Everything You Wanted to Know on the Luger PIstol

I think its safe to say that many in our readership have enjoyed our myriad of posts on various historical firearms. Ian at Forgotten Weapons has been an instrumental asset to the community (and as an occasional contributor to our humble blog). Adding to Ian’s bredth of knowledge is C&Rsenal, who has been hot at adding depth to many of the not-so-forgotten weapons of years past.

As their latest entry to the “Small Arms of WWII Primer” (episode 23, if one is curious) is the history of the ubiquitous German Pistole 08, commonly known as the “Luger.” The short-action toggle handgun is well known as a prize pistol for American GI’s and other countrie’s shooters.

In the nearly hour long episode (53:33 to be exact), C&Rsenal goes into the full history of the development of the handgun complete with patent drawings, technical history, and details into the politics of the German army which ultimately led to the handguns adoption.

Of interest, the German Army was strongly wanting to see an action indicator as there was an internal striker instead of the common hammer-fired handguns of the day, which Luger was able to placate the demands by adding in a loaded chamber indicator using the extractor. By default, if the chamber was loaded, the handgun was cocked and ready for action (in much the same way as Glock is today).

Enjoy the video and history and check our C&Rsenal for additional history lessons. 

Nathan S

One of TFB’s resident Jarheads, Nathan now works within the firearms industry. A consecutive Marine rifle and pistol expert, he enjoys local 3-gun, NFA, gunsmithing, MSR’s, & high-speed gear. Nathan has traveled to over 30 countries working with US DoD & foreign MoDs.

The above post is my opinion and does not reflect the views of any company or organization.


  • 6.5x55Swedish

    They are the best firearms channel on YouTube.

    • ExMachina1

      Well, them and Forgotten Weapons 🙂

  • Nicks87

    I love his T-shirt, I might need one.

  • Devil_Doc

    Great video…

  • SirOliverHumperdink

    100% ^^

  • P08 is something I plan to own one day.

  • iksnilol

    I never really wanted to know much about Lugers. They’re fancy, and old (so you have to be careful with ammo), that’s all you sorta need to know.

    • ostiariusalpha

      “I’m all about that slide, ’bout that slide, no toggle.”
      – iksnilol 15/4/2016

      • iksnilol

        Something like that 😛

        Though I wouldn’t mind a black one with gold filled engraving. Could be a good gun when I want to play the eccentric character in this play.

        • ostiariusalpha

          Ha ha! No worries, I’m more than sympathetic to your position; I’ve never been tempted to own a Luger. They’re interesting guns, and I find all toggle lock firearms fascinating, but they were a technological dead end. I’d prefer to own a P.38, even though I think it is a much less attractive pistol.

  • cwp

    The main question I have about the Luger is, “When will I be able to buy a new-production version that doesn’t cost $18,000 like the Krieghoffs?”

    • HKmaster

      You can still find some NIB Lugers made by Mauser and imported by Interarms in the 70’s. They run for around $1,500. I plan to pick one up myself, but of course that $18,000 Krieghoff is the crown jewel 🙂

    • Because making a Luger costs $18,000 worth of work unless you want to bring back child labor and repeal the minimum wage, oh and you also need to get a government contract to purchase all the necessary horizontal milling machines…

      • cwp

        I can’t help but think that the Krieghoff Luger’s $18,000 price tag is due substantially more to it being a Krieghoff than being a Luger. Then again, I’m not a manufacturing engineer.

        • I dunno, man, Luger’s take a lot of work. They’re not mass-produced guns in the modern sense.

          • cwp

            I certainly wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the cost of producing them is high enough to make the expected sales numbers too low to be practical. Even $4,000 – $6,000 would probably be high enough that it just wouldn’t make economic sense. I have no illusions of being able to pick one up for the price of a Glock.

            Still … $18,000 is more than twice what Wilson Combat’s top of the line model costs, and let’s face it, Krieghoff is not exactly known for the relentless pursuit of low prices. I’d buy a K-80 if I had the kind of money where $12,000 could vanish from the household budget without being noticed, but it *is* possible to sell a pretty decent O/U shotgun for less than that and still make a profit.

            Stoeger built repro Lugers for under $1,000, and that was less than 20 years ago. I don’t know if those were genuine faithful reproductions or redesigned workalikes like the HMG Sturmgewehr, and I’m beyond certain that the workmanship was not at Krieghoff levels. But it leaves me somewhat skeptical that almost 20 grand is really the price floor.

          • Cymond

            I can’t speak for all Stoegers, but the 22lr Luger’s were lookalikes, and not good ones either. They’re a simple blowback with cosmetic toggle hiding the bolt. They’re fired by a concealed rotating hammer. The trigger linkage is held in place by a large, plastic screw that is expected to put pressure on the parts. The trigger will fail if the screw isn’t perfectly tightened. Naturally, they’re all badly mangled by guys trying to get the plastic screw tight enough.

            They’re wildly unreliable, and a mechanical nightmare to field strip. They’re so bad that I shouldn’t even use the phrase “field strip” because it implies that it could be done in the field. I spent 4 hours one night trying to get all the little parts in the right place all at the save time. Never again. If I did ever manage to shoot it enough that it needed cleaned, I would remove the (wobbly, poorly fitting, flat) wood grips and throw it in a vat of kerosene.

            It is undoubtedly the worst gun I own by far, and I have a Hi Point.

          • cwp

            Yeah, I’ve read that the .22s are pretty terrible and not actually very Luger-like. I understand that the 9mm versions were rebranded Aimco/Mitchell Arms repros, rather than in-house Stoeger work, and at least one article in a major gun rag praised the Mitchells as pretty true to the original — give that as much credence as you would to any other article in a major gun rag, I guess.

  • ExMachina1

    It’s a great video(as all of their videos are) but sometimes their “mechanical” comments are not as on point as their historical poins. Specifically, I’m not sure I buy the claim–reiterated in this and other P08 videos–that the toggle’s motion accentuates muzzle flip. Yes they P08 has a problem with muzzle flip, but the main reason is simply because of the center-of-mass is so far back. In truth, the toggle motion (flying back and UP) should actually cause the muzzle to pivot down, resulting in less flip. It’s a minor quibble with an epic video however.

    • ostiariusalpha

      Well, you’d be wrong. The muzzle might dip for the fraction of a second that the toggle is rising, but when it reaches the end of its travel that momentum wants to keep going back and up. Lugers are flippier than slide guns for a variety of reasons, and the toggle is one of them.

      • ExMachina1

        ” but when it reaches the end of its travel that momentum wants to keep going back and up”

        You just said exactly what I said. If part of the momentum at the rear of the gun keeps wanting to go UP, then the muzzle will want to go down.

        • ostiariusalpha

          No, because the toggle is mechanically captured at that point, it will try to drag the rest of the pistol along with its momentum. It is only during that previous split second of free travel that the toggle body and the frame body push each other away. Once the toggle has reached its rearmost travel, it and the frame act as one body and now share momentum; that is, back and upward.

  • Nicholas C

    My dad’s Friend is Don who co wrote The Mauser Parabellum 1930–1946: Analysis of a Million Luger Pistols

  • ItalianAmerican

    No matter what, it’s always one of my favorites.

  • A Fascist Corgi

    The Luger is the coolest looking pistol ever made in my opinion.