ok dudes

last time we talked about the mauser c96

one of the earliest viable semiautos

and we heard about how it was popular in china but not really picked up at home in germany

today were going to hear why

were going to learn about its bitter rival

this is the luger pistol

im just gonna say some words

historic iconic groundbreaking influential

its an important pistol and theres a reason it beat the c96

lets see what it is

ok so its the beginning of the 1890s

smokeless powder has literally just been invented

theyre putting it into selfcontained metallic cases

and everybody is experimenting with the idea of making a pistol that loads itself

and at the forefront is austria

there were a lot of inventors all clustered in vienna trying to get some working autoloaders designed

and the first one important to our story was a guy named hugo borchardt

he was a guy from europe with good engineering and managerial abilities who had traveled around europe and america

he immigrated to the us just before the civil war

and worked for colt winchester and sharps

among others

then he moved back to europe to find better opportunity in that austrian furball that was happening

he made a design that took the toggling knee joint system found in winchester rifles

put that on a sliding part that recoiled backward when the gun fired

and boom it automatically cocks the weapon for you

then added a fancy thing called a box magazine

this was a new thing thatd just been invented by a guy named james paris lee

who went on to stick his magazine into the lee-metford and lee-enfield rifles

and he just happened to have been working at the sharps company when borchardt was there

and borchardt took that idea and made some nice improvements which was pretty sweet

stick that baby in the grip

we take that for granted today but this was the first pistol to have a box magazine in the grip

but then again normally on a revolver thats where the mainspring goes so maybe thats why borchardt moved it into that giant lump behind the hand

but in any event through his varied experience borchardt was able to put all these different elements together into what was potentially the best attempt yet at a semiauto pistol

and when he got back to europe he hooked up the ludwig loewe company to help him manufacture it for the austrian trials

now the loewe company was one of the biggest firearms companies in europe

so this was going to be awesome

they sent the pistols to the trials with a guy named georg luger

and the military tried them out

now one thing the borchardt was good at was being a semiauto carbine

because obvious it had a detachable stock like everything did at that time

and the carbine stock mitigated the effect of the lump behind your hand

except austria wasnt looking for a carbine they were looking for a pistol

and the borchardt was kinda clunky as a pistol

very long and it had that giant bulge on the back where a coiled flatspring powered the action

but then again it had a good powerful round in the 7.63 borchardt

which was incidentally also designed by that georg luger guy lol

but anyway were left with a gun that has a lot of potential

but definintely needs some things fixed

and the loewe company marketed it around to all the big militaries

and even small militaries like america lol

but the final straw was the swiss trials

loewe took all the criticisms they had been receiving and went to borchardt and said


we are going to make so much money with this pistol of yours

you just have to address these complaints everybody keeps having

and then were set

except they werent set

because borchardts response was like

oh gee thats an interesting concept you have except its impossible to improve on perfection soooooooo

and then he promptly fucked off to go get involved in the electricity vs gas wars that were heating up

lol in home heating jokes

and guys lest you think i am exaggerating

because i do literally in every post

here is the quote

dass die Pistole, so wie sie ist, bleiben musse, weil eine zweckdienliche Aenderun ganz unmoglich sei

which translates verbatim to what i just said so there

but yeah now what is loewe gonna do

and i say loewe because they actually own the design at this point

so they basically let borcharddt fuck off and go to that guy luger

theyre like bro

you designed the cartridge really well

you are intimately famililar with how its performing in the trials

we need you to fix all these issues theyre having and make this into something we can sell a zillion of

so luger is like no problem dude

first thing he does is get rid of that dumb bulbous lump behind the grip

the reason that is there on the borchardt is because there is a wound up flat clockspring type thing in there that takes the recoil

well luger swapped it for a pair of s shaped springs that went down the grip

boom already looking better

he changed the grip angle obviously

and this got marketed as the borcharddt-luger

and it did much better in trials

the swiss liked it and said theyd adopt it with just a few little tweaks here and there

and so we have the model 1900 luger

notice the grip safety and dished out toggle nubbins

between 1900 and 1906 they made a couple more little changes

and so we have the model 1906 luger

now with flattened checkered nubbins

and so finally we have the german trials

the big boys

germany said please ditch that safety and add a slot for a pistol stock

you know how we love that shit

and although your 7.63 borchardt is a decently powerful cartridge

we need even more power

make it 9mm

and so the 7.63 parabellum was ditched in favor of the 9mm parabellum

also developed by georg luger

he also swapped the flat mainspring for a stronger and more durable coiled spring

and germany adopted his pistol and cartridge and called it the p08


hundreds of thousands got made

and basically the gun was done with its development

it didnt go through a bunch of different changes to make it work

luger pretty much nailed it from the beginning

but thats not to say there were no variants

so lets talk about a couple cool ones

first thing you can do is add barrel length

in fact you can really add barrel length

the german navy wanted a longer barrel and an adjustable sight

goes out to 200 m lol

well the army did better for the artillery corps

even longer barrel

and a sight that goes out to 700 m hahaha

so i guess the army wins that round

and the other thing the germans did is discover new tactics they could do with the luger

so i mentioned before how the borchardt was a decent carbine

nobody wanted that in 1900

but by 1915 the trench warfare of wwi was making people rethink a lot of things

and germany had started an experimental pioneer unit that would sneak in and mow down dudes in the opposing trenches

and they ended up finding that the semiauto pistol was pretty good as a carbine in this use

and things got way better when they added something called a trommel magazine

32 rounds of 9mm baby

now you can clear out a trench

so the germans lost the war but kept the luger

oh well

so you might wonder hey what was borchardts reaction to getting totally passed by and shown up by luger

well he hated it and went around crying and writing angry letters about how he deserves all the credit

except nobody cared so he lost out and died in 1924

meanwhile germany kept using the luger

and used it through wwii as well

and it was used in switzerland through the late 1960s

thats a long time in service lol

in the end like 3 million were made

and there are a zillion variants took

i try to keep these articles under 10k characters

but you can write thousands of pages

just look at this book set

but you dont have to know that level of detail to understand why the luger got so popular

the c96 may have been the first successful semiauto pistol

but at the same time

you could say the luger was the first modern pistol

pew pew


quality stuff clammy as always (oh and the gun too)


ty sir

a quality gun makes it easy to write quality articles about


Oh shit. I thought we both forgot and were letting it slide. But here we are with the luger. Hell yeah.

Great post. Top tier level with this one. I know people who aren’t into guns but they still want a luger.

I wonder how the reliability was with that drum/trommel mag.

These guys are making new lugers which is cool but really expensive. I think I would still prefer an old one with some history though.


well i had it ready but ive had a weird week where i was flying til 2am then sleeping til 10am lol

as far as i know the snail mags worked well

they were an adaptation of a design for the same thing on a rifle

and the magazines went on to be used on the mp18 submachine gun

so theyre probably kickass

i get what you mean about historical weapons

thats one of the awesome things about guns

a piece of such important history and you can pull it out whenever you want and hold it in your hands

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