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Antiques Comparison: Police Revolver versus German Luger

Although modern manufacturing methods allow for making pistols which are lighter, more powerful, and more accurate than traditional weapons, antique guns when kept in proper shape are just as deadly.

For the sake of comparison, the German Luger and the American Police revolver by Colt or Smith and Wesson are similarly sized, and fire what appears to be the same sized bullets. But, they are very different guns in terms of power and usage.

Physics determines that the power of a bullet is defined by multiplying its mass, or weight in practical layman’s terms, by its velocity. Although the 9mm Parabellum used by the Luger is a bit smaller than the .38 Special used by traditional police revolvers, the 9mm uses a much more powerful charge which which, although it can vary based on the specific brand of ammunition used and the individual pistol, typically produces a muzzle velocity of about 1200 fps (feet per second).

The .38 ammo typically has a velocity around 900-1000 fps, which means it has less effective power upon reaching its target. Such figures can be a bit confusing however, as either one is going to typically have the same effect on a target in practical terms when shooting.

The ease of use is another practical consideration when comparing guns. Because it is more powerful, the Luger is going to have more kickback when fired which is going to require more training and practice to manage effectively. Being designed for military use, the power was a more important consideration than the comfort of its use, while the police revolver was designed so a civilian officer would have the means to protect themselves but hopefully never have the need for it in an actual combat situation.

When used as intended and carried in a properly made hip holster, either weapon is going to draw smoothly. However, if held in a pocket or waistband, or retrieved from a drawer in the home, the sleek design of the Luger has a lesser chance of getting hung up and obstructed during the draw. A further consideration toward ease of use is that the simpler design of the the revolver has less chance of malfunction, especially if it has not been properly cleaned and stored between uses.

For most casual shooters, the accuracy of each gun is going to depend on the talent, skill, and practice of the user. It’s important to note the Luger has reliable fixed sights which are intuitive to use. The revolver has a fixed or adjustable front sight and for most models the rear sight is integrated into the firing hammer, which can take getting used to for the novice shooter. Ultimately, accuracy is going to depend on user preference and experience. The speed and power of the 9mm Parabellum means it is generally considered more accurate in the hands of an experienced shooter, but the lesser kick of the .38 Special may be more comfortable and accurate for some people.

~ Firearm Daily

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