When I embarked upon assembling a collection of World War II firearms, naturally a Luger had to be a part of it. Knowing next to nothing about their finer points I purchased one from a trusted acquaintance. He steered me right. In the mid-1930s Germany turned to codes for marking their weapons instead of the makers’ names. This was done to keep the location of production facilities secret.

My Luger is coded S42, meaning it was made by Mauser Werke at Oberndorf, specifically for the German army. It is one of about a million made at that factory. It’s also dated 1938 and like most German weapons of that era it contains at least part of the serial number on virtually all parts. Here’s another idiosyncrasy about German weapon serial numbers. They are almost always four digits with a letter. Starting at 0001 with an “a” they go to 9999 in the “a” series and then start over with 0001 again but with a “b.” My Luger is numbered 7089 in the “L” series. It has most of its finish except on the backstrap of the grip frame, meaning it has been shot a bit. Also there are some tiny areas of slight pitting indicating possibly its leather holster retained moisture somewhere along the way. I don’t mind the blue wear or minor pits because I buy guns to shoot.