The Essence of Life

The Essence of Life

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Parabellum

Artillery Luger with holster and attachable stock

There are few firearms are so easily recognized, admired, coveted and evoke mystery as the Parabellum or Luger self-loading pistol. Its superb ergonomics, intricate mechanics and luxurious bluing, so out of place in a military service sidearm, completely sets it aside from myriad other guns.

Its sensual lines and dark skin reminds me much more of a beautiful and mysterious middle-eastern or South American femme fatale than of an athletic and blond German fraulein, while the steep price tags and relative scarceness may bring to mind a Parisian exotic dancer.

An although primarily a military weapon adopted by many countries in the early XX century, which would probably make it the Glock of its days, I really like the Parabellum because it was never out of place in many other environments, be it Cinema Noir, pulp mysteries or the great outdoors.

I remember reading an article from the great Jack O’Connor where he mentions a relative that used a .30 Luger to shoot desert big horn sheep, but two of my all time favorite mentions to the Luger come from classic books from the early decades of the XX century. I researched Theodore Roosevelt’s Through the Brazilian Wilderness to write a feature The Guns of Doubt that was once available at Amazon Shorts, and the other is Beryl Markham’s West with the Night, and I present extracts below to illustrate how the desirable Parabellum self-loading pistols transcended battle fields and morphed itself into both hunting and survival firearms.

“The last gun of notice of the American team is Kermit’s Luger, which he uses to shoot birds and small game. Although as in the previous case, the gun specification is not clear, we know it had a detachable stock because Colonel Roosevelt refers to it in a passage as a “belt carbine”. There are also strong evidence that this particular Luger was a pistol chambered in 30 Luger, or 7,65 mm Parabellum with barrel length around six inches, instead of the Model 1902 Carbine which had a much longer barrel, around 12 inches, with a forearm and a much more elaborated detachable stock.

The reason for the conclusion above is that Mr. Fiala mentions in the Appendix B of Through the Brazilian Wilderness that ‘a 25 or 30 caliber high-power automatic pistol with six or seven inch barrel would prove a valuable arm to carry always on the person.’ He goes on describing the several possible uses and advantages of having such gun, including the need to carry several loaded magazines, but he strangely complains that ‘there is nothing in the market of this character.’

A strong reason for always carrying the pistol on the person is that Mr. Fiala, who took a different route than the main body of the expedition before they went down the Rio da Dúvida and into the Green Hell, lost all their guns in a canoe accident and had serious problems in securing food through hunting.”
Rodrigo Meirelles – The Guns of Doubt

“Meanwhile, haven’t I got two quarts of water, a pound of biltong — and the doctor’s bottled sleep (should I be hors de combat and the Siafu hungry that night)? I certainly have, and, moreover, I am not defenseless. I have a Luger in my locker — a gun that Tom has insisted on my carrying, and which can be used as a short rifle simply by adjusting its emergency stock. What could be better? I am an expedition by myself, complete with rations, a weapon, and a book to read — Air Navigation, by Weems.”
Beryl Markham – West with the Night


Maybe a day I will have a Luger in my haversack.

1 comment:

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