This is lot #3569 in the upcoming RIA Premier Auction. It was scheduled for April, but has been postponed – check their web site for upcoming Online Only auctions every month, though!
The lP08 (Lange pistole 08) was formally adopted in 1913 to replace the Reichsrevolver for the field artillery. These were the German light artillery troops, who were specifically given a pistol caliber carbine to provide maximum firepower in a very compact package. They were made by the Erfurt Arsenal in 1914, and by DWM throughout the war, with a total of about 180,000 made.
What is most interesting to me is the evolution of the use of the “artillery Luger” throughout the course of World War One. Starting as simply a compact weapon for artillery, it was quickly recognized by aviators as an ideal weapon for aircraft before the mass introduction of aerial machine guns. The stock allowed more accurate fire, and the semiautomatic operation minimized the handling movements required to fire. More substantially, it was adopted by the German Sturmtruppen for maximizing the striking power of small and flexible units. It is for these men that the 32-round drum magazine was developed in 1916. This represents one of the very few formal military uses of a pistol-caliber semiautomatic carbine, as it was superseded by the advent of the submachine gun in 1918.
A few small batches were made in the 1920s and 1930s, but it would not see significant use in World War Two – leaving it a weapon specifically iconic to the Great War.