Erma La 22 Luger Pistol
By: Robert DunnThe Erma .22 rimfire Luger style pistol was manufactured in Germany between the years of 1964-1967. Before shortening the company’s name to ERMA-Werke or simply Erma after WWII, its name was Erfurter Maschinenfabrik. They manufactured many of the German army’s weapons, such as the MP38 and MP40, as well as .22 caliber conversion kits for the Karabiner 98K and the P-08 Luger pistol. After WWII, Germany was forced to close all of its firearms manufacturing plants and the company moved from the newly Russian occupied territory to Dachau, Germany, where the company was reestablished in 1949. When the occupational forces gave permission to manufacture weapons again, Erma began to research, develop and produce weapons again. Erma continued to manufacture various weapons, including a .22LR version of the M1 carbine. Unfortunately, Erma went bankrupt in 1997, but there are still many of their firearms available to purchase in the used market. In the 1960s, the Luger pistol was still a popular design, so Erma began to produce the EP 22 and the La 22 pistols. The La 22 was made of a light alloy and was the cheaper version of the two pistol designs. The La 22 is a blowback operated pistol and has the look and feel of the original Luger P-08 9mm parabellum pistol, including the toggle action. Though this pistol doesn’t really have much collector’s value at this time, it sure is fun to shoot and .22LR ammunition is cheap!
My father purchased this particular La 22 at a flea market when I was a kid. Though we shot it on occasion, it was mostly a “wall hanger”. I have considered rebluing the gun, but since it has looked like it does since I was small, I think that I will preserve it in its present condition for memories’ sake. When this pistol was passed on to me, I had no idea of how to field strip it for cleaning. But after taking it to the range one day, it was time to find out! Before I began my first disassembly of this pistol, I made the wise choice to put on a pair of safety glasses, as I have sent parts into orbit even when I knew that they were spring loaded. Sure enough, after taking out the locking bolt and removing the toggle pin, I slowly and curiously began to lift up the toggle to extract the goodies within. With another small upward movement, the firing pin guide rod, the recoil spring and guide rod assembly shot out of the back of the gun and ricocheted off of the center of my safety glasses. I took a brief pause to thank my gunsmithing mentors for the safety wisdom that they had instilled in me before doing the “gunsmith crawl” to find the now missing parts! I was also thankful that I had both of my eyes to look for the parts. I was only confident that I had found all the parts that had flown out of the gun when I reassembled it and made sure everything was working properly. The blue book value of the Erma La 22 ranges from $140 to about $395, so one day I will probably pick another one up for parts or for a template for making new parts. Maybe I will be able to afford to buy the original P-08 at some point, but until then I like having a pistol that looks and feels like a real Luger.