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P-08 Commercial, BUG Proofed

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Subject Luger is a 1908 Commercial. This was the design which superceded the 1906: it has no grip safety, no holdopen, and no stock lug. It was accepted by the Army as the eponymous P-08. Serial numbers of the commercial model started with 39142 and ended with 71371; through serial# 69000 the numbers were interspersed with the serial numbers of 1906-model production. Estimated production for this model is 12,000 pieces (Still, "Imperial Lugers", p.11).

The pistol pictured is not a pristine sample. It is in good condition, but it has been altered and re-blued. The reblue is not very recent, the mag-light test reveals the beginning of "browning" under some areas, but the inside of the frame is blued, as is the recoil spring connecting link. At least the gun was stripped rather than buffed, all the edges and milling marks are sharp. Close observation will reveal unusual characteristics which I will present in more detail.


The right side of the gun shows the pin which has been placed during the addition of a holdopen, it can be seen just above and behind the trigger pin.


The added holdopen is itself unusual. Common practice (at least in the guns I have observed or seen illustrated) was that a very neat hole, just the size of the holdopen pin, was drilled throught frame at the juncture of the frame rail, the pin was installed and very carefully dressed to the contours surrounding it, and an inspection mark was stamped nearby. In this sample, the frame rail has been milled away with a rotary tool to the level of the frame, and the hole for the pin drilled into its center. Another odd feature is, the gun has definitely bee reblued, and the frame rail cutaway is blued. The holdpopen pin, however, is white, and so put in place after the reblue. I haven't a clue as to what this might portend, at the moment it is merely a puzzling observatoin.

1908 Commercial production presents the transition from the early BUG proof marks to the Nitro proof Crown/N. This pistol displays the early marks. Crown/B and Crown/U are found on the breechblock and left receiver, Crown/G is added on the barrel. B is the overload test proof specified by the proof law of 1892; it also denotes a completely finished pistol. U represents the word Untersuchung (inspected). G is found only on the barrel, and represents the word Gezogen (rifled) (from Costanzo, p. 196). 118,35 is a bore diameter measurement in accordance with English proof laws of 1894. It is equivalent to 9mm, but measured as the number of lead balls of the stamped diameter which weigh a pound (ibid, p. 191). This gun is not export marked. The witness mark appears to be two strikes, but aligned.


This pistol has an unusual alteration. In addition to the commercial edge serial number stamping of the side plate, the number has been stamped military-style on its face. The locking lever appears to have been replaced, and is stamped on its face with the same dies as the side plate--a different number font from the rest of the pistol.


I have wondered about these alterations. I have heard knowledgable speculation that this pistol could have gone to war as the private purchase of an officer or NCO, and been altered as per regulations during a depot repair. I remain to be convinced, however; I find the numbering die unusual, and wonder why the holdopen seems to have been added in an unconventional manner, and there is no added-holdopen proof.

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Dwight, the holdopen may have been added by a commercial gunsmith. Since the hole appears from the photograph to be in the area intruding on the raised frame rail and the ogive leading to it, it would be extremely difficult to drill through that area without the drill "walking off" or breaking on the uneven surface. Normal machine shop practice is to machine a "base" to drill into for these sorts of areas. I have not paid any attention to arsenal holdopen add-on proceedures and do not know if they just machined a smaller base, had somme walk off errors, or were very very good drill operators.

Nice pistol

regards, heinz
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