Testing a .45 ACP Luger Carbine

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The .45 ACP Luger created for the US pistol trials in the first decade of the 20th Century is one of the most infamously rare and desirable handguns of all time. Combining the excellent engineering and classic looks and ergonomics of the Luger with the American .45 ACP pistol round, the one original that survives of two that were made now commands prices well into the six- and seven-figure range.

German gunsmith Herbert Werlecreator of the famous “AK-47” Luger – has added another dimension to the .45 ACP Luger story, however, having created a .45 ACP Luger Carbine. Yes, you heard that right; watch the videos embedded below:

Werle’s .45 ACP Luger carbine uses an unusual grip-loading system instead of a detachable magazine; I can only speculate that this is the result of German gun law, but perhaps not. It is, regardless, a unique and interesting system for loading a semiautomatic handgun.

In the first video, the carbine has some minor reliability issues, but by the second video these seem to have mostly been resolved, with the exception of slightly weak ejection of the last cartridge case.

Werle only ever loads the .45 ACP Luger carbine with 4 rounds, which I suspect is the maximum capacity of the magazine, although I don’t know that for sure.



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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  • Cal.Bar

    Stuffing the rounds in the side of the grip is “a unique and interesting loading system”?? Sure for 1850! While I understand the system IF only to comply with some ridiculous law (like California will have soon not allowing detachable magazines with center fire rifles), but it is NOT particularly interesting. In fact, it is ludicrous since you can’t take the ammo out except by cycling the action which in the case of the feed jam is impossible.

    Not to even get started on the WHY? to this whole thing. Unless to stick it to “the man”. Then, of course, it makes perfect sense.

    • You sound like loads of fun at parties.

    • The integral magazine scheme eliminates the need to modify the frame to accept a larger detachable magazine. Nor does he need to fabricate a new detachable magazine.

      • Shocked_and_Amazed✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

        It also negates my desire to buy one

        • sundancer32

          haha, right. like you’d get the chance

          • Shocked_and_Amazed✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

            if you have the money you can make chance. but this is uninteresting as it is.

      • Edeco

        Yep, mags are simple in principle but getting them to work from scratch would be no picnic. I could see going with a fixed box being easier. Save some space.

    • iksnilol

      Eh, even good gunsmiths don’t want to bother with making mags for one specific gun and only it.

    • gusto

      people do it on lever actions still to this day so no problem IMO

  • So cool…

  • Gunsmith John Martz used to make cartridge conversions for Lugers and Walther P38. He would cut apart two separate frame and slide sets, biasing the cuts for each set. He’d reserve the larger pieces for longer cartridges like the .45 ACP and .38 Super. The remaining smaller pieces could then be repurposed for shorter cartridges like .380 ACP. In contrast to what is shown above, Martz’s conversions were still fed by conventional magazines.

    Werle’s integral magazine design is a bit of a throwback to Ken Wyatt and Elmer Imthurn’s .45 Luger conversions of the 1950s and ’60s. The difference was that their magazine design was loaded through the top of the action. Here’s their patent:

    https://www.google.com/patents/US3039366

    Wyatt’s .45 Luger was also featured on the cover of the December 1960 issue of Guns Magazine. You can read it here:

    http://www.gunsmagazine.com/1960issues/G1260.pdf

  • Shocked_and_Amazed✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

    If it was a true luger copy in 45 with detach mag, extra snell drum mag and it was reasonable priced for such a select firearm, I would be a buyer

    • randomswede

      More like schnell drum mags amirite? ; )

      • Shocked_and_Amazed✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

        Ja Wohl

    • Don Ward

      Define reasonable price.

      • Shocked_and_Amazed✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

        Don, it’s like the Judge said in the Prono trial. I’ll know it when I see it. I’d guess a min price would be 5

        • Don Ward

          Dang it, don’t give no five dollars!

          • Shocked_and_Amazed✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

            How about tree fiddy?

    • iksnilol

      You probably couldn’t afford it either way. So no worries there.

  • Southpaw89

    Sure makes for a nice looking little carbine, even with the funky loading system I would want one. Sadly lugers were expensive when mass produced, a small production run would likely be very costly, and well beyond my budget. But I can dream.

  • Schadavi

    The grip-loading system is a proof of concept. We don’t have any laws about magazine in Germany, except that hunting with a semi-auto holding more than 2+1 rounds is forbidden – but you are allowed to use that same gun with a larger magazine for training or target shooting.
    The Werle P08s are definitely worth their price. They are just as good as any other upper-class match gun.

  • Marc

    The grip loading has nothing to do with any law. Magazines are not regulated at all. As with many of Werle’s projects, he did it because he can.

  • Julio

    Why show it to the world on Youtube before he has the ejection issues ironed out? I for one can only fully appreciate a beautifully made firearm if it also works reliably. This one appears not to.

  • jay

    Beautiful piece. And in .45 acp as well. Can’t seem to finish firing all 4 rounds though. Can’t anyone find a pre or WWII version luger with a bad barrel and put a 16″ barrel on it? Then you should be able to put a stock on it…. Just saying. It is a beautiful firearm though….

    • Great_Baldung

      You’d then need to recalibrate the action.

      • jay

        ? I’m sure your point is salient to my comment. Adding a longer barrel would require recalibration, yes. But???

        • Great_Baldung

          I was just pointing out that simply sticking a 16″ barrel on a recoil-operated pistol designed to operate with a barrel way shorter than that. That’s all, really.

          • jay

            Once you translated your statement for my thick mind, I must say you are correct. But I also must say that it’s all part of the engineering and perfecting your product. So, it’s to be expected.

  • Great_Baldung

    Why the best stuff is stuff I can’t afford?