Obsession Overload - The Luger P08
A bucket list gun is something we obsess over daily. A gun that at every turn we research or watch YouTube videos nonstop to learn its origins, history and inner workings. For me, that gun is the Luger pistol.
For well over a hundred years the Luger P08 pistol and all its variants has been arguably the most recognizable pistol of this century. Made famous by German forces in two world wars, the Luger is the quintessential bucket list gun. The Luger is so distinctive that when Bill Ruger came out with his first .22 auto pistol, which has a grip frame and angle like a Luger that people thought the name Ruger was a typo in the first advertisements.
Contrary to what people may think, not all Luger pistols were carried by Germans. Quite the opposite, Lugers were also produced for police and military forces all over the world. Many commercial variants were also before, between and after world wars. There are many variants out there, but my recently purchased Luger comes with its own history.
Finland knew as far back as the 1920s that a Soviet influence was rising. Various soviet backed civil conflicts led Finland to arm themselves rapidly. Finland started purchasing guns from all over. Once the Finns received the gun it was sent to a gun company still around today, Sako.
At first glance, the pistol looks just like any other standard 9mm Luger variant, but upon taking a closer look there are differences. When Germans produce a gun, a serial number is put on the frame like most firearms around the world. The last three digits of the serial number was also put on every part they could. The Finnish models were put together differently though.
Sako believed reworking and hand fitting the parts provided shooters a more accurate and trustworthy firearm. If we look closely at the Finn Lugers notice they do not have matching serial numbered parts. Another difference between German and Finnish Lugers is the front sight configuration. Most Lugers possess the typical German pyramid front sight while Finnish models put a thin blade front sight on these guns, making it like an old-school bullseye competition sight. So, how do you tell a Finnish Luger from and German variant other than front sight work and serial numbers?
The easiest way to tell a Finnish Luger apart though is the grips. These guns have standard wooden checkered grips with the exception of a brass plate that would be installed on the right side of the grip. Most these guns, including mine, had the plate removed by the Finns prior to importation though the plates are still available in this country.
So, you want a Luger, where do you start?
First, you must ask yourself a few questions. Are you going to buy as an investment or just for pure pleasure of shooting and owning a Luger variant pistol? Anything WWII era with Nazi markings on it brings a premium. if you simply want a Luger in general get one from the First World War or a commercial model. WWI Lugers don’t bring the high price tag that WWII Lugers do.
I acquired my Luger from a gentleman who sold a collection of about 70 Luger variant pistols. Before he sold the lot he asked if there were any that stood out from the pack. Looking for something that was a pleasure to shoot, he presented a bargain on the Finnish Luger I shoot today.
I don’t consider myself a gun collector. To me, collecting implies that I stick to one genre of firearms such as: WWII, Browning a5 shotguns, or pre-war Smith and Wesson revolvers. I am not a collector, I am an accumulator.
Shooting these machined works of art make all the research and searching worthwhile. Stop by your local gun store, look through the used section and pick up a Luger. Stay safe, shoot straight, and good hunting. ~ Ian
Ian Bradley Johnson
Ian Bradley Johnson is a passionate firearms enthusiast. His gun hobbies include historical military and sporting firearms, hunting and collecting. Johnson is an avid hunter who enjoys travel and experiencing different hunting cultures abroad. Visit Ian’s Instagram page @ianbradleyjohnson.