint) due to momentum, extracting the spent casing from the chamber and ejecting it. The toggle and breech assembly subsequently travel forward under spring tension and the next round from the magazine is loaded into the chamber. The entire sequence occurs in a fraction of a second. This mechanism works well for higher-pressure cartridges, but cartridges loaded to a lower pressure can cause the pistol to malfunction because they do not generate enough recoil to work the action fully. This results in either the breech block not clearing the top cartridge of the magazine, or becoming jammed open on the cartridge's base.[5]

In World War I, as submachine guns were found to be effective in trench warfare, experiments with converting various types of pistols to machine pistols (Reihenfeuerpistolen, literally "row-fire pistols" or "consecutive fire pistols") were conducted. Among those the Luger pistol (German Army designation Pistole 08) was examined; however, unlike the Mauser C96, which was later manufactured in a selective-fire version (Schnellfeuer) or Reihenfeuerpistolen, the Luger proved to have an excessive rate of fire in full-automatic mode.

The Luger pistol was manufactured to exacting standards and had a long service life. William B. "Bill" Ruger praised the Luger's 145° (55° for Americans) grip angle and duplicated it in his .22 LR pistol.[citation needed]


Luger Model 1900 pistol carbine
Swiss Pistol 06/29, 7,65x21mm
'Artillery Luger' Lange Pistole 08 with 32-round Trommel-Magazin 08 and removable stock.

The Swiss Army evaluated the Luger pistol in 7.65×21 mm Parabellum and Switzerland became the first country to officially adopt it in 1900 as its standard side arm, designated Pistole 1900, in 1901.[6] This model uses a 120 mm (4.7 in) barrel.

The Luger pistol was accepted by the Imperial German Navy in 1904. The Navy model had a 150 mm (5.9 in) barrel and a two-position ( 100 meters (110 yd) or 200 meters (220 yd) ) rear sight. This version is known as Pistole 04, but was also referred to as "Marine Modell 1904" or, more colloquially, as the "Navy Luger".[6]

In 1908, the German Army adopted the Luger to replace the Reichsrevolver in front-line service.[7] The Pistole 08 (or P.08) had a 100 mm (3.9 in) barrel and was chambered in 9×19mm Parabellum. The P.08 was the usual side arm for German Army personnel in both world wars, though it was being replaced by the Walther P38 starting in 1938. In 1930, Mauser took over manufacture of the P.08 (until 1943).[2]

The Bolivian Army adopted the DWM Luger in 9×19mm Parabellum as the main officer's sidearm in 1908; a few hundred were bought, starting with a batch of about 250 that were included in an order of 4,000 Mauser DWM 1907 rifles and 1,000 Mauser DWM 1907 short rifles, both in caliber 7.65×53mm, and continued with smaller batches every year until 1913. Only the first batch wore crests and the Legend "Ejercito Boliviano" stamped in the receiver.

The Lange Pistole 08 (German: "Long Pistol 08") or Artillery Luger was a pistol carbine for use by German Army artillerymen as a sort of early Personal Defense Weapon. It had a 200 mm (7.9 in) barrel, an 8-position tangent rear sight (calibrated to 800 meters (870 yd)) and a shoulder stock with holster. When set for long range use the rear sight element visibly moves to the left to compensate for spin drift. It was sometimes used with a 32-round drum magazine (Trommelmagazin 08). Early issue LP08s had micrometer adjustable front and rear sights which required a 2-pin tool for adjustment. It was also available in various commercial carbine versions with yet longer barrels.

The firm Armeria Belga of Santiago (Chile) manufactured the Benke Thiemann retractable stock that could fold out from the grip section.

The United States evaluated several semi-automatic pistols in the late 19th century, including the Colt M1900, Steyr Mannlicher M1894, and an entry from Mauser.[6] In 1900 the US purchased 1000 7.65×21mm Parabellum Lugers for field trials. Later, a small number were sampled in the then-new, more powerful 9×19mm round. Field experience with .38 caliber revolvers in the Philippines and ballistic tests would result in a requirement for still-larger rounds.

In 1906 and 1907, the US Army held trials for a large-caliber semi-automatic. DWM provided two sample Luger pistols chambered in .45 ACP for testing, with serial numbers 1 and 2. The fate of serial number 1 is unknown, as it was not returned. The serial number 2 Luger .45 passed the tests, and survived to be traded among collectors. Its rarity gives its value of around US$1 million at the time the "Million Dollar Guns" episode of History Channel's "Tales of the Gun" was filmed,[8] recheck by Guns & Ammo as of 1994.[9]

At least two pistols were manufactured later for possible commercial or military sales, and one is exhibited at the Norton Gallery, in Shreveport, Louisiana. The other was sold in 2010 and remains in a private collection. After initial trials, DWM, Savage, and Colt were asked to provide further samples for evaluation. DWM withdrew for reasons that are still debated, though the Army did place an order for 200 more samples. A single .45 Luger carbine is also known to exist.[10]

Towards the end of 1937 (beginning with 't' & 'u' block pistols) Mauser phased out rust blue process and "straw finishing" the small parts and levers on their pistols, choosing to salt blue them with the rest of the weapon. When in combination with black Bakelite grip panels, used on some examples starting in 1941, these pistols were named the "Black Widow" model by a postwar US arms dealer as a marketing ploy.

Captured Lugers were much prized by Allied soldiers during both of the world wars as war trophies.[11] However, during World War II, German soldiers were aware of this and would use Lugers as "bait", rigging them to detonate land mines or hidden booby traps when disturbed.[12] This tactic was common enough to make experienced Allied soldiers deeply suspicious of an apparently discarded Luger that they discovered.[13]

Luger Rifle M1906[edit]

A rifle, serial number 4, was found and put on auction and was said to be made by Georg Luger. The rifle uses the same mechanism as the pistol. The description mentioned a German patent No. 4126 of 1906 - the patent applied specifically to serial number 4. The rifle was chambered in 7.92x57mm Mauser, and the stock resembled the later K98k style.[citation needed]

Usage today[edit]

Although outdated, the Luger is still sought after by collectors both for its sleek design and accuracy, and for its connection to Imperial and Nazi Germany. According to Aaron Davis, writing in The Standard Catalog of the Luger, "From its adoption, the Luger was synonymous with the German military through the end of World War II" and "Ask any World War II vet of the [European Theater of Operations] what the most prized war souvenir was and the answer will invariably come back, ‘a Luger.’”[7]

Limited production of the P.08 resumed when Mauser refurbished a quantity of them in 1999 for the pistol's centennial. More recently, Krieghoff announced[14] the continuation of its Parabellum Model 08 line with 200 examples at $17,545.00 apiece.

In 1923, Stoeger, Inc. obtained the American trademark for the "Luger" name for the import of German-built parabellum pistols into the United States. The 1923 commercial models, in .30 Luger and 9mm, and with barrel lengths from 75 mm to 600 mm were the first pistols to bear the name "Luger", roll stamped on the right side of the receiver. Stoeger has retained the rights to the "Luger" name. Over the past seven decades, Stoeger imported a number of different handguns under the "Luger" mark, including an Erma-built .380 version and an American-manufacture .22 which only remotely resembled the original design.[15]

In 1991, the Houston, Texas firm of Aimco, Inc. began making an all new remake of the original Georg Luger design. At that time Mitchell Arms, Inc., under the "Mitchell" name marketed Aimco’s "new" parabellum. Stoeger, Inc. bought the rights to market the Texas-built pistols in 1994, and since that time the "Luger" name is once again on these toggle-action autoloaders.

Stoeger’s current offering is named the "American Eagle" model. This refers to the U.S. eagle roll-stamped above the chamber, closely resembling the eagle used to mark the original pistols designated for U.S. import. The "American Eagle" is available in 4-inch and 6-inch barrel lengths in 9×19mm Luger only.[16]

Thousands were taken home by returning Allied soldiers during both wars, and are still in circulation today. Colonel David Hackworth mentions in his autobiography that it was still a sought-after sidearm in the Vietnam War.[17]

In 1945 Mauser restarted Luger production under the control of the French occupation forces.

In 1969, Mauser Werke in Oberndorf restarted production, which ceased in 1986 when the last commemorative model was produced.[18]


Luger 04 Pistol of the Imperial German Navy

Non-state entities[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ German Infantry Weapons. United States War Department. 25 May 1943. p. 5. 
  2. ^ a b Fitzsimons, Bernard, ed. (1977). "Luger". The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Weapons and Warfare. 16. London, UK: Phoebus. p. 1778. 
  3. ^ a b c d "DWM Luger P-08 Pistol". Retrieved 12 May 2017. 
  4. ^ US patent 753414, issued 1904-03-01 
  5. ^ Hogg, Ian; Weeks, John (2000). Military Small Arms of the 20th Century (7th ed.). Iola, Wisconsin: Krause Publications. ISBN 0-87341-824-7. 
  6. ^ a b c Datig, Fred A. (2009-04-20). "The Luger Pistol | Gun Digest". Gun Digest. Retrieved 2017-09-06. 
  7. ^ a b Huard, Paul Richard (2015-03-06). "The Nazis' Handgun". War Is Boring. Retrieved 2017-09-06. 
  8. ^ "Tales of the Gun: Million Dollar Guns". History Channel – via YouTube. 
  9. ^ James, Garry (October 2010). "Would you Shoot the Million Dollar Luger". Guns & Ammo. InterMedia Outdoors. Archived from the original on 4 June 2013. 
  10. ^ "Investment Firearm - .45 Luger Carbine". Archived from the original on 15 November 2004. 
  11. ^ a b c d Bishop, Chris, ed. (2002). The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II. Metrobooks. p. 228. ISBN 1-58663-762-2. Retrieved 2 March 2010. 
  12. ^ Rottman p.49
  13. ^ Rottman p.32
  14. ^ "Back from the Past, the Krieghoff Parabellum". Krieghoff International. 2009. Archived from the original on 23 February 2009. 
  15. ^ "Stoeger Luger: Instruction Booklet & Service Manual" (PDF). PDF 
  16. ^ Boyle, Jerry L. "A. F. Stoeger's Inox Luger, circa 1991". Retrieved 12 May 2017. 
  17. ^ Hackworth, David H. (1990). About Face: The Odyssey of an American Warrior. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-0-67169-534-7. 
  18. ^ Bishop, Chris, ed. (1998). The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II. New York: Orbis Publishing Ltd. ISBN 0-7607-1022-8. .
  19. ^ a b c d Walter, John (1991). Luger Book: The Encyclopedia of the Borchardt and Borchardt-Luger Handguns, 1885–1985. London, UK: Arms & Armour. p. 66. ISBN 978-0-85368-886-0. 
  20. ^ Walter, John. The Luger Story. Greenhill Books. p. 127. ISBN 1-85367-436-2. 
  21. ^ Miller, David. Fighting Men of World War II, Volume I: Axis Forces — Uniforms, Equipment, and Weapons. Stackpole Books. p. 369. ISBN 0-8117-0277-4. 
  22. ^ a b c Davis, Aaron (2006). Standard Catalog of Luger (2nd ed.). Gun Digest Books. ISBN 0-89689-411-8. 
  23. ^ Miller, David (2001). The Illustrated Directory of 20th Century Guns. Salamander Books Ltd. ISBN 1-84065-245-4. 
  24. ^
  25. ^ Osborne, John. "NZ Arms Register". 
  26. ^ Hæren etter Annen verdenskrig: 1945–1990 [The Army of the Second World War: 1945–1990] (in Norwegian). Oslo: Fabritius. 1990. p. 563. ISBN 8290545169. 
  27. ^ Telo, António José; Álvares, Mário (2004). Armamento do Exército Português, Vol.I - Armamento Ligeiro [Armament of the Portuguese Army, Vol.I - Light Armament] (in Portuguese). Lisbon: Prefácio. pp. 100–103. ISBN 972-8816-43-X. 
  28. ^ a b Arnold, David W. (11 November 2010). "Classic Handguns of the 20th Century: The P.08 German Luger". Handguns. Retrieved 12 May 2017. 
  29. ^ Jowett, Philip (2010). Chinese Warlord Armies 1911–30. Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing Ltd. p. 21. ISBN 978-1-84908-402-4. 
  30. ^ Stewart, Major Michael P. "Art of War Papers" (PDF). Retrieved 12 March 2015. 
  31. ^ "The Weapons: Semi-auto Pistols". Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 12 March 2015. 

Further reading[edit]

  • The Borchardt & Luger Automatic Pistols by Joachim Gortz and Dr. Geoffrey Sturgess (Simpson Ltd, 2012)
  • Imperial Lugers by Jan C. Still (Still's Books, 1994)
  • Third Reich Lugers by Jan C. Still (Still's Books, 1988)
  • Weimar Lugers by Jan C. Still (Still's Books, 1993)
  • Lugers at Random by Charles Kenyon (Hand Gun Press, 1990)
  • Simson Lugers by Edward B. Tinker and Graham K. Johnson (Simpson Ltd, 2007)
  • La Luger Artiglieria by Mauro Baudino (Editoriale Olimpia, 2004)
  • Luger Book: The Encyclopedia of the Borchardt and Borchardt-Luger Handguns, 1885–1985 by J. Walter (Arms & Armour, 1991)
  • The Parabellum is Back! 1945–2000 by Mauro Baudino and Gerben van Vlimmeren (Simpson Ltd, 2010)
  • Imperial Lugers Ян С. Тем не менее (Стилла Книги, 1994)
  • Рейх Lugers Яна С. Тем не менее (Стилла Книги, 1988)
  • Веймар Lugers Ян С. Тем не менее (Стилла Книги, 1993)
  • Lugers наугад Чарльз Кеньон (Hand Gun Пресс, 1990)
  • La Люгер Artiglieria Мауро Baudino (Editoriale Олимпия, 2004)
  • Luger Книга: Энциклопедия Борхардт и Борхардт-Luger пистолетов, 1885-1985 Дж. Уолтера (Arms & Armour, 1991)
  • Парабеллум вернулся! 1945–2000 by Mauro Baudino and Gerben van Vlimmeren (Simpson Ltd, 2010)
  • The Mauser Parabellum 1930–1946: Analysis of a Million Luger Pistols by Don R. Hallock & Joop van den Kant (HaKa Arms Publications C0, 2010) 1945-2000 Мауро Baudino и Gerben ван Vlimmeren (Симпсон Ltd, 2010)
  • Маузер Парабеллум 1930-1946: Анализ Million Luger Pistols Дон Р. Халлок & Joop Van Den Кант (Хака Руки Публикации С0, 2010)

External links[edit]