From the shooter’s standpoint P38s are joys. I’ve found them to be much more reliable than Lugers. Whereas the latter pistol has a well-deserved reputation for finicky-ness with ammunition, the P38 seems to digest just about any decent load put into it. I’ve fired mine with several types and shapes of jacketed bullets, commercially cast roundnose bullets, and my own home cast roundnose bullets. All have functioned fine, which is not the same as saying my P38 has always been 100 percent reliable.

It will fail to totally eject a case perhaps once in every couple hundred rounds. A factor by which I think Lugers, in general, surpass P38s, in general, is in inherent accuracy. Again I’m judging that by a single specimen of each in my collection. However, it’s something several books dedicated to World War II firearms also mention.

Another engineering point where the German P38 designers should get an extra “attaboy” is with the sights — or rather the ability of the P38’s sights to be zeroed. Again let’s compare the P38 to the U.S. Model 1911. That latter handgun can only be zeroed for windage. The front sight is staked into the slide so elevation is what you get. On the other hand there are various heights of sight blades available for P38’s so elevation can be adjusted. Furthermore, those blades can be drifted laterally in their dovetails in order to change windage too. My P38 hit center but very low when I bought it. A visit to my gunsmith revealed he had a handful of P38 sight blades in stock. We picked the lowest and put it in. Bingo! Now my P38 hits to its sights with most loads.

Perhaps the best compliment given to the P38 is one I read in one or another of my many books on World War II firearms. It said American GIs wanted Lugers for souvenirs — but they picked up P38s to use for fighting.

Additional Reading

Read Handguns Of WWII Part 1: German P08 "Luber"

Read Handguns Of WWII Part 2: Japanese Type 14 8MM Nambu

Read Handguns Of WWII Part 3: The British Enfield No. 2 .38

Read Handguns Of WWII Part 4: The U.S. Model 1917 .45 ACP ( Colt Version )

Read Handguns Of WWII Part 6: The Smith & Wesson Hand Ejector, 2nd Model .455 Webley

Read Handguns Of WWII Part 7: U.S. Model 1911/1911A1

Read Handguns Of WWII Part 8: The French Model 1935A

Read Handguns Of WWII Part 9: Smith & Wesson Model 1917

Read Handguns Of WWII Part 10: The Webley MK VI .455

Read Handguns Of WWII Part 11: Soviet Handguns

Read Handguns Of WWII Part 12: Reloading For World War 2 Handguns