Frequently Asked Questions...

Q: How do you create those smileys in the Message Board?

Q: What's my Luger worth?
A: The value of a Luger from a collectibilty viewpoint is governed largely by four factors:

1) Variation
2) Matching Numbers
3) Condition
4) Percent of strawing remaining (if applicable)

Variation refers to the model or type of Luger. What year is it? Lugers were manufactured from 1900 until 1945 in three different eras (Imperial, Wiemar and Nazi or Third Reich era). What caliber is it? Lugers were made primarily in two calibers (7.65mm and 9mm) however other caliber variants do exist. Is it a military or commercial Luger? Commercial Lugers were made throughout its production life and are marked differently than military Lugers. Is it a contract Luger? Lugers were made under contract for a number of governments, and were marked with symbols and in the language of the contract country (i.e. Persian and Bulgarian). Such differences combine to classify the variation, each has its own uniqueness, rarity and value.

Matching Numbers refers to the fact that on Military Lugers all the small parts were stamped with the last two numbers of the serial number. The Luger is a highly engineered pistiol (some might even argue "over engineered") and as such, a great deal of hand fitting was required to get the individual pistol to perform to specifications. All the small parts were numbered to the pistol to assure that all the fitted parts stayed together and did not get mismatched, which could cause jams and poor performance. If all the numbers match on your Luger, the appearance is, that the gun still has all its original parts. Magazines also were numbered to match the pistiol, but it is rare to fine a pistol with its matching magazine, and not having a matching magazine does not necessarily devalue the Luger. On the other hand, having a matching magazine certainly increases the value. Commercial Lugers were not numbered in the same way, nor are they valued the same.

Condition refers to the finish of the Luger, both the metal itself as well as the finish. This is expressed as a percentage. A very fine pistol will be in the high 90s, such as 97%, 98%. The finish should also be original, either rust blue or dip blue depending on the year of the Luger. In late 1937 Mauser decided to stop rust bluing Lugers as a means to speed up production, as dip bluing was faster but less durable. In either case the finish needs to be the original finish appropriate for the period. Condition of the bore is also an element, although collectibles are very rarely fired, not so much because they can't be, but because the possibilty exists to break a small (numbered) part, and a replacement part then devalues the pistol often by hundreds of dollars. Grips and their condition are also part of the picture. Are they clean, unbroken and the checkering sharp, and of the appropriate material for the period?

Percentage of strawing remaining refers to several small parts that were heat treated to a gold (or straw) color. Most noteably these were the trigger, takedown lever, magazine release, thumb safety and the ejector. The strawing fades over time and with use, so the percentage of straw remaining is a key factor. Mauser stopped the strawing processing in late 1937, coincidental with the change in bluing practices, and all Lugers produced after that were not strawed.

So with all these variables, you can see that it's very difficult to answer the question "What's my Luger worth"?, with any degree of accuracy without knowing at least much of the information outlined here. To assist us to help you, we have put two documents in the Technical Information section of this site under the heading "Identification Sheets" which can be downloaded to assist you in gathering and cataloguing that data. Once you have that data, you can certainly go the Forum Message Board, and ask "What's my Luger worth"? "And by the way, here's all the info you'll need to answer my question".

Welcome to the Luger Forum and Luger collecting!

Dok (Webmaster)
Q: I want to get my first Luger, but don't where to go?
A: Ahh - yep, the first purchase can be somewhat intimidating, for sure..!! Here are a couple of suggestions:

DO - only buy from a reputable source. And yes, some of those have Websites, like Ralph Shattuck at
World of Lugers. Personally, I have bought quite a bit from him and never been disapointed. And he is
quick to offer advice - even if it means he doesn't make the sale to you then. There are other dealers
as well - some are good, and others, well - just be careful.

DO - have a budget in mind, try to narrow your search for a particular period Luger and decide
what you want from collecting. For example - do you want a RIG (Luger, holster, tool, etc.) - or do
you want just a nice pistol without the RIG? Do you want to shoot it - or will it be a "wall hanger"? It's my
opinion that most budding enthusiasts buy their first Luger just because they "stumble" onto it - and end
up selling their first piece because they decide later to focus on a certain era or variation. It's great that
the first one gets them into the hobby - but kind of "map out" where you want to take it..

DO - ask a lot of questions in the Forum - and don't be shy about asking what folks think about a
particuliar Luger, or our experience with a seller or dealer - BEFORE you buy!. Most of us will volunteer
that information either privately or publicly.

DO - get ready to become addicted to these very unique pistols - whether you decide to acquire an
Import marked, mis-matched shooter - or a totally MINT collectors piece, each is unique..!!

DO NOT - just bid on an open auction. IMHO, that's the worst way to buy your first Luger..!! Remember,
the sellers motive is to sell the Luger for as much as they can - not be concerned with what you really
want - nor answer your questions before you buy. (Maybe I've been burned too often on Auctions..!).

DO NOT - get discouraged if you don't find that "perfect" Luger the first day you start looking..!!

John D.
Q: How do you know if your Luger is a Collectible or a Shooter?
A: A Luger has collector value if it is all original (as indicated by matching
and unaltered parts) and at least 60% original finish remaining. If the
pistol in question is mismatched, or has been refinished, or has less than
60% original finish it has no collector value - and is a shooter.

This is the line that divides a collector grade Luger from a shooter grade
Luger. The value of a shooter grade Luger is its utility value (typically
$300 - $400). A collector grade Luger has value above its utility value
(depending on condition and variation, anywhere from about $500 to
over one million dollars).

This can get to be a troublesome subject, as some folks are sensitive to
having their Lugers described as either a "collector" or a "shooter", and
other confuse collector value and "collectability." In a world were some
folks collect bits of string and scraps of used tin foil, just about anything
is "collectable" - but very few things have collector value.

In terms of your pistol, if it is all original, the common four inch barrel
variation chambered for the 9 m/m Luger cartridge, and has, say, 98% or
better original finish its value would be in the range of about $900 - $1100.
If it has been refinished (or you should chose to refinish it) it would lose
its collector value and retain only its utility (shooter) value of about $350. - Kyrie
Q: Can you use a 7.65mm magazine in a 9mm Luger?
A: Yes, the same magazine can be used for either 9mm or 30Luger. The cartridge
length and base diameter are basically the same. In fact, the 30 Luger was the
original Luger cartridge, and when the German military was considering adopting
the Luger as it's official sidearm, a more powerful cartridge was requested.
Georg Luger simply necked up the 30L to a straight case and invented the 9mm Luger! -Hugh
Q: How do I clean up my old Luger grips, they are really dirty?
A: You never know what you are going to get with Luger grip cleanup. IF they are completely
oil soaked throughout, you are WASTING your time! IF, like the ones you see in the picture
they are covered with dry surface grime and oil from handling 80+ years, these are the
candidates you are looking for! This is a wide spread practice in the Luger community and
freely given to all.

Take the grips off the gun, does the back seem MUCH lighter color and dry
(no oil soaked through) IF yes continue. Be VERY careful removing them especially
around the safety area, because if they stick to the gun you may get a small chip come off.
OF course we are talking wood grips here!

Make up a solution of very warm water and MURPHY's OIL SOAP in a small bowl.
Fill the bowl about 3/4 full with water and put about a 1/2 capful of the soap and mix
well with a clean soft nylon bristle tooth brush. Needless to say, this toothbrush is never
to be used again for personal hygiene!

AGGRESSIVELY scrub the grips in the solution, you can put them right into the solution
without worry!

The solution should start to get really crappy looking as the dirt is stripped off. Change the
solution every 5 minutes or so until you get all the grime off (it took about 6 changes of solution
to do the grips you see in the picture below)

Once you have stripped all the crap off those grips you need to discard all the solution and water
rinse them clean. Then blot with a paper towel to get the water off them as much as possible.
Allow to air dry. This can take as little as 6 hours in arid climates or more in humid climates.
I usually let mine dry overnight!


With a SOFT brush, apply a very thin coating of BOILED LINSEED OIL
(Not plain, it MUST be BOILED) to the grips front, side and back. Let the grip stand for 5 minutes
(this allows the wood to soak up the oil to some degree), then paper towel (or toliet paper) blot
excess oil from checkering and grooving (very important to keep from getting excess deposits
of the oil crystalizing in the checkering)

Let air dry the same amount of time as the cleaning bath rinse.

Reinstall, they will look lighter color and fit better and tighter. Old soaked grips dont clean up
this way, but surface grip from handling and dirt do!
Good Luck and let me know how they turn out!

Q: What is the difference between hot Salt (dip) bluing and rust bluing?
A: The differences can be seen in the interior (in the white or blued) and is a by product of the nature of
the different bluing methodologies. In rust bluing, the bluing solution is painted on the surface to be blued,
and the part is then hung in a steam cabinet. The area of the piece painted with the bluing solution literally rusts.
When removed from the steam cabinet, the painted area is bright red with rust. This area is then carded
to remove the red rust, leaving a blued finish. If a deeper blue is desired, the entire process is repeated.
Since only the area one wishes to be blued is painted with the bluing solution, only that area ends up blued.

(Photos courtesy Ted Green)

In hot salt (sometimes called "dip") bluing, the entire part is dipped into a tank containing the bluing solution.
It is left to soak for a specific period of time, removed, the bluing solution still on the piece is neutralized,
and the part is oiled to stop the bluing process. Rust blue is a more durable finish, but a labor intensive finish.
Salt blue is less durable, but also less labor intensive. Anyway, that's why the inside surfaces of a rust blued
piece are in the white and the inside surfaces of a salt blued piece are blued. This is also one definitive way
to tell if an Imperial Luger has been reblued. If the inside of the frame is blued, it's a refinish. I hope this

Q: How come some Lugers have a red color? Was there a problem with the bluing?
A: The subject of the "plum color" has been a good subject for many years and the reason is quality control.
The real reason this plum color happens is that the bluing solution is set to a certain temperature, with a
certain concentration of bluing salts, and a certain type steel and steel hardness. If any of these variables
change, there will be changes in the bluing color. What happened on Lugers and P.38s that exhibit the
plum color is due to the "work hardening" of the steel during the manufacturing process. A piece of steel
when machined, should maintain a certain speed and feed for the cutter, which do not overheat the piece
of steel being machined.

During the war, the machine operators were trying to produce the parts as fast as possible, and still make
sure they passed inspection. If you will look at a P.38 frame near the rails, the machining marks normally
are very evident, and you may see the plum color there, and not on the lower half of the frame. When fast
feed rates are used in cutting the metal, and you have a coolant flow on the steel, it will do what is called
"work harden". This is the same as if it were heat treated. This change in hardness of the steel will not blue
the same as the rest of the steel that is not as hard. In a manufacturing operation for wartime, this would not
be reason enough to make changes in the time, temperature, and salt concentration for the bluing bath, so
they set these parameters for a "middle of the road" approach to bluing.

The protection to the steel is almost as good as a high quality blue, so the pistol passes all inspections. As
with any waring country, even the US, the quality of finish deteriorated as the war progressed. The Germans
were not dumb, and did not maufacture any weapons that were not safe for their troops to use. The last few
weeks of the war when there was no control, the quality did drop, but not until then.

Q: How do you put a new Wolff 38# mainspring in your Luger?
A: Putting in a Wolff 38# brand new one is the pits, but several things make it easier. I routinely take the old ones
out with just a long shank screw driver or tapered pin punch. This is what I do:

1. Take the Luger down to basic components, grips off and all other stuff in the way, safety etc.

2. Turn the frame upside down in your lap, or in a padded vise.

3. Insert the screwdriver or long punch through the spring guide hole.

4. Pull the punch downwards or toward you, compressing the spring and pushing up the guide
into the higher compartment PAST the lever arm.

5. While holding the spring compressed to this point, rotate the lever arm so when the spring is relaxed,
it will not contact the lever arm anymore.

6. Relax the spring and take a breather.

7. Do the same motion again compressing the spring and with a sideways movement of both hands,
(one of each end of the punch) push the guide bottom out of the frame (it will only go one way out).

8. This is usually the part when the spring and guide SHOOTS out of the frame!
(If you are careful you can retain them with your fourth arm and hand - LOL)

9. Putting it back in, is almost the reverse, but if you are putting in a new spring, get the frame in a vice for sure.

10. The TRICK to putting in the spring, is to get 90% of the total work done BEFORE you put the assembly into
the frame. Push the retainer to side, while it is INSIDE the spring, then hook it over the coils WITHOUT
compressing the spring. When it is hooked, NOW begin to twist the spring guide and reverse twist the end of
the spring, to SPIRAL wind the spring onto the retainer guide. A punch or screwdriver through the spring guide
will help with the twisting motion, as well as a pair of pliers to hold onto the spring.

11. When you have got this accomplished, you then put the entire assembly BACK into the frame.

12. With the frame upside down and in the vice, pull up with the punch, and make the HOOK end of the retainer
guide go into the upper end of the frame, and with another hand or really good coordination and luck, get the
crossbar of the lever arms to go under the hook of the recoil spring guide and release!

13. Congratulations, you have accomplished a great feat and even invented a few new cuss words. Now go bandage
those cuts on your knuckles and dont bleed on your LUGER!

Q: What did the "official" Luger lanyard look like?
A: No German army ever used an official lanyard to secure their pistols. If you take a close look at your holster, you'll see, that it is impossible to carry the pistol within, fixed with a lanyard. On pictures from WWI or WWII you can see several ways, that soldiers improvised a lanyard with a cord or anything else, to have the pistol fixed at their belts or uniforms, but there never has been any officially issued lanyard. I'm sure, the soldiers considered it a good idea to improvise something to prevent them from losing their pistols in the battle, but the army didn't offer any official help.

Now you could ask; when there was no lanyard, why did the pistols have a lanyard ring? The truth is, I don't know. Maybe the Prussian army took the lanyard ring over from the Navy pistol 04. The early Navy holsters are differnt, seamen on duty used to carry their 04s with an improvised white cord as a lanyard, but even the Navy never issued any official lanyard, as for example, the Colt Government M1911 pistol or as the British army had. So, if anybody tries to sell you an official German lanyard... be sure, it's a fake!

Milt Keller
Q: What is a "Black Widow" Luger?

Typically a 41 or a 42 dated chamber Mauser, toggle coded "byf" with black plastic grips (on about 20% of them). This was simply a marketing tactic employed, and the phase was coined by Ralph Shattuck (he tells me). It really worked. These guns have a black salt blued finish, black grips, and all blued (black color) small parts (trigger, safety lever and take down lever). Some of the 1940 vintage (a very few), and 41/42 Lugers had them also, but primiarly the "byf" with black grips are a "Black Widow". This was an American invention, and had no German basis at all! German collectors say "Huh?" sometimes, when you mention the term! Shown below is an example of a "Black Widow".