by Tom Gaylord, The Godfather of Airguns™
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Announcement: Pyramyd Air’s social network sites and this blog will celebrate “National Ask a Stupid Question Day” on Sunday, September 28, 2014. The blog will have a special short posting on that day for those who want to participate for the hours indicated. Of course, the rest of the blog is still available for those who don’t want to participate. See the times and locations on Pyramyd Air’s site.

Legends P08 blowback BB Pistol left action open
egends P.08 BB pistol with blowback.

This report covers:

• The toggle action works just like the firearm
• Description of the pistol
• Why not a Luger?
• Operation
• Velocity
• Field-stripping
• Imagine all the possibilities!
• Evaluation so far

Let’s be honest. You’re reading this report, hoping to learn just one thing — if the Legends blowback CO2 BB pistol is as realistic as the ads seem to indicate. You’re interested in it — but not because it’s a BB pistol, but because there’s a slim chance that $120 will buy you a real German Luger. And you want me to tell you whether that is true or not.

You hope that $120 dollars in 2014 will buy you the kind of perfection that made the German P08 pistol an icon at the turn of the 20th century. You don’t see how that’s possible, but you hope that 21st century manufacturing has some inexpensive ways of duplicating the precision of early 20th century craftsmanship.

The toggle action works just like the firearm
Okay — details. For starters, Umarex tells you that this pistol has realistic blowback, which they emphasize by showing you a picture of the action in full recoil, with the upper receiver slid back on the action and the toggle opened completely. Then, someone asks whether this means the toggle works like the firearm! I know why they asked that. Because we’ve been told for the past 50 years that the toggle action on the Luger pistol is extremely difficult to machine and all parts have to be made precisely if the gun’s going to work.

And it does! This BB pistol cycles exactly like the firearm it copies, and I own 2 of the firearms for comparison. One of them is a genuine P08 made at the royal arsenal in Erfurt, Germany in 1917. This BB pistol functions exactly like that firearm. The only differences are that the firearm is louder, it shoots a heavier projectile and it recoils harder when it fires. Other than that, both handguns work the same.

The difference is that instead of each pistol requiring 243 labor-intensive machining steps by journeyman machinists, the Legends P.08 CO2 gun has parts made from precision molds. Yes, the precision is there, but it’s only done once, and then a lot of pistols are made. No, the Legends P.08 BB pistol can’t last through two world wars and 60 years of civilian duty, but neither did a lot of P08 firearms.

Description of the pistol
This pistol closely resembles a “black widow” Luger that has black plastic grip panels (on the firearm, as well as on this BB pistol) and blued parts like the trigger blade. It weighs 1 lb., 14.125 oz. on my scale, where my 1917 Erfurt pistol weighs 1 lb., 14.625 oz. So, it’s a half-ounce lighter than the firearm when both are empty and have their magazines installed. Except for the wooden grips on my firearm, which are very thin, I have difficulty telling which gun is which when holding them.

Just like the ad says, the pistol is all-metal except for the grips. The drop-free magazine holds both the BBs and the CO2 cartridge. Just like the Colt Limited Edition NRA 1911 BB Pistol we looked at yesterday, the CO2 piercing screw is a large Allen screw in the bottom of the magazine, so it’s completely hidden from view.

In all other ways I can think of except caliber, the Legends P.08 is just like the firearm. Even the safety is a lever located at the left rear of the upper frame and gets pushed forward to shoot and backwards for safe. It does have the letters S and F, to indicate where to position the lever instead of the traditional German word Geschichert (literally translated as “secured”).

Legends P08 blowback BB Pistol safety
Here you can see the safety lever on the left side of the pistol, and also the rear sight notch that is an integral part of the rear toggle link.

Legends P08 blowback BB Pistol firearm safety
The P08 firearm safety says “secured” (indicates gun is on “safe”) in German.

Why not a Luger?
Why does Umarex call this a P.08, instead of a Luger? Everyone knows this handgun as a Luger, don’t they? Yes and no. The general population does recognize this form as a Luger, and more often as a German Luger (Switzerland adopted it many years before Germany). Even collectors will sometimes use the term, though they know it’s incorrect. The thing is that Germany never referred to the gun as a Luger. When they adopted it for their army in 1908, they simply called it the Pistole 08, just like we call our Springfield rifle the 1903 for the same reason. They never marked the gun with the designation P08 to my knowledge, but that’s the only term they ever used for this variation of the pistol.

In the 1920s, the Stoeger Corporation acquired the rights to the Luger name and afterwards used it on pistols they contracted to have made. Some were made by the original P08 factories, while others were made by firearms manufacturers that were never associated with the original military pistol. Strictly speaking, only a Stoeger pistol can be a Luger.

The pistol loads BBs and gets filled with CO2 in the conventional way. Pull down the follower and drop the BBs into a hole at the bottom of the magazine. You’ll have to manually hold down the follower, for there’s no catch. The CO2 cartridge slips in the side of the magazine and is pierced by the large Allen screw in the base. After that, slide the magazine into the grip of the gun until you hear it click into place. Cock the gun to fire.

Legends P08 blowback BB Pistol mag loaded
When the bolt goes forward, the BB is pushed up the ramp, where the magnetic, hollow bolt tip grabs it for shooting.

To cock the gun, grasp the two knurled toggle knobs and pull up and back. It’s a move that takes some practice, but it’s a lot easier on the BB gun than cocking a 9mm Luger!

Once cocked, the gun’s ready to fire. It fires with the magazine in or out of the gun. The trigger is 2-stage, but the transition between stages is not distinct. Think of it as a single-stage trigger. It breaks at 2 lbs., 11 oz, which is lighter than any of my firearm Lugers and also lighter than my Wilson Combat 1911. It is a trigger to remember! According to Umarex USA, the trigger-pull is 3 lbs., 6.4 oz.

Okay, how fast is it? With Umarex Precision Steel BBs, the pistol averaged 290 f.p.s. for the first 10 shots. That was waiting 10 second between shots.

When I fired 5 shots as fast as possible and then sent shot 6 through the chronograph, it went about 262 f.p.s. So, the velocity does drop as the gun’s fired.

Shot 34 went 279 f.p.s. after waiting 2 minutes from the last shot (which was 246 f.p.s.). Shot 40 went 247 f.p.s. after 5 quick shots. Shot 48 went 221 f.p.s. Shot 49 went 217. Shot 50 went 211 f.p.s., and I noticed that the blowback was very weak. Shot 51 went 199; shot 52 went 184, and then the gun exhausted gas after the shot.

Don’t try this at home! Seriously, guys, unless you know how to disassemble a Luger correctly, you better not try this. I am showing it to shop how realistic the gun is. There’s no need to strip the pistol, and the manual doesn’t cover it.

Legends P08 blowback BB Pistol stripped

If you know how to disassemble a Luger, the BB pistol is similar. There’s no reason to do this, so leave it alone unless you know how a Luger comes apart.

Here’s a short video showing how quickly I field-stripped it.

And this is how quickly you can assemble it.

Imagine all the possibilities!
Okay, Umarex, you’ve got our attention — now, go crazy! How about an artillery Luger, followed by a Luger carbine with shoulder stock and snail drum magazine? What about a copy of the Swiss Luger, with its wide, deeply scalloped toggle joints? And, where’s the beautiful leather clamshell holster?

Evaluation so far
This BB pistol is a winner. It’s easy to see why it costs what it does. This is more realistic than anything I’ve seen so far.