The Pistole Parabellum aka: The Luger

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The pistol commonly known as the "Luger" was one of the earliest practical semiautomatic handguns produced. Georg Luger was sent to the United States in 1894 to demonstrate the newly-developed Borchardt pistol the the US military. The US military rejected the design and made some suggestions or observations as to how it could be improved. This gave Herr Luger ideas. First he shortened the Borchardt's 7.63x25 mm. cartridge to create what came to be known as the .30 Luger cartridge (at least here in America). He then redesigned the recoil spring system that the Borchardt used to make a much more "user-friendly" handgun. He called it the "Pistol Parabellum" (pistol for war) as an obvious attempt to lure military contracts and that is still the official name of this firearm except when accepted into military service. By 1900 the Swiss had adopted his pistol as their official military sidearm. The German Navy (the "Kriegsmarine") adopted it in 1906. The German army wanted a more powerful cartridge than the .30 Luger, so Herr Luger straightened out the bottleneck of the cartridge case, trimmed it to 19mm. in length and seated a 9mm. diameter bullet. This satisfied the German army and the pistol was adopted as the "Pistole-08" in 1908.

Tech Stuff

The Luger pistol is unique among modern pistol designs in that it ises a toggle link system of locking the breech when the gun is fired. Other famous firearms to use this system are the Winchester model 1873 and variants, and the Maxim machine gun. The barrel is fixed to an extension that fits closely into the frame of the pistol and it can only move directly fore and aft when being fired. This system enhancet the accuracy potential of the Luger as compared to the Browning tilting-barrel system. The Luger's sights are firmly attached to the actual barrel and frame rather than being attached to a separate slide. In practice this is not very significant. The grip angle of the Luger is such that most people feel it "points" very easily and naturally.
    The Luger is a masterpiece of fine machine work -- perhaps too much so. The tolerances that make it so very accurate also make it very inhospitable to dirt and dust. The design does keep most gunk out of the pistol, but you can never keep it all out. It also has a reputation of not being very reliable when used with less than full-power ammunition. I have not seen this particular behaviour from my own 1970s-era Parabellum made by Mauser-Werke. My pistol has the 150 mm. (6") barrel rather than the more common 100 mm. (4") barrel. My Luger seems to fire just about any 9mm ammunition and ask for more. The intricate machining required to make Lugers has always made the idea of making new ones prohibitively expensive. I wonder how modern CNC machining has impacted that bit of data?

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Calibre --------------------------------- 9mm Parabellum (aka: 9x19, 9mm Luger)
                                                  .30 Luger (aka: 7.65 Luger)
Barrel length -------------------------100 mm, 150 mm, 200 mm (4", 6", 8")
Overall length ----------------------- 222 mm (8.74") -- with 100 mm barrel.
Weight -------------------------------- 871 grams (31 oz.)
Standard magazine capacity --- 8 rounds

Shooting Impressions

Many knowledgeable writers have claimed that the Luger is underpowered, unreliable, and not ergonomic. I beg to differ. In my own experience -- admittedly with only one example of the type -- the Luger feels pretty good in the hand, though the safety location is far from ideal. Even with the small standard sights it is a very easy pistol to shoot accurately. Mine has never failed to function -- even with old reloads that were known to be on the light side. And no, I am not going to subject mine to Vietnamese Jungle muck and mud nor to Afghan sandstorms to test its reliability under those situations. Suffice it to say that this pistol has served various military forces for over 100 years. As for the power factor, I feel that the 9mm Parabellum cartridge is suitable for personal defense, but just barely if decent hollow-point ammunition is used. Yes, my Mauser Parabellum feeds JHP ammo quite nicely, thank you. Old worn-out  Lugers from former wars may not do so well, but you could say that about any firearm.

I have seen good accuracy from my Luger, within the limitations of old eyes and small open sights. I shot an action pistol match with it and the only downside was the magazine capacity.

In Conclusion
Summing up, the Luger pistol is a classic design that is still viable, though there are better choices available for most uses. It is a great deal of fun to shoot. And you will always have that "dangerous" look when shooting a Luger, thanks to countless movies.