This all matching 42 coded Luger was manufactured by Mauser in 1939. This Luger is a toggle locked, recoil operated, semi-automatic pistol that is chambered in 9mm Parabellum. It utilizes an adjustable front blade sight and a fixed V notch rear sight that is located on the rear toggle link. It is fed by a single column 8 round detachable box magazine but it can also be fed by using a 32 round detachable drum.
The Luger or more correctly, Parabellum-Pistole, like the ammunition it uses has been given many names. It was originally named Parabellum-Pistole System Borchardt-Luger, but others include, Pistol Parabellum, P08, M08, Luger, the Swiss called theirs the Ordonnanzpistole 00, and dozens more. Then there are the sub-variations such as Black Widow, Artillery Luger, Krieghoff Luger, and on and on. For simplicity I will refer to them here as Luger. The same holds true with the ammunition that it uses. The Luger on this page was designed to be used with the 9mm Parabellum ammunition. This ammunition was developed by Georg Luger and as you may have guessed, he is responsible for the design of the Luger pistol. The 9mm Parabellum ammunition is also known as 9 x 19, 9mm, 9mm Luger and so on, but it is not the same round as the 9mm short, 9mm Makarov or 9mm largo for example. When I mention 9mm on this page I am strictly referring to the 9mm Parabellum ammunition that is used in this Luger and which is still in wide use today. The Luger pistol has been manufactured to accept many different rounds, from 9mm to .45ACP and I even have an Erma Luger in the collection that is chambered to accept the .22 long rifle ammunition.
When one thinks of a semi-automatic pistol they will probably think of a pistol that uses a slide action as seen on the Colt 1911 design. The Luger does not use this design but rather it uses a unique toggle-lock action, which utilizes a jointed rocker arm. The barrel and toggle assembly is locked together when a round is fired and then travel rearward due to the force of the recoil. After this reward motion has traveled about a half an inch the toggle strikes a cam that is built into the pistol frame causing the knee joint to hinge and the toggle and breech assembly to unlock. At this point the barrel strikes the frame which stops its movement but the toggle and breech assembly continue moving, bending upward at the knee joint and extracting the spent casing from the chamber and ejecting it. The toggle and breech assembly then change direction and start to travel forward under spring tension and the next round from the magazine is loaded into the chamber. This toggle and breech assembly can be seen in the next two pictures below. While this might sound like a complicated and timely process, the entire sequence occurs in just a fraction of a second. The Luger is also is the only pistol that used an anti-bounce lock which is provided so that the rapidly moving bolt does not bounce back from the breech face on closing and before the mechanical locking system can take affect. This system is common on light machine guns using a reciprocating bolt. Later, this feature was omitted because obviously, once the breech has closed in a toggle joint design, the over-center mechanical lock has taken place and bounce cannot occur even with the relatively strong return springs.
Some interesting history about the Luger pistol is that it was actually considered for the standard service pistol for the U.S. armed forces at one point. Keep in mind that this was before either of the world wars. In the very late 1800's the United States military was in the market for a semi-automatic pistol. The United States evaluated the Colt M1900, Steyr Mannlicher M1894, and an entry from Mauser. Even George Luger demonstrated the Borchardt pistol to the U.S. in 1894. In 1900 the U.S. government purchased 1000 Lugers chambered in the 7.65 mm(.30 Luger) cartridge for field trials. Then a short while later, a small number of Lugers were sampled in the then new and more powerful 9mm round. Around this time, field experience in the Philippines with the .38 caliber revolvers and ballistic tests revealed that a still larger and more powerful round was required.
In 1906, the US Army held trials for a large caliber semi-automatic pistol. The Deutsche Waffen und Munitions Fabriken(DWM) company provided two Lugers chambered in .45 ACP for testing. After initial trials, DWM, Savage, and Colt were asked to provide further examples for evaluation. The DWM company withdrew for reasons that are still debated today even though the U.S. Army had placed an order for 200 more Lugers. As they say, the rest is history and the U.S. military eventually settled for the Colt 1911 design after a very impressive showing by that company.
The Luger was the standard sidearm for the German army(Heer) personnel in both world wars, but it was replaced in 1940 by the P-38. The German military accepted the P38 design in 1938 but actual test pistols were not produced until some time in late 1939. Beginning in the 1940's, Walter started production of the P38 for the German army. One of the main reasons for this change is that Germany needed a sidearm that could be mass produced quickly. The Luger pistol required hand fitting for many of its parts which is an expensive and very time consuming process. It is because of this precise machining and accurate fitting of the various components as well as first class material and hardening of the components that made the Luger pistol one of the very few designs in the handgun world that was never pirated.
The Luger was prized by Allied soldiers during both of the World Wars. During WWI any semi-automatic weapon was sought after by the revolver armed soldiers of the Allies as a useful addition to their trench fighting armory and the Luger was the best of those available. Today, the Luger is highly sought after by collectors both for its sleek design, superlative accuracy, great durability and of course its history.