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Luger P08 pistol

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by Skillet, Jul 22, 2009.

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  1. Skillet

    Skillet Member

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    i was wondering, how does the luger PO8 pistol work? i can't seem to pick out a slide anywhere on the gun, so it confuses me.
    so how does it work?
    also, is it a good design?
    thanks!:)
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2009
  2. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    Well, in the first place, Walther was not involved in the Luger's design or manufacture. The Luger was originally a DWM product, later owned by Mauser. There are other producers listed but they were basically swapping around company ownership and three sets of production tooling, DWM, Erfurt, and Swiss.

    The Luger doesn't have a slide, it has an upper receiver, bolt, front and rear toggles.
    There is an animation of one in operation at:
    http://www.lugerforum.com/

    Good design?
    For 1900, yes. Now, no. It is expensive to build and not real tolerant of dirt or variable ammunition.
     
  3. tguil

    tguil Member

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    But they have a "cool factor" that can't be beat even after 100+ years.
     
  4. doubs43

    doubs43 Member

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    When the P-08 is fired, the receiver begins moving toward the rear. The toggles contact the humps on the frame forcing the toggles upward and "breaking" the in-line toggle train and breech block. The empty case is ejected as the breech block continues rearward and, upon reaching full recoil, the "train" moves forward again powered by the main spring. It picks up a new cartridge from the magazine and the sear engages the firing pin, cocking the pistol for the next shot. Once in battery, the train will once again be in-line and the extractor will be raised to indicate that a cartridge is in the chamber.

    The trigger works through an "L" lever inside of the side plate. Depressing the trigger pushes the lever against the pin on the front of the trigger bar to move the sear and release the firing pin. Upon firing, the rearward movement of the receiver pulls the trigger bar pin (it's spring loaded) from under the side plate lever. As the receiver moves forward again, the pin will contact the back side of the lever and be pushed into the trigger bar until the trigger is released and the lever returns to it's normal position. The trigger bar pin is now released and once again is under the lever waiting to be depressed by the lever for the next shot.

    It's actually a simple mechanism and you can follow it's function pretty easily.
     
  5. Alpacca 45

    Alpacca 45 Member

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    Whether or not the luger is a "good gun" depends on what you want from it.

    If you want a defensive carry gun, or want to torture test it in mud and crap, then the answer is no, there are guns that are better suited to that use.

    If you appreciate beautifully machined and finished guns, which point naturally, are a pleasure to shoot, are easy to shoot well, and actually wear out at a much slower rate than most other auto pistols, then, yes, the luger is that gun.

    The action was derived (via the borchardt pistol) from the Maxim Machinegun, which itself was inspired by the Winchester lever actions.

    The Luger really was the first auto-pistol suited to military use, and was developed for several years after first issue (autopistols were developing in the 1890s and 1900s at the rate mobile phones and digicams are now), there are therefore a multitude of variants and lots of them with collector interest. If you inherit one, be sure to check out whether it has any collector value before abusing it in any way.

    There are MANY MANY books written about Lugers and their variations, from snubbies to carbines, from I think ultra rare .32 ACP through the standard .30 and 9mm to a handful of hand made.45 ACPs and a few reproductions.

    Never under rate the .30 Luger! in the Slaughter yard tests where .45" was chosen as the minimum caliber suitable for US service, the one chest shot which resulted in an instant knockdown on cattle was .30 Luger (just goes to show what BS arguments about "stopping power" are!)!

    Military issue guns generally had 4" barrels with the fixed rear sight cut into the back toggle, Navy lugers had longer barrels and a flip over rear sight with 2 ranges, the Artillary Luger was really a carbine with adjustable rear sight on the barrel, detachable shoulder stock holster and a snail magazine available. Commercial sporting carbines were also made.

    Ordinary lugers really are a joy to shoot, and so long as you don't pay too much to start with, they hold their value well.

    I never saw any of the stainless reproductions that appeared in the gun directories a few years back. I'm not even sure many were made, but one thing is certain, any modern production would need to command a huge price premium to cover the mind bendingly complex machining, and to do it with anything like the accuracy and finish achieved by the 3 plants which made the real things.
     
  6. oneounceload

    oneounceload member

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    The other thing about Luger construction - there are no screws, the gun is perfectly machined and fitted like a Swiss watch
     
  7. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    Well, they do have two grip screws.

    Which is two less then a 1911, which doesn't have any screws either.

    rc
     
  8. Jim K

    Jim K Member

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    Actually, the Borchardt had one advantage over the Luger. Its recoil spring* exerts its force straight down to close the toggle. When Georg Luger redesigned the gun to make it more compact, he moved the recoil spring inside the pistol grip. That changed the force vector for the spring to a more forward movement, and resulted in the toggle not being fully closed by spring tension. Luger tried to change than and get more of a downward force by sweeping the grip backward, which helped, but the Luger still has that design defect. So that grip angle and great "Luger feel" were thus not the result of deliberate ergonomic design but a result of a mechanical need.

    Jim

    *The mainspring of any firearm is the spring that fires the gun; the Luger mainspring is in the breechblock inside the firing pin.

    JK
     
  9. doubs43

    doubs43 Member

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    Jim, the Luger has a recoil spring (I'm guilty of incorrectly calling it the mainspring on occasion) but it does NOT have a "mainspring" as you describe it. It does, however, have a firing pin spring which any decent Luger reference book will bear out as correct. I refer you to Kenyon, Datig, Jones, Still and other authorities on the Luger. For most guns you are correct.... but not in the case of the Luger.
     
  10. EOD Guy in VA

    EOD Guy in VA Member

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    I tried to upload an animated .gif file that showed how a Luger functions, but it wouldn't animate here... sorry.
     
  11. Tim the Enchanter

    Tim the Enchanter Member

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  12. unspellable

    unspellable Member

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    Maxim

    It's difficult to say how anyone's idea originated, or from how many sources, but Maxim got the main idea for his machine gun from watching a steam engine. The first version of his gun even had a rear link that rotated continuously in one direction in the manner of a crankshaft. This did not go over big with potential buyers as they tended to visualize it going into a run away condition. So Maxim modified it to rotate back and forth.

    The Luger's recoil spring does close the action all the way. In fact a recoil spring that is much too weak will result in the action stopping just shy of closed. At this point the disconnnector will have reset and the gun can be fired while unlocked. Not a pretty picture. Fortunately the pistol will suffer other malfunctions before the spring gets that weak.

    The biggest single problem with the Luger's recoil spring is shade tree mechanics tinkering with it with no idea of what they are doing. If you open up seven different shooter grade Lugers you will find eight different recoil springs, none of them to spec. As Georg Luger said, "The springs have to be right."

    In any firearm, the main spring is the one that makes it go bang. Regardless of how that spring is labeled in a parts list. Other languages may be different. The Germans call the recoil spring a "closing spring".
     
  13. oneounceload

    oneounceload member

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    But the Luger doesn't seem to have as much play in its parts... ;)
     
  14. doubs43

    doubs43 Member

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    Not if the proper name for the part is the "firing pin spring". What makes YOUR definition the final word? I'll go with the historically correct terminology, thank you.
     
  15. unspellable

    unspellable Member

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    main spring

    The term "main spring" IS the historically correct one. From the days of the snaphaunce to the present this name was always applied to the spring that made the firearm go bang. Some parts lists may call it by another name, and that's OK, but in such a case it's a latter day synonym, not the historically correct term.

    Or maybe I should drag out my original DWM drawings and we can all use the German terms. But the Germans don't get it all correct on the terms either. The recoil spring strength is specified in "kilograms". Do that on your physics exam and you'll get no points for that answer.

    Look at the parts list for a S&W and a Colt revolver. The S&W has a "yoke", the Colt has a "crane". One or the other is obviously not the "historically correct" term. Or will you say they both are, because they're on a "parts list"?
     
  16. Jim K

    Jim K Member

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    The firing pin spring in a Luger (or a Mauser rifle) IS the mainspring. It may be called a hammer spring, a firing pin spring, or a striker spring, but all are design-specific terms for the generic term "mainspring."

    Hi, Unspellable, the toggle does have spring tension all the way, but it is less as the toggle closes and that is the point where part of the tension is used to cock the firing pin,* so the closing force is less than in, say, a M1911. The result is that cartridge seating force is less than ideal for a combat pistol.

    As to firing unlocked, it would be hard to get a Luger to do that. If the front toggle is not down far enough, the cam on the firing pin pushes on the firing pin retracting cam on the front toggle. This either closes the toggle (and leaves too little force to fire the primer) or prevents the firing pin from reaching the primer at all.

    *FWIW, the German word is Schlagbolzen or "strike bolt."

    Jim
     
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2009
  17. Alpacca 45

    Alpacca 45 Member

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    Hi Unspellable,

    I've got to say that I don't honestly know what the true inspiration for Maxim was.

    My basis for saying that Maxim's use of the toggle was inspired by the Winchester lever action is based on the early Maxim semi auto conversions of (toggle actioned) lever actions which had a seperate butt plate, so the whole rifle recoiled relative to the butt plate and a lever mechanism from that buttplate operated the action.

    I gather Turkey had some of those conversions in military service as early as 1888 (the year Britain adopted the .303 Lee-Metford, and a couple years before the US adopted the Krag & Jorgensen).

    Either way, the toggle lock in guns and the crank in rotating engines is effectively the same mechanism. The problem of starting an engine which had stopped at top or bottom dead centre was well known, to the extent that there are patented "non dead centre" engines.

    Likewise, a flywheel and a spring are two effective means of storing energy from the recoil stroke to use for chambering and firing.

    Whatever the source of the inspiration, depending on how the geometry is layed out, the toggle provides a simple locking mechanism, or a simple delay mechanism.

    Something you won't see in any of the published texts (but well known and understood by designers such as Browning, Lahti and Schwarzlose, I only worked it out when I was planning to write a "dynamics of autopistols") is the locking toggle also forms a simple and effective accelerater, which transfers energy from the recoiling barrel and receiver to the bolt during extraction. and it does this with all the advantages of leverage that you get in a "compound linkage" (toggle linkage) reloading press.

    Hence when Browning was designing a none toggle machinegun (Browning patented a toggle actioned gas operated pistol simillar to his "potato digger" machinegun, and even some of his last patents were for toggle actions, he just couldn't get away from their inherent simplicity) he incorporated an accelerator to both buffer the recoil of the barrel and slide and to ensure that the bolt had sufficeint energy to unlock and extract. Scwarzlose, in his early rotating bolt locked breech pistol incorporated an accelerator, and lahti, who had designed probably the finest derivation of the Maxim / Vickers machine gun and who, like Browning, understood the toggle intimately, incorporated accelerators into his none toggle machinegun actions and his L35 pistol which was to replace the Luger in Finnish military and home guard service.

    Browning's "Slide" for auto pistols neatly does away with the need for an accelerator, as it contains the majority of the recoiling mass already. In a recoil operated rifle or machinegun, the much heavier barrel would remove much of that advantage.
     
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2009
  18. doubs43

    doubs43 Member

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    Thank you, Jim. That's really all I was trying to say. The term "mainspring" is generic and covers the whole spectrum of firearms while not necessarily being firearm specific.

    There are, by my count, 7, 8 or 9 springs in a Luger depending upon model and whether the ejector is counted as a spring. (It's tempered to be a spring in order to maintain it's proper position to eject the case.) I didn't count the magazine spring because it's separate from the pistol.

    Your explanation of why a Luger will not fire out of battery (barring a mechanical failure) is also spot on.
     
  19. Ian Sean

    Ian Sean Member

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    The Luger Forum has a fantastic animated operation of a Luger.

    Can't load it here as a picture...but here is a link to the home page for all to check out.

    http://www.lugerforum.com/

    If you ever wondered how a luger works just watch.
     
  20. unspellable

    unspellable Member

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    The Luger, UrbaN MYTHS, Firing out of battery, tc.

    The Luger WILL fire out of battery. I've done it several times with the simple experiment of using a primed case. (One presumes it would get ugly with a fully loaded cartridge.)

    The Luger probably has more urban myths surrounding it than any other fire arm you can name. Starting with its supposed lack of reliability. About two years ago I and two other people started a serious research project to separate fact from fiction. (Sort of ala the Myth Busters, but with a an awful lot of historical research thrown in.) Hence the experiment above. It has been slow going what with having to actually make springs, magazine parts, etc., acquire enough data on things like measured barrel diameters to be statistically significant, digging through old drawings and records, some in German (Thank God at least one of us has enough German.) some hard to come by. I suppose some day a book may come out of this.

    We are not accepting hear say, we find out the actual facts. Another experiment on my part was putting together a test rig to actually measure the strength of recoil springs, both at preloaded and fully loaded lengths. I've measured a lot of springs, both originals and modified ones.

    Some real eye openers have occurred along the way.

    1. Contrary to what you often see in print, Luger barrels do NOT vary widely in internal diameter. In fact they were held to tighter tolerances than are common in US made sporting arms.

    2. When you buy a box of 9 mm "Luger" cartridges, they ain't really Luger cartridges. Some where along the way, some bright boy decided the SAAMI maximum OAL should be the same as the original DWM MINIMUM OAL. We do not as of yet have an answer as to why or how this happened. However, it's the starting point of the Luger's supposed unreliability. The Luger magazine operates like many 22 LR magazines in that the nose of the cartridge rides on the front of the magazine and keeps some space between cartridges to allow for the larger diameter at the rear of the cartridge. (The 9 mm is tapered.) There is no commonly available cartridge today that actually meets spec.

    3: This should be obvious, but most of these pistols are pushing 80 years or more. Many of the magazines have been dropped on their head once too often.

    4: The 9 mm Luger does NOT need a hot load. Nor does it need a weaker recoil spring to accommodate today's commercial loads.

    5: On the other hand, Winchester, Fiocchi, et al, 7.65 cartridges are seriously underloaded. To the point of not having enough steam to reliably cycle the action. Winchester claims 1220 fps, but I defy you to get anywhere close to that with a real pistol. I called up Winchester on this point and I have to say they were not very cooperative. They claim 1220 fps from a 4.5 inch test barrel. As opposed to DWM's original spec of 1220 fps from a 120 mm barrel on an actual pistol. The Winchester stuff will not get close to 1220 fps even from a six inch pistol. Fiocchi's is slower yet. This point required a research project of its own into how bullet velocities were measured circa 1900.

    (I have a Ruger P89 chambered for the 7.65 Parabellum as a test control gun. I have a Ruger Blackhawk chambered for 9 mm Parabellum for using up reload experiments that did not work well in the Lugers.)

    6: No two shooter grade Lugers will have identical recoil springs. They are usually cut down originals or some after market spring. This due to their having been tinkered with by the ignorant. A Wolff replacement spring doesn't even LOOK like a Luger recoil; spring.

    7. In the 1906 US Army trials the Luger actually beat the Browning design in the reliability tests. Georg Luger then went on to supply the famous 45 caliber Lugers for the next round of trials. But by then it was becoming obvious the Luger suffered from the "Not Invented Here" syndrome. But the Swiss, the Germans, the Portugese, The Finns, the Dutch, Iran, et al adopted the Luger. The Germans, Swiss, and Finns are not famous for machinery that doesn't work.

    Little known trivia: The grip screws are not metric, they are British Standard.
     
  21. doubs43

    doubs43 Member

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    Unspellable, I have no idea where you got your information but there were NO tests of the Luger by the U.S. Army in 1906. The U.S. Army tests were done in 1907 and in every meaningful reliability test the Browning design was SUPERIOR to the Luger. Both pistols tested were chambered in .45ACP. From Datig's book "The Luger Pistol".

    Dust Test (Time)..................................... Colt: 1M. 56 Sec. Luger: 2M. 30 Sec.
    Rust Test (Time)..................................... Colt: 3 Sec. Luger: 20 Sec.
    Malfunctions due to mech, excl. dust, rust... Colt: 2 Luger: 12
    Misfires.................................................. Colt: 1 Luger: 4
    Jams..................................................... Colt: 27 Luger: 31

    In fact, there are few of the tests conducted wherein the Luger bested the Colt and they were minor items at that. Anyone contending that the Luger is more reliable than the 1911 under battlefield conditions is delusional.

    The earlier 1901 U.S. Army tests of the 1900 Lugers did not compare other designs to the Luger and the pistols were not found to be suitable for US military purposes.

    The original Luger cartridge was the 7.65mm, a bottleneck design that aids greatly in reliable functioning of the pistol. The taper of the 9mm case is also an aid to reliable function. The cartridge adopted by the German Army in 1908 used a truncated cone bullet that was replaced by the familiar round nose we see today. This was caused by Allied complaints that the TC bullet was "inhuman" and caused greater suffering than acceptable.

    The German military 9mm cartridge fired a 124 grain bullet at 1250 FPS..... not exactly a "light" load and certainly stiffer by a good margin over most commercial 9mm sold today.

    I've reloaded for the .30 Luger for more than 40 years so I rarely use commercial cartridges. It's a much better cartridge than many realize, especially when a hollowpoint or softnose bullet is used. The softnose bullets don't always feed well through all Lugers but in other pistols it's OK.

    The bore diameter of a German military 9mm Luger is stamped on the underside of the barrel. It will normally be 8,82 or 8,83 and is in millimeters. That translates to .3472" and .3476" and is very good. No one normally complains about Luger accuracy which is generally excellent.

    While most Lugers I've owned - a fair number - have had original recoil springs, a few have been cut or replaced. The only way to tell is to actually look at the spring unless it's so weak that it's obviously been fooled with.
     
  22. unspellable

    unspellable Member

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    Luger

    There were TWO series of US Army tests in which both the Luger and Browning's design competed. The 45 Caliber Luger was in the second of these, but not the first, which was the one in which the Luger beat the Browning design for reliability. Admittedly, at this time the Browning design was still in its developmental stages while the Luger was a mature design. I'm not contending that the Luger is really more reliable than the 1911. It is to be admitted that the Luger will not tolerate much mud under the side plate but on the other hand the 1911's reliability has been exaggerated. The main point here is that the inherent reliability of the Luger is far better than urban legend would have it.

    Datig's book is no longer considered the "Bible". A great deal has been learned since his book about the Luger's history and development.

    The original 9 mm loads did NOT run at 1250 fps. They were closer to 1050 fps. Which makes today's commercial stuff a bit spiffier.

    I agree the 7.65 mm Parabellum is a better cartridge than generally realized. In my own handloads I have run cast semi-wadcutters and full wadcutters with excellent reliability.
     
  23. doubs43

    doubs43 Member

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    While Datig's book is certainly dated and much new information has been discovered, the US Army tests are well documented by him. If you have a reference showing that tests were conducted in 1906, I'd be very interested in seeing it. The US Army never seriously considered the 9mm as a military cartridge and after the tests of 1901 with the Model 1900 .30 Lugers and their experiences in the Philippines using a .38 caliber revolver, it was decided that any future pistol the military adopted would be in .45 caliber.

    Mud under the side plate is far less likely than mud or dirt in the receiver, breach block and toggle train that can really cause problems for the Luger. The magazine is also susceptible to dirt and damage, especially in the early stamped metal mags. A clean and properly lubed Luger with good ammo and magazine will work very nicely. I have years of experience with both the Luger and the 1911..... more than 50 years actually. I love to shoot the Luger but when I carry, it's a 1911 because experience has proven to me beyond doubt that the 1911 is far more reliable.

    It is a well known fact that the Luger cartridge as loaded for the German military was considerably hotter than commercial US cartridges. The 124 grain bullet at 1250 FPS is according to Datig and I've seen nothing authoritative to dispute that. My 1979 Speer manual shows 8.8 grains of Blue Dot giving 1233 FPS from a S&W Model 39 pistol with a 4" barrel. 5.9 grains of Unique is listed at 1192 FPS and a load recommended for the Luger years ago was 6.0 grains of Unique that I've used often with great success. I have no reason to doubt that the German military load Datig lists is true.
     
  24. Sunray

    Sunray Member

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    "...can't seem to pick out a slide anywhere..." There isn't one. Jim's link to the Luger forum animation is perfect for showing how they work. Also shows the downside of the action. Dust etc can easily get into the pistol.
    One thing to remember is that the design is a very early semi-auto pistol design. Dates from 1900ish.
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2009
  25. doubs43

    doubs43 Member

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    unspellable, with regard to loading the .30 Luger cartridge - and you may already do this - I buy .312" (32 caliber) jacketed bullets in 85 and 90 grain weights and then run them through a .309 or .310" Lyman sizing die to get the correct diameter bullets for the Luger.

    Not surprisingly, some of the newer pistols chambered for the .30 Luger seem to use .308" groove diameter barrels. The Browning HP and Benelli B-80 use the smaller diameter bore while the Walther P-38 seems to stay with the original specs for the cartridge. The Browning in .30 Luger uses a slide scaled for the cartridge and the slide from a 9mm will not fit the frame of a .30. I find it odd that they would do that as the .30 Luger cartridge will properly work other 9mm pistols with full size slides. The HP magazines are also marked "7.65 Para Only".

    I bought my HP about 1989 when Ron Shirk imported 500 of them. They are relatively rare.
     
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