The Luger in Finland

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After the failure of the domestic production Ahlberg pistols and some disappointment with the performance of surplus French Ruby pistols, the Finnish military turned to DWM in Germany for a main service pistol in 1922. The core of the Finnish armed forces had been exposed to the Luger as Jaegers in German military service during World War One, and they knew and liked the Luger design. Bowing to Versailles restrictions in the post-war years, the guns purchased were chambered for 7.65mm Luger, with sub-100mm barrels (specifically, 95mm and 98mm). The first 2,000 were received in 1922, another 2,000 in 1923, and by 1929 the Army had acquired 8,000 (purchases stopped in 1929 with the decision to produce a domestic pistol, which would be the Lahti L-35). The Luger in 7.65mm was designated the m/23 pistol.

In addition to Army purchases, many private individuals bought their own Lugers that would see military service, as did the Civil Guard. In fact, the Luger was a more common service pistol than the L-35 in both the Winter War and the Continuation War. Once the Winter War began, worn-out m/23 pistols were fitted with new 9x19mm barrels made by Sako and Tikkakoski, although the hot Finnish SMG ammunition would cause significant wear and eventually destroy many of the guns. Those that survived both wars would remain in service all the way into the 1980s, when they were finally surplussed.

One of the examples we have today is a gun that was eventually transferred to the Finnish prison administration system, and was marked by them – there was no crest or chamber marking put on the Finnish contract guns by DWM.

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