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Old 07-09-2017, 01:05 PM
tripledipper tripledipper is offline
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Default Seeking Opinions On Walther PPK/S - .22lr & .380 VS USA Semi's

Is Walther superior to USA semi-autos and any opinions on the quality of the new (Smith) Walthers VS the older German Interarms models? See some very nice older models, especially in stainless, but they are pretty pricey.
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Old 07-09-2017, 01:46 PM
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As with most questions of this type (is *this* superior to *that*?) it depends on your intended usage. Are you asking which is a better choice as a CCW? Or which gun is more enjoyable at the range, or just for the pure enjoyment of owning it?

The German-built Walthers (and/or French-built Manurhins) are beautiful & classic firearms. I only have 1 PPK & 1 PPK/S (both dating from the 70's IIRC) & 2 .32 ACP ex-German Police PPs (likely Manurhins, but marked Walther) from the 60's. These are all great pistols, and I'm always looking to acquire another when possible. They're all capable of surprising accuracy, though the first-shot DA is rather heavy. Could they serve as a self-defense weapon? Certainly. Have I ever carried any of them for this purpose? Never. A CCW or OC firearm is likely to gather a lot of dings, scratches, or at the very least, holster-wear. I have other firearms which are more potent, lighter, and/or more easily concealable, and that I don't mind getting a few scratches or holster-wear on.

I have no experience with the Smith & Walther PPK series. When they first came out, I seem to recall an awful lot of negative stories, though I can't recall what were the specific issues. It does seem that things have improved...I haven't heard many complaints as of late about them. I know that people with very fleshy hands find the Smith versions to be friendlier, less apt to *bite*, due to the extended beavertail.

So...if you want a classic pistol, chock-full of history & intrique, the PP series are hard to beat. For just plain fun, don't overlook the .32 ACP. It's much more fun to shoot, ammo is *slightly* cheaper (I think?), it's more *Bond-ish*, and even for self-defense, it's much more controllable and capable of quicker shots-on-target and better recovery time. My preference leans *waayy* towards the actual German (or French) built pistols, but you're correct...they can get pricey. One would suspect that the older German pistols will only continue to appreciate. The lines of the Smith version are slightly different, but it still possesses a large amount of the Walther mystique.

But...if you are looking for a defensive .380, well...I'd say there are better, more modern options. You can get a small polymer-framed 9mm that is similar in size (if not a bit smaller) lighter, more potent, probably has a better trigger, easier to mount night-sights, more likely to reliably feed hollow-points, and probably costs less. Even if you stick with .380s, there are cheaper, lighter, more concealable options.

Hope this was helpful. I have no doubt that other, more knowledgeable folks will be along with more, perhaps better, info. As long as it took me to write this...it may already have happened!

Tim

Last edited by Bullzaye; 07-09-2017 at 01:49 PM. Reason: Fix typo
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Old 07-09-2017, 01:49 PM
kleiss1 kleiss1 is offline
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The slide is very sharp on my PPKS-380. Will bite your thumb if you're not paying attention.
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Old 07-09-2017, 03:16 PM
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I collect Walther's. I would buy the .22lr model being currently made. It is NOT stainless steel. My favorite is the Interarms PPK, the S&W PPK & PPK/S are not as popular or well liked.
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Old 07-09-2017, 03:24 PM
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I virtually never shoot my PPK. It bites me, EVERY TIME.
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Old 07-09-2017, 03:30 PM
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After being bitten twice, I sold my PPK and got a Bersa Thunder.

No more bite.
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Old 07-09-2017, 03:42 PM
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I have owned a Bersa Thunder .380 cal.
Excellent copy of a Walther.
Walther and Smith & Wesson have joined together in some sort of a partnership.
Walther has their USA offices in Ft. Smith, Arkansas.
I have corresponded with them and found them very helpful.
I presently have a Walther PPQA 9mm.
The QA designates that the first trigger pull is the light 5# instead of a much heavier first trigger pull, then "re-sets to the lighter one.
German quality and engineering with a USA partner.
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Old 07-09-2017, 05:08 PM
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The Bersa 380 Thunder in all of its models is a excellent gun for the price. I looked into them very carefully over the past few months. It is hard to find a negative comment about them in any reviews whether printed or video. If I were going 380, I would be looking for a Bersa Thunder Plus to get the extra mag capacity.
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Old 07-09-2017, 06:54 PM
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I have to agree it depends on what you think is "best".

Newer designs are easier to work on and cost less; for example the Glock 42 .380ACP. The G43 isn't much larger and is in 9X19.

My PPK is finely machined, accurate, and holds me accountable for my grip, trigger squeeze, and maintance (clean and lube).

"Best" depends on what requirements you want.
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Old 07-09-2017, 07:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by richardw View Post
The Bersa 380 Thunder in all of its models is a excellent gun for the price. I looked into them very carefully over the past few months. It is hard to find a negative comment about them in any reviews whether printed or video. If I were going 380, I would be looking for a Bersa Thunder Plus to get the extra mag capacity.
I took a defensive firearms class a couple of years ago and the lady next tome was using a Bersa Thunder. I'd always said I wanted one after handling them in the stores and at gun shows, but after the way hers performed, or should I say DIDN'T perform....I changed my mind. Failures to feed, failures to eject, no thank you.
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Old 07-09-2017, 08:01 PM
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I don't have a PPK or PPK/S, but my shooting buddy does (a 380 version). He pocket carriers his when ever he is out of the house. He also shoots his on a regular basis. His is an Interarms version.

When I picked up a small auto, I leaned towards the Mauser HSc in 380. The only downside for CCW (in my mind) is the European heel magazine release. However, on the balance sheet, the redeeming factor is that the sides of the pistol are clean (except for the safety/hammer drop), and the pistol automatically goes into battery as you insert the magazine. The hammer spur is a small nub compared to the rowel hammer on the PP series, so the hammer bite is non-existent!
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Old 07-09-2017, 10:28 PM
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I haven't had one since the '80s - an Interarms version. Just didn't like it.

The PPKs were very popular with a certain crowd in the PD where I worked, they were all heavy into the "cool factor."

My recollection, of those that got "the bite" the majority were due to slide, not hammer bite.
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Old 07-09-2017, 11:05 PM
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I carried an SS Interarms PPK .380 for many years back in the 1980's - 1990's without any problems, Mine was made in Alexandria Virginia under license from Walther .
Currently have a SS and a blue PPK made in USA in the 90's and a German made import from 1966, many subtle differences.

While I love the PPK as other have stated there are more modern designs out there with better sites etc
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Old 07-09-2017, 11:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tripledipper View Post
Is Walther superior to USA semi-autos and any opinions on the quality of the new (Smith) Walthers VS the older German Interarms models? See some very nice older models, especially in stainless, but they are pretty pricey.
I own a few PP series pistols:

- A pair of Manurhrin made PP pistols in 7.65mm Browning,
- A pair of Ranger made PPK/S pistols in .380 ACP,
- A British L66A1 (a West German military proof marked Walther PP .22 LR), and
- A Walther/Umarex PPK/S .22 LR

I also used to own a S&W made PPK/S in .380 ACP.

A bit of history might help when talking about Walther versus Manurhin versus Ranger versus S&W made PP series pistols.

After WWII, Germany was prohibited from producing small arms, except for very specific circumstances, such as producing P38 pistols for the French. Consequently, Walther, which had moved it's tooling eastward from Zella-Mehlis in eastern Germany to avoid the Soviets near the end of the war.

In 1952 Walther built a factory in Ulm Germany, but was unable to produce small arms due to restrictions placed on Germany after WWII. However Manurhin's facilities were located just across the Rhine in the Alsace Lorraine region of France (which had been annexed by Germany in 1871 and been part of Germany until after WWI).

The end result was that Walther produced forgings for the frames and slides in its factory in Ulm, West Germany, which were then shipped across the river to Manurhin in France, where Manurhin then milled, finished and assembled the pistols with Manurhin roll marks and a role mark indicating the license from Walther.

After 1957, Walther could again produce small arms, however, they continued the arrangement with Manurhin, with Manurhin making the pistols for US export. Even for Walther marked pistols. Manuhrin completed the frames and small parts and milled the slides, but then shipped the parts back across the Rhine to Walther, where the slides were roll marked, induction hardened and finished by Walther. This arrangement continued until 1986 when Walther finally began producing the PP series pistols completely in it's own factory. Given that the slides were finished by Walther and frames were finished by Manurhin, it's common to find the bluing doesn't quite match on these Walther marked pistols, "made" by Walther.

Opinions vary on the quality of Walther versus Manurhin pistols, and there are tow schools of thought. One holds that the Walther pistols are finished to higher standard - but that largely ignores the fact the frames were still finished by Manurhin, and the other holds that the Manurhin pistols were finished to the same quality as the Walther marked pistols. Both sides tend to agree that the Manurhin/Walther collaborated pistols were better than the all Walther pistols made after 1986 after the agreement with Manurhin was terminated.

Personally, I think the Manurhin pistols are very well made and nicely finished. I have two, both of which are former Austrian police pistols:





Tholson Company imported the Manurhin PP pistols into the US beginning in 1952, and the PPK beginning in 1953. Interarms became the US importer in 1956. The PPK did not meet the import criteria after GCA 1968, but Interarms continued to import the PP until 1984, when Manurhin began importing them directly to the US.

Ranger Manufacturing in Gadsen Alabama began producing licensed copies of the PPK/S for Interarms in 1978. The quality of the Ranger made pistols is also considered to be very good:





Interarms closed it's doors around 1998, and Smith and Wesson became the licensed producer and distributor for the PPK and PPK/S in the US in 2002 in Houlton ME. This arrangement just recently ended with Walther making the pistols in Ft. Smith Arkansas beginning in 2017, although I don't think any of them have come to market yet.

S&W made some changes on the PPK and PPK/S. The grip frames are slightly different, with the S&W frame being both a little larger, and with a little less room inside, to the effect that grips for the Walther, Manurhin and Ranger made pistols don't usually fit, and they extended the tang.

The longer tang supposedly reduces the potential for slide bite for folks with fleshy hands, but it also ruins the lines of the pistol, and tends to dig into your side when carried in an IWB holster.

Not withstanding a couple recalls, quality was good and they were reliable, but the finish was also a little less polished than the Ranger made pistols.



Walther (and Manurhin) made the PP in .22 LR as well, and these are well sought after pistols that bring a fair bit of money when they show up - upwards of $600 to as much as twice that depending on age and markings. They are accurate and reliable, provided you limit the rounds in the magazine to 8, instead of 10. Magazines are the major limiting factor as they sell for upwards of $100 and are rather rare.

This is my British military L66A1 version of the PP in .22 LR:



Umarex as the new parent company of Walther, started making a .22 LR version of the PPK/S in Ft. Smith Arkansas. The slide and frame are made of Zamak alloy (a high purity zinc alloy) with steel reinforcement in the high stress/high wear areas, it uses the same barrel liner and barrel nut system as the Walther P22, and examination of the small parts shows an effort to reduce production costs without hurting function, but beyond that the design is very much that of a Walther PP series pistol.

I had low expectations when I bought mine, but to be quite honest it shoots better than my PP in .22 LR, and the magazine is a far superior design that addresses a few of the issues in the older PP .22LR pistol's magazine. Since the slide is Zamak rather than steel, it doesn't have to be thinned to reduce the slide weight, so it has the profile of a PPK/S. Umarex also filled in the grip frame between the magazine and grip, adding extra metal so the pistol actually has a feel very similar to the PPK/S rather than being un-naturally light weight.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised and while they probably won't become heirlooms, they are decent shooting pistols that are fun to take to the range. I opted for the nickel plated version as the finish on the "blue" version didn't appeal to me. With a set of wood grips the nickel version doesn't look bad, and as noted above, it's a great shooter:



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Old 07-10-2017, 03:04 AM
Kiwi cop Kiwi cop is offline
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I love shooting my .32 Auto Astra Constable, a licensed copy of the PPK, in a 48 round Classic Match.

Despite only having a slightly longer than 3 1/2 inch barrel and skimpy sights I have no problems hitting a target at 25 meters/yards.
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Old 07-10-2017, 11:06 AM
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Speaking of PP series pistol copies, FEG made a long series of military and commercial pistols in 7.65 Browning (.32 ACP) and/or 9X18mm Makarov and/or 9mm Kurz (.380 ACP) that were close based on the Walther PP and its operating system, including the:

Walam 48M - a military steel frame close copy of the PP in 7.65 Browning;
RK-59 - a shorter slide, PPK/S sized aluminum frame military pistol in 9mm Mak;
BR-61 - a commercial PPK style pistol with an aluminum alloy frame in .25 ACP, .32 ACP and .380 ACP;
MR-61 - same as above but in 9mm Mak;
RL-61 - same as the BR-61, but with a steel frame;
R-61 - same as the BR-61, except in .22 LR;
PA-63 - a PP sized military pistol with an aluminum frame, chambered in 9mm Mak;
PPH - a commercial version of the PA-63 in .380 ACP;
AP66 - a commercial version of the PA-63 in 7.65 Browning made for Hege-Waffen);
AP7.65 - a shorter slide PPK/S sized commercial version of the PA-63, chambered in 7.65mm Browning;
AP9 - a shorter slide PPK/S sized commercial version of the PA-63, chambered in 9mm Kurz (.380 ACP);
PMK-380 - the KBI model number for the AP9;
SAPS - a South African police contract AP9;
SMC-380 - a PPK sized aluminum framed pistol in .380 ACP imported by KBI;
SMC-918 - an SMC chambered in 9x18mm Mak;
AP99 Mk II - an aluminum framed short slide version of the AP9 (the model number is however also applied to some later production PP length AP9 pistols);
AP-22 - a commercial PPK sized aluminum frame pistol in .22 LR;
SMC-22 - The KBI model number for the AP-22;
AP9S - a commercial PP sized, steel frame pistol chambered in both 9mm Kurz, and 9mm Mak;
AP9M - an AP9S chambered in 9mm Mak;
APK9S - a commercial PPK/S sized, steel frame pistol chambered in 9mm Kurz;
APK9M - an APK9S chambered in 9mm Mak;
AP7S - a commercial PP sized, steel frame pistol chambered in 7.65 Browning; and
APK7S - a commercial PPK/S sized, steel frame pistol chambered in 7.65 Browning.

In case you hadn't noticed, the above model numbers are confusing, and it gets worse as in addition to different model numbers for KBI imported pistols and some contract pistols, many of the commercial "AP" pistols are sold by sellers who refer to them as military "PA" pistols, so you need to look close to see what's really being sold.

There are also some parts guns out there, where a commercial slide may end up on a 61 or 63 series military frame. Inspect carefully and make sure the numbers match.

The RK-59 had some issues with frame cracking which was resolve ed in the later aluminum alloys used in the 61 and 63 series pistols.

The quality of the commercial pistols varies a bit by importer. In terarms started importing the AP9S, APK9S, AP7S and APK7S pistols when it became uncertain whether they would still have access to a supply of Walther PP and PPK/S pistols. The specified a very high degree of finish and Interarms imported examples are very finely finished pistols.

TGI also imported the same pistols, but with less polish. They are every bit as functional but lack the high polish and the same depth of blued finish.

Below top to bottom an Interarms imported AP9S, an Interarms imported APK9S, and a TGI imported APK7S:



This picture shows the difference in finish between the Interarms and TGI imported pistols a bit better:



Comparing an AP9S along side a PP, you can see the slightly large dimensions of the AP9S, showing it's roots in a pistol originally designed for the slightly more powerful 9x18 Mak, in a lighter aluminum alloy frame. The newer AP series pistols have a blued finish that is blacker than the blue used on the Walther pistols - much like the difference between later blued S&W revolvers and those blued prior to 1970, but the par all polish on the Interarms imported pistols is exceptional.




-----

The FEG pistols were pretty easy to find in excellent or even new in the box condition for around $350-$400 until just a few years ago. Now they are harder to find, and will bring $350 in just good or very good condition. If you see one in excellent condition in the $400 range you'd do well to snap it up.

They are very reliable pistols. They generally have slightly larger chamber dimensions that make them very non-picky about ammo, and that aides in reliability - but at a slight expense in accuracy compared to the tighter chambered Walther pistols.

Their slightly greater size and weight also make them more enjoyable to shoot in . 380 ACP, and in 7.65 Browning, they are a good choice for a first centerfire pistol for a recoil shy student.
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Old 07-10-2017, 12:47 PM
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I have had experience with two of the S&W PPK models. When they first came out I bought one and it was an unreliable mess.

Recently (probably 20 years later) I bought another one and it is both reliable and accurate. I took a fine file and broke all those sharp edges it came with, put a small strip of 3M tread tape on the front of the grip, use a PPK/s magazine with an adapter for one more round, and it's great.

I have found the S&W PPK to be the perfect minimalist summer pistol, and it displays Walther quality and dependability.
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Old 07-10-2017, 01:15 PM
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I've never been a big fan of the .380 or 9mm Luger cartridges, but I've had several .380s, including two, maybe three Walther PPK/S pistols before S&W was involved.

I shot my guns considerably, mostly with cast bullets. I don't recall jamming ever being a problem, but if I was to carry a gun daily, I'd make sure it fed reliably with the chosen ammunition. The PPK/S is surprisingly accurate and I did all load testing at 25 yards. These guns are a bit heavy for their size and the cartridge they are chambered for, but that extra heft may make them easier to shoot well.

As for the "bite", I never experienced that; maybe my hold is a bit different than that of others. I'm not up on prices and know nothing about the S&W Walthers, but an older Walther is of very good quality and it looks and feels like a pistol should. It will also retain its value well, probably far better than any polymer pistol.

If I chose another Walther .380, I'd certainly get the stainless version. I still have a PPK/S in .22 LR. I'll likely keep that one.
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Old 07-10-2017, 01:55 PM
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I wish I had kept my new-in-the-box Astra Constable but, alas, it is long gone. I did purchase a new Walther PPK/S .22 about a year ago. A delightful little gun with the worst double action trigger I have ever found in a semi-auto pistol. I had some work done on it, springs, etc., and it was way, way better but had a lot of failures to fire. I have had that looked at, also, but have not fired the gun since then. It makes a handy BUG in a flat case designed for a tablet and tossed into a briefcase.
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