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+ Walther + C&S = one fine pocket pistol
We don't have to go
into the complete history of the Walther PPK/S here most
of us know the little pistol was a result of the Gun
Control Act of 1968, which left Walther unable to import
their PPK into this country when it couldn't meet the
requirements imposed for foreign pistols under that law.
Walther wanted to maintain a viable presence in the
American gun market, where the PPK was popular with
police officers, thus the idea of taking the PPK slide
and mating it with the PP frame to produce a pistol that
was shorter front to rear than the PP, but taller top to
bottom than the PPK, and the hybrid made-for-America
pistol was off and running. The PPK/S has since been
made by Walther in Germany, by the defunct Interarms in
Virginia, and now by Smith and Wesson under a licensing
arrangement with Walther.
original PPK was a 7.65 (.32) caliber pistol that didn't
have much real punch to it, especially with the full
metal jacket bullets, but the PP in the same caliber,
introduced in 1929 as the first successful double-action
autopistol, was standard police issue in Europe through
most of the 1930s and when the more concealable PPK was
introduced in 1931 for plainclothes carry, it was a
natural progression of the larger pistol. Herein the
'Land Of The Colt .45,' we tend to sneer at the little
.32ACP, but it was the cartridge of choice for police in
many European Countries for a good part of the last
century, and the more powerful .380ACP chambering didn't
come along in these Walther until much later.
and Smith & Wesson have been tighter than two
fingers in a mitten recently, with Walther \USA (the US
branch of the company) sharing the same corporate
address as Smith & Wesson in Springfield, and some
commingling of personnel and assets. Walther USA has
disbanded, and now Smith & Wesson is the US
distributor for Walther products, as well as the maker
of the current PPK/S. So we're up to date on the who,
what, where and why, let's take a look at the gun.
Wesson and Walther have big plans for the PPK/S-the
Walther website catalogs four versions of the pistol, two
in stainless (bright & satin), one in blue, and one in
a two-tone finish. The bright stainless pistol is listed
in both .32ACP and .380ACP, the other three in .380ACP
first heard that the guns were being resurrected in the
U8A again, I asked for an early production sample to test.
When it arrived, it looked just like a bright stainless
.380 PPK'S with a couple of new touches.
basic frame on the S&W produced pistol is cast for
Walther/S&W by Ruger's Pine Tree casting facility in
New Hampshire, with final
machining done by Smith & Wesson. The slide and other
major components are produced in-house by S&W. My
sample PPK'S came with the typical small sights and very
heavy double-action trigger pull common to the breed,
along with black plastic checkere4 grips and two 7-round
magazines, one with finger rest and one without. The
pistol features a rounded hammer spur, safety lever on the
left rear of the slide, magazine latch button up near the
slide behind the triggerguard on the left side of the
frame, and the blowback pistol operates the same way as
its multinational predecessors. With a loaded magazine and
round chambered with the hammer down, the first shot is
double-action and all subsequent shots are single-action.
The safety lever also works as a de-cocker. Rotate it down
and the hammer falls to a safety position with a small bar
of steel blocking it from contact with the firing pin.
You can carry the pistol with the safety down or up,
if it's down the hammer can't be cocked, if it's up the
trigger will work the hammer either cocked or uncocked.
The safety will NOT lock the cocked hammer, there's no way
to safely carry this pistol with the hammer back and a
live round in the chamber, unless you have a holster that
puts the thumbstrap between the hammer and the firing pin,
and I've never seen one for a PPK/S. This pistol's action
was revolutionary in 1929, and its whole reason for being
was safe carry with the hammer down while being ready for
immediate use with that DA trigger. The Walther/S&W
PPK/S also retains the loaded chamber indicator ~in in the
slide just below the rear sight. One major new feature
that anybody who shoots this pistol very much ought to
really like is the extended tang that eliminates the
hammer bite the little pistol tends to produce. Also, this
PPK/S has a brand new second hammer strut inside that
Smith & Wesson says is there to help reduce the heavy.
DA trigger pull that's built into the design.
mention that my sample was an early production gun, and
there were some areas that needed attention. The pistol
was covered with sharp edges all around. The double-action
trigger pull was heavy, and the traditional tiny PPK'S
sights were way too small for tired eyeballs like mine to
pick up in a hurry. My gun needed some fine tuning.
Laughridge's Cylinder & Slide Shop has established
sort of a tradition of building a custom handgun for me
each year, just to show off what they can do, and the
solution for the little Walther was obvious. Off it went.
phone calls and e-mails with C&S, my basic requests
were to get rid of everything sharp on the entire pistol,
reduce that very heavy DA trigger pull as much as
practical, round off the trigger face, and put some sights
on the slide that I could actually find in a hurry. Other
than that, I left the field pretty much open to whatever
their more extensive Walther experience suggested. Our
only disagreement came when I suggested emeralds and they
wanted to do sapphires. We compromised on a 14-carat gold
front sight bead instead.
stays busy, and it's best to have a hobby to keep your
mind diverted while you wait for the finished product, but
it's always worth the wait.
did a carry bevel package on the outside to get rid of all
sharp edges, contoured and re-shaped the beavertail tang
to round the corners and
make it fit the web of the hand more comfortably, and bead
blasted the pistol to give it a subdued matte gray finish
that's much less reflective than the original glossy
stainless. They were also able to remove some material
from the frame at the top of the backstrap where it curves
into the tang to let the pistol sit slightly lower in the
hand, which leaves the bore lower to help reduce muzzle
flip during recoil. The frontstrap and backstrap were also
stippled to increase control under recoil, and the trigger
was radiused and polished.
less-than-ideal-for-older-eyes factory sights were
replaced by a set of fixed Novaks modified to fit the
Walther. The new sights feature white dots on the rear,
and that gold bead on the
front. Admittedly, the PPK/S is not built to be a target
pistol, but I just think a fairly serious defensive
handgun should have very visible sights, and this one now
barrel was throated and the feed ramp polished to
facilitate positive feeding, and the extractor was
radiused and tensioned for more positive extraction.
was re-crowned, the chamber was honed, the pistol's
insides were polished and de-burred, and a trigger job
brought the DA pull down from 14 pounds to 11, and the SA
pull from 6 to 4 pounds.
original black plastic grips that came on the PPK/S were
already cracked when it
arrived from the factory. Again, this is something that
Smith & Wesson has gotten the word on, and they've
since changed the material used in the PPK/S grip panels.
Mine needed to be replaced though, and they were, by a
beautiful set of Pau Ferros from Hogue. The Hogues are
thicker than the factory grips, which makes the Walther a
little wider in the hand and marginally bulkier to
conceal, but also makes it very comfortable to shoot. The
.380 ACP is no elephant gun, but you need control if you
ever have to fire fast to defend yourself.
gun's there, how about leather?
Alessi makes one of the best ankle rigs in the business, I
wore one regularly at work before I retired, and the
little Walther is a natural for an ankle holster. He
provided one to fit my PPK/S, and like my older one this
rig uses a very substantial leather band that's padded
with thick felt for all day comfort, and cinches up with a
heavy duty Velcro strap. As always, if you use this ankle
holster, strap it on empty first, tighten it up to where
it'll stay put, and then holster the pistol. That should
leave you plenty tight for fairly strenuous activity short
of bungee jumping. The holster body itself is moulded for
secure retention while providing instant access without a
also sent a Close Quarter Covert snap-on snap-off belt
holster and matching magazine pouch for the PPK/S. I like
this one, it snugs the pistol in close and tight, the top
is reinforced to stay open for one-handed reholstering (a
big plus), and you don't have to get half undressed to put
the holster on or take it off. It's also rugged and gives
a good grip on the gun for the draw.
good to go. Lets see how it shoots.
I took two
Remington loads, a Winchester load, and a CorBon load to
the pit for testing with the Walther. I started out at ten
feet with rapid double taps alternating between two
standard B27 black silhouettes and had no trouble at all
staying inside the torso "stop" zone. The pistol
is very controllable, particularly with the thicker Hogue
grips, and quite easy to shoot.
to the 25-yard bench, I fired several five-shot strings
with each factory load for accuracy. I wouldn't
take the Walther to the Olympics, but it was respectable
at distances beyond what it was designed for, and I have
no complaints. The best five-shot groups are shown in the
justify the effort. After some fine tuning that's common
in any new gun startup process, Smith & Wesson should
have a handle on the new PPK/S by now, and the Walther
tradition continues. When my department first went to
autos back in the early 80s, the Walther PPK/S was one of
the first two pistols approved for private purchase duty
and off duty use. I tried one out back then and, frankly,
didn't like it. The extended tang on the new S&W
version makes a difference, and with the thicker Hogue
grips and the Cylinder & Slide magic, I'd give the
little pistol a second chance if I were a working man
cost of the work that Cylinder & Slide did on my PPK/S
was $905. And, before you give up on the idea in despair,
I'll point out like I always do with C&S projects that
you most definitely don't have to get the whole package.
You can pick and choose the work you'd like done and
ignore the rest. If you're interested in one of the new
Walthers and might want
to tweak it a little, I'd recommend the carry bevel at
$63.50, barrel throat and feed ramp polish at $42.75, and
the trigger job at $124, as minimums. The modified Novak
sights are pricey at $148.50, but well worth it for me.
And, the rest is up to you and your own budget. (Prices
have changed, since the publication of this article,
please visit our online store for the latest prices.) C&S is
always happy to do as much or as little as you want, and
you can get with them for a list of services and prices.
Walther is a reincarnation of a classic backup and
concealed carry pistol, and for those who like theirs
shaken, not stirred, Smith & Wesson says the PPK
itself is not too far behind. Look for both pistols at
your local dealer, or get with Smith & Wesson for more