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This all matching 42 coded Luger was manufactured by Mauser in 1939. This Luger is a toggle locked, recoil operated, semi-automatic pistol that is chambered in 9mm Parabellum. It utilizes an adjustable front blade sight and a fixed V notch rear sight that is located on the rear toggle link. It is fed by a single column 8 round detachable box magazine but it can also be fed by using a 32 round detachable drum.

The Luger or more correctly, Parabellum-Pistole, like the ammunition it uses has been given many names. It was originally named Parabellum-Pistole System Borchardt-Luger, but others include, Pistol Parabellum, P08, M08, Luger, the Swiss called theirs the Ordonnanzpistole 00, and dozens more. Then there are the sub-variations such as Black Widow, Artillery Luger, Krieghoff Luger, and on and on. For simplicity I will refer to them here as Luger. The same holds true with the ammunition that it uses. The Luger on this page was designed to be used with the 9mm Parabellum ammunition. This ammunition was developed by Georg Luger and as you may have guessed, he is responsible for the design of the Luger pistol. The 9mm Parabellum ammunition is also known as 9 x 19, 9mm, 9mm Luger and so on, but it is not the same round as the 9mm short, 9mm Makarov or 9mm largo for example. When I mention 9mm on this page I am strictly referring to the 9mm Parabellum ammunition that is used in this Luger and which is still in wide use today. The Luger pistol has been manufactured to accept many different rounds, from 9mm to .45ACP and I even have an Erma Luger in the collection that is chambered to accept the .22 long rifle ammunition.

When one thinks of a semi-automatic pistol they will probably think of a pistol that uses a slide action as seen on the Colt 1911 design. The Luger does not use this design but rather it uses a unique toggle-lock action, which utilizes a jointed rocker arm. The barrel and toggle assembly is locked together when a round is fired and then travel rearward due to the force of the recoil. After this reward motion has traveled about a half an inch the toggle strikes a cam that is built into the pistol frame causing the knee joint to hinge and the toggle and breech assembly to unlock. At this point the barrel strikes the frame which stops its movement but the toggle and breech assembly continue moving, bending upward at the knee joint and extracting the spent casing from the chamber and ejecting it. The toggle and breech assembly then change direction and start to travel forward under spring tension and the next round from the magazine is loaded into the chamber. This toggle and breech assembly can be seen in the next two pictures below. While this might sound like a complicated and timely process, the entire sequence occurs in just a fraction of a second. The Luger is also is the only pistol that used an anti-bounce lock which is provided so that the rapidly moving bolt does not bounce back from the breech face on closing and before the mechanical locking system can take affect. This system is common on light machine guns using a reciprocating bolt. Later, this feature was omitted because obviously, once the breech has closed in a toggle joint design, the over-center mechanical lock has taken place and bounce cannot occur even with the relatively strong return springs.

Some interesting history about the Luger pistol is that it was actually considered for the standard service pistol for the U.S. armed forces at one point. Keep in mind that this was before either of the world wars. In the very late 1800's the United States military was in the market for a semi-automatic pistol. The United States evaluated the Colt M1900, Steyr Mannlicher M1894, and an entry from Mauser. Even George Luger demonstrated the Borchardt pistol to the U.S. in 1894. In 1900 the U.S. government purchased 1000 Lugers chambered in the 7.65 mm(.30 Luger) cartridge for field trials. Then a short while later, a small number of Lugers were sampled in the then new and more powerful 9mm round. Around this time, field experience in the Philippines with the .38 caliber revolvers and ballistic tests revealed that a still larger and more powerful round was required.

In 1906, the US Army held trials for a large caliber semi-automatic pistol. The Deutsche Waffen und Munitions Fabriken(DWM) company provided two Lugers chambered in .45 ACP for testing. After initial trials, DWM, Savage, and Colt were asked to provide further examples for evaluation. The DWM company withdrew for reasons that are still debated today even though the U.S. Army had placed an order for 200 more Lugers. As they say, the rest is history and the U.S. military eventually settled for the Colt 1911 design after a very impressive showing by that company.

The Luger was the standard sidearm for the German army(Heer) personnel in both world wars, but it was replaced in 1940 by the P-38. The German military accepted the P38 design in 1938 but actual test pistols were not produced until some time in late 1939. Beginning in the 1940's, Walter started production of the P38 for the German army. One of the main reasons for this change is that Germany needed a sidearm that could be mass produced quickly. The Luger pistol required hand fitting for many of its parts which is an expensive and very time consuming process. It is because of this precise machining and accurate fitting of the various components as well as first class material and hardening of the components that made the Luger pistol one of the very few designs in the handgun world that was never pirated.

The Luger was prized by Allied soldiers during both of the World Wars. During WWI any semi-automatic weapon was sought after by the revolver armed soldiers of the Allies as a useful addition to their trench fighting armory and the Luger was the best of those available. Today, the Luger is highly sought after by collectors both for its sleek design, superlative accuracy, great durability and of course its history.  

This 1939 dated Luger has the manufacturers code of 42 which tells us that it was made by Mauser. As can be seen in the picture on the left, the date of 1939 is stamped above the chamber and the 42 code is stamped on the front toggle link. The 42 code was only applied to Lugers made by Mauser in the year of 1939 and 1940. It is thought that there were over 50,000 of these Lugers manufactured. There are other 42 coded Lugers such as S/42 or S/42G and S/42K that were produced with each having its own production totals and date ranges. For example, the S42K was produced in 1934 with a total of around 10500 while the S/42 code was produced between the years of 1936 and 1940 with many thousands being produced except for the year of 1938. It is unknown as to why this new manufacturers code was assigned to Mauser when other versions of the 42 code were already in place.

By now you might be wondering why the Germans used these codes instead of just using the manufactures name. Was 42 the 42nd Mauser plant to start operations? Actually, by using a code to identify the manufacturer, the Allies could not tell what affect their bombing and other missions were having in stopping the production of arms. For example, if a train load of fresh new Walter stamped P38's was captured, the Allies knew right away that the Walter plant was still able to produce P38's. But if a train load of 42 stamped Lugers were captured, then it was no telling where and which plant had produced them. Where do we attack to stop this production? Did that last bombing run hit a mock factory? Where is this 42 factory located anyways? While this code system did not always work in fooling the other side, when you are in a war, every little bit helps, especially if it causes the other side to expend more resources.

The picture on the left shows us 4 proof marks or Waffenamt(weapons office) stamps. There are two stick wing eagle proof marks with the number 63 underneath and two eagle swastika proof marks. The forth eagle proof mark is hard to see in the picture and is about an inch to the right of the first grouping and located on the barrel. The purpose of these Waffenamt stamps was to prove that each firearm and its components met the quality standards set forth by the Heereswaffenamt or Army Weapons Office. In order to carry this out, inspectors were assigned to individual firms for large corporations or to a specific area if there were several smaller manufacturers. These inspectors and their Waffenamt or WaA for short were responsible to the Heereswaffenamt rather than the manufacturer to which they were assigned. Each weapons office can be correctly identified by the individual acceptance stamp they used. The Waffenamt or Weapons Office inspectors stamp with the number 63 underneath correctly identifies the army weapon inspectors of this pistol as being assigned to Mauser Werke.

The picture on the right is of the thumb safety lever. The thumb safety area of Luger pistols is marked on the frame to indicate the position of the thumb safety lever. Nearly all variations of Luger pistols are marked to indicate the safe position, but there are a few variations that are marked to indicate the fire position. In the example above we can see the word GESICHERT is exposed and not covered by the safety lever. This indicates that the safety is engaged. When the safety latch is moved to the safe position as shown above, it forces a flat steel arm out of a recess in the frame and covers the rear of the sear and locking it firmly into engagement with the operating catch of the striker.  

The photograph on the left is of the striker(firing pin) and spring. Notice here the two digit number on this component. It correctly matches the last two digits of the serial number on this Luger. Collectors that wish to take their items to the range understand that if any matching part was to break, it will seriously degrade the monetary value of a particular firearm. it is not uncommon to have collectors temporary substitute this part with an after-market or newly made piece before any target practice begins. The picture on the right is of the rear grip strap. At the top of the grip strap and built into the frame of this Luger is a lanyard ring. At the bottom of the grip strap we can see the provision for attaching a shoulder stock to this Luger. To get an idea of what a wooden shoulder stock looks like for a pistol, please see either the Broomhandle M-30 or the Browning Hi-Power pistol pages of this website.  

The photograph on the left is of the underside of the Walnut grips. Both of these grips, like the striker in the above picture have the last two digits of the pistols serial number stamped on them. In the photograph on the right we can see that every possible piece has been removed from this Luger. When an item first arrives, I tear it completely apart to not only give it a thorough cleaning, but to photograph and document every stamp and marking. I will end up taking dozens and dozens of pictures of each item. So as can be seen in the above picture on the right, this Luger has been broken down to just the frame or receiver. This will also give me a good idea if a particular firearm is safe to shoot.




Lugers at Radom by Charles Kenyon                

German Handguns by Ian Hogg                

German small arms markings by Joachim Gortz & Don Bryans                

History Writ in Steel by Donald Maus               

The standard directory of proof marks by Gerhard Wirnsberger               

Official guide to gunmarks by Robert Balderson                  

Mauser military rifle markings by Terence Lapin               

Handbook of military rifle marks 1866-1950 by Richard Hoffman & Noel Schott  

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