Have Mud Tests Gone Too Far? InRange Defiles a P.08 Luger

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The P.08 Luger is hands down one of the most well-recognized and distinctive firearms in the world. It’s distinctive profile, timeless legacy as one of the first truly successful semiautomatics, and intriguing reputation as the weapon of choice for both Imperial and Nazi German officers in the 20th Century make it one of the very greatest firearms of all time.

Despite its superstar status, it’s common knowledge that the Luger, with its exposed sear surfaces and toggle locked action, did note fare well in the muddy trenches of Europe. But how well-earned is this reputation, after all? To help answer this, InRange TV took one of host Karl Karsada’s one Luger pistols and dunked it in their patented wheelbarrow o’ mud. See how it fared by watching the video below:

This test of the Luger represents the first such of any toggle-action firearm I am aware of, and it helps answer the question my readers asked me when TFB shot a toggle-retarded blowback action Pedersen rifle: “How would this rifle have worked in mud?” It’s probably pushing it to compare the Luger directly with the Pedersen, as not only are they two different guns, but the Pedersen is a retarded blowback design while the Luger is recoil-operated, but maybe this mud test shows that the Pedersen wasn’t hopeless after all. The only way to find out, of course, would be for some brave soul to come forward with a Pedersen rifle to test!



Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He can be reached via email at nathaniel.f@staff.thefirearmblog.com.


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  • BattleshipGrey

    This particular test and the drawn conclusion seems a little weak. My only point of contention is the accumulation of mud over time. I’m not an expert on Lugers or WW1, but I would guess that there were days on end that a soldier would’ve been exposing a Luger to mud without having much opportunity to fully clean it.

    Dropping a pistol in mud on each side once and then firing a few mags isn’t a very comparative test of WW1 conditions. Do this test each day over the next week without cleaning it and we may see some issues as reported. Like they said, it’s a complex design with lots of hand-fitted parts, BUT, it also seems to sling debris away from the action.

    It would be interesting to see this test done as I mentioned, but I don’t blame anyone for not wanting to try it as it would probably ruin or greatly devalue their Luger in the process.

    • Jason

      The pistol would have been kept in a holster the majority of the time. Their test was a decent approximation of what it would have faced.

      • Slim934

        I was about to say the same thing, except that I think this would actually be a much harsher test than it would have likely seen in the field. The likelihood of a pistol being dropped fully into mud would be significantly lower compared to say a rifle being dropped into it (since pistols are weapons of last resort).

        The pistol is going to be kept holstered the majority of the time. I mean I know folks said that “it was the mud that did it”, but seriously how often were you using your pistols in the trenches that the thing was likely ever to be exposed to mud.

        Moisture? Hell yes. Hell I’d be willing to bet it was more a combination of just a moist environment and the inability to keep the thing maintained as much as the combination of design and materials required.

        • LG

          The pistol was not the weapon of last resort to some German storm troopers. Many of these used grenades and handguns as their primary weapons. If you read “Surgeon of The Kaiser” there is an excellent first hand account of storm troopers attacking with their pistols in the combination holster/stock and bags of grenades.

          • tts

            Yes, Ian and Karl did a good video on this a little while back on their InRange channel. From what I remember they mentioned for night trench raids pistols, knives, grenades, and make shift truncheons were commonly used due to the tight quarters.

            Its a given that things would’ve gotten fairly dirty at some point in such combat. Dumping a gun into a wheelbarrow full of mud probably isn’t a bad approximation of what it’d be like to drop a gun in the trench. Personally I was surprised the Luger continued working at all for 1 shot much less a few mags.

            Good to see someone doing these sorts of tests. I usually learn something new every time.

          • LG

            Exactly. Ian and Karl are great. But I was referencing period observations of exactly what was occurring at the front and in the trenches. “Surgeon of the Kaiser” is an outstanding read with the author as a second year medical student being a front line soldier, to be wounded, and then saved by being transferred into the medical corps as a battlefield surgeon should be made into a movie. The description of the author taking his medical boards after the armistice with a revolution firefight going on outside of the building is terrific.

    • tts

      Even in WWI trench conditions soldiers cleaned their weapon at least once a day and is highly unrealistic to expect otherwise. A week without cleaning and constantly covered in mud while firing/reloading periodically will turn any gun into a jam-o-matic, even a AK or AR15 or 1911, so its kind’ve pointless to bother with that sort of test.

      Anything and everything jams once you shove enough dirt into it or if you don’t clean it long enough. Even bolt action guns.

      The point of the test was to bust the myth that the Luger was highly sensitive to dirt and from that perspective was completely successful.

    • Thomas S

      The test isn’t that far off.

      Of course to further test you would see if it would keep functioning after days with no cleaning beyond running a canteen of water through it.

      Truth is, most firearm legends have little basis in reality or refer to a particular set of circumstances that don’t apply generally.

      Hell the 1911 had problems a plenty but they were worked out given time and now people treat it as the greatest firearm ever created.

    • BattleshipGrey

      Thanks for correcting my misconception. I can definitely see where they would have more time to clean, but I didn’t know it was done once a day or if some weeks weather would even allow it.

  • Matthias

    MΓ–RDER ! πŸ™‚ only joking. it survived the last 100 years and now it was dumped into mud…. I have an 04 and a 08, both mint and I take care like at my eyeballs. Anyhow, very interesting to see how this old warhorse performs. Amazing well. The Luger design is a timeless classic. Gott Mit Uns! (this was the credo of the German troops in WWI you can see it on the buckles of the belts) Thank you for this interesting Video. Greetings from Germany M.H.

  • randomswede

    “Defile”, really?
    Do you honestly think the Luger in question shows any lasting signs of this test or is this simply the kind of clickbait “mainstream media” seems to love so much these days?

    • Jonathan Ferguson

      I did wonder what the provocative title had to do with the otherwise sensible reporting of Ian and Karl’s very interesting test.

      • I’ve reblogged more than a couple of these mud tests, why shouldn’t I have a little fun with the title of this one?

        • Zachary marrs

          Nobody likes click bait.

          • Did you feel the article’s body was just clickbait?

          • Zachary marrs

            The body of a post, by definition, cannot be clickbait.

            The title, on the other hand, CAN be.

          • So, then it is wrong for me to both want people to click on and read my article, and to enjoy an over-the-top title that reflects sympathetically many of my readers’ feelings about mud tests?

          • Jonathan Ferguson

            That all depends upon how many tedious comments section arguments you want to end up in.

          • Regardless of what I do, they always happen anyway, Jonathan.

          • Zachary marrs

            So you have to resort to click bait titles to get people to read your articles? Is that some sort of admission?

            Looking at the comments in this article, I’m not seeing this sympathy you mention.

            There’s nothing wrong with wanting people to read your articles, but clickbait isn’t the greatest way to do that.

          • I liked the title. That’s why I used it. I thought it was fun and would get people interested in the subject. Nothing wrong with a title like that.

          • Zachary marrs

            The video was already pretty interesting, i don’t see the title having a big impact.

          • @ianmccollum:disqus @zacharymarrs:disqus @nathaniel_f:disqus
            The fact that people complain about clickbait on websites is like complaining that lines are too long at the DMV. Its a given.

          • Ian McCollum

            And yet everyone clicks on it.

          • Zachary marrs

            Because that’s how click bait works

          • 2hotel9

            Durka durka!!!!!! You and Karl rock the cassba, yet again. Your contributions to clickbait are just aawweessoommee, dude! Zach? The only way you can fight clickbait is by NOT clicking.

        • Jonathan Ferguson

          No reason just that this being the internet, people will take you at your word & assume you have an issue with the test. Which it’s clear from the body text that you don’t.

          • I’m not sure what your concern is, then.

          • Jonathan Ferguson

            Let me try again then. You’ve posted a deliberately provocative title that suggests InRange have been irresponsible, yet your actual post supports them. Your reply to me makes clear that you did not mean what you said in your title, but as I said, this is the internet & humour is not always evident.

            This is why some are calling “clickbait”, because they (& I) clicked a link expecting to read criticism of InRange, & instead got a straightforward reblog. Do you see why there has been confusion?

          • I suppose I see where you’re coming from.

        • randomswede

          One reason I can think of is so that people will keep reading your articles.
          I commented on this one to express an opinion and suggest I consider TFB above that “type” of journalism.
          I’ve come to expect that the title and article goes hand in hand here and I like it like that.

        • Zman1508

          Click-bait Nate

    • Twilight sparkle

      Some peopels definitions of defiling a firearm are different than others, someone might consider taking an antique like this out just to shoot it would be defiling it.

      • randomswede

        When communicating with others I strive to use the most common form of each word rather than my own version but, indeed these opinions exist.

        Personally I think there are some objects that belong in museum type collections with access reasonably limited.
        Those objects should not be locked away, be it in a museum basement or a private collection, where they might as well be lost to the world and may infact be turned into paper clips as none understands the object’s value.

        A Luger is certainly more scarce than say a Glock 17, but even if Karl had lost that one in the desert he himself has another one.
        I prefer to see guns as tools and not investments.

  • Vernon

    Personally, I would have removed the ear plug before firing the test weapon. A small obstruction can have catastrophic consequences.

    • iksnilol

      Ear plugs aren’t unusual to use to plug the barrel from obstructions.

    • The ear plug would, and did, get blown right out.
      If you seriously think that an ear plug, which would increase pressures by a few PSI at *most* would hurt the gun, you’re very, very mistaken. There’s more pressure variability caused from temperature of the powder in the ammunition before firing.

      • Jonathan Ferguson

        Whereas mud might actually cause a dangerous obstruction. I’ve seen a shotgun blown to pieces after having its muzzle stopped with mud.

  • LG

    Legends, lies, and cherished myths of firearms. Ian and Karl are doing an EXCELLENT job of separating fact from fiction.

    • Cal S.

      Except where they showed an AR-15 outperform an AK-47. We all know AKs never jam, never misfeed, and never malfunction in any way, shape, or form. They will fire flawlessly even with just 10% of the rifle remaining, and I heard this one historical anecdote of an AK that kept firing for 600 rounds after its firing pin had completely vaporized! It’s like the Machine Spirit possessed it.

      Therefore, internet logic dictates that test was fabricated from start to finish.

      • Jwedel1231

        Source: TFB’s article from last wee about a poacher’s AK. Since one AK was found in poor condition and working, ALL AKs must therefore be the epitome of reliability and all others fall short.

        • CZFan

          I saw that article and I have a feeling that “operational” was a very relative term when that AK was supposedly “tested” the outside was pitted to almost disintegration and I suspect that the only thing keeping it from going BOOM was the fact that the barrel was so worn out and rusted away that not much pressure was actually being held.

      • Edeco

        AK’s can malf, but only if you fail to urinate on them periodically for cleaning and lubrication.

      • SM

        Only a warped, corrupted machine spirit can keep a rifle firing past its own expiration.

        Now hand that rifle over, son. That tech is heretical.

        *BLAM*

        • Cal S.

          Lol, oh no! Not the Inquisitors!

      • DB

        Strange, I found an AK firing pin laying on my driveway a while back! I wonder…….

        • Cal S.

          *GASP*! At long last! πŸ˜‰

  • Tassiebush

    Alex C would you loan your Pedersen for this? πŸ˜‰

  • Gambler X

    If it is yours and you want to dump it in mud, who am I to say no?

  • TheNotoriousIUD

    These are getting old, move on to the poop test.
    What if one of our guys is hunched over in the bush letting one loose and his pistol slips out of his holster right into it??

    • Cottersay

      Yep, happens all the time to me.

    • Vladimir Putin

      You stole my thunder ! , I was thinking that ! But you have force me to move on to the next most ridiculous test ! THE TAR AND FEATHER TEST ! Just in case your outnumbered by liberals and they catch you taking a squat , and hit you with the tar and feathers before you can get your pants up and draw on them.

  • TDog

    “Have mid tests gone too far?”

    Hey, if the kids want to play in the mud in name of being tactical, who am I to tell them they’re morons?

  • Cameron Bissell

    Not to nitpick but. What type of mud? I’m sure the former farmland of Central Europe would be filled with finer organic particles than say a bucket of sandbox mud. I’m not sure it really matters but coarse beach sand in New England effects a gun differently than that powdery stuff in the Middle East.

    • GaryOlson

      My question also {my previous post was deleted?}. Clay based muds will gum up the works more than mud from good farmland; or goop from the bottom of a pond.

    • Ian McCollum

      Dirt from the ground + water.

      • randomswede

        Not that it needs improving, but a parallel “rice paddy mud” test sounds like it could be interesting.
        I assume that it would be less abrasive but obstructs equally.

      • You didn’t import the finest AAA grade European mud from Lorraine?
        Test invalidated.

        • Ian McCollum

          I promise we will get the finest organic, gluten-free mud when we do your Pedersen. πŸ™‚

    • The_Champ

      Hahaha, can’t please everyone I guess.

      Ian’s choice of locally sourced, free range mud gets my approval. Way better for the environment than those dirty muds you get from the big mud corporations. Have you seen the conditions inside of China’s mud factories?

  • Ian McCollum

    The late-war sturmtruppen used a significant number of pistols.

    • randomswede

      That I should have remembered from your video on WWI melee combat/weapons.

      Is there any indication that the sturmtruppen had issues with their lugers or that they were better equipped/trained in maintaining their weapons despite trench conditions, as compared to a regular?

  • Alexandru Ianu

    They did a great job of dispelling a myth. As for the Pedersen, I don’t think that it will do very well, since the delay depends on the precise interaction of parts. The only Japanese toggle design that was reliable was the gas operated toggle lock, because it doesn’t need to be as precise as a toggle delayed action.

    Now they should do a torture test (continuous fire, dirt, mud, water) on the Chauchat to finally put the unwarranted US vitriol against this rifle to rest. It shouldn’t be destructive at all since those guns are built like tanks. Ian did a good job with the previous CRSG 1915 vid, and that rifle is fairly reliable in mud despite the unfortunate magazine window. That gun had a pretty good reputation with all armies that used it, including the US, but only after the war did the myths start based on the unissued 30-06 gun with the bad chamber dimensions. I’ve seen myths being spread and grown by people who have no idea what they’re talking about, but the amount of vitriol that I’ve seen in some older comments on the Chauchat is ridiculous, worse than political ranting and it’s only a US phenomenon.

    • Ian McCollum

      I would be interested in doing that, but unfortunately I don’t own a Chauchat. Perhaps some day…

  • Cal S.

    I guess some things get lost in the translation…

    …such as satirical sarcasm.

    • Tritro29

      … Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit, as it denotes clear taboos. But you can satirize your way out. I know you can do it. But for real, take a Xanax. Commies aren’t going to steal your Gunz! We’re too busy with Ukraine.

      • Cal S.

        Just because you didn’t get it the first time around…

        • Tritro29

          I didn’t get what? You’re doing it “too beaucoup”, “too beacoup” to be sarcasm. So yeah, Xanax and off to bed.

          • Cal S.

            Cool story, bro. Have fun in the Ukraine!

          • Tritro29

            Don’t forget to ramble on the AK, “bro”, it obviously helps your colon…

          • You really actually factually did not get it.

          • Tritro29

            Probably…if it wasn’t for the endless AK-shit hurr durr rants from him and the rest of the crew here. But hey…I confess, cranky as charged.

          • OK sorry, I don’t know the context. True, the original comment was pretty loaded as well.

  • derfelcadarn

    Dude, if its my gun I’ll do whatever I damn well please !

  • The_Champ

    I think you are confusing the general attributes of a design with the quality control of production. Are you suggesting that there was a lot of variation in the production of Lugers that lead to reliability issues?

    And really this isn’t what I’d call a reliability test. I would characterize it as a ‘mud resistance’ test.

  • Gorilla Biscuit

    Yes, but how far does a Skittle shoot skyward when placed perfectly upon the action when firing?

  • Geoff

    I like Ian and Karl’s testing of all sorts of guns in the mud, sand, etc. no complants here.

  • mazkact

    Love the mud test , keep them coming. You like closed up actions for mud ? Lets do one with a Snyder MKIII……nah ………..boring.

  • 2hotel9

    Nice, trolling the “mud test” haters AND giving I&K more exposure. You’re my hero(even if you are hungup on 5.56)!