AI4FR Virtual Militaria Items Tour 

German Items


This Luger was manufactured by DWM or Deutsche Waffen und Munitionsfabriken in 1918. The 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. This Luger has a set of after market grips that are made from a molded plastic. The after market magazine that came with this Luger is manufactured by Mec-Gar and was made in Italy.

This Luger has some mysteries hidden in its history. It appears to be a Russian Capture due to the fact that it has some of the distinct characteristics found on many of the Russian captured weapons. These post WWII Russian rebuilt weapons include a complete rebluing of a firearm to a more blackish finish, serial numbers crossed out on smaller parts and then new ones added, and complete firearms being assembled from multiple parts from different weapons. The Russians would also normally mark these captured and rebuilt firearms with an "X" mark.

While this Luger has some of these characteristics, it is missing others. For example, this Luger is missing the "X" mark and the receiver, frame and toggle assembly all came from the same pistol. It is some what rare to find a Russian captured and rebuilt rifle with any two of its parts from the same firearm, save a barreled receiver where both the barrel and receiver would normally match such as those that have been found on numerous K98k rifles. It appears to many collectors that the Russians dis-assembled thousands of K98k rifles for example, and tossed all of their parts in a large bluing tank. Then when it came time to put the firearms back together again, they grabbed the needed part and gave no concern as to which weapon it was on originally. As long as the part fit and would function they were happy. That observation has been seen mostly on rifles. While on many pistols they did some thing different. The pistols would often be stamped with the "X", but the original serial numbers are used and were not damaged or marked over.

Since this Luger has been reassembled from parts from at least two different Lugers, it will be interesting and a challenge to learn the history behind this pistol. Judging from the proof marks found on the main parts of this Luger, it appears to have been assembled with parts of a similar Luger model from around the world war one time period.   

This Luger has been refinished to have a more blackish finish then the original bluing. All of the serial numbers have been scrubbed and new numbers have been added that match just the frame, receiver and barrel. Or stated another way, just the barrel, receiver and frame have matching numbers. On many of the smaller parts, the numbers have been scrubbed but new numbers have not been added. The frame and most of the toggle assembly are from the same Luger. The frame originally had a four digit serial number that appears to be 8475, but this number has been scrubbed and a new four digit serial number has been added that matches the receiver and barrel.

To summarize, the barrel, receiver and frame have re-stamped matching numbers. All of the numbers on the smaller parts have been scrubbed. The side plate has an etched two digit number that is not matching to either the original serial number or the new one. So could this be a Russian capture and refinished weapon? I can not say with certainty that it is, but I do feel strongly that it is one. While this Luger does hold some collector and monetary value, the Russians seriously destroyed its overall worth when they made all of these drastic changes from its original condition.  

The photograph on the left is of the markings that are found on the top of the toggle and barrel chamber. The toggle has the DWM logo while the date on the top of the chamber is 1918. The markings on the right side of the receiver can be seen in the picture on the right. The stamp at the far right that looks like a lobster is the German military proof stamp. This German military proof stamp is also found on the breechblock and barrel. 

The picture on the left is of the top right of the barrel. Here we can see the German military proof stamp. This stamp is also found on the right side of the receiver and on the breechblock that is connected to the front toggle link.

The picture on the right is of the thumb safety lever. The thumb safety lever on this Luger is another clue to its past history. Careful inspection of this safety lever has found the military style of serialization on this part as well as the original serial number that matches the original serial number on the frame and toggle assembly. This number has also been scrubbed. This tells us that this thumb safety latch is correct and goes with many of the other original parts on this Luger.

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 markings that are found on the bottom of the barrel and the front of the frame. What I find interesting here is the way the original serial numbers have been scrubbed. On the barrel, the original serial number has been etched over to the point of making it unreadable. While on the frame, the original serial number has been struck with a small chisel like instrument to make it unreadable. I have no explanation as to why the Russians would remove the numbers in different fashions. It is not uncommon to find serial numbers that have been struck over with a small chisel like tool on firearms that have been sent back to the factory or arsenal for repair. Many nations have done this including both Germany and Russia. So there is a possibility that this Luger has been re-numbered at a German weapons facility, well at least the frame could have been.

On most of the Russian captured and rebuilt firearms, especially on rifles, the Russians would either grind away completely the original serial number on the smaller parts or they would make a lite etching across the serial number. This lite etching was usually in the form of a strait line across the middle of the serial number leaving the original serial number easily readable. I can not recall a single specimen that I have inspected where the Russians destroyed the original serial number with an etching tool and then did not add a new number. Remember, the Russians would take the parts from numerous firearms of the same model and build a complete weapon. They would then etch the serial number on many of these smaller parts. For example, in the photograph on the right take notice of the side plate with the number 45 etched on it. The way this side plate is marked is how many of the parts from a Russian rebuilt firearm would look like. Except that the Russians would not normally destroy the original serial number as seen in this picture below the number 45. In this case, the original serial number on this part has been etched out and made unreadable.

While difficult to see in the picture on the left, the witness marks on the barrel and receiver do not line up. This is a good indication that the barrel and receiver were not installed together when they originally left the factory. This might explain the chisel marks over the original serial number on the frame. When a new barrel was installed on the receiver and then this barreled receiver was to be used with this frame, the worker at the German arsenal stamped a new serial number on the frame to match those of the barrel and receiver. Then later when the Russians had their hands on the pistol, they kept the serial numbers in place but etched over the other serial number that was on the barrel.

Did this pistol go in for repair while in the hands of the Germans? When this pistol was first being built, did a German factory worker accidentally stamp the frame of this Luger with the wrong number and then later chisel it over? Did the Germans take a chisel to the frame while the Russians used an etching tool? It is hard to say for sure one way or the other, but I am leaning towards this pistol being arsenal reworked by the Germans and then later being rebuilt by the Russians.  


In the photograph on the left, arrow number one is pointing to the German military proof stamp that is located on the breechblock. This proof mark is also found on the barrel and the receiver as seen in the pictures above these. In the same picture on the left, arrow number 2 is pointing to the defaced serial number that is on the toggle pin. I believe this to be the work of the Russians when they rebuilt this pistol. 

After very careful inspection, the entire toggle assembly minus the striker and toggle pin have matching numbers. As mentioned in the above text, the numbers have been scrubbed, and while difficult to distinguish, they do match the original serial number of the frame. Also correct for this Luger model is the extractor which is marked GELADEN on the left side.

While this Luger has a unique history, it is not original and pristine by any means. The photograph on the right is a picture of the bottom of the barrel with a stamp that no collector wants to see on a historic firearm that is in their collection. This is an importers stamp that is now required to be placed on firearms that have entered the U.S. after the late 1980's. On the plus side, every marking on a firearm will help to tell us its history and this importers mark is no different.

With this importers mark, we now know that this Luger which was probably captured and refinished by the Russians after WWII, came in to the U.S. some time after the late 1980's. The first line of this import stamp reads as follows, P08 9MM GERMANY, MFG and the line below it reads, C.I.A. ST. ALB. VT. This two line marking is exactly what the law calls for except it would have been nice if the importer would have hid this stamp under the grips rather then stamping it on the barrel. The first line of this stamp identifies the firearm and where it was made. The first line tells us that the model of the pistol is P08, the caliber is 9mm and that it was manufactured in Germany. The second line identifies the importer as Century International Arms Inc., and tells us that they are located in Saint Albans VT. 

The importer, Century International Arms Inc. is still in business today and offers collectors a wide variety of firearms from around the world to choose from. The import law that is mentioned above can be referenced by viewing the gun control Act of 1968, Public Law 90-618 and under Subpart F-Conduct of Business sub-section 178.92 (a)(1) Firearms.




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  

      AI4FR                                                                                                                                                                                                  AI4FR                                                                                                       AI4FR

Copyright © John Whitt 2020 All rights reserved.