Ideal load for the P-08 Luger?

Discussion in 'The Ammo & Reloading Forum' started by Texxut, Nov 12, 2010.

  1. Texxut

    Texxut Member

    Feb 1, 2009
    I have a 1918 Luger and I'm looking for the ideal load, to reload for it. I want it to function without beating up the pistol. What was the original loading for this fine pistol? Bullet weight and velocity? Right powder to produce the correct pressure curve ? I only shoot paper with it, but I want to feed it right.
  2. jim brady

    jim brady Well-Known Member

    Sep 22, 2009
    Simla, Colorado
    The Luger is one of the toughest pistols to load for in my humble opinion. I've loaded for a P35 Radom, a P-38 Walther, a Beretta 92FS, and the Luger, and of all, the Luger is the pickiest for me to have found a load that functions properly.

    To begin with, I also load for a WW1 era Luger, and like to keep my loads on the mild to moderate side from my Lyman Manual because of the age of the pistol. I load with 5.2 grains of Unique and a 115 grain FMJ bullet for about 1069 FPS. The bore of my pistol is a little rough, cast bullets lead badly if I shoot those a lot, so I stay away from those.

    Finally, replacement parts are expensive for the Luger. I replaced the extractor this past year, and that ran about $60, even with me doing the work. Parts are getting hard to find.

    You can find the original specs if you go to the "Search Engine" on your computer and try "Original 9X19 Luger Ammunition Specifications". That would be a good place to start, but remember that you are shooting a 90 year old pistol. I bought a newer pistol (Beretta) to be able to shoot the 9mm more ofter than the WW1 Luger or the WW2 Walther. Hope this helps.
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2010

  3. American servicemen of World War I and II brought back tens of thousands of Lugers.
    My American Rifleman magazines of the late 40s through early 1960s have numerous articles and inquiries from readers regarding reloading for the Luger, or what ammo to use.
    I won't quote such outdated loads, but here's a few points to ponder:

    1. European 9mm ammunition was assembled to a higher pressure than American-made ammunition. The Lugers were made to function best with the higher-pressure European ammo.
    Consequently, when these guns were brought to America, and fed American ammo, they tended to jam and function poorly. It was not the pistol's fault, but really the fault of under-powered American ammunition.

    2. To compensate for the lower-pressure ammo, many Luger owners altered the recoil spring of their pistol, or had a gunsmith do it. This created a slightly weaker recoil spring, so the Luger would be more reliable with American ammo.

    3. The weaker spring resulted in better functioning with American-made ammo, but it also created a problem: return to the higher-pressured European ammo and the weaker spring resulted in the pistol getting battered.

    4. So, load your Luger to the starting load listed in a modern manual. If it works reliably enough (bearing in mind that Lugers were never noted for their absolute reliability; they will jam with the best of ammo) then stick with that load.
    If the load is unreliable, increase the powder charge slightly, the degree of which depends on the load. Stop at least 0.2 (two tenths) of a grain below the listed maximum.

    5. Functioning problems in Lugers may not be attributed entirely to the pistol itself. The luger is notorious for having finicky magazines that cause jams. If you have only one magazine, and are experiencing function difficulties, you may wish to purchase a newly made magazine.
    I know they're still made, but can't recall by whom off the top of my head. An internet search should find a new magazine. Buy quality, which can often be judged by price.

    6. Lead bullets may work fine for reloading. I use them in my wartime Walther P-38 with success. I shoot 115 gr. hard-cast roundnosed bullets of .356 caliber, over a charge of Bullsye, Unique or W231.
    Typically, my reloads propel that 115 gr. bullet at about 1,050 feet per second.
    Leading is minimal and accuracy is about 4 inches at 25 yards from a benchrest. That's typical for my P-38 with jacketed factory loads. The lead bullet loads are cheaper to assemble and easier on the bore.
    Plus, indoor ranges will allow you to shoot lead bullets but many ranges will not allow full metal jacketed bullets.

    Hope the above information helps.
  4. Texxut

    Texxut Member

    Feb 1, 2009
    Thanks guys, I think I'll use the 115 grn bullet and unique powder. I'll start low and stop when it functions well.
    Just a thought, has anyone used the 95 grn bullet they sell for loading the 380, in the 9mm luger cartridge?
  5. Boris

    Boris Former Guest

    Oct 1, 2010
    I have. Some guns will eat it up, and others will choke on it. You will not know until you try. My bet is on it not working too well if you shoot it in that P-08.

    My XD9 will shoot them all day long if they are loaded to 1320-1350fps. AA#2 or similar powder will be your friend with such loads.......
  6. noylj

    noylj Active Member

    Jul 27, 2007
    1) All weights of 0.355-0.358" bullets have been used in the P-08.
    2) If you want to shot lead bullets (to "save" the bore), slug the barrel. Most older (pre-'80s) guns in 9x19 had bores with groove diameters of 0.356-0.360". You need a lead bullet at least 0.001" over groove diameter to work well
    3) If kept clean and with a good magazine, my P-08s are quite happy to feed SWC bullets
    4) Some people find their P-08s are more reliable with a 147gn bullet at near max loading. I find that my P-08s are more reliable with 105-121gn bullets at near max loading.
    5) The guns can be very accurate, but the sights suck.
    6) Most magazines suck.
    7) Contact Martz for questions
  7. jim brady

    jim brady Well-Known Member

    Sep 22, 2009
    Simla, Colorado
    Just as a side note, a VERY OLD Lyman manual from the late 60s or early 70s had a load for the 158 grain cast bullet. I used to shoot those sized to .356 and it really performed well. Wouldn't do it now because Lyman stoipped publishing that load - and was long before "sub-sonic" loads were ever discussed.

    You guys are right - most after-market mags are really poor for the P-08. The good ones are really pricey. The one gripe I have is that loading mags without using a loading tool is really tough.
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2010
  8. Boris

    Boris Former Guest

    Oct 1, 2010
    THey do make 158 ball ammo these days. I have used Fiochi 158 FMJs in all kinds of guns. At 940fps they hit pretty hard. We use them in various supressed weapons we have and alwys found that they worked very very good......

    You can find them at ammunitiontogo
  9. paradox998

    paradox998 New Member

    Mar 23, 2008
    As I remember, Lugers were designed for 124gr lead rounds. I tried 115 gr and found that I was having cycling problems. Takes a good bit of recoil to cycle the toggle.
  10. Boris

    Boris Former Guest

    Oct 1, 2010
    Original spec ammo for it is very stout compared to todays loads. Original projectile weights were 123-125 grains and pushing 1300fps. 9x19mm was from the get go a jacketed round and only reloaders looking for cheap practice have ever used a full lead load.

    I have seen alot of Lugers choke on low end SAAMI spec ammo that have original strength springs. A gun with worn or replaced with lighter springs might work good with light loads........
Similar Threads
Forum Title Date
The Ammo & Reloading Forum Ideal Depth for a Reloading Bench Feb 28, 2014
The Ammo & Reloading Forum Ideal Reloader Sep 24, 2009
The Ammo & Reloading Forum Ideal twist rate 30-06 May 31, 2008
The Ammo & Reloading Forum how many time do you reload your brass? Friday at 9:42 PM
The Ammo & Reloading Forum Reloading BP cartridge for H&R top Break? Friday at 12:07 PM