Georg Luger, an admirable design

Georg Luger was, later in his career, a consulting designer for a German firearms and munitions company in the late 1800’s. While his design work is limited to a single project, the parabellum pistol, commonly referred to as the Luger, this project’s success was quite remarkable. After receiving criticisms of one of the company’s pistols at US military trials, Luger took the awkward Borchardt pistol’s main idea and turned it into a comfortable, ergonomic, and successful pistol that was used by several European countries leading into world war one, and was in service into the cold war. The most notable part of his design, however, is the fact that nearly no changes were made to Luger’s original design throughout the early 1900’s. Designing any product without a need for alteration, augmentation or even complete redesign before being widely accepted and purchased is an impressive feat, and an admirable accomplishment.



Above, a diagram from Luger’s patent for his design.



Above, the more awkward Borchardt design, which was commercially unsuccessful.




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4 Comments. Leave new

  • Ethan Street
    March 4, 2023 10:14 am

    The design is really nice and looks very good for reducing the weight. Its remarkable it didnt have to go through reideration. I am just curious why he is your favorite design and stands out among all the others

    • As I describe in my response to Alex, the comfort brought by the grip angle and low felt recoil of the minimal reciprocating mass is why I admire Luger’s work, as well as the lack change needed. Although, as Alex detailed, the Luger handgun is a bit complex and precise for extended field use, as well as being a pain to machine and maintain. Having used and inspected one before, the magazines, which on other weapons are cast or stamped, are stamped, bent, welded, machined, and riveted such that machine marks are nearly impossible to find. It is as impressive as it is impractical.

  • I am also a fan of Luger. The toggle lock of the P08, while fragile, is such a cool design. I think its design is really great for the early 20th century, but there a reason its product only lasted until 1942, it is complex and intricate. The P38 was much better for production. But the P08 holds that aesthetic grip angle and unique toggle lock. Now wonder American GIs treasured them so much. And the C-93 is just such a unique looking handgun. Ever had the chance to use one?

    • I have had the pleasure of testing out a Luger handgun, (although have never seen a Borchardt in person) and I must say it is the most comfortable and ergonomic tool of any kind I have used. I really appreciate the old-fashioned ergonomics, which sometimes sacrifice simplicity or manufacturability in favor of user comfort. Owning a P38 myself, I can say it is incredibly simpler and both comfortable and likely more reliable, but not quite as natural as the old P08’s.


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