Hunting for your First Luger
HUNTING FOR YOUR FIRST LUGER by LC (November 1995 Newsletter)
I am frequently asked, “I wanna buy a good luger. What should I look for, and how much should I be willing to pay?”
Good question, considering the fact that eight manufacturers produced over 450 variations including militarys for the two world wars, commercial sales, and foreign contract sales, over a span of nearly a half century!
First of all, buy quality. Try to avoid re-blues, mis-matched numbers, non-factory alterations, etc. Of course, as with other areas of firearms collecting, the scarcer the variation, the less “picky” you can be. Let’s assume however, that you’re serious, and you want your first Luger to be a “keeper” with good potential for future appreciation in value.
80% original blue is my minimum standard on the more common pieces. Matching numbers on all metal parts should be adhered to. It is common however to encounter mismatched numbered grips and magazines. This can be forgiven if thie price is generous. Both grips and magazine should definitely be the correct type for the model however.
Currently, I would consider a collectable Lugerpistol to start at around $500, give or take. At this figure, foreign contract sales pieces are probably out, due to scarcity. This leaves the militarys and commercial sales models.
From the beginning of this century til the early ’30’s the majority of Lugers both military and commercial were manufactured by DWM (Deutsche Waffen Und Munitions Fabriken). WWI miIitarys dated 1914 through 1918 in cal. 9mm with 4″ barrel, and 1920 and 1923 commercial models in cal. 7.65 Luger (.30 caL) with 3 7/8″ barrel length being the most frequently encountered.
From the Mid ’30’s through 1945 mauser Werke of Oberndorf became the prime producer; it’s primary client being the military and police organizations of Hitler’s third Reich. Most frequently encountered ofthis group would be the 5/42, byf, and 42 (all codes for Mauser) toggle marked Lugers in 9mm with 4″ barrel.
Now that we have narrowed the field, personal preference kicks in. I like the DWM militarys of WWI. Fit and polishing of metal parts was exceptional. Rust blueing, and “straw” colored small parts such as trigger, safety, etc was the norm, as well as finely hand-chequered and fitted walnut grips. Magazines were nickle or cadium plated, with walnut bottom pieces. From the latter ’30’s through the end of WWII, the hot dip, or “speed” blueing (quicker, but not as durable) of all parts became standard. Grips on some models were plastic and magazines bottoms plastic or aluminum.
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