25 Mar 2015

Deadliest Gunfighting Pistols of All Time?

, , ,

Pistole Parabellum 1908

Jim Dickson, at Gun Digest, picks the three deadliest gunfighting pistols of all time.

His choices are the German Luger, the Colt Model 1911, and the Colt Model 1873 Peacemaker.

Personally, I think his list ought to have been longer. But the surprising choice is, of course, the Luger. Americans who played with one will be even more surprised to find the author praising the Luger for its reliability of functioning.

When the troops needed pistols the Fatherland set out to supply them, despite the fact that the Luger pistol cost three times as much to manufacture as the Mauser rifle.

The Luger proved up to the challenge. It took in stride the mud, dust and sand maelstrom that was a WWI artillery barrage and kept on working when the famed Smith & Wesson Triple-Lock Revolvers were jamming. It would continue firing when its barrel was bulged from being clogged with mud. A Browning-style gun with the slide over the barrel is jammed solid until a new barrel can be installed when its barrel is bulged.

This feature saved so many German lives in the First World War that when the P38 was designed, the army specifications demanded a fully exposed barrel on it. All the Luger needs for reliability is a magazine spring that is as strong as you can get in the magazine and proper ammo—standard velocity ammo of the proper overall length. Hot loads cycle the action too fast for the magazine to feed cartridges in position to chamber before the bolt rides them down. This was never a problem with German army issue ammo.

A larger problem was the fact that the average German soldier was not a pistol shooter. The Luger handled that problem better than any pistol before or since. The Luger is the best pointing pistol ever made, bar none. Just point at the target and you hit it. It is as simple as that. It is also the most accurate pistol you will ever find. Most any good Luger will shoot a 10mm group with 9mm ammo at 25 yards.

Armed with the Luger the German troops proved a terror in trench fighting. Every stormtrooper was issued one regardless of rank, and production was geared up to equip every combat soldier by late 1918 or 1919. The Luger was a key factor in the new stormtrooper tactics as well as the new infiltration strategies of General Von Hutier and Colonel Bruchmuller, which had knocked Russia out of the war. The intensity of the trench fighting and the number of kills made by the Luger was staggering.

World War II saw more intense fighting with the Luger often being used against Russian human-wave assaults. Sometimes it was the officer’s only weapon and sometimes it was the last thing he had loaded magazines for. At those close ranges one could hardly miss. Once more the tally went up drastically. Add to these figures the numbers of the other countries’ armies that used the Luger and you get a number far exceeding any other pistol.

Read the whole thing.

One Feedback on "Deadliest Gunfighting Pistols of All Time?"


I owned several, as the Lüger is one of my favorite guns. WW1 “DWM” (“Deutsche Waffen and Munitionfabrik”) made, P08 standard and P08 fully equipped long barrel “Artillery” versions.

WW2 versions are not very well finished and have cheap bakelite hand plates; they are of no interest I find. I also owned for a while a beautiful 1900 civilian version in 7,65 Parabellum (which I traded against a WW2 Browning 50 machine gun not in very good condition and without its tripod, let me say in pasing for the fun). And also one of the rare P08 german military version from the “first contract” (with all mlanufacture stamps on the right side of the frame) made in 1908, in brand new condition and with its ordnance leather holster.

WW1 Lüger versions have a finishing of exceptional quality (DWM made versions are of slightly better quality than Erfürt’s, if ever you plan to buy one); but civilian versions are still much better made and finished, with a nice deep blue and yellow-gold trigger and safety lever (both clean W1 military and civilian versions must have a bit of white enamel in the stamped german leters “Gesichert”, which mean “safety”. But you may find civilian versions (with inverted safety position because of the aditional grip safety) with red enamel. Those ones are made as swiss watches!

Yes, I never jammed any of my Lüger, even with original WW1 and WW2 original german rounds. They are very accurate, as says the article you published.

Some Colt 1911 I owned (WW1 pre-1926 versions) were all badly accurate at 25 yard. You have to be lucky to put all your bullets in a 10 inches plate at 25 yards. At 50, hell, you don’t know were they are going to go!
Things improved dramatically about that when Colt, some decades later, introduced the beautiful Government Mk IV Series 70.

I tried one of my Lüger P08 “Artillery” version on a 10 inches plate at 200 yards for the sake of mere curiosity; so with its carbine amovible stock and its 32 rounds drum magazine (“Trommelmagazin”), hard and time consuming as hell to load (beware not to hurt your fingers with the rotating lever of this magazine, as the spring is getting very powerful and nervous once you pass the threshold of 20 loaded rounds!). This long Lüger has an adjustable sight which boastfully claims up to 800 meters of practical range.
The result was that no matter how still I stood and concentrated, none of my 32 rounds ever hit the target! So, accurate, yes, but don’t be too opmistic; it’s a pistol in 9 Para, not a real carbine.

Well, if the Lüger is accurate, indeed, the big problem with it remains that it is very hard to handle it still while pushing the trigger, especially if you have big hands like mine. Beside, you feel the gun is much too light at the nose, contrary to the Colt 1911 which is perfect about that. That’s why Mauser resumed the manufacturing of a civilian sport Lüger in the 1970’s, with an outstanding finishing and two versions of heavy precision barrels whose big diameters make them look like they have integrated silencers. Not many of those modern Lüger were sold as they were very expensive, and their production ended shortly therafter (just before 1980, should my recollections be good). I guess those beautiful Mauser-made Lüger must be rare and collectible today, but perhaps not necessarily very expensive as few know about their existence and great interest, and are looking for them.

To those who are expressing further interest for Lüger pistols, I highly recommand buying “The World of Lüger”, written and illustraded by world-renowned Lüger collector and specialist Fred Datig.


Please Leave a Comment!

Please note: Comments may be moderated. It may take a while for them to show on the page.

Entries (RSS)
Comments (RSS)
Feed Shark