Straw Finish Luger Handguns

Straw Finish Luger Handguns
Eric Poole's Luger is the pride of his handgun collection.

Straw Luger handguns are less desirable than those with original parts and finish, but enthusiasts are starting to discriminate less because Luger prices make them the most affordable way to own one.

The first P.08 Luger I handled is the property of U.S. Marine Master Gunnery Sergeant Travis Thompson. We were young corporals working in an armory when he brought his bring-­back in for repair. It was the souvenir of Thompson’s grandfather, U.S. Army Sgt. Donald Thompson, a “Motor-­T” driver from Grinnell, Iowa, during World War II. When it came to me, the Luger had a broken firing pin and a worn side-­plate. Besides the need for replacement parts to make it work, the Luger was complete, albeit with a barrel that was curiously missing half its bluing. The 1916-­manufactured DWM Luger was storied to have been picked up on the battlefield after it was found stuck in a pool of blood and snow, but this was not verifiable. The Luger was given to Sgt. Thompson by another soldier while stationed in Germany with the 9th Division, 9th Signal Company. Thompson passed away on August 18, 2015, and because he didn’t talk much about the war, many of his stories died with him.

It used to be that I wasn’t in a rush to acquire a Luger and I thought that they’d always be available. Before the Gun Control Act of 1968, Lugers could be bought from the back-­page ads of Guns & Ammo for $80. They were once so plentiful that they were featured on 19 G&A covers between 1960 and 1980. There were a few reproductions in the 1970s and ’80s that tempered the Luger market, but demand has since outpaced supply of significant variations. Clean examples are now in private collections and museums, and the internet has afforded easy access for deep-­pocketed collectors to quickly find those most coveted, driving prices skyward.

I own just one Luger and it’s the pride of my handguns. It features a mismatched Mauser S/42 upper with serial number “3481” on top of a lower receiver with the number “3568”; two guns brought together. With the exception of the magazine numbered “1391”, the small parts all feature either “68” or “81”. Though having a “68” number, the trigger, takedown lever, ejector, magazine release button and thumb safety are all straw parts, as is generally the case with rebuilt Lugers.

After 1936, rebuilt Lugers were salt blued with replacement parts heated in a furnace with burnt bone and carbonia bluing. The resulting finish was a light straw to brown color. Straw Lugers are less desirable than those with original parts and finish, but enthusiasts are starting to discriminate less because Luger prices make them the most affordable way to own one. I don’t mind shooting it either, and I’m always impressed by its reliability and accuracy.


It’s relatively easy to find information on a Luger’s markings through books and websites, but the backstories are what’s being lost among the gun store hordes, pawn shop trades and grieving widows. I asked the man from whom I obtained my Luger if he knew my pistol’s story, only to learn his. He didn’t know the soldier who brought it back, but he did tell me about the man who inspired his reason for purchasing it. Jack Thomas was one of Gen. George Patton’s tank commanders who had brought back three pistols. One of them was an S/42, and Mr. Thomas lent the young man the Luger for study. Proud of the kid’s affection for history, Thomas later gave him his pair of polished mahagony-­colored jump boots that he wore while following Patton across Europe. Though he never had a chance at acquiring Thomas’ Luger, he was taken back by the act of kindness. At the first chance he got, he snapped up an S/42 variant. Unfortunately, he didn’t think to get its story from the previous owner.


Even though the history of my Luger remains a mystery, I surmise that each of these souvenirs possess more of a story than we’ll ever know. Today, seeing a Luger in person is similarly as rare as meeting a World War II veteran. They are all special. We’re at the cusp of losing their untold tales, so if you have one or know one, please write it down and share it. Should you have the other half of Mauser S/42 with serial numbers 3481 or 3568, send me an email! I’d love to learn that story, too.


Recommended for You

The Springfield Armory Saint Victor continues to show that Springfield is a dominant force in the AR market. Reviews

Review: Springfield Armory Saint Victor

Guns & Ammo Editorial Staff - May 29, 2019

The Springfield Armory Saint Victor continues to show that Springfield is a dominant force in...

The Savage MSR 15 Competition is an out-of-the-box race horse ready to help you win 3-Gun matches. Rifles

Savage Arms MSR 15 Competition Review

James Tarr - May 21, 2019

The Savage MSR 15 Competition is an out-of-the-box race horse ready to help you win 3-Gun...

Normandy through the eyes of a 13-year-old. Historical

D-DAY: 75 YEARS LATER

Jacob Avery

Normandy through the eyes of a 13-year-old.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

All About .300 Blackout

All About .300 Blackout

The .300 Blackout is here to stay, and we take some time to look at new technology surrounding this cartridge. Next, we pit subsonic rivals against each other before stretching the legs of this CQB round out to 600 yards from a short 9-inch barrel.

Century Arms Introduces a Heavy-Duty AK Rifle

Century Arms Introduces a Heavy-Duty AK Rifle

Chambered in 7.62x39mm with components machined from extremely durable S7 tool steel, a chrome-moly 4150 barrel and a carburized 4140 steel bolt.

Black Hills Evolution of Rifle Cartridge: .308 Win. 175 Gr. Match

Black Hills Evolution of Rifle Cartridge: .308 Win. 175 Gr. Match

David Fortier talks with Jeff Hoffman of Black Hills Ammunition about the evolution of the .308 Win. 175 Gr. Match bullet.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

The Winchester .350 Legend straight-wall cartridge is ideally suited for hunting hogs and deer; here's everything you need to know to make it work for you. Rifle

.350 Legend Cartridge: Everything You Need to Know

Tom Beckstrand - April 02, 2019

The Winchester .350 Legend straight-wall cartridge is ideally suited for hunting hogs and...

The one glaring weakness in the .30-­caliber magnum cartridge lineup is best highlighted by examining the requirement around which Hornady designed the .300 PRC; the requirement came from the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM). Rifle

.300 PRC Review

Tom Beckstrand - March 12, 2019

The one glaring weakness in the .30-­caliber magnum cartridge lineup is best highlighted by...

Reminiscing on another great American lever action. Rifles

Review: Savage Model 99

Craig Boddington - February 11, 2019

Reminiscing on another great American lever action.

See More Stories

More Handguns

The striker-fired, Kimber EVO SP Two-Tone is a single-stack 9mm concealed-carry pistol with the soul of a 1911. Reviews

Kimber EVO SP Two-Tone 9mm Review

Brad Fitzpatrick

Sponsored By
Kimber
Is the Ruger Super Blackhawk Bisley in .480 Ruger the best-value big-bore bear protection revolver on the market? Reviews

Ruger Super Blackhawk Bisley .480 Ruger Review

Joseph von Benedikt - September 20, 2019

Is the Ruger Super Blackhawk Bisley in .480 Ruger the best-value big-bore bear protection...

In response to the immense popularity of the SAINT Victor and SAINT Edge pistols, Springfield Armory is pleased to announce the new SAINT Pistol in 5.56mm. Handguns

Springfield SAINT 5.56 Pistol: First Look

Guns & Ammo Digital Staff - October 14, 2019

In response to the immense popularity of the SAINT Victor and SAINT Edge pistols, Springfield...

See More Handguns

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

×