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Luger Pistol
Luger Pistol U.S. Army

Currently Dave and I are writing a sort of followup to the Total Gun Manual entitled “100 Great Guns” and as I have been reacquainting myself with the world’s most famous firearms, I was reminded of the interesting story behind the very rare .45 caliber Luger pistol.

In the movie Wall Street, greedmeister Gordon Gekko brags about owning “the rarest pistol in the world,” and shows off a (prop) .45 caliber Luger pistol. Also known as “the million dollar Luger” the pistol was not merely a product of Oliver Stone’s imagination; it does exist as an interesting footnote to the familiar story of the Army’s adoption of the 1911 as its sidearm.

The Philippine Insurrection and the Army’s own testing — which involved shooting a bunch of live cattle and human cadavers with pistols — determined that the Army’s new sidearm should be of at least .45 caliber, as .38s had failed to make much impression on charging Moro tribesmen.

One of the several pistols submitted for the test was a .45 caliber version of the Luger semiautomatic pistol. The Army had previously purchased 1,000 7.65mm Lugers and a few in 9x19mm (aka 9mm parabellum/Luger), but only two .45 caliber Lugers were specially made up for the Army tests in 1907 by manufacturer DWM.

The Army was interested enough in it to order more for additional testing. By the time they did, DWM turned the Army down, perhaps because they had already signed a contract with the German military. Whatever the reason, that pair of Lugers remain the only two ever made in .45 ACP. The whereabouts of one is unknown. The other was sold for a $1,000,000 in 1989, although when it was auctioned in 2010 it brought “only” $494,500. So it’s really the “almost-half-a-million-dollar Luger,” but it does exist.

Image from Wikipedia.