Unblinking Eye

Field-Stripping the Erma “Luger”
.380 Model KGP-68A

by Ed Buffaloe

Erma KGP 68 A
Erma KGP 68 A
“Erma” is a contraction of Erfurter Maschinen und Werkzeugfabrik, later known as Erfurter Maschinenfabrik B Geipel GmbH., or simply Erma-Werke, originally located in Erfurt, Germany.  The company was known early-on for making a .22 conversion for the P-08 Parabellum pistol, and during World War II they made the famous MP38 and MP40 submachine guns.  After the war and the division of Germany, the company was reconstituted in Munich-Dachau.

All the Erma “Luger” pistols had an unlocked “blow-back” action.  In the 50s, the first example of the .22 long rifle auto concept was embodied in a pistol by Erma called the “Old Model.”  These are rarely encountered today. Somewhere around 1964 the first Luger-styled pistol, the LA-22 was produced.  Its construction was mostly of cast Zamak.  Aside from the barrel liner, breech block, and internals of steel, all else was made from this zinc alloy.

Soon after the LA-22, Production of the EP- and ET-22’s began.  Their actions were changed slightly--presumably to be more dependable, but just as likely to save manufacturing costs.  Differences include changes to the trigger and sear systems and a re-design of the safety.  The ET-22's action is identical to the EP-22's, but it has a longer barrel and a walnut fore-stock.

The zinc alloy guns were phased out at the end of the 60's and replaced by the totally re-designed KGP-69, in .22 long rifle, which was scaled down about 75% from its predecessors which had mimicked the dimensions and weight of the original Parabellum pistol.  The KGP-68 and -68A were scaled to about 2/3 size of the P.08 Luger and came in .380 and .32 auto --they differ only in caliber.  The KGP series is more true to the lines of the original Lugers, despite the smaller scale.  They even have a tiny hold-open system.  Beeman imported the KGP series, re-branded as the Beeman MP-08, through the mid- to-late 80's, until the end of production.  The Erma’s factory plastic grips were replaced by artisan-crafted rosewood grips, and the finish of the Beemans seems finer, smoother, and more attentive to detail.  A set screw to limit trigger travel is installed on some examples of the "P-08", which is the .22 long rifle version.  Erma-Werke went bankrupt in 1997.

For a brief time the Spanish company Echasa (Echave y Arizmendi) made a copy of the EP-22, which was known as the Lur Panzer.  It is very scarce today.

I bought the gun illustrated here at the Austin gun show for a friend who had asked me to keep an eye out for one that was reasonably priced.  There wasn’t much information available online about the gun, and it took us a long time to find instructions for field stripping it, so I thought folks might find it useful if I were to publish instructions and photographs.  We could never get the gun to function properly, even after a complete cleaning and lubrication, and my friend quickly sold it.  There is an early article about this gun in Guns & Ammo magazine for August 1968.

Please click on any photograph to open a window to a series of larger images and complete instructions for field stripping and reassembly of the KGP-68A .380.

Check the chamber

1.  Remove magazine and check that the chamber is empty.

Note positions of components

4.  Note the positions of the firing pin guide rod and the recoil spring and guide rod assembly, then remove them.

Reinstall recoil spring

7.  To reassemble, fit the firing pin, spring & guide rod, as well as the recoil spring assembly, back into the gun.

Remove locking bolt

2.  Press on the rear of the gun and remove the locking bolt.

Remove slide and barrel

5.  Remove the barrel/slide from the frame.

Insert toggle pin

8.  Carefully align the toggle holes and the hole in the firing pin guide rod and reinsert the toggle pin.

Remove toggle pin

3.  Pull the toggle back and expose and drift out the toggle pin.

Remove firing pin

6.  Remove the firing pin.  The components may now be cleaned and lubricated.

Insert locking bolt

9.  With the toggle closed, press on the rear of the slide/toggle assembly and reinsert the correctly aligned locking bolt.


2005 Standard Catalog of Firearms, by Ned Schwing.  KP Books, Iola, WI:  2004.
Dictionary of Guns and Gunmakers, by John Walter.  Greenhill, London:  2001.
German Handguns, by Ian V. Hogg.  Greenhill, London:  2001.

Request for information about Erma pistols.

Special thanks to David Parker for sharing information about the early Erma pistols.  He has grips and other parts for various Erma pistols available to sell.  Contact him at

Copyright 2008-2014 by Ed Buffaloe.  All rights reserved.

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