Tag Archives: Walther PP

Fun Photo Friday — 1940 Zella-Mehlis Walther PP


1940 Walther PP

1940 Walther PP

Well, it is firearm week.  So of course this week’s Fun Photo Friday had to contain a fun firearm photo session.

1940 Walther PP

1940 Walther PP

It pays to establish a good relationship with your favorite locally owned gun store.  It really does.  Indeed, for a collector it is vitally important to do so.

Zella-Mehlis roll mark

Zella-Mehlis roll mark

Part of that bonding is to convey to your dealer your tastes in collecting.  In my case, it’s a weakness for all things Walther.

Nazi Germany proof marks

Nazi Germany proof marks

What you see pictured here is not particularly rare, except for the condition of this 70-year-old artifact from 1940 Nazi Germany.  This is not a war piece, but rather a commercial version of the venerable 7.65mm/.32 ACP Walther PP double-action/single-action semiautomatic pistol.  It is perhaps the first truly successful DA/SA semiautomatic produced, and it was a mainstay of European military and police forces from its introduction in 1929 well into the 1980s.  Indeed, the shortened PPK version became the weapon of choice for everyone’s favorite fictional MI6 agent, the one with the Double-0 number.

Minor holster wear

Minor holster wear

As you can see, most of the original bluing remains intact with only minor holster wear and a few scratches marring the finish.

Minor holster wear

Minor holster wear

But the pistol did not come alone.  It came with a period-correct AKAH holster as well.

AKAH Holster

AKAH Holster

I took this AKAH to El Paso Saddlery for an examination to see if the leather was in need of maintenance.  It isn’t.

AKAH Holster

AKAH Holster

The boys at El Paso Saddlery said to leave it alone.  The leather is still supple and not in any danger of drying out as long as it is stored properly.

A little history here, if I could read it

A little history here, if I could read it

Unfortunately, the gun is not quite complete.  It came with a period-correct flat-base magazine, but was not accompanied by one with the finger rest extension.  That will have to wait while I find one at a reasonable price.

Period-correct magazine

Period-correct magazine

Internally the Walther PP is sound, and now clean.  I stripped away a lot of accumulated gunk and grime, but I may have a bit more work to do.

Disassembled view with AKAH Holster

Disassembled view with AKAH Holster

The loaded chamber indicator pin doesn’t seem to be under tension.  This could be because of a broken spring, or it could be something as simple as more gunk clogging up the channel above the firing pin even though the firing pin is operating normally.  To make sure I’ll need to do something I’ve not had to do before on any of my many PP-series Walthers, which is to remove the safety drum, firing pin, and loaded chamber indicator assembly.  If the spring is intact and functional, I’ll scrub out the channel and reassemble everything.  If not, it’s time to find a new spring — which I may go ahead and do anyway.

Firing pin and loaded chamber indicator channel

Firing pin and loaded chamber indicator channel

Enjoy one more look at this gorgeous pistol’s internal design:

Disassembled view

Disassembled view

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A Rare Find — Walther PP .32 ACP Made in Post-War Germany


Walther PP in 7.65mm (.32 ACP)

Walther PP in 7.65mm (.32 ACP)

Because of the popularity of a certain fictional English spy, many people in the U.S. are familiar with the German Walther PPK — a very compact, highly concealable handgun originally designed around the .32 ACP (7.65mm) cartridge.  What is lesser known is that the PPK, originally produced in 1931, was in turn a redesigned, more compact version of the 1929 Walther PP, and that the Walther PP was one of the most popular police weapons ever produced.  Indeed, only recently have some national police departments discontinued their use and, yes, believe it or not Wikipedia still lists the PPK variant as being in service at MI6.

A third variant, the PPK/S, mates the larger PP frame to the smaller PPK slide and barrel, and has been exceedingly popular in this country since its inception in 1968 (in response to the ill-conceived and poorly written Gun Control Act of that year).  It is still produced to this day by Smith & Wesson in both .32 ACP and .380 ACP (9mm kurz).

S&W Versions of the PPK (.32 ACP) and PPK/S (.380 ACP)

PP, by the way, is short for Polizei Pistole (which translates to “police pistol”), and PPK is Polizei Pistole Kriminal (meaning police pistol detective model).

Shorter, lighter PPK frame on left; larger, heftier PP frame used by the PPK/S on right

After World War II until 1986, all .32 ACP and .380 ACP Walther-authorized European-made PP-series pistols were produced by Manurhin of France.  That includes even those Walthers with West German proof marks.  Walthers displaying West German proofs were in fact shipped from Manurhin to Ulm for final assembly and testing.  Only from 1986 onward, until the late 1990s, were Walther PP-series pistols once again made in Germany — at Walther’s manufacturing facility in Ulm.  (see:  Fun Photo Friday — 1940 Zella-Mehlis Walther PP for an earlier all-German Walther PP)

Walther PP in 7.65mm (.32 ACP)

Walther PP in 7.65mm (.32 ACP)

That means that most post-war PP-series pistols in the U.S. were either made in the U.S., first by Ranger Manufacturing for the now-defunct Interarms Company and later by S&W, or are of either German or French manufacture.  Other variants exist (many being illegal copies, especially from the former Soviet Block countries), but those are exceedingly rare here.  As for pre-war versions, those are all exclusively from Germany, and many were brought to the U.S. by returning servicemen or imported by Sam Cumming’s International Armament Corporation (Interarmco, and later Interarms) before he acquired the rights to manufacture here in the U.S. under the Walther banner the PPK and PPK/S versions.

German Proof Marks

German Proof Marks

On a side note — Sam Cummings was quite a character, and it’s reputed that his Interarms was initially a front company for the CIA.  Sam Cummings (more on him here) was the inspiration for the character of Sterling Heyward (and his father) in my murder mystery The Globe, and Interarms was the basis for the fictional InterGlobal Armaments mentioned in the same book.

German Proof Marks — Closeup; the “KC” code indicates a 1992 manufacture date

So, why am I bringing up this firearms history lesson?  Blame Saturday, and blame my favorite local gun store.

Post-war PPK and PPK/S pistols may be found practically everywhere in the U.S. (mostly of U.S. manufacture).  The post-war PP is a bit more of a challenge, as none were produced in this country.  Finding a true, post-war, West German-manufactured Walther PP is flat-out difficult.  Finding one without any import markings is even harder.  Finding one in .32 ACP (never a very popular round in the U.S. where caliber is king and .380 ACP is deemed by many to be the minimum cartridge suitable for a defensive round) is indeed rare.  Finding one in near pristine condition is practically impossible.  Finding one at an affordable price . . . well, forget it.  Or so I thought.

Here’s what my good friends at El Paso’s Collectors Gun Exchange were dying to show me the moment I walked into the store:

Original Box

Original Box

Post-war Walther PP in case

Post-war Walther PP in case

How good a deal was it?  I snagged this remarkable example for less than the suggested retail price of a new S&W PPK or PPK/S.

Expect a full review once I get this gem out onto the range.  As an added bonus, I’ll be comparing it to an Interarms PPK/S (.380 ACP), a Smith & Wesson PPK/S (.380 ACP), a European PPK/S (.22 LR), and a Smith & Wesson version of the iconic PPK in .32 ACP.

Interarms-imported, German-proofed Walther PPK/S in .22 LR

And now a mystery:  The Berlin Wall came tumbling down in early November, 1989.  The reunification of Germany became official on October 3 the following year.  So, why does a Walther made in 1992 bear the mark “W. Germany” on the slide?

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