Tag Archives: Walther PPK/S

Fun Firearms Friday — Pocket Pistol Shootout: Colt Mustang vs. Beretta Tomcat

Left to right: Walther PPK, Beretta Tomcat, PPK/S, Colt Mustang

I hope you’ve enjoyed Pocket Pistol Week here at the blog, but now it’s time to determine a winner. The 9mm P99c AS by Walther remains my primary concealed carry weapon, and it will continue in that role. But sometimes you simply need something just slightly more compact than the (in my opinion) best concealed carry weapon ever made, and for years my go-to choices for this were the Walther .380 ACP PPK/S for winter and the .32 ACP PPK for summer. Let’s look at the relevant numbers:

Walther PPK/S:

  • Length: 6.1 inches/155mm
  • Width: .98 inches/25mm
  • Height: 4.3 inches/109mm
  • Weight with empty 7-round .380 ACP magazine/9mm kurz: 23.6 ounces/669 grams

Walther PPK same as PPK/S above except:

  • Height: 3.8 inches/97mm
  • Weight with empty 7-round .32 ACP magazine: 22.1 ounces/627 grams

Colt Mustang Lite:

  • Length: 5.5 inches/140 millimeters
  • Width: 1.06 inches/27 mm
  • Height with flat-based 6-round magazine: 3.9 inches/99 mm
  • Weight with empty 6-round .380 ACP/9mm kurz magazine: 12.58 ounces/357 grams

Beretta 3032 Tomcat:

  • Length: 4.92 inches/125 millimeters
  • Width: 1.1 inches/28 mm
  • Height: 3.7 inches/94 mm
  • Weight with empty 7-round .32 ACP/7.65mm magazine:
    • Early thin-slide Tomcat 14.38 ounces/408 grams
    • Later wide-slide Tomcat 15.72 ounces/446 grams

Mustang vs. Tomcat

As you can see, the Walther pocket pistols are noticeably larger and much heavier than the competition in today’s article, almost to the point that calling either a “pocket pistol” is really a misnomer by today’s standards. Between the Mustang and the Beretta measurements get a bit tighter, with the Colt coming out ahead in the weight category, and the Beretta clearly winning in length and height. The two pistols are virtually tied in overall width, but the much narrower slide of the Mustang makes it feel substantially thinner compared to the Tomcat.

Mustang vs. Tomcat length

Ergonomically the Mustang wins by a landslide. The button slide release on the Colt is where any experienced shooter expects, directly behind the trigger. And when pressed, the magazine falls freely from the grip magazine well. The Tomcat button release is much farther down the grip and located to the rear, making thumb manipulation with the shooting hand (for right-handers) very awkward. It’s actually easier to use the off hand to press the release, and when released the magazine stops dropping after just over a third of an inch of travel, about 10mm.  The Mustang also comes out on top with an ambidextrous safety and a slide that locks back on the last shot. The Tomcat’s only real win here is the ease of breech loading that marvelous tip-barrel rather than having to rack the slide. Further working in the Beretta’s favor here is the location of the barrel release lever above and slightly behind the trigger; its location is perfect for thumb activation with the shooting hand.

Mustang vs. Tomcat height

Triggers are pretty much a wash. The Mustang’s single-action only trigger is much stiffer than what one normally encounters in a 1911-type design. I’d estimate it at over seven pounds, probably approaching eight.  Reset is shorter, at about a sixteenth of an inch/1.6mm compared to three sixteenths/4.8mm for the Tomcat.  The Tomcat single-action trigger feels lighter than the Colt’s, but not appreciably so; probably around six pounds if I must guess (I really need to invest in a trigger gauge at some point for these articles).  As for the Tomcat’s double-action trigger, it’s better than the above cited Walthers, but it’s not very smooth and you can both feel and hear when the hammer passes the half-cock position. Despite its flaws, the Tomcat’s double-action trigger is more than adequate at self-defense ranges, and the Beretta has the added advantage of a cocked-and-locked option.

Mustang with 7+1 magazine vs. Tomcat height

I’m going to grant a tie in the shootability between the Mustang and the Tomcat. Both have atrocious sights. Both are very mild in the recoil department, the Mustang being surprisingly so considering the more powerful .380 ACP in a lighter package. Because of their light recoil characteristics, both are extremely quick at reacquiring the target for follow up shots, or would be if the sights were actually up to that task. With factory magazines the Tomcat comes out ahead for two reasons.  First, the Tomcat is 7+1 versus 6+1 for the Mustang, although there are 7+1 magazines available for the latter at the expense of an extra inch of height.  Second, the Beretta’s factory magazine actually worked. The Colt’s did not, as the rounds nose-dived into the feed ramp so badly I couldn’t even get a round chambered until I switched to the three after-market Metalform seven-rounders I’d brought with me to the range.

Targets — Colt vs. Beretta

Both the Tomcat and the Mustang are quality pistols at comparable pricing.  Indeed, the Mustang would be my choice for a mini-1911 pistol in .380 ACP when compared to higher priced offerings from SIG (P238) and Kimber (Micro 380). The Mustang is lighter and less expensive than either, although I do like the SIG’s night sight option.

Walther PPK over Beretta Tomcat; PPK/S over Colt Mustang

Tomcat overlying PPK; Mustang atop PPK/S

So, bottom line, which weapon wins in the battle to replace the PPK and PPK/S as an alternate carry to the Walther P99c AS? Surprisingly to most having read this, I’m going with the Beretta Tomcat for several reasons:

  • I like being able to safely decock the weapon without having to clear the chamber
  • I’m more accustomed to double-action/single-action, and feel safer with the added resistance necessary to pull the trigger in double-action mode
  • For accuracy shots at beyond 21 feet, the hammer can still be thumbed back to place the weapon in single-action
  • The Tomcat still provides me with single-action cocked-and-locked capability if I so choose, whereas the Mustang only gives me that one method of carry

On a cold winter day, I’ll probably consider going with the Mustang for better penetration of heavier clothing, but in those cases the 9mm, 10+1 P99c AS is going to be easy to conceal anyway so the need to carry a smaller weapon is less likely to arise.

The Overall Winner in the occasional deep-concealment carry sweepstakes — Beretta’s .32 ACP 3032 Tomcat.



Filed under Firearms, R. Doug Wicker

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?


Filed under Firearms