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Luger P-08 9mm Pistol

Widely known as the "Luger" or "Parabellum", the semiautomatic, recoil-operated Pistole P-08 was based on an 1893 design by American Hugo Borchardt. George Luger adapted Borchardt's original design and considerably refined it in 1900. The resulting improved pistol was accepted into military service in 1908, and remained the standard service pistol of the German Army until the 1938 introduction of the Walther P-38. The Pistole P-08 was a powerful and accurate weapon, although costly to manufacture.

Luger (Parabellum) 9MM P-08 Automatic Pistol
Luger (Parabellum) 9MM P-08 Automatic Pistol.

The P-08 Luger fires the 9mm Luger/Parabellum (9x19mm) round, one of the world's most popular cartridges for pistol and submachine gun use, including the U.S. military M9 Beretta 9mm Pistol. The Olive-Drab.com page linked here describes the 9mm Parabellum cartridge.

Today in WW II: 23 Nov 1940 Ford delivered the Pygmy prototype jeep to the US Army.  More 
23 Nov 1942 SS Ben Lomond sunk by German U-boat off the coast of Brazil.
23 Nov 1943 Deutsche Opernhaus, Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, and many other buildings destroyed by a 764 aircraft RAF bombing raid on Berlin [22-23 Nov].
23 Nov 1944 Strasbourg, in eastern France, liberated by French General LeClerc's 2nd Armored Division. Eisenhower orders controversial halt at the Rhine by US Sixth Army Group.
Visit the Olive-Drab.com World War II Timeline for day-by-day events 1939-1945! See also WW2 Books.

Luger P-08 9MM Pistol

The Luger is obsolete today, but still quite attractive to collectors. Its sleek design and its infamous connection to Nazi Germany have been factors in its continued popularity. Thousands of Lugers were brought to the US as souveneirs by American GIs after WW II, and many are still in circulation.

World War II Bill Mauldin cartoon from Stars & Stripes.  Original caption:  Luger, $100 ... camera, $150 ... Iron Cross, $12 ... it is good to be captured by Americans.   Image © Stars and Stripes
World War II Bill Mauldin cartoon from Stars & Stripes. Original caption: "Luger, $100 ... camera, $150 ... Iron Cross, $12 ... it is good to be captured by Americans." Image © Stars and Stripes.

Luger and P-38 pistols are often confused with one another, as both were developed and manufactured to be used by the German army during WW I and WW II. Several million pistols were produced by many different makers, in different arsenals, in Germany, Switzerland and England. In addition, multitudes of commercial versions were manufactured before and after both wars.

Luger P-08 9MM Pistol Markings

The vast majority of the pistols were stamped with a four-digit serial number. This number cycle was repeated monthly by the various arsenals, thus making it possible to have between 250 and 300 pistols bearing the same serial number. Distinguishing factors making the identification of each pistol unique are the alpha letter appearing beneath or following the serial number; the year of manufacture; and the individual arsenal/code markings on each pistol. The serial number, always stamped on the frame, may also appear on the receiver and barrel. If the serial numbers don't match, this indicates the pistol was assembled from parts of several pistols. The last two digits of the original serial number may appear in several places on the gun as a parts number. Sometimes the same serial number will be stamped in multiple places on the gun, but will only include the letter suffix below the barrel, ahead of the trigger guard.

The following chart shows the individual arsenal/code markings and lettering used by the various manufacturers. These markings apply to Lugers as well as P-38 Pistols

acCarl Walther
byfMauser Werke
S/42Mauser Werke
SVW/45Mauser Werke
42Simson & Co. (1920-1936)
42Mauser & Werke (1937-1940)
DWMDeutsche Waffen und Munitionsfabrik
ERFURTMade at government arsenal at Erfurt,Germany prior to 1930

Find More Information on the Internet

There are many fine websites that have additional information on this topic, too many to list here and too many to keep up with as they come and go. Use this Google web search form to get an up to date report of what's out there.

For good results, try entering this: luger p08. Then click the Search button.

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