The First World War

1908 – 1918

The most famous German pistol is the "Pistole 08" or "Parabellum", commonly known as "Luger".  Beside the American Colt Peacemaker and the Modell 1911 in the .45 caliber this is one of the most fascinating and well known handguns. This pistol served in two world wars as a true companion of the German soldier in countless battles.  The Luger was one of the most desired war trophies of the allied soldiers and is still today one of the most sought after weapons in the collector community.  This pistol attained literally fame. In his book "Stahlgewitter" the pour le Mérite holder Ernst Juenger, who served during the Great War in a Hannoveranian assault unit as officer, mentioned the use of this weapon in hand to hand combat in a dramatically way.

Photo courtesy by Bob Adams,

Georg Luger, who was born in 1849, started his career as a bank clerk. After his military service he moved to Berlin in 1893. He worked there for the gun factory Ludwig Loewe & Co. as a salesman and gun constructor. 

In 1897 he started to work for DWM, the Deutsche Waffen und Munitionsfabrik. One of his orders there was to improve the Borchardt pistol with the toggle lock design.

Luger retained the toggle lock design of the Borchardt but made the pistol more compact and therefore much more useful for military purposes.  From this point of view the name "Luger" for the basically improved pistol is correct.   

The Luger was a success from the beginning. In 1900, by the time serial production had started, this pistol was already successfully placed in the market. In 1900 Switzerland decided for the Luger as official military sidearm. Even in the USA , a country with an advanced weapon industry, the Luger had been sold. A modell 1900 and 1906 existed which had the American seal on the chamber.

Photo courtesy by Balzer collection

After the German navy introduced the Luger as official weapon in 1904, the German "Reichsheer" ordered 50000 pistols as a start in 1908. This is the reason why this pistol was named "Pistole (19)08" in Germany .

The weapon is now a jewel, aesthetically, mechanically, and refinement, added to the fabrication by the craftsmen of DWM makes this a piece of art.

DWM will produce 908.275 units from 1909 to 1918, and the Erfurt Royal Arsenal 663.000 units. The two factories will produce in association the ultimate weapon dedicated to special troops: The “LANGE PISTOLE” with a 200 mm barrel.

Lately after the introduction in the German Heer this pistol was in use by the members of the Corps also. A source tells us that von Brandenstein had carried a "Pistole" when he presented the new Corps uniform in front of his Kaiser on Jan. 6th 1905. This could be an early hint of a Luger in the Corps. It is presumed that such an important member of the DFAC had not carried the heavy 9mm Luger pistol. He had possibly preferred to the more elegant Luger in cal. .30 (7,65mm). 

The following wartime regulation ordered a "Parabellum" pistol for the members of the Kaiserliche Kraftfahr Korps.


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