The Parabellum-Pistole (meaning "Pistol Parabellum"), popularly known as the Luger pistol, is a semi-automatic, self-loading pistol patented by Georg Luger in 1898 and manufactured by Deutsche Waffen und Munitionsfabriken (DWM) starting in 1901 and ending in 1942. It was a popular military and civilian handgun of the first half of the 20th century. The basic design and its variants are also known under a variety of civilian and military designations (e.g. Ordonnanzpistole 01, and P08).


The Parabellum-Pistole was developed by Georg Luger in Germany in 1898. The Parabellum name comes from the ancient Latin saying "Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum", which translates to "If you want Peace, prepare for war". The Luger's design is based on an earlier Hugo Borchardt idea, but Luger re-designed Borchardt's toggle-locking system into much smaller package. Most pre-WWII Parabellums were developed by the DWM company in Germany, with some being manufactured under license in other countries. During WWII, many companies, such as Waffenfabrik Mauser among others, had also produced Lugers. Several o


Shooting the Luger P08 9mm pistol

ther countries have also manufactured their own different variants of the Luger pistol.

The first country to adopt Lugers was Switzerland; the Model 1900 was adopted, chambered in 7.65mm Parabellum round. In 1902, by request of the German Navy, the DWM, along with Luger, developed a new round, 9×19mm Parabellum, by re-necking the case of the 7.65mm Luger round. The Luger Model 1904, in 9mm, was adopted by German Navy, followed by the German Army (Reichswehr) in 1908. Since then, Lugers were adopted by many countries and served until probably the 1950s or so, the Luger then began to replace the old M1879 Reichsrevolvers.

When America was looking for an automatic pistol for service in the U.S. Army, Georg Luger was one of the many gun designers to offer the Americans an automatic pistol. Georg faced some stiff competition from other manufacturers. Georg made two Lugers, both chambered in .45 ACP, for the test at the Springfield armories in America. 1,022 rounds were fired from the Luger pistol during the evaluation (Serial number 1; Serial number 2 survives and is one of the "Million dollar " pistols); the Luger suffered a few malfunctions. The test board declared the Parabellum the winner, however DMW refused to set up a production line in .45 ACP and the U.S. had rejected the 9×19mm cartridge (ref. Thompson-Lagarde Board). The U.S. then chose the Colt automatic pistol over the Parabellum.

During the course of WWI, the Luger became a popular souvenir for Allied troops; thousands were taken home by soldiers from Britain and America.

The Luger did not see much use in World War II; it was expensive to produce due to its complicated design. The Luger was replaced by the Walther P38, a more modern pistol which was cheaper, in the German Army at the start of WWII. The P38 used less steel, decreasing its manufacturing cost. The Luger was still used by many German troops during this time, however.

In the late 1940s, the Swiss dropped the Luger as its main pistol.

Replicas of the Luger pistol are still produced today. It has been popularized through its use by Germany during World War I and World War II, though it was also used by many other countries. It is notable in firearms history for being the pistol for which the 9mm Parabellum cartridge was originally developed, though the Luger pistol was first introduced with the 7.65mm Parabellum cartridge and has also been chambered for other cartridges, including the .45 ACP

Design details

The Luger pistol is a semi-automatic toggle lock pistol based on principles by Hiram Maxim that is fed by a removable magazine, and that operates on the short-recoil principle. Designed by Georg Luger, it was an evolution of the earlier Hugo Borchardt design, the Borchardt C93 (introduced in 1898).

All Parabellums are recoil-operated, locked breech, semi-automatic, striker fired handguns. All Lugers feature a toggle locking system, consisting of two tilting-up bars and short moving barrel. Some early Lugers featured automatic grip safety at the rear side of the grip. All Lugers also featured frame-mounted manual safety at the left side of the gun. Lugers were manufactured with different barrel lengths - standard German army Pistole 08 (Luger M1908) had 102mm barrels; Navy models featured 152mm (6 in) barrels, and Artillery models featured 203mm (8 in) barrels. Commercial models were manufactured with barrels ranging from 98mm up to 350mm (14 in), some in 'carbine' versions, with additional forward handguard and detachable buttstock.

All Lugers were very ergonomic and accurate pistols, especially for the period those were developed in. However, all Lugers were too sensitive to fouling and to loose manufacturing tolerances, as well as being too expensive when compared to more modern designs, such as the Browning Hi-Power or the Walther P38.


  • Nachtpistole (meaning "Night Pistol") - A rare variation of the Luger used exclusively by Adolf Hitler's Leibstandarte-SS security detail with a small, battery-powered underbarrel flashlight. Chambered in 7.65mm Parabellum.[1]
  • Lange Pistole 08 (LP 08) - Also known as the "Artillery Luger" and approved by the Kaiser on July 2nd, 1913, the LP 08 is a variant of the P08 with a 200mm (7.9") barrel, an 8-position tangent rear sight calibrated to 800 meters, and a board-type shoulder stock with an attached leather holster. In the event of close combat, it is intended to be used as a carbine with the shoulder stock attached to a lug mounted on the heel of the frame. When it is set for long range usage, the rear sight moves to the left to compensate for spin drift. Although intended initially for use by German artillery units that could not be encumbered by the K.98 rifle, the weapon was also used by aviation units (prior to the equipping of machine guns on aircraft), as well as by the infantry. The famed Stormtrooper units frequently used the LP 08 equipped with the high-capacity Trommelmagazin (or 'snail' magazine), which holds 32 rounds of ammunition. Production ended in 1918, at the end of WWI, and by that time, German troops were beginning to use the newly-developed Bergmann MP18 submachine gun for their stormtroop assault companies. But, by that time, enough LP 08 barrels had been produced and stockpiled to fulfill LP 08 export orders into the 1930s. Carbine versions of the weapon with longer barrels were produced commercially. In the early 1920s, production of the LP 08 resumed, with barrels up to 600mm (24 inches) in length.



Tales of the Gun - Episode 22 Luger (History Documentary)



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