This is a review of the Umarex Legends Parabellum-Pistole P.08, a full metal, blowback, 4.5mm BB shooting replica of the altogether iconic Luger pistol. However, while it may say “Umarex” on the box, this replica isn’t manufactured in Germany or by Umarex. I believe that this replica is made in Taiwan by KWC and Umarex, like several other manufacturers, distribute and market these KWC replicas under their own brand.
I previously owned a KWC version of this replica in 6mm form (you’ll find a link to review of that version at the end of this article). So this will be both a comparison between the 4.5mm Umarex offering and KWC 6mm version as well as a stand-alone review.
Given that the Luger must be one of the most recognizable and best-known handguns ever produced, it’s perhaps surprising that there haven’t been more replicas. Japanese manufacturer Tanaka were, as far as I know, the first to produce a fully-functional blowback replica of the Luger, but their offering was all-plastic, very light and not a great shooter. WE Tech followed with what was basically a metal copy of the Tanaka Luger. However, though it had better weight, the WE Luger wasn’t especially reliable – I owned one many years ago and it had a worrying tendency to fire off a whole magazine on full auto!
In 2013, Umarex added a Luger to their Legends range, but this was non-blowback and it had a very heavy, double-action only trigger (you’ll find a link at the end of this article to a review of that version). If you’re buying an Umarex Legends Luger, do make sure you’re getting the version you want – the packaging for this version and the earlier non-blowback version is very similar.
Real steel background
What is there to say about the Luger? Everyone had heard of it and even non-gun people recognise it’s angular lines. However, there are a number of myths and misperceptions about this pistol. Despite what many movies and television shows suggest, it wasn’t principally an officer’s pistol – most German officers preferred smaller and less bulky sidearms and, especially during World War Two, the Luger was issued mainly to NCOs.
Nasty Nazi officer with Luger. Wrong, but iconic.
It was accurate for its day, and not particularly powerful or reliable, but it was fiendishly complex and expensive to manufacture. Each part of the toggle mechanism had to be carefully matched and assembled to ensure that it would work correctly. This was done by inspectors and part numbers were then stamped on each part before blueing to ensure that matching parts of the mechanism would be reassembled to produce a working finished weapon. However, tight tolerances meant that parts weren’t interchangeable between Lugers and that made it difficult to replace damaged parts in the field.
The 7.65mm Borchardt C93. Ugly old thing, isn’t it? I would quite like a replica though…
When the Luger was replaced by the Walther P-38, the new pistol wasn’t particularly better, but it was much easier and cheaper to manufacture and to repair. Another thing worth mentioning is that this pistol was never officially known as the “Luger,” though that is how it was generally known. Even this name may be misleading. The toggle mechanism used on the Luger was originally devised by a German designer, Hugo Borchardt, and used on the C93, the very first successful locked-breech semi-automatic pistol which was released in 1893. However, the C93 was very bulky (it was over 350mm/13.7” long!) and sales were poor. When Borchardt refused to redesign the pistol, Deutsche Waffen und Munitionsfabriken (DWM), who had acquired the rights to the C93, ordered an Austrian engineer who was working for the company as a salesman, Georg Luger, to redesign the pistol.
The Borchardt-Luger. Still 7.65mm and it has a different toggle and a grip safety, but it’s getting close to the final version.
Luger first produced the “Improved Borchardt” and then in 1898 the “Borchardt-Luger.” By the time that this pistol had become the Parabellum-Pistole, and was given the designation P.08 when it was adopted for use by the German armed forces, Borchardt’s name had been dropped and it became universally known as the “Luger Pistol”. So, although it’s almost always called a “Luger,” Georg Luger didn’t really design this pistol at all, he simply refined and tinkered with an existing design.
The 9mm Parabellum-Pistole P.08. The basic design of the Luger didn’t really change much after this, though you’ll see that the magazine base on this 1916 DWM example is made of wood.
The Umarex Legends Parabellum Pistole P.08
This is a CO2-powered, 4.5mm, blowback replica of a Parabellum-Pistole P.08 with a 10cm barrel (the Luger was also sold with 12cm, 15cm and 20cm barrels). It’s pretty much all metal other than the grips and some internal parts. CO2 is contained in a full-size, drop-out magazine and the toggle mechanism, manual safety, magazine release and the takedown procedure from the original are all functional and accurately replicated.
Although it’s branded as an Umarex product, I believe this is made by Kein Well Toy Industrial Co. Ltd. (KWC), a Taiwanese manufacturer of 4.5mm and 6mm replica guns who act as Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) for a number of distributors.
Magazine capacity: 21 4.5mm BBs
Barrel length: 3.54″ (90mm)
Weight: 1.85lbs (834g) is claimed, but mine weighs in at 1.91 lbs (865g) without CO2 or BBs.
Overall length: 8.7″ (220mm)
Sights: Front: Post, fixed. Rear: V-notch, fixed.
Action: SA only.
Claimed power: 295 fps (90 m/s), 1.4 Joule
Packaging and presentation (2.5/5)
The Umarex Legends Parabellum Pistole P.08is supplied in a card box with a polystyrene insert shaped to fit the pistol, a single magazine, a hex key for tightening the CO2 screw and a short user manual. The manual includes an insert that reads: “CAUTION: DO NOT OPERATE WITHOUT A MAGAZINE.” I’m not sure what that’s about, and there was no similar warning in the KWC 6mm version I previously tested.
Visual accuracy 8/10
In terms of the overall outline of the Luger, this very well done. The shape of the grip, receiver, toggle, ejector pin, barrel and sights are all very close to the original. However, I’m not so sure about the finish – most Lugers were blued, which gives a very shiny finish, but this uses a painted semi-matt black finish. It looks thick and well-applied, but some sort of more shiny finish would, IMHO, have looked much better. On many Lugers, the trigger, manual safety and the button at the base of the magazine were also given different heat-treatment that gave a straw-coloured finish, but everything here is black.
To me, the black grips look wrong too (though some Lugers did come with black Bakelite grips), and brown, wood-effect grips would have been much more appropriate. Overall, this is a close visual replica of a Luger, though it’s not perfect.
Markings are sparse. Real Lugers have lots of serial numbers and proof marks on most components. There are a few engraved markings here : Under the manual safety the text “Gesichert” (Secured) appears and the number 15 is engraved on the cover plate, takedown lever and manual safety blade. One thing I do appreciate on this Umarex version is the absence of lots of nasty white text. “P.08” appears on the left side of the receiver and “ac” and “42” on top of the toggle.
There is white text showing the “F” mark and calibre, but this is positioned under the barrel where it isn’t visible in most circumstances. I’d like to have seen more realistic markings, but at least the look of this replica isn’t spoiled by the use of lots of visible white text.
Functional accuracy 14/15
Functionally, this is outstanding. The toggle mechanism works as it should and locks back when the mag is empty (there is no equivalent of a slide release on the Luger – the only way to unlock the toggle is to re-rack it with a round in the magazine or with the magazine removed). The manual safety works as it should, as does the magazine release. Takedown works as on the original and even the complex and convoluted trigger mechanism is accurately modelled here.
The only very minor thing that doesn’t work on the Umarex P.08 (and to be fair, this hasn’t yet been modelled on any Luger replica) is the loaded chamber indicator – on the cartridge version the ejector pin on top of the toggle stands proud of the toggle and the word “Geladen” (Loaded) is visible when there is a round in the chamber. But that’s being very picky – this basically functions in precisely the same way as an original Luger.
Mine had a minor fault that I wanted to address before shooting. Before I shot it for the first time, I noticed a small scratch on the barrel on the left side, just in front of the trigger plate.
I don’t think the scratch was there when it arrived, so it must have happened the few times that I racked the toggle. Taking the trigger plate off, I can see that there is a rough area on the forward edge of the trigger transfer bar (arrowed below). I think that’s scraping against the barrel and has caused the scratch.
I’m concerned that if I shoot it like this, the scratching will quickly get much worse. So, I carefully sand down the tip of the plate to remove the rough area. You don’t want to remove much material, here or the trigger may not function properly – the point is just to get a smooth surface that won’t leave scratches on the barrel. Here’s the result.
The trigger still works as it should, so I guess I haven’t removed too much material. The last step before I begin shooting is lubrication. I can see some light oil on the gun as supplied, but I disassemble and add silicon grease to the parts of the toggle and where the receiver moves in the frame. I also grease the thread on the hex plug in the base of the magazine – I know from previous experience with KWC replicas that it’s very easy to cross-thread this plug if it’s completely removed, and a little grease helps to prevent that. Finally, I spray a little silicone oil onto the top of the magazine, underside of the loading nozzle and the CO2 seal in the magazine to ensure good sealing. With these jobs done, I’m ready to start shooting.
Loading CO2 is simple – just loosen the hex plug in the base of the magazine using the hex key provided, put the CO2 cartridge in place from the left side of the magazine and then tighten the hex plug until it seals. There is a short puff of gas as it pierces, but nothing dramatic. Then, you load up to 21 BBs in the magazine, one at a time through the opening in the front (arrowed above). The magazine follower doesn’t lock down, but the spring isn’t especially heavy and the follower knob is rounded, so this isn’t a fingernail-removing job. Again from previous experience of KWC replicas, I don’t load the magazine to full capacity. If you do, it can occasionally cause problems with the first shot.
The toggle must be pulled fully back and released to load the first BB into the breech and to cock the pistol. With that done, and the manual safety released, you’re ready to shoot. And the first thing you’ll notice are the sights. There is a deep V in the top rear of the toggle and a tall, thin post on the front. The sight picture is rather vague compared to replicas of more modern handguns, but that’s all part of the Luger experience. When you do shoot, you may be distracted by the toggle momentarily flipping up to obscure your view of the target, but surprisingly quickly, you get used to it. When you fire the last shot, the toggle locks up, leaving you in no doubt that it’s time to reload.
Trigger action is light and more precise than on the 6mm version I tested previously. This is a little odd – the Luger trigger mechanism is complex, but somehow, here that translates into a clearly defined and predictable break. Accuracy is pretty reasonable too. I could generally get 1½” groups at 6m. Occasionally, I could even get a 1” group. The sights are pretty much spot-on for elevation, but mine shoots about 1” right of the point of aim at 6m. Unusually, this replica did seem a little finicky about BBs. I have tried three different kinds of BB in this replica: Umarex steel BBs, ASG Blaster steel BBs and Heckler & Koch black coated steel BBs. I was consistently able to get smaller groups using the Umarex Steel BBs – Using the H&K BBs gave groups of around 2½”. I don’t know why that would be and most BB shooting replicas do pretty much the same whatever type of steel BB you use, but this one does seem to prefer a particular type.
This is my best effort so far. 6m, semi-rested using Umarex Steel BBs. The overall group is about 1”. To get this, I had to aim about 1” left of the centre of the target.
There isn’t much felt recoil effect due to the lack of a moving slide, but there is enough going on to make this feel convincing to shoot. CO2 consumption is disappointing though consistent. I would get 40 full-power shots. Then, around shot 41/42 you could hear power dropping. By shot 45/46, there wasn’t enough puff left to re-set the toggle. That was while shooting ten-shot strings fairly slowly and with pauses for reloading. The temperature while I was shooting was 26-28˚C. In cooler conditions or if you were shooting rapidly, I think you might be lucky to be able shoot two complete magazines of BBs before you have to change the CO2. That’s pretty poor and notably worse than lots of other CO2 blowback replicas. There doesn’t seem to be a fault here and there is no obvious loss of gas as you shoot, so I guess that’s just how it is for this replica.
This isn’t a particularly loud replica. It’s noticeably quieter than, for example, the Umarex Beretta PX4 Storm, so you won’t startle your cat, spouse or neighbours. My chrony is playing up at the moment so I wasn’t able to test the power of this replica, but I have no reason to doubt Umarex’ claim of 295fps.
Quality and reliability 12/15
I had the initial problem with the scratch on the barrel caused by the defect on the trigger transfer bar, but other than that problem, the finish on this replica has held up well. Everything worked out of the box and has continued to work since. I simply haven’t had any problems at all with this replica. And that’s a good thing. If you just want half an hour of shooting therapy, there’s nothing worse than a replica that won’t work reliably.
Everything about this replica feels solid and well made. The toggle action is commendably precise and even the trigger action is good, not something you normally associate with Lugers!
Overall Impression 8/10
The fact that this replica has a very similar weight to the original really helps. It feels solid and nothing rattles or is loose. The toggle mechanism has a nice, tight, precise feel. The overall first impression when you pick this up is very good indeed and it feels much less toy-like than some replicas. If it only had grips that looked more like wood and a more convincing finish, it would be close to a perfect visual and functional replica of the iconic Luger.
In terms of Luger replicas, it doesn’t get much better than this. Visually and functionally, this is very close and it’s a decent shooter too. CO2 consumption is a little disappointing, but not disastrous. In terms of longevity, it’s just too early to say. I have put more than 500 shots through mine with no problems at all and everything still works as it should. In my previous experience of KWC replicas, if you keep them lubricated and look after them, they last surprisingly well.
The issue with the defect on the trigger transfer bar scratching the barrel before I had even started shooting was disappointing, but I guess is that’s is a problem specific to my example. Other than that, the finish seems thick and well applied and mine isn’t showing any undue signs of wear or distress. Overall, if you want a Luger in your replica collection, this is probably the one to go for.
Total score: 82.5/100
All metal, good weight
Good visual and functional replica
High CO2 consumption