Designed in 1898, its first operator was the Swiss Army in 1900

The history of the Luger, the most famous pistol of World War II

Undoubtedly, of all the short arms used in World War II, the most famous is the German Parabellum-Pistole, better known as the Luger.

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The nickname of this pistol is due to the Austrian Georg Luger, who was the designer of this pistol in 1898 for the German arms company Deutsche Waffen und Munitions (DWM). Although Germany was the country that made this weapon famous, its first user was the Swiss Army, which tested it in 1899, adopting it in 1900 and using it until 1949. In Germany, the pistol would be adopted in 1904 by the Imperial Navy, after exchanging its initial 7.65×21mm cartridge for the 9×19mm Parabellum, which is currently one of the most popular calibers for pistols and the standard NATO caliber for handguns.

A Luger P.08 manufactured in 1915, during the First World War (Photo: The Tank Museum).

The German Army ended up adopting the Luger in 1908, but choosing a shorter model than the Imperial Navy: the P.08, with a 100mm gun. Although the Mauser C96 is often popularly identified as the quintessential German pistol of World War I, 137,000 C96s and more than 2 million Lugers were used during that war.

A German general taking aim with a Luger P.08.

Germany continued to use the Luger during the interwar period and in World War II, but due to its high cost and complexity, the Walther P38 was designed, of which around a million copies were made before the end of the war. The Luger became a prized war trophy for many Allied soldiers, and continued to be used by various armies in the post-war.

The always interesting Spanish YouTube channel Tropa Guripa has today published a video in which it explains the characteristics and history of the Luger, showing as a reference a replica made by the Spanish company Denix (the video is in Spanish, but has English and French subtitles):


Main image: Puneet Khandelwal.

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