GUN OF THE WEEK
By Bob Walsh
The Gun of the Week this time around is the classic Luger pistol
These are interesting guns. Some people would call them “elegant” or even beautiful. A French design school once determined thru some sort of polling data that the Luger pistol was the most recognizable industrial artifact of the 20th century.
The design was patented by Georg Luger in 1898, building on a design by Hugo Borchardt. The first production model was the Modell 1900 Parabellum. It was adopted by the Swiss in May of 1900 in .30 caliber Luger. This designe was improved (due to lack of power) into the P 08 in 9mm and was eventually adopted by the German military and the military of many other countries. They continued on in service for many years after production ceased.
These guns are highly sought after by both collectors and shooters. There are literally dozens of known specific types, some only have one example known to exist. They are so popular that for a while a modern CNC assembly line was set up to make them in stainless steel under the Mitchell name in the 1990s. In fact there is currently a small production line of them running in Florida by a guy who goes by the name TheLugerMan. They are available from him in .45 ACP and 10mm at a cost of several thousand dollars per. In the original form they required a great deal of machine time and hand fitting and eventually became not economically reasonable until the development of CNC machinery. They were replaced by the P-38 pistol in 1938 though production in Germany continued thru 1943 in order to meet wartime demand for pistols.
Production was restarted in 1945 by Mauser for the French military. About 4,000 of these were made and many were lost during fighting in Indochina and Algeria. Pistols were also assembled in Germany after WWII for use by Soviet authorities and police.
A small production run was done in 1999 to celebrate the pistol’s centennial. Production was continued after that by Krieghoff with a 200 special production run that sold for $17,500 each.
These weapons are fun to shoot, though they tend to be very sensitive to what ammunition is used in them. They only work well in a very narrow power band and getting the right ammo is sometimes an effort in trial and error.