WE Luger P08 Review
The Parabellum Pistole 1908, or P08 for short is iconic. Widely known as the Luger for it’s inventor Georg Luger, I first came across this piece of firearm history whilst playing Call of Duty aged 12.
Low on ammo, I pressed F to pick up the pixellated representation of this gun, hit reload and went “WHAT???”. That was my first introduction to the unique toggle operation system of this pistol, and set in motion something that would culminate in me buying the WE replica of the Luger.
There are two other replicas of the P08 available, one made by KWC (fuelled by CO2) and the other made by Tanaka. The Tanaka is all plastic, costs over $240 and can only be run on 134a or equivalent gasses, which meant that wasn’t happening, and the KWC has CO2 bulbs shoehorned into the mags (never a good thing with single stack mags in my opinion) and has the dreaded “Cal. 6mm” on the side, which isn’t something I would ever choose to have on an airsoft gun.
I looked at the WE luger in JD airsoft, who had all six flavours in their display cabinet. The WW1 8″ Artillery, 6″ Navy and 4″ Army models in both silver and black. Wanting the classic look, I chose the 4″ black variant, as this is the version widely employed in WW2.
The gun looks and feels gorgeous. It’s surprisingly big, looking deceptively small in photos with nothing to compare it against, but it is in fact larger than a glock 17 in length, width and height, and it is also satisfyingly heavy; 830g according to the box. The toggle action is very satisfying to work, and closes with a swift clack. Ergonomically it’s a stunner, the incredibly low grip angle meaning that it is an extremely pointable gun. The safety is easily operable with the heel of the thumb, and the magazine catch can be reached with a slight rotation of the grip. The controls all feel very positive to operate which is ideal. The grips are black plastic, something which I will be changing promptly for a pair of reproduction wood ones that can be had off ebay for around £20 (I refuse to pay £160 for an original pair!!!!). Other than the grips, the only non metal components in the entire gun are the hop unit, hop rubber and nozzle, which is very very nice to see.
Trademark wise there isn’t that much going on. The top of the receiver has been stamped ‘1915’ which marks the year of manufacture, however there is no serial number on the side of the receiver or the front of the frame. The last two digits of the serial number should be stamped on the side plate, release bolt, the rear toggle link and the extractor, and there is a 15 engraved in all of these places, which means that this particular luger would have to have a serial number ending in 15 should you wish to engrave that detail. There are no proof marks or identifying marks to be found on the gun, there is however a tiny WE logo on the magazine which I can readily forgive. Perhaps not so forgiveable is the internally threaded muzzle which is completely unnecessary in a pistol of such ancient heritage.
Initial shooting impressions were satisfying – there isn’t much recoil, but then there isn’t much reciprocating mass. When test firing the demo Luger at JD I found that it struggled to empty a whole magazine, however this turned out to be partly the fact that the mags weren’t being filled properly and partly that the demo Luger was probably not in the best of conditions. The magazines for this gun really are ridiculously tiny, the gas reservoir making a single stack 1911 mag look huge by comparison. A very nice touch is the authentic slider on the side of the magazine and the lack of a visible channel for BBs, lending another touch of realism to the design.
When shooting my one it there is enough gas to happily empty a full magazine in one fully automatic burst and still come back for more – more on why it was emptying a full magazine without me touching the trigger in a bit.
Sadly, the hop unit actually applies very little hop no matter how you adjust it, though being a simple design it shouldn’t be too tricky to manufacture a fixed hop unit using a marui rubber/inner barrel. Accuracy is also lacking (probably again due to the bizarre hop unit/rubber), again though not something I particularly care about given my intentions for this gun.
I stripped the gun to bits to see what there was to see, and I have to admit I was impressed. WE have got one thing right in that all of the toggle pins are steel, and there are steel bushings for the pins to run in which is excellent news. The nozzle uses a GBBR style piston head with an oring, and the hammer assembly is incredibly simple, in part due to the fact that you have to have the gun cocked before you can insert a magazine. Interestingly almost the entirety of the internal mechanisms were completely unlubricated, so I greased everything up with moly grease, resulting in a much smoother operation.
So far so good, but unfortunately there are a couple of issues I’ve had with this gun. It’s the first WE airsoft gun I’ve ever bought, and I decided to go in with an open mind. I want to be clear about one thing: I didn’t buy this gun as a monstrous skirmishing gun. I bought this gun to have as a bit of a collectors piece due to the design. Whilst I wasn’t expecting performance on par with say, a Marui desert eagle, I was expecting it to be shootable. I had also done a fair bit of research into the WE model before buying, so knew that there were a few potential issues that I would come across.
On buying the gun, I immediately checked both the magazine in the box and the spare magazine for issues. Both were empty of gas, and as such leaked audibly the second they were filled. The next magazine that was brought out of the back also leaked, however numbers four and five were gas-tight.
I probably wasn’t anticipating that all but one of the remaining failures would occur within 30 rounds of me starting to use the pistol. Firstly the fill valve on my spare magazine disintegrated, I imagine a victim of over zealous tightening combined with dodgy metal. Thankfully the mags are tapped for a metric M5 coarse thread, so madbull steel fill valves should fit fine. I’ll be ordering those soon enough.
Next, the gun stopped locking open on an empty magazine. It turns out the toggle lock bar only just engages with the blowback unit, and when that wears slightly it just starts to slip off. Bending it a little bit fixed that issue. Then the daddy happened – the gun started firing in bursts. This steadily got worse until the result of cocking the gun after inserting a magazine was the whole magazine dumping in a slam fire full auto. Great fun, but when the pistol is less than 100 rounds old this is hardly ideal. WE have a reputation for soft metals, and this is becoming apparent in the divot that is appearing in the back of the magazine valve – hopefully it won’t be an issue elsewhere too. Similarly, they are known for flaky paint, and this could be an issue too – I’ve not skirmished the pistol but chips are appearing.
It seems that the sear spring isn’t strong enough to catch the hammer, all you need to do is stretch the sear spring slightly and the gun should work fine. Since then I’ve had over 100 rounds through the gun with no issues. Now that it works, I love it.
So to conclude this gun is a mixed bag. It looks great, feels great and – when it works – shoots great. Now that I’ve done the various tweaks needed to iron out reliability issues, I look forward to getting this out to play with/occasionally taking it to a skirmish and informing people that “for [them] ze var is over!” after I shoot them with it. I have a couple of ideas to improve the range and accuracy, and I can only hope that nothing will break any time soon as spare parts are non-existant, but until then I will happily blast away with what is a very unique handgun.