A Well-Travelled Luger

This Luger has seen basically all of 20th century German history. It began as a 1917 production DWM pistol, used in World War One. After the war, it was one of the guns remarks for use by the police and military of the Weimar Republic, and at some point in this period had a special police safety installed, to prevent a careless officer from accidentally shooting himself with the disassembled slide assembly. That safety was later removed, and the pistol remained in German official service through World War Two. It was still there when the eastern half of Berlin was occupied by the Soviets, and was issued to the Volkspolizei of Soviet-controlled Weissensee. During this time, it was reissued new matching magazines made by Haenel in East Germany. When the Berlin Wall came down, it was liberated from a Stasi arms depot in Weissensee, and a few years later reproofed under the newly unified Germany to make it legal on the commercial market. Today it resides in the collection of a European arms collector, who found it for sale and recognized the tremendously long history shown in its markings.


  1. AS someone else said, “Lugers forever!!” This is a gun that could last a freakishly long time and still kick butt if well maintained. Heck, even the much vaunted ion blaster rifle would lose in terms of trench reliability. Get a blaster wet and it shorts out. Get a Luger muddy on the outside and its owner retaliates by emptying his magazine into whomever threw mud on him.

    • Curiously there might be such Parabellum Pistole which would deserve all that flags without leaving Berlin. Testimony of turbulent times.

      “AS someone else said, “Lugers forever!!” This is a gun that could last a freakishly long time and still kick butt if well maintained.”
      Parabellum Pistole? I would say it is over-hyped. We do not know how exactly it was used – how frequently it was fired? I would not be surprised if for years it was safely conserved and stored, so I would say other automatic pistols of good quality could possibly also serve such long.
      That being said Parabellum Pistole should be evaluated high as 19th century automatic pistol (it was adopted in 1900 by Switzerland), but by 1930s standards it was unacceptable expensive to produce, so Germany introduced P.38, Finland (which also at that moment used Parabellum) L-35, even Switzerland, where expensive solutions were often accepted, replaced it with SIG P210 starting in late 1940s (although SIG already tested various prototypes yet during World War II)

    • In the 2015 Gun Digest, on p. 248 you’ll find an article titled “The 3 Deadliest Gunfighting Pistols of All Time” by Jim Dickson.

      In it, he states that

      By the numbers, the infamous Luger has been involved in more combat kills and casualties than any other handgun. The author believes it is the best pointing and most accurate military pistol ever issued.

      It is also quite reliable when fed the correct ammunition, even in the bloody trench warfare of World War One;

      The Luger proved up to the challenge. It took in stride the mud, dust and sand maelstrom that was a WW1 artillery barrage and kept on working when the famed Smith & Wesson Triple-Lock Revolvers were jamming. It would continue firing when its barrel was bulged from being clogged with mud. A Browning-style gun with the slide over the barrel is jammed solid until a new barrel can be installed when its barrel is bulged. This feature saved so many German lives in the First World War that when the P.38 was designed, the army specifications demanded a fully exposed barrel on it.

      All the Luger needs for reliability is a magazine spring that is as strong as you can get in the magazine and proper ammo– standard velocity ammo of the proper overall length. Hot loads cycle the action too fast for the magazine to feed the cartridges in position to chamber before the bolt rides them down. This was never a problem with German army issue ammo.

      (NB: 124-gr truncated cone FMJ @ 1,150 F/S muzzle velocity.)

      A larger problem was that the average German soldier was not a pistol shooter. The Luger handled that problem better than any pistol before or since. The Luger is the best pointing pistol ever made, bar none. Just point at the target and you hit it. it is as simple as that. It is also the most accurate pistol you will ever find. Most any good (condition) Luger will shoot a 10mm group with 9mm ammo at 25 yards.

      BTW, Dickson’s ratings are based on total combat kills and casualties the weapon has inflicted. As such, his No. 2 was the Colt M1911/M1911A1 in .45 ACP, and rounding out the top 3 was the Colt Model 1873 Single Action Army in .45 Colt and the “Frontier Six Shooter” in .44-40 WCF. Those two “Peacemaker” calibers accounted for roughly 85% of Model Ps ever made by Colt, and also accounted for the majority of men killed or wounded by Peacemakers. The Colt “six shooter” outstrips other lesser handguns simply by virtue of having been in service longer than any other handgun still in common use.



          • I have to admit I don’t completely buy it. The main reason the Parabellum has an exposed barrel is that the Borchardt pistol it was derived from had one. And the Borchardt apparently had one because Hugo Borchardt wanted a self-loading pistol with roughly the same “balance” (weight distribution) as a revolver.

            Another thing; one factor in the design of the P.38 pistol was wanting a service pistol that could be fired through a “pistol port” on an AFV. The Russian Army similarly wanted such a service pistol about the same time(hence the Tokarev, Voyevodin and Korovin 1939 designs seen on pp.528-530 of Ezell’s Handguns of the World), but the war intervened.

            Also remember that most of the other early autopistol design, such as the Mauser C/96 and the Bergmanns, all had “exposed” barrels. In the beginning, that was apparently just “the way everybody did it”, and maybe no more than that should be read into it.



          • That the exposed barrel thing was “the way everybody did it” is probably true UNTIL Browning’s revolutionary barrel-inside-slide became “the way everybody did it”. Germany bought P-35s, Astras and others of Browning’s configuration, so the exposed barrel requirement before adoption of the P-38 remains somewhat a mystery.

      • “based on total combat kills and casualties the weapon has inflicted”
        This spawn question how he gathered that data? While fact weapon which was used in bigger quantity is higher look sensible I doubt that for every soldier fallen during Great War weapon which killed can be pointed with 100% sure.

        • I would say it might be even less accurate, than claimed aerial victories during World War II, however it this case it is possible to verify if victory of one side actually match loss of second side.

      • “(…)the best pointing pistol ever made, bar none. Just point at the target and you hit it. it is as simple as that. It is also the most accurate pistol you will ever find.”
        If it ergonomics is so good, why differently shaped automatic pistols prevailed?

        • I think these claims are not well backed. Any decent pistol is deemed to have adequate capabilities when comes to aiming. Where Luger stands apart is its radical grip angle (measured relative to horizontal reference plane 55deg from back forward).

          But there is not one “best” grip angle. If we look at rather successful Croatian made pistols (sold under name Springfield), their grip angle is modest 75 degree and they still “feel” well. Rarely pistols sport more reclined grip than that.

          • “But there is not one “best” grip angle. If we look at rather successful Croatian made pistols (sold under name Springfield), their grip angle is modest 75 degree and they still “feel” well. Rarely pistols sport more reclined grip than that.”
            Indeed for example Savage Automatic Pistol was advertised as AIMS EASY AS POINTING YOUR FINGER, see 4th image from top here:

        • Ultimately, feed reliability. Granted, the Parabellum is a good “pointer” (as are quite a few .22 LR target autos with similar grip-to-bore angles) but in spite of all protestations about loads, the Parabellum is an iffy feeder at best.

          In my experience, it likes 124-gr. round-nosed FMJs at 1,150-1,200 F/S, and the “eight-shot” magazine works best if you start with only seven rounds in it. In fact, the Mitchell “Lugers”‘ manual stated quite clearly that the magazine, which was in all respects identical to every other P.08 magazine ever made, should only be loaded with seven cartridges for optimum functioning.

          Probably the most feed-reliable service autos are those based on John M. Browning’s designs. This includes the Smith & Wesson autos derived from the Model 39 (but not the reprehensible Sigma series), the Colt M1911 family, and of course the P-35 High Power.

          On the other hand, the Taurus PT-92/99 series have always been more reliable feeders than the Beretta M92 series they are based on. No, I have no idea why.



    • Very obvious that live performance ads are older than television! Try live firing of Maxim guns by nobility and even the Kaiser… everyone experienced firing the guns firsthand and loved it. I could be wrong.

  2. Amazing track record for one odd pistol. It proves that all firearms and weapons in general are basically apolitical and that’s what I like about them. Claims that there are “Nazi” or “communist” firearms are out of place. No such a thing.

    Yes, every piece of armament has its maker and temporary user, that’s about it. User can be changed any time.

  3. P08 and the similar Ruger .22 cal. grip angles are not my favorites. In my hand these pistols “naturally” point high and require a conscious effort to bring the muzzle down. For myself this is also true for Colt Woodsman and High Standard pistols.
    They might work fine for other shooters. Relatively few pistols with this angle are currently manufactured.

    • Interestingly during Great War, Austria-Hungary used automatic pistol with also untypical (from today point of view) angle of grip, although in opposite side to Parabellum-Pistole, namely Steyr-Hahn with grip making near to right angle.

      • Early Ruger Mk 1/2 .22s were advertised as having an “ideal” grip angle, similar to the Luger. Later, Ruger 1911/22s frame was redesigned to incorporate the “ideal” 1911 angle.
        Muzzle attitude on a 1911 can be tailored to suit by replacing the MS housing.
        BHP, Spfld XD, and CZ 75 et.al. frame shapes possibly provide a more universal fit.
        Many new-production pistols offer replaceable backstraps to suit the user, extreme angles once popular are less common nowadays.
        Magazine design and cartridge feeding requirements may have dictated on the grip angle of some pistols. But I am not aware of any Colt/Browning designs with such extreme angles as the P08. Indeed, some were nearly vertical.
        It may be the muzzle-up cant was intentional, forcing the shooter to torque or preload the pistol to mitigate muzzle rise at recoil.

        At any rate, a pencil gripped in my fist at arm’s length is closer to the 1911 angle than that of a P08.

  4. Since the swastika is banned under laws that ban the display of National Socialist symbols, it can be easily sidestepped by using the Avengers Hydra skull as a substitute symbol.

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