1936 Luger- Leave it be or Restore it?
(too old to reply)
2009-10-25 11:48:10 UTC
Like it says- 1936 Lugar, all SN/s match from slide, reciever, bbl, even
1 of the magazines. It came back from the war with my father in law and
was stored in a damp toolbox in it's even damper holster since
1940-something, moved from closet to garage to basement and finally to
me & my son.

Careful work got it safely out of the holster and a liberal application
of Break Free and lots of time (months) got the magazine out of the gun.
More Break Free and lots more time (years) got the slide & firing pin
free and trigger working. the blue is still more or less clean and
complete, no pitting on the exterior, but the bbl inside has got a lot
of rust build up. What I can see looks like surface fuzz and shiny steel
under that, but the fuzzy rust appears to be everywhere inside the gun,
and magazines.

Questions for the experts (anyone that knows more about these than
me)... Please assume a very small budget for any work done, thanks.
What's the safest method for bringing this firearm back from the dead?
Soaking? Scrubbing? Assuming it can be cleaned and a competent gunsmith
checks it for safe operation with modern ammo is it even worth turning
into a shooter?

As an aside- I've been working leather for years and can restore the
holster- worth it or leave it alone for any possible collector value?

Thanks in advance,

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Mark Crispin
2009-10-25 17:50:30 UTC
Without details, I can't really determine the rarity of this particular
Luger; but in general Nazi-era Lugers are relatively common. Given that
it was allowed to rust this badly, I think that turning it into a shooter
is probably its best fate.

With that said, I would invest some funds into having a gunsmith refinish
the entire gun (especially the inside of the barrel). Speaking from
experience, it's a lot more fun to shoot a pretty Luger than it is to
shoot a ratty Luger. Also, you're more likely to get it reliable that
way; a Luger is a very complicated mechanism and lots of things can go
wrong if things don't go together just right. The pivot pin under the
plate is particularly notorious.

Refinishing it will destroy any collector value, and I would never do it
to a rare/valuable Luger. But a common Nazi-era Luger refinished into a
pretty and reliable shooter is still worth several hundred dollars as a
pretty/reliable shooter.

I wouldn't think twice about doing it for a rusty WWII vintage Mauser;
they're quite common. The 1930s ones need a bit closer consideration, and
once you get back to the Weimar or imperial era Lugers you definitely want
to check out the collector value first.

The same goes for the holster. There's probably some collector interest
in a Nazi-era holster, but holstered Lugers were fairly popular/common GI
bringbacks. If the holster is restoreable, I would say go for it and make
it as pretty as you can. Not just functional, *pretty*; to make it look
as if it was just-issued.

Good luck. A fully-restored Luger is an absolute delight as a shooter and
is a thing of beauty. Once you have a collector Luger or two that serves
as a gun safe queen, you feel much less guilty about a shooter. Once you
make it pretty and keep it maintained, you will have something that will
delight your great-grandchildren at the range.

-- Mark --

Democracy is two wolves and a sheep deciding what to eat for lunch.
Liberty is a well-armed sheep contesting the vote.

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Gray Ghost
2009-10-25 17:50:32 UTC
I'm no expert but I do like to take things apart. ;)

It sounds like it may not really have collector value becuase of the storage
abuse. Me, I would just try to take the Luger apart and keep working at it.
Keep soaking it in stuff like Breakfree. Take it out occasionally and wipe it
down real good. "Scrubbing" with metal cleaning pads, brushes etc might tend
to remove finish if you break through to quickly, if there is any finish
left. Plastic brushes would work better, just get some automotive grade ones
that are oil resistant.

It's just a lot of work removing 60 years of crud if you want what's
underneath the crud.

If you want to shoot it I would take it to a gunsmith after you're done to
have it checked.

If the barrel looks shiny underneath you can just try running brushes through
it, maybe even start with smaller diameter ones if the rust buildup is pretty
bad. At some point I might even try a lead remover kit, just because they are
really good at souring off depoeits.

The holster? There are plenty of good condition holsters out there. I would
presume you are keeping this and don't intend to sell it. In that case I
would clean it up as best I could. What do you mean by restore?

You have a historical artifact that has a connection to your family, keep it.


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2009-10-25 17:50:34 UTC
0000 steel wool and lots of oil. You might want to remove the grips
and give it a good soak in Kroil. This stuff will penetrate into


Do not try to "restore" this gun by refinishing or repolishing it in
any way. Clean it, gently remove the rust, but leave whatever finish
you end up with alone.

Nice find, best of luck.

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2009-10-25 17:50:35 UTC
Exterior finish, if smooth and blue is critical for value. I would do
nothing to that except wipe with good gun oil, no abrasive scrubbing.
Internal parts can be more aggressively scrubbed using fine steel
wool, fine grit compounds (Brownell's) and function retored. Watch
out for parts with surfaces that are external (trigger release) and
don't ruin outward blued surfaces. Use proper gunsmith screw drivers
inorder to preserve slots and don't force parts that haven't been
soaked with penetrating oil, like Kroil. The inside of the barrel can
be vigorously cleaned. Try to get it bright. Use the Brownell paste
cleaners and even the 1000 grit paste compound carefully. The Lugar
may actually be shootable, again. Don't store it in the holster.
Renaissance wax is a good way to preserve the exterior finish, allow
careful handling and not have a greasy pistol.

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Rubaiyat of Omar Bradley
2009-10-26 00:02:03 UTC
On Oct 25, 5:48 am, Charon52 <SKIVVIES-***@ameritech.net> wrote:
# Questions for the experts (anyone that knows more about these than
# me)

This guy might be of help - he charges an average of $450 to restore a
common Luger.


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2017-02-26 20:49:11 UTC
This is a method I have not tried, but have read is successful at even bringing back battlefield
finds in many cases:

Remove wood parts for separate restoration, open action to best degree possible. Lay it on a
thick rag and spray it down with your favorite CLP product, then flip it over and spray it again.
Get it pretty wet.

Wrap the gun in the rag and put it inside one of those vacuum-flat, ziploc bags and vacuum out all
the air. Leave it for two months.
2017-03-01 00:47:57 UTC
As Natman said GENTLY remove the rust. There might be a temptation to wire brush it off. Doing so will kill what little collector's value left.

Lugers are great if like me really enjoy shooting historical guns. As a reliable shooter or self defense weapon NO. The Luger needs ammo a bit hotter than being made today to be reliable. As a range toy and occasional jam is no big one.