Parabellum P08 'Luger' Handgun
|Country of Origin||Germany|
|Barrel Length||102 mm|
Contributor: C. Peter ChenThe Parabellum Pistole 08 (P08) recoil-operated semi-automatic pistols were originally designed by Georg Luger of Loewe & Company in the United States in 1898, which attributed to their popular nick name "Luger". The firm fought hard to secure a military contract, but the heavy price tags of these pistols made it difficult. Finally, in 1900, a contract from Switzerland was signed for the rights to manufacture them; the resulting models were designated Ordonnanzpistole 00 or OP00 pistols. The United States made a purchase for a batch of these pistols for trials, but ultimately chose to sign a contract with Loewe's competitor, Colt-Browning.
The design originally used 7.63-mm caliber ammunition, but 9-mm ammunition was later used to increase the lethality. The new design generated further interest. Since 1900, some German officers had already been purchasing these pistols privately, noting their quality, accuracy, and reliability. In 1904, they were officially chosen as the standard side arm of the German Navy, followed by the Army in 1908; the latter dictated the German designation P08. Since 1908, the vast majority of "Luger" pistols were used by Germans.
Parabellum P08 pistols were originally manufactured by Deutsche Waffen- und Munitionsfabriken (DWM), a subsidiary of Loewe, starting in 1900; the German state armory in Erfurt also produced them to supplement DWM's numbers.
During WW1, Parabellum P08 pistols were prized souvenirs among Allied soldiers.
After WW1, production for the most part ceased as the Versailles Treaty placed restrictions on the German armament industry. In 1925, production of the Parabellum P08 pistols resumed at Simson and Company. Owned by Jews, Simson was liquidated, and the machinery eventually made their way to the Mauser organization, which began manufacturing the pistols in 1930. Although the Walther P38 pistols had already been named the new standard sidearm of German officers since 1940, Parabellum P08 pistols remain in production until 1943.
In WW2, Parabellum P08 pistols continued to be favored souvenirs. Stories were sometimes told of soldiers risking their lives on the frontline in search of Parabellum P08 pistols on dead German officers.
In the late 1940s, Switzerland replaced Parabellum P08 pistols with a modern design, finally ending the military service of these pistols. Police forces in post-war Germany, however, continued to use them for some years to come.
Today, Parabellum P08 pistols are still highly sought after as collectibles.
Sources: The P08 "Luger" FAQ, Wikipedia.
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Captain Henry P. Jim Crowe, Guadalcanal, 13 Jan 1943