American Luger

German Luger P-08 (9 mm)

A.C. Swanson, American Luger
Replica Of:
German Luger P-08 (9 mm)
Made In:
22, lead ball, 7+1 internal magazine
Air Source:
CO2, 8 g Powerlet
Recommended Pellet or BB:
H&N Rundkugeln
Weight (lb)/Length (in):
2.2, 9.4
Body Material/Finish/Grips:
metal, gray, plastic
Barrel Length (in)/Material/Rifled:
6.0, steel, yes
Trigger Action:
Trigger Pull (lbs)/Adjustable:
2.7, no
Sights (front/rear):
fixed, adjustable (windage and elevation)
Velocity (fps):
not specified (see performance section)
Sound Level (dB): 102
Thickness of Pellet Holder (in): N/A
Manufactured Dates:
60%, no, no
Serial Number:

Comments: The American Luger is a very good replica of the German Luger and was manufactured by A.C. Swanson in California between 1956 and 1958. The gun was produced from the equipment used to originally manufacture the Schimel air pistol. After Schimel's bankruptcy, Hy Hunter acquired the Schimel equipment and contracted with Swanson to produce an improved gun which he called the American Luger. The American Luger differs from the Schimel in that it is an 8-shot repeater (7 in the magazine and 1 in the chamber) and it has an improved and more conventional valve system. The repeating mechanism on the American Luger requires the use of .22 cal lead ball ammunition. The American Luger was the first repeating air pistol to utilize a CO2 cartridge for its power source. The 8 gram CO2 cartridge is loaded in the grip with the neck pointing toward the top of the gun. A large piercing screw makes it fairly easy to tighten/pierce the cartridge by hand, but a slot is provided if more mechanical advantage is needed. The American Luger gets between 35 and 40 good shots from each CO2 cylinder. The magazine has a spring-loaded follower that can be pulled back and locked in position. Lead ball ammunition (.22 cal) can then be dropped in the loading hole. The pistol must be manually cocked for each shot. This is accomplished by pulling back on the cocking handle and then pushing it forward until it locks in the closed position. When the gun is cocked, the follower pushes a ball forward where it then drops into the back of the chamber. As the cocking handle is pushed forward, the bolt seats the ball in the chamber and seals the chamber. The loading mechanism is fairly reliable and very quick to use, but occasionally two balls will get loaded at once in the chamber. When the CO2 cylinder pressure reaches its useful lower limit, the pistol expels all the remaining gas.

Like its cousin the Schimel, the American Luger is loud, accurate, powerful, and fun to shoot. Also like the Schimel, the American Luger is primarily made from pot metal and, after many years, becomes vulnerable to failure of key components. If you own or plan to own one of these guns, keep it well lubricated and do not force any operation. Unfortunately for Hy Hunter, Stoeger Arms owned the rights to the Luger name in America and forced Hunter's gun from the market. Documents from the period indicate that there were plans to remarket the American Luger under the name Carbojet, but this apparently never happened. Not many American Lugers were produced and they are now quite rare, especially in working condition.

Blue Book Information (6th Ed.) on American Luger
Airguns that Look Like Firearms by Tom Gaylord
Box Lid Photo

Performance: Measurements were made on 6/15/10 at a temperature of 81 F and 14' elevation. A ten shot string was fired from a bench rest at 15' using H&N Rundkugeln copper-coated lead balls (15.4 gr). The highest velocity measured was 376 fps, the lowest was 340 fps (average of the 10-shot string was 363 fps, s = 12 fps). A five shot string fired with open sights grouped at 0.52". Click the thumbnail below to see a larger image. Click here for a description of the measurement methods.

Three different types of 0.22 cal lead ball ammunition were tested with the American Luger: H&N Rundkugeln (15.4 gr), Gamo Round (15.2 gr), and some older Benjamin Round Air Rifle Shot (15.2 gr). The best groups were obtained with the H&N balls. The results of these tests are shown below.


Left Profile 2: This photo shows the cocking handle pulled back.
Left Profile 3: This photo shows the cocking handle in the closed and locked position. Also visible in this photo is the adjustable rear sight, the magazine, and the follower.
Right Profile 1:
Right Profile 2:
Front View 1:
Front View 2: Although this specimen shows some paint loss and pitting, the inner barrel is in very good shape. The safety, shown here disengaged, operates by blocking the external trigger linkage.
Right Side Markings: The "AL" for American Luger is clearly visible on the grips. The grips have yellowed some, but they still have their original paint and there are no cracks or minimal shrinkage.
Left Side Markings:
Loading BBs: Only .22 cal lead ball ammo should be used in this gun. The H&N Rundkugeln ammo consists of lead balls coated with a thin layer of copper. They work well in this gun. Note the adjustable rear sight.


Loading CO2: Pulling back on the cocking handle cocks the internal hammer (striker). A ball is fed into the chamber after each shot. The 8 gram CO2 cylinder is loaded neck first.



 Copyright 2010