In today’s Weapon Trivia Wednesday, we cover the P-08 Luger. Mad Duo
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WTW: The P-08 Luger
Mike the Mook
If there is one handgun that everyone knows on sight, it is the Luger P-08 (aka “Pistole Parabellum“). It definitely has the ergonomics and angled grip everyone wants in a true target pistol, and was the basis for Bill Ruger’s first .22 Auto.
Originally designed in 7.65mm or .30 Luger, a bottlenecked cartridge that feeds extremely well, it was later adopted for Georg Luger’s 9mm cartridge which has gone on to become the preeminent civilian and military round worldwide.
About 117 years ago, good old Georg Luger came up with his design as an improvement over the Borchardt pistol, which used a toggle action found on Maxim’s first machine gun. Ironically both the Maxim gun and the Luger made their bones in the First World War.
Deutsche Waffen und Munitionsfabriken (DWM) built the first Luger pistols and the Swiss military adopted the design in 1901. It was picked up by the German Army in 1908, hence the “P-08” designation. A number of countries fell in love with it and it was considered a serious contender for the US military pistol trials on three occassions, leading to at least ten prototypes being chambered in .45 ACP.
In 1930 Mauser of Oberndorf, Germany, bought out DWM. For twelve years Lugers were produced, until the design was superseded by the Walther P-38. After World War II Mauser made a few commercial runs of the Luger in the 1970’s, with the last batch made in 1997.
Probably one of the most sought after souvenirs of WW II, thousands of GI’s brought them home after the war. For decades since, they have been scooped up by collectors and shooters alike. The P-08 is just one of those pistols that everyone wants to have, or at least shoot once in a while.
It goes beyond just being the weapon of our enemy. They are damn fine shooters. When is the last time you heard someone clamor for a Baby Nambu or Helwan Brigadier?
The toggle action is probably the Luger’s greatest strength. Based upon the movement of the human knee, it is rigid and strong when straight (closed) and can support the pressure of the round. Lugers run better with hotter loads because of this. A fixed barrel offers improved accuracy over tilting-barrel systems because it remains consistently in place.
Perhaps the Luger’s only weakness is the rear sight, which is small and non adjustable. If you need to make a windage adjustment you simply drift the front sight with a punch in the opposite direction of the desired point of impact.
Despite its close tolerances it is extremely easy to disassemble, and apart from using a screwdriver to remove the grip panel, no tools are required. To disassemble, pull back the toggle and rotate the takedown lever downward. Remove the left side trigger plate and the barrel and breech block slide off the frame as one piece.
Our Luger is a commercial .30 caliber version with fully checkered walnut grips, built in 1916. Our only gripe with it is that some concerned citizen in the past thought it would be a good idea to grind off the stock lug.
Most Lugers have a stock lug on the rear of the grip frame to attach a shoulder stock. Conflicting and misinterpreted laws lead some people to believe that attaching a shoulder stock was illegal. It is not the case with models made over fifty years ago, at least under federal law. State and city ordinances may vary.
At over 100 years old, we enjoy shooting it every once in a while for its superb accuracy and hint of nostalgia. It’s not exactly what we would choose for CCW or what to grab when the zombie outbreak happens. But it’s fun to shoot, and we like being its caretaker for a little while.
Mad Duo, Breach-Bang& CLEAR!
Emergency: Activate firefly, deploy green (or brown) star cluster, get your wank sock out of your ruck and stand by ’til we come get you.
About the Author: Mike “the Mook” Searson is a veteran writer who began his career in firearms at the Camp Pendleton School for Destructive Boys at age 17. A former prize fighter and Marine Corps boxer, he has worked in the firearms industry his entire life, writing about guns and knives for numerous publications and consulting with the film industry on weapons while at the same time working as gunsmith and ballistician. Though seemingly a surly curmudgeon shy a few chromosomes at first meeting, Searson is actually far less of an asshole and at least a little smarter than most of the Mad Duo’s other minions. He is rightfully considered to be not just good company, but actually fit for polite company as well (though he has never forgotten his roots as a rifleman trained to kill people and break things, and if you look closely you’ll see his knuckles are still quite scabbed over from dragging the ground). You can learn more about him on his website or follow him on Twitter, @MikeSearson.
The Mook doing his Boondock Saints thing (and accurately, perhaps not surprisingly).
The Mook, many years ago. We think this was taken sometime during the Banana Wars.
More About 88 Tactical: 88 Tactical is an elite training organization focused on helping individuals, families, emergency services workers, and military members develop the confidence and ability to deal with any situation or crisis. They have a Reality Behavior Based Conditioning that provides professionally developed curriculum for military, law enforcement, and civilian populations.