How reliable are Lugers?


March 25, 2010, 12:48 PM
I have always loved the look of the Luger, the trigger and the ergonomics of the grip possibly the best of any pistol ever made. I was thinking it might be a good sidearm for self defense what do you think? Plus its a piece of history.

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March 25, 2010, 03:32 PM
If I owned an original German Luger, I doubt I would shoot it or carry it much. It is far too valuable a piece of history to subject to the rigors of daily use. To me, it would be like owning an antique Ferrari... I might take it out once per month just to get the fluids flowing but I wouldn't use it as a daily commuter car.

March 25, 2010, 06:34 PM
It would be an eccentric choice, to be sure.

If yours was reliable I say go for it. Custom leather would be a must, I think.

March 25, 2010, 06:53 PM
I'd be concerned with it's ability to feed hollow points. Correct me if I am wrong, but JHP didn't even exist in 1908. The ergonomics are designed around the old-school style of one handed shooting. I have a Finn Luger that I have taken shooting only a few times. It has jammed several times, but I don't mind. To me the Luger is a collectible, not a tool or a weapon. That said, if you have one that feeds JHP's your prerogative.

Glock Holiday
March 25, 2010, 07:54 PM
My friend has one of the more popular DWM models and it needs some pretty stout ammo to reliably cycle the toggle like +P or European ammo.
Thought I'd pass that along...

March 25, 2010, 08:07 PM
I have a WWII Mauser Luger re-arsenelled in Russia, or East Germany. Its a shooter grade as it has been reblued in the Eastern Bloc, so no worries on losing value. Probably left at Stalingrad or similar situation. Its accurate and has been 100% reliable with FMJ, but I've not yet tried hollowpoints. I don't carry it for SD, but I wouldn't hesitate to do so.

There are better choices, but nothing wrong with a Luger if its proven reliable. I wouldn't chose an all matching, non-refinished gun to carry, but would certainly shoot or carry ones like mine.

My Luger's trigger is EXCEPTIONAL.

Jim Watson
March 25, 2010, 08:17 PM
Every Luger I have seen in person had a tough trigger pull and tiny sights.
The thumb safety is out of reach for the shooting hand.

They usually need long loaded roundnose for reliable feeding, JHPs would be doubtful. I went many a mile with one of the old Norma .45 hollowpoints in the chamber of my GI 1911 and hardball in the magazine.

A friend's Finn aggravated him by not functioning with any commercial ammunition he could find, even "hot" European manufacture. But it shoots just fine with my rather mild IDPA handloads.

March 25, 2010, 08:28 PM
while the Luger is a beautiful gun, it's trigger leaves a lot to be desired, it's sights are pitiful and for reliable function, it's action needs to be timed/balanced for one load you want to shoot it in

March 25, 2010, 08:33 PM
My 7.65 Luger misfires a lot.

Probably an ammo issue.
Think I was using Fiocchi.

I bought a replacement mainspring from Wollf, but never bothered to install it.
Its just a safe queen these days.

March 25, 2010, 09:09 PM
The Luger pistol is a poor choice for self defense.

The pistol was designed before modern JHP rounds were invented which means it is likely to not feed those loads reliably.

Even with FMJ loads, which should NOT be used for defense, I would not consider the Luger design to be reliable enough for defensive use, except in a dire emergency.

Reliability aside, the trigger on the examples I've fired ranges from "Pretty Nice" to "Downright Awful" and the sights are too tiny for easy use. Don't forget any example you find is going to be at least 50 years old (except for a few later commercial repro runs) and may not be in the best functional shape.

The Luger is an interesting collectable, but should be relagated to a range toy.

If you are serious about selecting a firearm for self defense, as you should be, there are many much, much, better choices then a Luger.

March 25, 2010, 09:20 PM
Lugers are much maligned.The basic design was built for combat,and soldiered on through at least two wars.I fired a buddy's in .30 Luger,and it was as accurate as a 10/22! of course,it had a looong barrel.with the ammo it was designed for,and in good shape,it can be very accurate and reliable.I think whereit gets it's reputation for jamming is with 70 yearold specimins with tired springs.Wolff now makes replacement springs,so this is really no longer an issue.Take a .45 or BHP thats 70 years old with shot springs as your example,and you'd think those were poor designs as well.

Mad Magyar
March 25, 2010, 09:29 PM
Possibly purchase a post-war P-38 and you'll be happy with the outcome. :)

March 25, 2010, 10:33 PM
Possibly purchase a post-war P-38 and you'll be happy with the outcome.
Except that P-38's don't run hollow points either. --Stork

Jim K
March 25, 2010, 11:20 PM
My concern would be more along the lines that if you have to use a defense gun it will almost certainly be seized by the police. It will not be given good treatment (I have seen evidence guns thrown onto concrete floors) and might not be returned no matter what happens subsequently. I hate the idea of carrying a collectible or valuable gun for that reason, but it is your choice.


March 26, 2010, 12:28 AM
now THAT'S a good point...

March 26, 2010, 12:42 AM
I have always loved the look of the Luger, the trigger and the ergonomics of the grip possibly the best of any pistol ever made. I was thinking it might be a good sidearm for self defense what do you think? Plus its a piece of history.

I have a nice 1915 Luger that shoots great and is very reliable. I too like the looks and think it is a very distinctive pistol but I have do disagree with the trigger and the ergonomics of the grip the best ever made. The gun does not sit as well in my hand as I would like. I think there are much better carry guns out there but if you like it I say go for it.
The last thing on my mind when I decide on a carry gun is what happens it it gets confiscated. The odds of you using your gun to defend yourself are probably less likely than being stuck by lightning so I wouldn't worry about that one either.

March 26, 2010, 04:08 AM
I have a Luger in excellent condition. I bought it around 1956 for the princely sum of $30. My Luger will function with reliability with FMJ hand loads loaded a little hotter than factory. With most hollow point bullets feeding is very "iffy." The trigger mechanism has more angles that a room full of democrats. It cannot be improved. It is what it is and that is fairly miserable. The safety cannot be worked in a hurry using just one hand. Very inconvenient if you should need to shoot in a hurry. The sights are poor but you do get used to them. The pistol is very accurate if you can overcome the trigger and sights. That being said, I love the feel, the looks, the mechanical design, and the exquisite workmanship. However, if I were selecting a weapon for home defense or for carry, open or concealed, it would be near the bottom of my list.

March 26, 2010, 07:11 AM
As said above on want a old german clasic for that stuff get a C-96.

Full Metal Jacket
March 26, 2010, 08:28 AM
the luger is inherently not a very reliable design. however, if you want a new one, i think american arms is still making brand new one's. although i would use it for range only, using it for defense would be out of the question.

March 26, 2010, 09:11 AM
A beautiful piece of work but from a reliabilty point they are about as bad as it gets. Have mine out on consignment but so far a lot of lookers but no takers.

March 26, 2010, 12:22 PM
Lugers are terrific firearms from a historical or collector's standpoint; as a reliable firearm in a self-defense situation, you can do a whole lot better. You also have to pay an arm, a leg, two fingers, and a few toes to secure one in decent shape these days -- not the kind of thing that automatically spells out a handy-dandy gun around the home. By all means get one if it strikes your fancy; but keep it in the safe and pull it out to admire from time to time. You can do a whole lot better for a whole lot less money.

Mad Magyar
March 26, 2010, 08:39 PM
Except that P-38's don't run hollow points either
Could be with a full mag of JHP's...I top off the mag with 2 JHP's and the remainder FMJ and seem to have no problem with FTF...

March 26, 2010, 09:31 PM
Mad Magyar, back when I was young and foolish (oh gosh, all of about 2 or 3 years ago) I got the idea that I wanted to set up a P-38 as a once-in-a-while carry gun. I decided that I wouldn't want to risk loss/damage to my 44AC, so I got a P-1. Never did find a HP that it would feed in either pistol. Then there is the issue of leather. There isn't exactly a huge market in concealment rigs for old German military pistols. I gave up on carrying that.

I still do think a Luger or P-38 would make for a sweet BBQ carry gun though. --Stork

Maj Dad
March 26, 2010, 09:44 PM
My original finish 1938 S42 is a beautiful piece and a very nice shooter, but a little fussy about ammo. Has to be hot (I load 5.0 BE with a 115 FMJ), has to be FMJ, and on occasion the slide locks open on a half-full (half-empty?) magazine. I replaced the little spring and it helped, but it still does it every now & then. It points like it's connected to your optic nerve, and my trigger is very good for a military pistol - no creep, and about 4-5 lb. All this said, I don't shoot it much now; it is much more valuable to me as a historical piece, and every time you pull the trigger on one, you risk damaging it. I do shoot it, once a year or so, couple of clips worth, clean it and put it up. Lugers are notorious for fussy feeding, especially in dusty & dirty conditions. After you disassemble one, you understand why. If it were a watch, it would be a chronograph - machining like that isn't seen anymore. If I wanted a shooter, I would get one of the RCs, but even they are historical pieces in the end - just get something else for SD/CC and keep a Luger to share a beer with and talk about the old days... :cool:

March 28, 2010, 02:54 AM
I'm not sure why there's so much concern about feeding blunt-nose cartridges in a P.08 Luger. The original design of the 9mm Parabellum in 1902 (DWM 278F) was a 124gr truncated cone bullet. The round ogive bullet was not introduced until around 1915. This means the P.08 was designed in 1908 to feed 124gr truncated cone bullets.

Anecdotal evidence - my P.08's will feed CorBon and Hornady JHP's though I wouldn't fire +P's in a P.08. Mine function reliably with 115gr ammunition though they were designed with 124gr loads in mind.

It's a fun gun to shoot, it's an interesting and elegant design, but I would not consider it a good candidate for a defensive weapon. There are cheaper, lighter, safer, etc, options available today.

March 28, 2010, 10:38 AM
Given ergonomics on the Luger and the absolutely terrible sights and follow-up shots, I'd sooner carry my C96 Bolo.

March 28, 2010, 12:54 PM
I like the Luger as a piece of history and an example of Rube Goldberg engineering put into practice. But I'll echo the comments above.

It's a gun from a parallel universe in which John Browning had never been born. Bad sights and trigger. The toggle action (see below) can also take some oomph to do its thing.

Here's my 1942 byf (Mauser) "Black Widow" (though Luger purists hate that term). Bet this gun could tell some stories. Problem is, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't want to hear them.

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