Thursday, August 27, 2009

Walther PPK/S


Bond. James Bond. I know that is what you are thinking when you hear “Walther PPK”… I know I do. However, this is a Walther PPK/S, which is not the same thing. The PPK/S was used in movies with Kevin Costner as Mr. Earl Brooks in "Mr. Brooks" and Dwight Yoakam as Leroy Wasley in "Hollywood Homicide".


A little history: The letters “PPK” stand for the German words Polizei Pistole Kriminal. A direct translation would be “Police Pistol Criminal” which means it was issued to the Criminal division of the police, i.e. the people who investigate crimes, which would be termed 'Detectives Division' in most U.S. police forces. Got that? A Police Detective Pistol.

(Walther PPK/S (Police Detective Pistol) vs Walther PPS (Police Pistol Slim)

The Gun Control Act of 1968 limited the size and weight of handguns that could be imported - hence the Walther PPK was barred because it was too small. To comply with GCA68, imported handguns have to score a minimum number of points. Walther was able to accomplish this by combining the frame of the (lesser-known, full-length barreled) Walther PP with the slide of a PPK, and thus the Walther PPK/S was born. Walther manufactured the PPK/S in Ulm Germany until the mid-70's when economics and a licensing agreement with Interarms moved production to the USA. From 1978 to 1999, USA Walther PPK/S were manufactured by Ranger Manufacturing in Gadsden Alabama and distributed by Interarms. Currently, Walther imports its firearms through Smith&Wesson.

This pistol is a stainless version manufactured in the early 80’s, probably around 1983 by the serial number. Weighing in at 27.4 oz (1lb 11.4oz) fully loaded, the entire gun feels heavy and good in the hand. The gun is sleek and beautiful. This particular one has a Pachmayr wrap-around rubber grip that makes the grip feel natural in your hand. The sights are an interesting set of colors with 2 yellow dots and a red line on the rear and a red dot on the front.

The safety is also a de-cocker, blocking the hammer from the firing pin just before releasing the hammer. There was a recent recall to fix this feature in some newer guns where the hammer didn’t get blocked and the gun went off. This gun is not involved in that recall.

Disassembly: The PPK/S comes apart like the Iver Johnson I reviewed. You have to hold the trigger guard down while pulling the slide back past the hammer. You then lift it up slightly and then forward over the barrel. The parts are simple and well made. I was very impressed that NOTHING looked cheaply made in this gun.

Shooting: The Walther PPK/S shoots like a dream. Very nice with great accuracy, although I think it takes some practice to get really good at it. The recoil is small and the trigger was very smooth. Those wonderfully colorful sights didn’t show up too well in the dimly lit portion of the indoor range. I imagine my shots would be better if I was outside in the sun.

The bad: Nothing bad about this pistol.

Summary: Most gun collectors probably have one of these just because it is a classic of the small .380 guns. I have to say that the stainless version is definitely the prettiest of the PPK/S’s as well. Even after explaining the difference between a Walther PPK and PPK/S, my oldest daughter still wanted me to borrow it again so that SHE got a chance to shoot the “James Bond gun”. Although I have other guns for concealed carry, I would really love to have a stainless Walther PPK/S, even if James Bond DIDN’T carry one.


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