|The Walther PP (police pistol) series pistols are blowback-operated semi-automatic pistols.
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They feature an exposed hammer, a traditional double-action trigger mechanism, a single-column magazine, and a fixed barrel which also acts as the guide rod for the recoil spring. The series includes the Walther PP, PPK, PPK/S, and PPK/E.
The various PP series are manufactured in either Germany or the United States. Since 2002, the PPK variant is solely manufactured by Smith & Wesson in Houlton, Maine, United States, under license from Carl Walther GmbH Sportwaffen. In the past, this particular model has been manufactured by Carl Walther in its own factory in Germany, as well as under licenses by Manurhin in Alsace, France, and by Interarms in Alexandria, Virginia.
Originally built in 1929, the Walther PPK remains a popular pistol used today for concealed carry, V.I.P. protection, MI5, European and American Police.
The PP was released in 1929 and the PPK in 1931; both were popular with European police and civilians, for being reliable and concealable. During World War II they were issued to the German military and police, the Schutzstaffel, the Luftwaffe, and Nazi Party officials; Adolf Hitler shot and killed himself with his PPK (a 7.65mm/.32 ACP) in the FŘhrerbunker in Berlin. Moreover, the Walther PPK (also a 7.65mm/.32 ACP) pistol is famous as fictional secret agent James Bond`s signature gun in many of the films and novels: Ian Fleming`s choice of the Walther PPK directly influenced its popularity and its notoriety.
The most common variant is the Walther PPK, the Polizeipistole Kriminalmodell (Police Pistol Detective Model), indicating it was more concealable than the original PP and hence better suited to plainclothes or undercover work. Kriminal refers to the police detective (criminal) division. Sometimes, the name Polizeipistole Kurz (Short Police Pistol) is used; however, the accuracy of that interpretation is unclear. The PPK is a smaller version of the PP (Polizeipistole) with a shorter grip and barrel and reduced magazine capacity.
An Astra Constable.
The PP and the PPK were among the world`s first successful double action semi-automatic pistols that were widely copied, but still made by Walther. The design inspired other pistols, among them the Soviet Makarov, the Hungarian FEG PA-63, the Argentinian Bersa Thunder 380, the Swiss SIG P230, the German Mauser HSc, the Spanish Astra Constable, the American Jennings J-22 and Iver Johnson TP-22, and the Czech CZ50.
Walther`s original factory was located in Zella-Mehlis in the state (Land) of Thuringia. As that part of Germany was occupied by the Soviet Union following World War II, Walther was forced to flee to West Germany, where they established a new factory in Ulm. However, for several years following the war, the Allied powers forbade any manufacture of weapons in Germany. As a result, in 1952, Walther licensed production of the PP series pistols to a French company, Manufacture de Machines du Haut-Rhin, also known as Manurhin. The French company continued to manufacture the PP series until 1986. In fact, all postwar European-made PP series pistols manufactured until 1986 were manufactured by Manurhin, even though the pistol slide may bear the markings of the Walther factory in Ulm.
In 1978, Ranger Manufacturing of Gadsden, Alabama was licensed to manufacture the PPK and PPK/S; this version was distributed by Interarms of Alexandria, Virginia. This license was eventually canceled. Starting in 2002, Smith & Wesson (S&W) began manufacturing the PPK and PPK/S under license. In February 2009, S&W issued a recall for PPKs it manufactured for a defect in the hammer block safety.
Walther has indicated that, with the exception of the PP and the new PPK/E model, S&W is the current sole source for new PPK-type pistols.
PPK versus PPK/S
The PPK/S was developed following the enactment of the Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA68) in the United States, the pistol`s largest market (Hogg 1979:164). One of the provisions of GCA68 banned the importation of pistols and revolvers not meeting certain requirements of length, weight, and other "sporting" features into the United States. The PPK failed the "Import Points" test of the GCA68 by a single point. (See image of ATF Form 4590 for the complete list of qualifying points.) Walther addressed this situation by combining the PP`s frame with the PPK`s barrel and slide to create a pistol that weighed slightly more than the PPK. The additional ounce or two of weight of the PPK/S compared to the PPK was sufficient to provide the extra needed import points.
Because United States law allowed domestic production (as opposed to importation) of the PPK, manufacture began under license in the U.S. in 1978; this version was distributed by Interarms. The version currently manufactured by Smith & Wesson has been modified by incorporating a longer grip tang (S&W calls it "extended beaver tail"), better protecting the shooter from slide bite, i.e. the rearward-traveling slide`s pinching the web between the index finger and thumb of the firing hand, which could be a problem with the original design for people with larger hands or an improper grip, especially when using "hotter" cartridge loads.
The PPK/S differs from the PPK as follows:
- Overall height: 104 mm (4.1 in)
- Weight: the PPK/S weighs 51 g (1.8 oz) more than the PPK
- The PPK/S magazine holds one additional round, in both calibers.
As of 2007, the PPK/S and the PPK are offered in the following calibers: .32 ACP (with capacities of 8+1 for PPK/S and 7+1 for PPK); or .380 ACP (PPK/S: 7+1, PPK: 6+1).
In the 1950s, Walther produced the PPK-L which was a light-weight variant of the PPK. The PPK-L differed from the standard, all steel PPK in that it had an aluminium alloy frame. These were only chambered in 7.65mm Browning (.32 ACP) and .22 LR because of the increase in felt recoil from the lighter weight of the gun. All other features of the postwar production PPK/S (brown plastic grips with Walther banner, high polished blue finish, lanyard loop, loaded chamber indicator, 7+1 magazine capacity and overall length) were the same on the PPK-L. In the 1960s, Walther began stamping "Made in West Germany" on the frame of the pistol right below the magazine release button. The 1950s production pistols had the date of manufacture, designated as `month/year`, stamped on the right side of the slide. Starting in the 1960s, the production date, designated by the last two digits of the year, was stamped on the exposed part of the barrel which could be seen in the ejection port.
First marketed in 1972, this was an all-steel variant of the PP chambered for the 9x18mm Ultra cartridge. Designed as a police service pistol, it was a blowback operated, double-action pistol with an external slide-stop lever and a firing-pin safety. A manual decocker lever was on the left side of the slide; when pushed down, it locked the firing pin and released the hammer. When the 9mm Parabellum was chosen as the standard service round by most of the German police forces, the experimental 9mm Ultra round fell into disuse. Only about 2,000 PP Super pistols were sold to German police forces in the 1970s, and lack of sales caused the PP Super to be withdrawn from the Walther catalogue in 1979.
At the 2000 Internationale Waffen-Ausstellung (IWA - International Weapons Exhibition) in Nuremberg, Walther announced a new PPK variant designated as the PPK/E. The PPK/E resembles the PPK/S and has a blue steel finish; it is manufactured under license by FEG in Hungary. Despite the resemblance between the two, certain PP-PPK-PPK/S parts, such as magazines, will not interchange with the PPK/E. The official factory photographs do not refer to the pistol`s Hungarian origins; instead, the traditional Walther legend ("Carl Walther Waffenfabrik Ulm/Do.") is stamped on the left side of the slide. The factory announcement mentions that the PPK/E is made with "new manufacturing technologies", presumably in an effort to reduce costs.
As of May 2008, the PPK/E bore a suggested retail price in Germany of 441 euros, almost 200 euros cheaper than the PPK and PPK/S models imported from the U.S. The PPK/E is offered in .22 LR, .32 ACP, and .380 ACP calibers.
- Bangladesh: Special Security Force.
- Burkina Faso: PP variant.
- Central African Republic: PP variant.
- Chad: PP variant.
- Republic of the Congo: PP variant.
- Denmark: PPK variant. Danish Police used a 7.65mm version.
- East Germany: A close copy was produced after World War II.
- France: A close copy was produced after World War II by Manurhin.
- Guyana: PPK variant.
- Hungary: A close copy was produced locally after World War II. A Hungarian version called the PA-63 (9x18mm Makarov) is still in service.
- Indonesia: PPK variant is used by Komando Pasukan Katak (Kopaska) tactical diver group and Komando Pasukan Khusus (Kopassus) special forces group.
- Iran: Iran police.
- Madagascar: PP variant.
- Mali: PP variant.
- Mauritius: PP variant.
- Nazi Germany
- Niger: PP variant.
- Pakistan: Manufactured at Darra Adam Khel.
- Portugal: Guarda Nacional Republicana (used until 2008).
- Romania: A close copy was produced locally after World War II.
- Senegal: PP variant.
- Seychelles: PP variant.
- South Africa: PP and PPK Variant (and Manurhin variants). Standard undercover pistol for South African Police from 1972-1992. Last examples withdrawn from service in 2009, replaced with locally produced RAP-401.
- Sweden: Walther PP. Was in (very limited) use by Swedish Police until early/mid 2000s.,
- Togo: PP variant.
- Turkey: A close copy was produced locally after World War II.
- United Kingdom: MI6 - Walther PPK and P9, 1958 to present. Royal Air Force - L66A1 .22 LR and L47A1 7.65mm Walther PP.
- United States: Produced locally and used by various police forces.
World War II
Carl Walther GmbH Sportwaffen
.22LR or 6.35mm auto (.25 ACP) or 7.65x17mm Auto or 9x17mm (.380 ACP)
665 g (23.5 oz) 9x17mm Short/.380 ACP, 660 g (23 oz) 7.65x17mm Browning SR/.32 ACP, 675 g (23.8 oz) .22 LR
170 mm (6.7 in)
98 mm (3.9 in)
10+1 (.22LR), 8+1 (.32 ACP) 7+1 (.380)