View Full Version : Lugers & 'straw'

October 22, 2002, 09:44 PM
When talking Luger pistols, just what exactly does the term "straw" refer to?
How hard is it to find a diecent shooter and how much would one expect to pay? I checked the auction boards but most of the listings were collector models, I would'nt know a collector from a repo.

Steven Mace
October 23, 2002, 08:46 AM
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.

Reference: http://www.lugerforum.com/FAQ.html

Hope this helps!

Steve Mace

October 23, 2002, 09:31 PM
Helped a lot. Thanks!

James K
October 26, 2002, 12:07 AM
If you want to see "strawing", polish a small piece of steel and sit it on the burner of an electric stove. Turn on the heat and watch the steel go to "straw" (gold), then to purple, then to blue.

You can still find some Lugers that were brought back from Eastern Europe a few years ago for under $500, but they will be mismatched and refinished. They will do for just a representative Luger, and will even increase in value. Look around at the gun shows and on the web auction sites, but there is a lot of fake and overpriced stuff out there.

There was a repro Luger being made, but I am not sure if it is still on the market. It was made in, I think, Texas, and was stainless steel.


Cap n ball
October 28, 2002, 12:02 PM
Jim, I think Stoeger was the manufacturer or importer of the stainless steel Lugers. I saw one for sale about a year ago and I believe it was a Stoeger. There were only three sets of dies ever made for making Lugers andI believe that at least one set was destroyed in the war and that the others were soldto intrests outside of Germany. Of course these dies were retooled many times and it may be that a completely new set was made from an old original like the ones that DWM must have owned. I have a feeling that there will always be Lugers somewhere. Accurate but sort of fragile and a bit over complicated, they will always have their fans if for no other reason than they are such a beautiful design and the history behind them is fascinating.

A good 'shooter' Luger will cost about $500.00. Magazines are difficult to find and many that you will find have weak internal springs that will have to be either replaced or retempered. The old ones with the wooden knobs are the best IMO. I buy good spare parts whenever I run across them at shows. They are never cheap. If you have one with matching numbers and intend to shoot it I would reccommend shooting it with a replacement extractor to preserve the original as this is usually the first part to break. Irma Werks made a really neat conversion kit that allows you to shoot 22 cal. and thus keep the 9mm costs down as well as the wear on the original parts. I bought an old shot out barrel that still had a good slide and installed one of those kits. It fits perfectly on the reciever and shoots just as well as it does in 9mm. Kit's are scarce but they can be found if one really looks at around $200.00. The conversion magazine is included of course.

James K
October 28, 2002, 11:25 PM
Hi, cap and ball,

You are correct that there were only three sets of original tooling. DWM had one, Erfurt had one, and Bern had one. DWM became Mauser. The Erfurt tooling went to Simpson; after the Nazi's took over, it was used by Krieghoff (the Simpson owners were Jewish). After WWII, Mauser bought the Swiss tooling and made some pistols for Interarms.

But the stainless steel ones were made here by (I think) a fellow named Mitchell. The major parts were cast, but seemed to work OK (or as OK as a Luger gets). He sold them for a while under his own name, then Stoeger bought him out and sold them for a while.

There were two .22 Luger type pistols, the "Stoeger Luger" and the one made by ERMA. Neither was anywhere near as good as the Ruger standard model, and they were around the same price.

Stoeger owns the trademark "Luger", so only they can actually sell a gun under that name. Both Interarms and Mitchell(?) called their pistols "Parabellum", which was an old DWM trademark also used as their cable address.

Luger failures have always been chronic. In 1949 or 50, I fired a brand new Luger, all matching, including magazines, with German ammunition. The magazines had never been loaded and were not worn out. I got at least one failure out of every couple or three magazines. Lugers are nice, I love to collect them, but no way would I trust one to work if I needed it.


October 30, 2002, 11:49 AM
Also, the Mitchell stainless was made in .45 ACP. IIRC the whole frame was cut in half and widened a bit for the .45. Don't know how many were ever sold though. Don't recall but I don't think Stoeger sold any .45 ACP "Lugers"
As to the Erma Lugers, I have one of the long-barreled versions unfired in my safe. I think it was called the Artillary model but not sure. Sure is pretty but the quality of craftsmanship is doubtful when seen closeup.

Cap n ball
October 30, 2002, 12:39 PM
Thanks Jim. The Luger that I own is a 1917 DWM Artillary. It took me about a year to find the entire rig. Holster and board stock along with the tools. I also have a 2nd issue 'trommelmagazine' along with the loading tool. 32 rounds! It's tricky to load but once you get it down it's not too bad. I haven't had much of a problem with rounds catching or misfires but I think there is much to what you say about their inherant weaknesses. Mine shoots beautifully on the range and is super accurate. I agree with you that it wouldn't be my choice for dependable protection though...in that case my option would be for a shotgun. Probably something along the lines of an Ithaca Burglar Gun. Short and nasty.

October 30, 2002, 07:51 PM
I have a 1916 DWM Artillery, and I'm reluctant to shoot it, I'd sure hate to break something and end up with a gun worth half as much! :eek: I have a Mauser S/42 that suffices for shooting...

Cap n ball
November 1, 2002, 12:18 PM
Johnwill, I don't shoot mine very often either but when I do I use either the 22.caliber kit I described above or I supplement the extractor and firing pin along with the toggle-link with non-matching numbered extras I've bought over the years. Those parts are the most prone to damage. They were hard to find and pricey but I figured that if I wanted to shoot the thing, then that was the only way to do it and not be sorry. I find something for Lugers at almost every gunshow I go to and if I can afford it I will buy. The last show I went to there was a fellow there who had a beautiful Borchart/Luger carbine for sale. Unfortunately I just didn't have the $10.000.00 on me...or anywhere else for that matter.

November 1, 2002, 02:44 PM
Just want to post there is a good picture of original straw parts on a Navy Luger on this thread:


James K
November 1, 2002, 10:01 PM
I have several Lugers and a Borchardt, but no Artillery model. I almost got a Luger Carbine one time, but got beaten out; I had the money, but was just too late.

I have done some digging and the guy's name was Mitchell, and he worked out of Santa Ana, CA. When his company folded, Stoeger tried to start production in Texas, but I don't think there were many guns made. Mitchell made quite a few, but I don't know the production figures.

The "Stoeger Luger" was the .22 that was made in this country. While it used a toggle and was marked "STOEGER LUGER" (remember, only Stoeger can use the Luger name), it really resembles a Luger in only the most general way.

Some sidelights. In the late 1940's, a cheap plastic cap pistol, a scaled down copy of the Luger, was put on the market. It actually fired a BB with the power from a paper cap. Of course, it was little more than a slightly dangerous toy and about worthless. It was called, probably in an attempt to play on the name, the "Kruger". (No, Freddy had not yet been heard from.)

So when another Luger copy appeared on the market, even though it seemed to be a real gun, many folks thought it was another cheap ripoff and yet another attempt to play on the name and fame of the genuine Luger. That gun was made by a couple of young kids in an old barn, so it was not likely that they would ever amount to anything and buying a gun from an outfit like that seemed like taking a chance. Even their names were obviously silly aliases - Sturm and Ruger.


November 2, 2002, 02:41 PM
I have several Lugers and a Borchardt, but no Artillery model.
I have several Lugers and an Artillery. I'll trade you a great 1916 DWM Artillery for the Borchardt! :) I've looked at a bunch of those, but the one that I really lusted for in the case with the extra magazines and accessories was $16,000! I'd have to sell a substantial part of my collection for one gun to own that one... :eek:

Any chance of posting a picture of your Borchardt? :)

November 2, 2002, 08:30 PM
I have several Lugers and a Borchardt, but no Artillery model.
I have several Lugers and an Artillery.
I have no Lugers but would be glad to give one a loving home. If any of you get tired of looking at yours e-mail me!

James K
November 3, 2002, 12:19 AM
Hi, Johnwill,

My Borchardt is not in the greatest shape, but I didn't pay $16K for it, either. It does give one an idea of where Luger was coming from and what he had to work with.

It also gave me an understanding of why the Luger has such a slanted grip, and it is not because of human engineering.

The Borchardt spring pulls the toggle almost straight down. But when Luger moved the spring to the grip, he would have found out that the force moment of the spring (flat at the time) was more toward the front than downward if the grip was straight. So he had to slope the grip to get enough downward force to close the gun. He "accidentally" created one of the great gun grips, but the result was also a lot of problems with the magazine angle, which the Borchardt, with its straight magazine, did not have.


November 3, 2002, 01:06 PM
I always thought that button on the side of the Luger mag follower was really effete - until I got my first P08. The feed angle is so sharp you can't load the mag without pushing down on the button.

So, Jim and others, what we need to do is create the engineering to close the toggle with a shallower grip angle for feed reliability and then we will have the PERFECT Luger, right?

As I understand it, the Luger is the strongest locking system extant and would be even better with modern metallurgy.

BTW, we can also design it around the 45 ACP, thereby killing a number of birds with one stone! :D :cool:

H&K Fan
November 4, 2002, 11:22 PM
Actually there is a well respected pistol smith who converts non-matching parts number Lugers into .45 ACP models, much like the ones used for the US Army pistol trials was chambered in .45 ACP. He does excellent work and (surprise!) they are not cheap. IIRC, he sets them up to shoot one specific factory load.