The Luger

Published on
October 28, 2018
Review Author(s)
Book Author(s)
Author: Neil Grant, Illustrators: Alan Gilliland, Johnny Shumate
Other Publication Information
Softbound, 7.25” x 9.75”, 80 pages
Product / Stock #
WPN 64
Company: Osprey Publishing - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: Osprey Publishing - Website: Visit Site
Front Cover

Neil Grant studied archaeology at Reading University, graduating in 1990. He worked as an auditor at the UK National Audit Office until 1996 when he joined Key Equipment Finance as an accountant. 2004 say Neil working at NSK Europe as an accountant until 2009 when he left to join English Heritage where he currently is the Head of Corporate Finance and Performance. He joined the Board of Trustees in 2018 for the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds. His interests in firearms, medieval edged weapons, and classical and medieval horsemanship has led him to author at least seven titles, including: The Bren Gun (2013), The Lewis Gun (2014), Mauser Military Rifles (2015), and Rhodesian Light Infantryman 1961-80 (2015), SAR80 Assault Rifles (2016), British Tank Crewman 1939-45 (2017).

Johnny Shumate works as a freelance illustrator living in Nashville, Tennessee. He began his career in 1987 after graduating from Austin Peay State University. Most of his work is rendered in Adobe Photoshop using a Cintiq monitor. His greatest influences are Angus McBride, Don Troiani, and Edouard Detaille. His illustrations have been featured in at least 65 books. His interests include karate, running, Bible reading, history, and making English longbows. Check out his website at,,, and

Alan Gilliland spent 18 years as the graphics editor of the UK's Daily Telegraph, winning 19 awards in that time. He now writes, illustrates, and publishes fiction (, as well as illustrating for a variety of publishers including Osprey. Check him out at

Osprey's 64th book in the Weapon series is a square back soft cover including 80 gloss paper pages. The top of the front cover features a black and white photograph of a Luger P 08, by far the most common Luger model. The bottom of the front cover features a photograph of Russian officer trying out a captured Luger on the Eastern Front during WWII. I counted 3 black and white pictures, 55 color photographs, 4 color illustrations, 5 color paintings, and two tables. Johnny Shumate contributes three battle-scene color paintings, including two 2-page spreads. Alan Gilliland provides the labeled color cutaway illustration of the Luger 9x19mm Pistole 08 and two black and white illustrations depicting the action during firing and the two major types of magazines.

Georg Luger patented an improvement on the first semi-automatic pistol, the Borchardt, in 1898. Known in most of the world as the Pistole Parabellum, it was marketed in the US as the Luger. The Pistole Parabellum was in continuous production from 1898 to 1948 with over 3 million manufactured. Collector demand re-initiated the production line in 1969 and continued to produce Lugers until 1986, although there were enough parts available to keep assembling Lugers until the 1990s. Although associated with German use in both World War One and Two, the Swiss were the first to adopt the Pistole Parabellum and kept it in use until 1950.

Neil Grant dives into the Luger’s background and then proceeds through the long development history of the Pistole Parabellum. Luger’s pistol started off chambered with a 7.65x21mm round, but by 1902, it has standardized on the 9x19mm, now the world standard for 9mm rounds. The Luger was eventually knocked off its perch due to its manufacturing cost, but arguably has maintained its legend in accuracy. Neil provides all of the technical details and the variety of developments utilizing both period and modern photographs. The illustrations provide insight into the pistol’s operation highlighted by Alan Gilliland’s full color illustration of the P 08. Neil Grant proceeds with the operational history of the Luger, with a focus on German utilization in World War I and II. Johnny Shumate's three in-action color paintings provide a highlight to this aspect. The contents include:


  • Acknowledgements
  • Editor's Note
  • The Royal Armouries
  • Introduction
  • Development – The First Semi-Automatic Pistols
  • Origins
  • The Borchardt C93 [Page 09]
  • The Borchardt-Luger
  • Swiss Trials
  • Swiss Lugers
  • British Trials
  • US Trials
  • The ‘New Model’ and Short Frame Changes
  • German Trials
  • The German Navy’s Pistole 1904
  • Changes in the P 08 Through Time
  • The Luger Exposed (Color Illustration)
  • The Lange Pistole 08
  • Dutch Trials
  • Other Military-Contract Lugers
  • Unusual Lugers [Page 29]
    • Baby Lugers
    • Fully Automatic Lugers
    • Odd Lugers
  • Use: Taking the Luger To Battle
  • Operation and Maintenance
  • Firing the Luger
  • Learning to Use the Luger
  • Cleaning and Caring for the Luger
  • The Luger in German Service Before 1914
  • The Luger in World War I
  • Lugers for Machine-Gun Detachments
  • Cavalry Melee on the Eastern Front, August 1914 (Painting) [Page 41]
  • The LP 08 at War
  • Trench Raid, 1918 (Painting)
  • The Luger in the Interwar Years
  • Police Lugers
  • Replacing the Luger
  • The Luger in World War II
  • Luftwaffe Lugers [Page 52]
  • Crete, May 1941 (Painting)
  • Lugers After 1945
    • France
    • East Germany
    • Norway
    • The Soviet Union
  • Impact: The Luger Evaluated
  • The Luger in Context
  • The Luger and its World War I Contemporaries
  • The Luger and its World War II Contemporaries
  • The Luger and its Contemporaries (Table)
  • The Luger as a Battlefield Souvenir
  • Technical Impact
  • Luger Magazines
  • 9mm Para bellum Ammunition
  • Commercial Impact [Page 72]
  • Manufacturing the Luger
  • Manufacturing the Luger (Table)
  • The Luger is Revived
  • ERMA and Stoger ‘Lugers’
  • Conclusion
  • Bibliography
  • Index

I really appreciated the structure that Neil Grant utilized, starting with the development of the Luger and the following discussion on its development and operational use. Notable was the section on the Pistole Parabellum’s impact evaluation where Neil compares the Luger to its contemporaries. Although Sweden did not bring the Luger into operational status, they did purchase many over the years for evaluation purposes.

Neil Grant provides a very readable text that is well supplemented with photographs and illustrations from Johnny Shumate and Alan Gilliland. I was able to read the book easily over two evenings. If you own one the previous releases in the Weapon series, you know what you are getting. If this is your initial entry into this series, you will be quite pleased.

My thanks to Osprey Publishing and IPMS/USA for the chance to review this great book.

Highly recommended!


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