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Old 08-05-2018, 12:06 PM
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Default West German excellence...

The handguns of Willi Korth have been around since 1954. Founded in Ratzeburg, Germany, the company has always been known for exquisite refinement and outstanding build quality. The first revolvers were rather simple looking, but well made. The Korth Combat and Sport revolvers were introduced several years later and were truly a marvel of engineering and craftsmanship. It was during this time in the 1970ís and 80ís that Korth earned its reputation for building some of the finest handguns in the world. Iíve owned Korth Combat revolvers for a decade now and Iím still amazed just picking one up. If you want the worldís nicest wheelgun, look no further than a 1970ís Korth.

Having said all that, the subject of my thread isnít a revolver. By the mid 1980ís, Willi started to look ďoutside the boxĒ. In 1988 an automatic pistol of his own design was introduced. Simply called the Korth Autopistol or just Korth Pistol, this gun was, not surprisingly, build to incredibly high standards of excellence. The design is that of a falling block taken from the Walther P38 and later the Beretta 92. Korth did it a bit differently, however. The falling block is up front by the muzzle and certainly unique in its design and appearance. Supposedly, Korth designed it in that fashion to moderate recoil. The basic configuration is DA/SA and it has a super smooth, but fairly long DA pull. Personally, I was never in love with this pistolís design or its high bore axis, but being that the gun has so much prowess in other ways, its easily forgivable.

Speaking of prowess, all parts are cut from high grade carbon steel and fitted to tight tolerances. The fit and finish is immaculate and its really a work of art as much as it is a firearm. These pistols were completely hand built in very limited quantities. The Korth Autopistol was produced on and off for over 15 years. Less than 300 examples were made. The bluing on the early models was very matte, but even. The frames have started to take on a bit of a plum color over the years. Later finishes could be optioned very extravagantly, to include plasma of various colors, gold accents, etc, etc. Being conservative like I am, I prefer the old bluing the best. The checkered walnut grips are beautiful and the wood inlay on the back strap in a very nice touch. The magazines are extremely well made and they put many of my entire handguns to shame. They remind me of the old Sig P210 magazines before they were zippered up the back. The inside workings of the gun show the same phenomenal attention to detail. It shows the great pride Willi Korth took in his craft. I tried to capture the level of craftsmanship in the pictures, but itís the sort of gun that has to be seen in person to fully appreciate. The machining is just otherworldly in its precision and accuracy.

My overall feelings on the Korth Pistol are somewhat mixed. I think it was certainly one of the finest handguns ever made in Germany or anywhere in the world for that matter. Its attention to detail and level of quality and craftsmanship is matched by very, very few other handguns. Iím not in love with the design, as mentioned above. While it shoots decently enough, I donít feel the design lends itself to great accuracy and I donít care for the ergonomics at all. I guess thatís part of the gunís charm though. It exudes exoticism and looks like no other handgun. At 43oz unloaded, the Korth Pistol is hefty, just the way I like high end handguns. Its pure class all the way, just donít expect it to hold its own against something like a Sig P210 or Smith & Wesson 952 on a test target.

This example is a first year model, stamped ďJJĒ for 1988 and displays the very low serial number 24. It has been told to me from a couple sources that Willi built these early pistols himself. Whether or not thatís true, I have no idea. However, I would venture to say that he had a big hand in their production. Condition is flawless and Iím told its unfired outside the factory. After checking it over, I believe that to be the case. Its complete with the box and manual. The box is numbered to the gun. The manual is entirely in German. Caliber is 9mm, as were all the early guns. Later models were chambered in 40S&W and even 357 Sig, but I wouldnít want the gun in any caliber other than this one.

I have had one from 1989 (serial number 122) for several years now. This latest model is identical other than the rounded trigger guard. For whatever reason, Korth offered them both ways and I now own one of each. Iím not sure which look I like better, but it definitely gives the entire pistol a different appearance.

I guess Iíll stop rambling on and on. Does anyone here have experience with this handgun? If so, whatís your opinion?

Thanks for reading. Please enjoy the pics and share your thoughts.


























Here it is with my 1989 model (#122). Note the difference in the trigger guard as well as the color of the walnut grips.








Here they are with my two Korth Combat revolvers from 1976 and 1985Ö







Some customary macro picsÖ






























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Old 08-05-2018, 01:51 PM
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Thanks for taking the time to post and give us a look at these rare pistols! I can appreciate their beauty and craftsmanship, although they are not my cup of tea. To me, the attraction of the gun lies not in the beauty of the design, but in its execution.
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Old 08-05-2018, 04:22 PM
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Thanks for posting is right! Never saw the auto but many years back recall seeing the Korth revolver on the front cover of Guns&Ammo or Shooting Times. I recall the price kinda shocked me at the time. Hey they sound like great guns.
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Old 08-06-2018, 10:00 PM
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Thanks for taking the time to post and give us a look at these rare pistols! I can appreciate their beauty and craftsmanship, although they are not my cup of tea. To me, the attraction of the gun lies not in the beauty of the design, but in its execution.
The looks grew on me over time...
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Old 08-10-2018, 05:52 PM
Qc Pistolero Qc Pistolero is offline
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While I'll probably never own one,one of my fortunate friend let me have a look at his.Beautiful gun.Qualitywise,I'd compare them with Holland and Holland rifles.
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Old 08-11-2018, 07:30 AM
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BC,

interesting, talk a bit more about accuracy, speed and combat capabilities. You say the gun will not compete?

The images are impressive and a quick market survey suggest these things are the ultimate exotics going north of $10K if one can even be found.

But execution alone are not enough in my mind.
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Old 08-11-2018, 07:42 AM
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Originally Posted by oysterer View Post
BC,

interesting, talk a bit more about accuracy, speed and combat capabilities. You say the gun will not compete?

The images are impressive and a quick market survey suggest these things are the ultimate exotics going north of $10K if one can even be found.

But execution alone are not enough in my mind.
Well it’s not an inaccurate gun, but it’s not designed as a target pistol. It was never designed to compete with a Sig P210-6 or Smith & Wesson 52, which were both around at the time. The trigger is totally different and it’s not SAO. It was designed for carry (though I’m not sure who would carry it).

While I got a great deal from my importer, generally an early one in this condition would bring $12K+ on Gunbroker. I wouldn’t pay that, but that’s what they bring on the used market.

Last edited by bc1023; 08-11-2018 at 07:47 AM.
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Old 08-11-2018, 07:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Qc Pistolero View Post
While I'll probably never own one,one of my fortunate friend let me have a look at his.Beautiful gun.Qualitywise,I'd compare them with Holland and Holland rifles.
Very cool sir

Was it a pistol or revolver?
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Old 08-11-2018, 08:59 AM
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While Korth revolvers are arguably the finest revolvers ever made they are insanely expensive compared to S&W revolvers. I dont see the value to me and wouldn't enjoy owning a Korth. While folks could say well he just can't afford one, I wear a Rolex watch, used to drive a 911 Porsche and have previously been married to a high maintenance blonde then an equally high maintenance redhead. Two months child support would pay for a Korth revolver. I dont own a Korth because I just dont see the value to me. That said if the pride of ownership and enjoyment shooting you feel justifies buying a Korth makes you happy, I'm not going to criticize your choice. I mean that sincerely and if I ever share a firing line with you, I'll smile when I compliment your taste in revolvers. If I get to know you I might offer you one of my insanely priced cigars that I enjoy as well as the ridiculously priced scotch I drink when I have done something that I feel justifies a treat.

I'm not being a wise guy. I am trying to point out that to you the Korth is worth the coin to you and it's your coin to spend. I'd also admit that you could get money out of your Korth while I had to pay to get the blonde and the redhead to go away. Enjoy your Korth handguns. Also thanks for sharing the info and photos.

I do have a pointed question though. Assume you are about to go to a fight for your life. No way to avoid it. You can't have a rifle or a shotgun. You're standing in front of your gun safe w 6 rounds of 357 or how many rounds of 9mm that your Korth semi holds. No advantage for more rounds or a higher power firearm in the question. Assuming you live you keep your handgun so no loss there. Out of all your 357 revolvers or 9mm handguns that you could use to protect yourself would you grab one of your Korth handguns or something else? Why or why not?

Last edited by jwk; 08-11-2018 at 09:19 AM.
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Old 08-11-2018, 09:08 AM
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Well itís not an inaccurate gun, but itís not designed as a target pistol.
Thanks...from the looks of it it comes across as a target pistol. For carry/combat etc the front looks bulky and the sights are pure target as well. Looks to me still like it was designed with no focus doing it all, but not quite well...whatever it may be, not going to shell $12K any time soon.
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Old 08-11-2018, 09:31 AM
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Thanks...from the looks of it it comes across as a target pistol. For carry/combat etc the front looks bulky and the sights are pure target as well. Looks to me still like it was designed with no focus doing it all, but not quite well...whatever it may be, not going to shell $12K any time soon.
It was Wili building an auto to the highest standards possible. The sights arenít really that big, truth be told.

I hear you on the selling prices, but considering I have a couple of them, I hope the value just keeps increasing on the collectors market and it should.

They are very well built handguns. Accuracy is relative. Iíve heard people say these shoot great. I just happen to be fortunate enough to own the most accurate pistols built over the year from around the world. This isnít one of them.

Doesnít mean itís a bad shooter.
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Old 08-11-2018, 09:32 AM
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Thanks for the post. I had never seen or heard of Korth until today. You can never stop learning. That said I work in Germany at least 1x a month and will look into finding one for sale there. I probably can''t afford one but I could at least look at one. Germans can't but firearms like we can. I am not exactly sure of their laws but the EU is very anti gun for the average citizen. I also work in for an aerospace "investment casting" and machining company and it's very interesting to see the difference in philosophy and attention to detail in their work. While Americans and British tend to concentrate on function and form to meet a specific need Germans seems to "over engineer" everything to perfection and then price accordingly. The results
are guns like a Korth vs a S&W or a Porsch vs a Corvette, a GE washer vs a Bosch. They make great products, often over engineered for what they need to do, but that's part of their philosophy. I would say having worked with them for over 2 years its built into their DNA. They just don't want to do things for profit only or "good enough" based on price point. The good thing is it's a small world now and we have options of buying things from all over the world. Cheap Chinese items to Mid priced American items to high priced German or Swiss items as examples. If you admire build quality then looking at Germans products makes perfect sense. I am not sure they get much better. Thanks again for sharing.
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Old 08-11-2018, 09:42 AM
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While Korth revolvers are arguably the finest revolvers ever made they are insanely expensive compared to S&W revolvers. I dont see the value to me and wouldn't enjoy owning a Korth. While folks could say well he just can't afford one, I wear a Rolex watch, used to drive a 911 Porsche and have previously been married to a high maintenance blonde then an equally high maintenance redhead. Two months child support would pay for a Korth revolver. I dont own a Korth because I just dont see the value to me. That said if the pride of ownership and enjoyment shooting you feel justifies buying a Korth makes you happy, I'm not going to criticize your choice. I mean that sincerely and if I ever share a firing line with you, I'll smile when I compliment your taste in revolvers. If I get to know you I might offer you one of my insanely priced cigars that I enjoy as well as the ridiculously priced scotch I drink when I have done something that I feel justifies a treat.

I'm not being a wise guy. I am trying to point out that to you the Korth is worth the coin to you and it's your coin to spend. I'd also admit that you could get money out of your Korth while I had to pay to get the blonde and the redhead to go away. Enjoy your Korth handguns. Also thanks for sharing the info and photos.

I do have a pointed question though. Assume you are about to go to a fight for your life. No way to avoid it. You can't have a rifle or a shotgun. You're standing in front of your gun safe w 6 rounds of 357 or how many rounds of 9mm that your Korth semi holds. No advantage for more rounds or a higher power firearm in the question. Assuming you live you keep your handgun so no loss there. Out of all your 357 revolvers or 9mm handguns that you could use to protect yourself would you grab one of your Korth handguns or something else? Why or why not?
Thanks for the well thought out response. Unfortunately (or fortunately) I have expensive tastes in lots of things (guns, cars, motorcycles, etc), so I hear your point.

As for your question, I wouldn’t grab the semi auto, but I would have no problem grabbing a Korth Combat. It’s about the most durable, accurate, smoothest, and reliable revolver ever built. This is coming from a person who owns Pythons, Manurhin MR73’s, Registered Magnums, Freedom Arms, etc.

I’d put the Korth Combat against any of them.
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Old 08-11-2018, 12:12 PM
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bc I'm glad you didn't take offense to my post as none was intended. Hope you enjoy those Korths. Expensive tastes accepted and I do mean accepted not excepted watch out for redheads. You might be able to afford them but they will make you crazy. The maintenance on the Porsche was less and I actually made money on it when I sold it.

Maybe one day I'll get to spend some trigger time with a Korth and my mind will change.
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Old 08-11-2018, 12:20 PM
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Thanks for the nice write-up on an interesting handgun. I've seen gun magazines that don't have the level of quality that your article does.
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Old 08-11-2018, 03:34 PM
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What great photography, and an excellent write up.

Thanks so much for posting!
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Old 08-11-2018, 04:07 PM
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Yes, thanks for sharing; I’ve handled a couple Korths, never fired one, and never have heard of a korth pistol.

Is the level of accuracy of the Korth combat really as good or better than a Freedom Arms?
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Old 08-13-2018, 01:34 PM
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Well, if you put a high enough price on anything and make damní few of them, talk about quality to the exception of performance, I guess some people will buy anything. YMMV.


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Old 08-13-2018, 02:22 PM
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Well, if you put a high enough price on anything and make damní few of them, talk about quality to the exception of performance, I guess some people will buy anything. YMMV.


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Performance is fine. Iím just fortunate enough to own all the most accurate pistols built around the world over the years, so Iím probably a tough critic.

Others have reported that the Korth Auto shoots great.

For me, itís an investment piece, nothing more.
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Old 08-13-2018, 10:38 PM
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Yes, thanks for sharing; Iíve handled a couple Korths, never fired one, and never have heard of a korth pistol.

Is the level of accuracy of the Korth combat really as good or better than a Freedom Arms?
Yes sir

Its very much on par with Freedom Arms...
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Old 08-14-2018, 06:43 AM
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Thanks OP; I just dumped my coffee in my lap Stunning pistols, great write-up, and photography
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Old 08-14-2018, 07:25 AM
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Interesting...knew nothing about them...learn something daily.
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Old 08-14-2018, 08:06 AM
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Great post and beautiful detailed photos. As a German living in Switzerland I can relate to this.
When I started buying guns back in 1989, the LGS was a fan of them and had a display of several autos and half a dozen revolvers, including some very fancy engraved ones. The “run of the mill” revolvers and autos were between 4 and 6000 Swiss francs if I recall correctly, and the jewels were 12 to 15’000.

He said he’d never sell those, and they were his retirement fund.

Sadly he passed away prematurely a couple of years ago from cancer, and since no one was found to take over the shop, the whole stock was taken over by another LGS. But some of the Korth are there now on display. Only saw revolvers, but he has another big room not open to the public full of stuff.

I’ll ask him about the autos, and if I can take a few pictures of the revolvers too.

PS

Do I understand you never shot it ? Given its rarity, condition and value I can understand. But if it was me, I’d be too curious not to try a mag or two.

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Old 08-14-2018, 12:13 PM
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Thanks for posting this.
I was not aware of this gun.


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Do I understand you never shot it ? Given its rarity, condition and value I can understand. But if it was me, Iíd be too curious not to try a mag or two.
I'd HAVE to do that!

I'd just have to know how it would shoot....
It's a beautiful piece of craftsmanship, but, in the end, pretty is as pretty does.
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Old 08-14-2018, 03:23 PM
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This one is unfired and I think I’m leaving it that way.

I have two. I shoot the other one. I also shoot both the revolvers.
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Old 08-14-2018, 04:47 PM
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I have heard of Korth, all positive and nothing negative.
As far as German excellence, I very much believe in it.
The already discussed Korth revolvers and pistols.

And the German made SIGs, H&K MP-5 smgs.

Porsche and Mercedes Bentz cars.

Krieghoff shotguns, (I'm very happy to say I own and shoot a K-80 Skeet gun.
I believe it is the best shotgun made today.)
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Old 08-14-2018, 04:48 PM
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Thanks for the post. I would like to shoot one sometime; see how the gun handles and balances...ergonomics...overall 'feel'.

You pay for your education in this hobby; thus, it will probably cost me a few dollars to try it out.
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