German Luger info please


June 2, 2011, 01:21 PM
Hey guys,

Well I have the oportunity to possibly purchase a german luger bring back from over seas. I met a gentleman who's father is supposed to have brought the firearm back with him. The problem that I have is that I don't know a thing about these guns. I have always found them interesting but never have bit on one because I hear how many fakes there are. I would like to know how to determine a real bring back from a build gun (if there is a way to tell).
And then possible values. Bear in my I have no experience with the luger at all. I have not seen this gun yet and will just need some guidance.

Thanks Smithiac

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Jim K
June 2, 2011, 01:51 PM
There are no "fake" Lugers, in the sense that someone built them from pieces of steel, like was done with Colt Patersons, solely to sell for big bucks; the gun is just too complicated. (The few Lugers built in the US more or less from scratch are very expensive and clearly marked.)

But there are many faked up Lugers, with parts altered or markings changed to enhance the value. There is no perfect way to detect that sort of thing except to shop around and look at Lugers, learn what the markings look like, what a "matched" gun looks like, etc. In general, if a gun is in the average price range and looks OK, it probably is. When the price goes over about $1800-2000, you are into the range where fakery is worth while and close scrutiny is needed.

It helps to know the "look" of pistols from the different eras and to know what hot tank blue looks like vs rust blue. It also helps to know that almost every part on original Lugers was numbered with the last two digits of the serial number. The full serial appears only on the front of the grip frame, under the barrel; it may include a suffix letter that is part of the serial number. The serial without the letter will usually be seen on the side of the receiver behind the barrel. A matching magazine is a plus, but uncommon; magazines were swapped, even in German service.

The only sure way to know a "GI bringback" is to have the "capture paper" (authorization to retain captured materiel) with the serial number of the gun, and even those have been forged. In general, family history is not reliable and "war stories" are just that, stories, with zero value. Even guns that were genuine "bringbacks" were altered by their owners. Many were nickel or chrome plated (don't buy stories about "special Nazi presentation pistols) or had fake "ivory" or "pearl" grips put on (same caution). In trying to enhance the value of what was then a common pistol, they reduced its value today.

Count on spending some money for a decent Luger; you won't get much for under $1000, although it might be OK to shoot. You may have to go more for one with a decent finish and not refinished. Beware of highy polished guns, plated guns, or guns with any grips other than checkered wood or black plastic. Some Lugers have been brought in from East Germany; those have been refinished and have plastic grips, and are collectible in their own right, but don't have the interest that un-refinished WWI and WWII guns have. There are also post-WWII guns made for Interarms by Mauser; those are good guns, but also without historical interest.

A lot more could be said, but I hope this little bit helps.


June 2, 2011, 02:12 PM
That at least gives me a starting place. As I have said I have very little to no knowledge about lugers and anything is welcomed. Thanks for the advice above.

Also is there any fairly common malfunctions that I could be looking for when I inspect the gun.

June 3, 2011, 03:49 PM
Sending this back to the top

June 3, 2011, 03:57 PM
Almost every vital part on a Luger has a partial or full serial number stamped on it, and they should all match.
Particularly, the frame, upper receiver, side-plate, barrel, magazines, etc.

A "parts" gun was one assembled out of a pile of scrap by some GI in Germany after the war, or by an importer in the U.S.A. who happened to buy the scrap iron pile.
Those will not have matching numbers.

While it is not impossible for a non-matching Luger to work right, the chances of it are much higher with a matching gun.

Here is a good resource to figure out what you are looking at. The prices are inflated, but you won't find that many Lugers for sale in one place anywhere else.


June 3, 2011, 05:07 PM
Jim Keenan gave excellent advice as did rcmodel. If you can get good pictures I suggest you start a thread and post the pictures at and - there are very fine people there who are always interested in a new Luger story and pictures. They can help you assess the value of the Luger but of course no one is likely to be able to verify "a gentleman who's father is supposed to have brought the firearm back with him".

While it is not impossible for a non-matching Luger to work right, the chances of it are much higher with a matching gun.

No doubt there is a lot of truth to this but I have to tell the story of my first Luger, bought in a pawn shop for about $150 in 1975. It was an ugly duckling with mismatched parts but I just wanted a cheap Luger to shoot.

I looked it over carefully and everything worked so bought it and took it out to the desert and it fired reliably and has continued to do so over the years. Also over the years I began to research the gun and discovered it was made from parts from about 15 different Lugers. Interestingly the frame and bolt/toggle assembly were DWM circa 1913-1918 while the barrel and upper receiver were 1938 Mauser. I have no idea who put the parts together, or where or when, but the end result operates as well as any matching parts Luger. (So there is nothing wrong with a parts gun if it checks out functionally and all you want is a "shooter" for around $700-800.)

Only one part broke in all the years I've shot this pistol, the rear toggle pin which I easily replaced with another mismatched part. Then a few years back I bought a complete 1913 DWM upper receiver with barrel which at least made this FrankenLuger almost 100% DWM, vintage WWI. The barrel is excellent and the Luger still is nearly 100% reliable with FMJ. Then I found the proper Mauser S-42 bolt/toggle assembly for my 1938 Mauser receiver and when this upper is put on the DWM frame it functions reliably as well. Since very few people can tell the difference between DWM and Mauser frames I can now have a true WWI Luger and what appears to be a WWII Luger just by swapping the upper receivers, much like on an AR-15. If I ever found a Mauser frame, then I'd have two Lugers, still mismatched but at least with parts from the correct World War.

About ten years ago I did buy an all matching 1941 byf (Mauser) in excellent shape but did a lot of research before plunking down the cash. The only problem, it's almost in unfired condition, so worth too much to shoot. So guess which Luger actually is more fun!

Anyway, just an illustration of two Lugers... Find out how much the one you're interested in is worth and decide if you're getting a good deal no matter what the "story". And I can tell you Lugers are great pistols!

June 3, 2011, 05:27 PM
The authenticity has been covered above.

Are you interested in shooting it, or mostly looking at it as a collector's piece.

If you are interested in shooting it, I can give you my impression from shooting one.

It was BRILLIANT, probably the nicest 9mm I've ever shot. The balance is perfect. The one I shot had a 4" barrel, but all the weight was right above the shooter's hand, so it balanced like a snubby. Heck, even BETTER than a snubby, because a snubby has that loaded cylinder in front of the hand.

The hinged bolt really does a great job of absorbing recoil. A massive slide is not needed. The trigger was light and crisp; single action only, just like our beloved 1911s and Hi-Powers, but with a much lighter trigger pull. The grip angle is also perfect to me. (Bill Ruger copied it for his famous auto pistol of the 40s)

Possible downsides: I don't know if they'll feed bullets other than ball, but I doubt it. The sights were made for accuracy, not quick pick-up The front sight is a little pointy thing and it really gives a better idea of where the bullets will go. There is no need to estimate the middle of a huge, blocky front sight blade. The rear sight is a matching tiny notch in the top of the slide. In a combat situation, one would not attempt to use the sights on this gun.

I would try to ascertain if it is good shooting condition. If so, buy it, using the advice above to determine how much to pay. It seems like you might get it for a good price, since it is a family gun. They are just the best-shooting 9mms out there. They kick less than a Browning High Power or HK USP, despite being much less massive. It really was a brilliant design, equal to the 1911 in every way except bore diameter.

If you don't want it, please drop me a line with the details. ;)

June 3, 2011, 05:59 PM
Smithiac, how much does he want for this Luger? Being there is a bringback "story" I'm going to assume $1800 or more so heed Jim's advice above. Do check out the Luger forums for more help.

Also is there any fairly common malfunctions that I could be looking for when I inspect the gun.
Here I would just look for any signs of abuse. Make sure the trigger action feels good and manually cycle dummy rounds from the magazine. See if the safety works and that an empty magazine holds back the bolt. Check the bore of course and overall condition.

If you're still interested ask to field strip the gun (learn how beforehand since the seller may not know). Look at all parts for any unusual wear and for matching numbers as discussed before. You can get a better look at the bore now so do so.

The main thing I can say is don't pay extra for the "story" unless there are genuine bringback papers and other verification. These stories over the years are probably embellished far from the truth. Lots of GIs told their families that "I took this Luger off a German officer I captured/killed". Some stories are true, some are not.

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