Gun test: Gletcher Parabellum
PUBLISHED: 12:08 24 January 2019
Tim Finley brings us one of the true iconic pistols
There are many guns that have iconic status and the Pistole Parabellum 1908, patented by Georg J Luger, is one such gun. The semi-automatic pistol has a unique toggle action, and was used by Germany in both world wars. Universally known as ‘the Luger’, the angled grip and slimline action make it instantly recognisable. The 9x19mm Parabellum cartridge was developed for the pistol after it was first produced in 7.65mm Parabellum.
We now have several CO2 BB-firing versions of the famous Luger on the market, and Gletcher ‘Military Precision’ has produced two of them in the USA; the P08, and the Parabellum – the new version, which is brought into the UK by Armex. I already own the first version of the famous Luger pistol, the P08, and both old and new versions have a blow-back action that mimics the real Luger’s toggle action. This truly unique action is made for a very low recoil pistol, making it accurate as a result, and just as they did with the older P08, Gletcher has made the CO2-powered pistol work the same as the real firearm.
Changes have been made with the Parabellum. The P08 was based upon the WW1 firearm, with a brown grip and grey action, but the new Parabellum is ‘World War Two’ with an all-black action and grip. The special model I had for this review has ‘WWII Commemorative Edition 0001 of 1945’ written in white on the left-hand side of the action, making it a desirable item indeed. It is also marked ‘PARABELLUM’ in white written on the side of the action.
The 12 gramme CO2 bulb is now housed in the removeable magazine and it needs a CRV 1/4 Allen key to pierce the bulb – Gletcher provide the key in the box with the instruction manual. The base also mimics the two concave discs on each side of the magazine ,which fit into cut-outs in the grip. I love the grip on the Parabellum because it’s extremely ergonomic, and so the aiming process is very natural.
The sight base is 200mm long, and the rear sight is a simple ‘vee’ cut-out in the moving toggle section. The toggle action of the gun really does make it unique, especially because the gun is also a blow-back CO2 pistol, so the action cycles back like a real firearm. The gun does move in your hand when firing, and the rear sight is a notch on the back of the moving toggle mechanism. Of course, this means that you lose the sight picture as the toggle comes up, and the fixed ‘vee’ notch has no adjustment – on the real Luger you could move the front post sideways on a ‘vee-block’ system.
On the Parabellum. the front post is a fixed part of the casting, but I found I could hit what I was aiming at very well with the Gletcher.
Under the front post, the barrel itself is recessed into a faux section of rifling made to resemble the real 9mm barrel. The trigger pull on the Parabellum is just over 1.5kg, and the trigger blade itself is the same as the real gun – a three-quarter circle tucked snugly into the circular trigger guard, and with the angled grip, the trigger finger sits perfectly. Georg certainly knew a lot about ergonomics! So much so that Sturm Ruger also went for a 55-degree grip on their famous Mk1 pistol, to match Georg’s design.
A big change on the Parabellum compared to my P08 is the colour of the grips, which are very black on the Parabellum to match the coating on the action. You can get spare magazines for the Parabellum – they cost £26 and have the code GLM26-PARA. They are completely different to the P08, and according to Gletcher, hold 19 4.5mm BBs as opposed to 20 in the thinner P08 magazine, which does not also house the CO2 bulb.
I found I could fit 20 in the mag’, but you need spare magazines to get the most fun out of CO2 pistols because magazine changes are what they are all about. Another good thing is that you can actually get spare mag’s for the Gletchers. Many CO2 pistols are sold over here with no real way of getting extra magazines.
Attention to detail
The gun has a manual safety catch on the rear left-hand side of the action, and this is very easily operated by the thumb of a right-handed shooter. In the ‘down’ position lined up with the lower ‘S’ it is in safe mode and shows the word “GESICHERT” , meaning ‘safe’ in German. Moving the lever up to line up with the ‘F’ covers the ‘safe’ word and reveals a red dot, which means the gun is ready to shoot. The safety blocks the operation of the trigger. Gletcher have even moulded in a loop for a strap, and the very rear of the action on the real Lugers had a ‘T’ section to which a butt stock could be fitted, so they even have the raised ‘T’ section on the base of the grip, where butt stocks were attached – the attention to detail by Gletcher is well worth mentioning.
Over the chronograph the gun gave me 0.8 ft.lbs. with 5.2 grain steel BBs. Shot count was 47 shots or ‘two magazines and a bit’ worth of shots; halfway down the third magazine the blow-back toggle action stopped working and the CO2 vented. The relatively small number of shots is the price you have to pay for having the ultra-cool realistic toggle action moving about. The Parabellum also has ‘last shot hold open’, so when your 19/20 shots are done and the magazine is empty, the toggle stays up in the air.
At six yards, the 200mm long sight base and fixed sights gave me groups under an inch, which is fine for plinking – this is not a target gun and does not profess to be. It is a well-built, quality CO2 BB pistol based upon an iconic firearm that everyone can enjoy shooting.
Country of origin: USA
Type: CO2 pistol
Power source: 12 gramme bulb
Capacity: 19 4.5mm steel BBs
Barrel length: 104mm
Calibre: .177 / 4.5mm
Sights: Open fixed
Sight base: 200mm
Trigger pull weight: 1.5kg
Overall length: 223mm
Spare magazines: £39.95
Many thanks to Peter and all the staff at Armex for their help in the production of this article.