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 ammoâ€”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 officerâ€™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 countriesâ€™ armies that used the Luger and you get a number far exceeding any other pistol.
Read the whole thing.