The Artillery Luger (P08/17) was essentially an early attempt at a Personal Defense Weapon (PDW). It was meant for those troops whose duties made carrying a carbine or rifle inconvenient, but who wanted something with more range and accuracy than a pistol or revolver. As the name suggests it was primarily intended for artillery men, especially field artillery as they were more likely to come into close contact with the enemy. (Georg Luger himself had been an artillery officer).
Original issue was made to artillery NCOs and to drivers of horse-drawn artillery. It was also issued to trench mortar crews and soon became a popular weapon with trench raiding parties and stormtroopers. Once the standard 8 round magazine was supplemented by a 32 round snail drum magazine, it became a precursor to the submachine gun.
The 200mm barrel of the Artillery Luger was intended to improve the accuracy and effective range of the pistol, in comparison with the 100mm barrel of the standard P08 , especially when used with a detachable shoulder stock. Mechanically the Artillery Luger was almost identical with the standard model. The adjustable back sight, calibrated to an optimistic 800mm, was part of the barrel assembly and the rest of the pistol was unaltered. Even the lug for attaching the stock was standard on the P08 (such accessories were popular with early automatic pistols). Unlike many pistol stocks (eq. Mauser C96) the stock of the Artillery Luger was solid and did not double as a holster. Instead, a lengthened version of the standard leather holster was issued. This could be worn on the soldier’s belt or strapped to the stock and the whole assembly hung at the hip by a shoulder strap.
The Artillery Luger was not the first long barreled version of the 9mm Parabellum design. The German Navy had been specifying 150mm barrels on their pistols since 1904 and carbines, with 300mm or 400mm barrels, had been available commercially before WW1, usually in 7.65mm caliber. At least one rifle with a fixed stock was made. Although the Artillery Luger was not standardised until 1917, they were produced for some of the larger German states, which retained their own armies, from 1913.
The DWM 1917 9mm Artillery Luger we feature as Range Classic of the Week is in excellent condition with matching numbers except the magazine! Just wish we had the board stock/holster combo that went with it.