Check Out This “Varmint-Getter” In The Guise Of An Artillery Luger.
The old saying, “A thing of beauty is a joy forever” can well be applied to the German Luger pistol. Since its conception over 100 years ago it’s been cherished by collectors and shooters alike. During the first half of the 20th century the Parabellum 08 Luger pistol was purchased by 20 counties and used in two World wars and innumerable shooting conflicts. The Luger has become an icon to collectors, shot by some, converted by a few — and wildcatted by even fewer.
I came in possession of this converted Luger many years ago at a gun show. It appears this .25 caliber Luger started life as a 1923 commercial Luger frame with an Erfurt receiver with toggle link and bolt. A master machinist did a beautiful job of fitting an 8.25″ tapered octagonal barrel to the receiver. It’s chambered for the .30 Luger cartridge case, necked down to .25 caliber and rifled with one turn in 1″.
Just in front of the receiver, the top flat of the barrel was machined to accommodate an adjustable Martini Cadet rear sight. The front sight appears to be a Williams flat gold post mounted on a raised portion at the end of the barrel. The Luger is smoothly polished, blued and sports a new set of checkered walnut grips. At first glance it appears to be a new WWI German Artillery Luger.
The Luger came with a hand made set of reloading dies and a few fire-formed .30 Luger cases. Wanting to shoot this fine looking Luger set me on a course of experimentation to find what powders and bullets would get this puppy working.
Looking a good deal like a stock Artillery Luger,
the converted gun is actually a custom .25 caliber
hot-shot, pushing a 60 gr. bullet out at over 1,770 fps!
Essentially a “parts” gun, the custom Luger still
showed top quality workmanship from whoever built it.
David shoots his custom Luger — it’s not a safe queen.
Without any loading data, the closest references I could find were for the .30 Luger cartridge in some of my loading manuals. I contacted Neco Enterprises in Benicia, California and obtained their QuickLOAD program.
I learned the pressure limit of the .30 Luger was 28,000 psi and the burning rate for powders like Bullseye were too fast. Powders like H110 were too slow to obtain any reasonable velocities and still function a Luger pistol. Hornday’s 60 gr. jacketed round nose soft point bullet was chosen over Speer’s longer, pointed 75 gr. jacketed soft bullet because it was too long to function through the Luger magazine.
At this point a word of caution is needed, and I do not recommend any of my reloading data. When experimenting with any new wildcat cartridge, it’s imperative powder charges should start very low and work up to higher charges slowly. Bullet seating depth and bullet crimp are critical and pressures can raise quickly with just a tenth of a grain more powder.
After hundreds of experiments with a dozen different powders and charges I found the .25 Luger worked best with Blue Dot and Alliant 2400 powders. With 7.4 grs. of Blue Dot behind the Hornday 60 gr. bullet I got an average velocity of 1,771 fps. I found 8.7 grs. of 2400 pushed the same bullet at 1,632 fps. The Luger’s legendary accuracy was present, and with its great trigger pull, this puppy is a real varmint getter.
By David Smith
The custom octagonal barrel looks “right” on this custom Luger.
The unknown builder crafted a Martini Cadet adjustable
rear sight in place on the top flat of the barrel.
Posed on top of this West German police hat, the custom
Luger looks good enough to have been an issue military
or commerical model.
(L-R) Factory .30 Luger, loaded .25 Cal. rounds with 60 gr.
Hornady and 75 gr. Speer pointed bullet. The later would
not load into the Luger’s magazine but can be single-loaded.
For more info: www.americanhandgunner.com/index/