If there is one handgun that everyone knows on sight, it is the Luger P-08 (aka “Pistole Parabellum“). It definitely has the ergonomics and angled grip everyone wants in a true target pistol, and was the basis for Bill Ruger’s first .22 Auto.
Originally designed in 7.65mm or .30 Luger, a bottlenecked cartridge that feeds extremely well, it was later adopted for Georg Luger’s 9mm cartridge which has gone on to become the preeminent civilian and military round worldwide.
About 117 years ago, good old Georg Luger came up with his design as an improvement over the Borchardt pistol, which used a toggle action found on Maxim’s first machine gun. Ironically both the Maxim gun and the Luger made their bones in the First World War.
Deutsche Waffen und Munitionsfabriken (DWM) built the first Luger pistols and the Swiss military adopted the design in 1901. It was picked up by the German Army in 1908, hence the “P-08” designation. A number of countries fell in love with it and it was considered a serious contender for the US military pistol trials on three occassions, leading to at least ten prototypes being chambered in .45 ACP.
In 1930 Mauser of Oberndorf, Germany, bought out DWM. For twelve years Lugers were produced, until the design was superseded by the Walther P-38. After World War II Mauser made a few commercial runs of the Luger in the 1970’s, with the last batch made in 1997.
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