About 3,000 variations of the Luger pistol, also known as the Parabellum Pistole P-08, were made before World War One until 1945. Millions of Luger pistols were made by makers in Germany, England, Switzerland, and other countries. Stoeger is a United States gun company that owns the Luger trademark and still produces Lugers. The German military began using Luger pistols in 1908. Though the pistol is recognized by its exposed barrel and butt that fits into one's palm, the most reliable form of identification is by serial number. Identify your German Luger 761B by the serial number, proof symbol, production year stamp and the manufacturer's mark.
Locating the Serial Number
Examine the area beneath the Luger barrel on the metal in front of the trigger guard. Most Lugers have a four-digit serial number stamped into the metal. World War One German Lugers feature a four-digit serial number with a letter after or below the number. Identify the serial number.
Identify the last two digits of the serial number. These two numbers will appear on the chamber, side plate, slide, toggle, receiver, and possibly on the barrel, butt and back of the gun's magazine. The 9mm eight-round magazine fits up into the butt of the gun within the area of the gun covered, on the outside, by the grips. The two digits may also appear on other small parts.
Verify that the two digits on all parts match the last two digits of the serial number. If the digits do not match, the Luger in your possession was "married" or compiled with parts from different Lugers to create a whole. This is done for sales purposes to create a nicer looking gun.
Locating the Proof Symbol and Production Year
Examine the top of the Luger or the outer side of the frame for one or multiple proof marks. Proof marks are logos used by various gun manufacturers. Proof marks are as varied as the types of guns made. Two examples of proof marks are a starburst and an eagle with letters or numbers beneath.
Consult a Luger pistol or German military weapons identification and price guide book for a list of proof symbols. Identification and price guide books are available online through gun specialty stores, bookstores and through some gun dealers and stores. Books are the best locations for reliable lists and illustrations of all known proof symbols.
Look on top of the chamber near the start of the barrel for a year stamped into the metal. According to the Pistol History Society, after 1910 the gun's production year will be marked on the gun.
Locating the Maker's Mark
Look at the top of the Luger. Most makers used a stylized version of their name as the maker's mark. There were many makers of Luger, some are: Simson & Company, Erfurt, and Vickers and Krieghoff.
Locate the maker's mark. If you fail to find it on the top of the Luger, look on the side of the gun above the grip. Gun manufacturers placed their marks in a variety of places.
Consult a Luger pistol or German military weapons identification and price guide book for a list of manufacturers and their corresponding maker's marks.
Items you will need
- Serial number
- Production year
- Proof symbol
- Luger pistol or German military weapons identification and price guide book
- Maker's mark
- Serial numbers were often repeated on thousands of Luger pistols. The manufacturer's mark, production year, letter following or below the serial number and proof marks help narrow down the identity of a specific Luger model. You need to identify all of these marks to help determine the identity of a German Luger 761B or any other Luger model.
- According to the Olive-Drab website, the Walther P-38 was introduced onto the gun market in 1938. The German military produced this similar looking gun during both world wars. Today, the Luger and Walther P-38 are confused. Serial numbers and the consulting of identification and price guides for Luger and Walther firearms will help you identify which gun you own.
- date of the beginning of world war ii image by Alexey Klementiev from Fotolia.com