Baby Boomer

Guns Ammo Magazine, February 1999

Krausewerk Re-Creates the littlest Luger

By Jeff John

The Holy Grail of Luger collecting has always been the one extant .45 ACP Luger as made by Deutschewaffen und Munitionsfabriken (DWM) for the U.S. Army’s 1907 pistol trials, which led to the adoption of the 1911.  A second Luger that is almost as scarce — there are two known — exists.  It is the Baby Luger, of which four or five were made in the DWM model shop sometime during the mid-20’s.  There were at least two in .32 ACP and Three in .380 ACP.

The post World War I era was rough for German arms producer.  The Treaty of Versailles put sever restrictions on the caliber and barrel lenth of the pistols produced in their country.  The top men at DWM sought to produce a reduced size version of their well known Luger pistol to appeal to the pocket gun buyers of the era.  That four or five pieces were made is irrefutable, as a letter by August Weiss, the director of development at DWM acknowledges their creation from 1925 to 1926 by DWM’s head engineer Heinrich Hoffman.  The littlest Luger never made it to the market, however, and the reasons for the project’s adbandonment may only be surmised.  It’s a pretty safe bet, though, that the manufacturing costs of the diminutive pistol were far beyond what the market would bear.  Stiff competition from quality countries ensured that this bird would never fly.

Had World War II never occured, we may never have known about these little gems.  The overrunning of the German war machine churned up all kinds of flotsam and jetsam.  The first Baby Luger resurfaced in the early 1960’s and oddly, is made up with a .32 ACP lower than and a .380 ACP upper. Although it is unquestionably genuine, it has several oddities about it, such as a brazed on breech face and what look’s like a handmade takedown catch, trigger and magazine.  The only other Baby Luger extant came to light in the mid 1990’s and was complete with U.S. Army ” was trophy ” papers.  Even odder, it was brought home from Japan in the mid 1950’s by U.S. Army Colonel and stayed in his collection untill he sold it to a prominent Luger collector in Texas.  It is unquestionably genuine as well, and is a .32 ACP Baby Luger.  This is the pistol Michael Krause of Krausewerk Collectible’s in San Mateo, California chose as the gun to blueprint for his recreation.

These Baby Lugers in .32 ACP by Krausewerk are esquisite pieces, suitable for the most discriminating Luger collector and probably the only way some can complete their collection.  I say “some” because Mike is only going to make 100 of the little darlings and no more.  At $12,500.00 per copy, they are not cheap, nut at least reachable for the few who must have every kind of Luger but refuse to wait in line for the original, even if they can stand the wait $250.000 tariff it brought when it was sold the last time.

Similar to his approach on the .45 ACP Luger chronicled in the March 1998 issue of Guns & Ammo, each Baby is CNC machined out of 4130 steel billets, then hand fitted and hand polished before final rust blueing.  The crown of the barrel is finely polished, as per the original.  The trigger, safety, takedown latch, magazine catch and ejector are nice straw colored, while the other appropriate pins, screws and springs are lustrous nite blue.  The figured walnut grips are beautifully checkered, and the magazine bottom is machined walnut, as well.  The magazine is made of two pieces as were the originals and finished in the white.  Although the toggle of our sample was plain (being model shop guns, the original Babies were scantily marked), Krausewerk will mark the top with DWM cipher if the customer desires.  One of the facination aspects of this pistol is DWM’s location of the safety.  The engineers decided that a lever at the back of the frame, where the big Lugers had their safeties, would scuff off the pocket and moved the safety to the near center of the left grip, where it slides up for on and down to shoot the characteristic milling cuts at the back of the receiver are missing, as well, making for a very clean lookin and trim design.

We cheerfully took this pistol to a place  to shoot in Saugus, California, for a shooting session.  Loaded with PMC .32 ACP FMJ’s, the little gun printed respectable 1 5/8 inch group at 15 yards.  Pretty fine shooting considering the gun has typical and correct Luger V notch and inverted V sights.  Although the ammunition was accrate, it unfortunalely had insuffcient power to cycle the action reliably.  Each magazine full was a trial to shoot Mike Krause acknowledged this and was quick to point out that the gun is made exactly like the original and would require ammunition loaded to the level of the much hotter pre-war varirty.  He suggested using Geco ammunition which is a little hotter , although also harder to come by.  Since the Baby Luger is a lock – breech auto – itself unusual for a .32 ACP – working up a suitable jandload might be the best way to make this little kitten purr.  From a purely shooting standpoint, the .32 ACP is my favorite pocket-gun cartridge, and the natural point ability of the tiny Luger makes it a delightful little platform which to shoot it.