Object Title

Lange Pistole 08 (LP08) pistol and drum magazine

Lange Pistole 08 (LP08) pistol and drum magazine


Artillery crews in the First World War manned guns of immense destructive power. However, they still required a self-defence weapon. Rifles were too large and heavy, and pistols were limited by their short barrels and one-hand design to use at very close range. A pistol carbine was proposed to bridge the gap - with a shoulder stock, long barrel and long-range sights. Crews could keep this weapon on them at all times without it getting in the way or weighing them down, but still fight effectively to defend their position if called upon. Georg Luger had designed and marketed several of these carbines for commercial sale to target and recreational shooters, which eased development of this new military equivalent. The flat paddle-style stock also contained a leather holster, rather like that supplied with the progenitor of the Luger series, the Borchardt C93. With stock detached and the pistol inserted in it, the whole package was almost half the size. Pistols had been provided with long barrels and stocks since flintlock days, the best known being the Mauser C96 'Broomhandle'. What set the new Luger apart was a high capacity drum magazine; the first of its type. These feature a spiral arrangement to fit as many cartridges as possible, and a clock-style spring that must be wound before use to push rounds into position. This was bulky for artillery use, and instead formed part of the equipment of a new type of soldier; the assault trooper (Stosstruppe).

Use and effect

Far from treating the LP 08 as a defensive weapon, assault troops would enter enemy trenches and hit them hard at close range with rapid decisive gunfire and explosives. To fulfil this role, unlike its original purpose as a seldom-used sidearm, the LP 08 would have had to function reliably for perhaps hundreds of rounds without servicing or even cleaning. The complicated Luger mechanism, with its close manufacturing tolerances, was therefore not ideally suited to the role. Like the Luger itself, the drum magazine had to be carefully maintained and stored to prevent jamming. The use of the Luger platform did mean that if a stoppage occurred, the operator could discard the drum, clear the jam, and insert a spare standard capacity Luger magazine to continue fighting. Whilst the LP 08 was not capable of fully automatic fire, it nonetheless allowed soldiers to deliver an unprecedented amount of firepower from a pistol-sized weapon. This was due to the high capacity of the drum magazine and the stability offered by the shoulder stock. The low recoil of the cartridge kept shots on target at close range, and the precision sights allowed for accurate single shots out to at least twice the effective range of a normal pistol. The LP 08, in its assault role, also inspired the Bergmann MP 18,1 submachine gun and with it, a whole new class of weapons. In 1922 this configuration was marketed as a rival to the new Thompson submachine gun by the Pacific Arms Corporation of California, who dubbed it a 'Baby Machine Gun'.


Loading the player...
Pistole 08 (P08) Parabellum pistol with magazine drum being loaded and fired into ballistic soap target.


Action / Operating system Recoil
Barrel length 20.3 cm (8 in)
Calibre / Bore 9x19mm Parabellum (.36 in)
Capacity (rounds) 8 or 32
Country of manufacture Germany
Date entered service 1914
Effective range 100 m (109 yd)
Feed BoxDrum magazine
Manufacturer Deutsche Waffen und Munitionsfabriken
Manufacturer Erfurt arsenal
Muzzle velocity 350 m/s (1148 fps)
Overall length 66.7 cm (26.3 in)
Primary operator Germany
Weight 2.035 kg (4 lb 49 oz)


Jonathan Ferguson
Lisa Traynor