The Pistole Parabellum aka: The Luger
Photo by author
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.
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?
Photo by Author
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
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.
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.
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.