Our Review of the Iconic Walther PPK 380

Having been featured in several high-profile Hollywood films, the .380 is an esteemed concealed weapon. The German-made semi-automatic pistol is one of the most recognizable weapons ever. Other than its fame, the Walther PPK .380 is a work of German art, with its stainless steel finish and rugged design.

Today, we’ll review the Walther PPK 380’s features, uses, and everything you need to know before purchasing this handgun.

History of the Walther PPK .380

Walther is short for the German company, Carl Walther GmbH Sportwaffen (Sports Weapon). The Walther PPK .380 was issued to the German military and police in the 1930s and has since gone through several revamps. Originally, Walther PP had a 3.9″ barrel that could handle seven rounds of ammunition in .380ACP.

The first revamp reduced the barrel to 3.3″ and made the grip frame shorter, reducing its capacity to six rounds. Walther decided on six clockwise riflings in the barrel for this update and removed the back strap.

They also included a hammer-dropping safety. This is a valuable feature, especially when decocking your pistol — the safety lever blocks the firing pin even before it drops the hammer, preventing a misfire.

PPK was unique because of its signal pin that would signify whether the gun was loaded or not. When loaded, the signal pin extends towards the back of the pistol, and if not, the chamber doesn’t have the extension.

This is also one way to distinguish between centerfire and rimfire gun models. The signal pin is only available for centerfire guns.

Then, this version was improved in 1968 because of the Gun Control Act of 1968. This became the PPK/S version (Polizeipistole Kriminallmodell), which loosely translated from German means Police Pistol Criminal Made, although they used it for non-criminal purposes. This sports version was mainly designed for undercover police work.

The sporting pistol made a debut because the Gun Control Act restricted the use of handguns that didn’t meet some sporting criteria, and Walther’s PPK version needed to be upgraded to meet the requirement. In came Walther PPK/ S (Sporting).

To meet GCA’s criteria, Walther shortened the PPK slide and increased the size of the PP frame. These revamps led to James Bond’s interest in the gun, and it was featured in several of his movies. Because of the fame brought from the film, Walther makes newer PPK/ S with improved features every few years.

The Walther PPK/S has several notable features: a 3.3″ barrel, 1.0″ width, 3.8″ height, and 6.1″ overall height. When empty, this handgun weighs 19 ounces, increasing to about 22 ounces when loaded.

Where Do They Make the Walther PPK .380?

Walther has changed their PPK manufacturing location several times. Walther was founded in Germany and was housed there until 1952. They then diversified operations to the United States in 1978 under Ranger Manufacturing in Alabama. Walther continued its operations in Germany until 1986.

In 2002, Smith & Wesson acquired the license to produce PPK and PPK/S, which they used until 2013. Walther Arms then acquired a production facility in Arkansas and began operations in 2018.

Features of the Walther PPK .380

walther ppk 380 review

 

Overall Look and Feel

The .380 comes in either black or silver. The black version has a stainless steel frame, a carbon steel slide, and a melonite finish. The silver version also has a melonite finish, although it’s made from stainless steel with a natural brushed finish.

The Walther PPK .380 is quite solid and has enough curves and bends to conform with a shooter’s body despite its generic look. The bends make it practical to conceal. The handgun is also corrosion-resistant because it’s made out of steel.

The steel gun is heavier, which may be uncomfortable to lug around, but you can still comfortably place it in a pocket or belt holster.

The PPK is quite easy to conceal and remove. It has a thin slide that’s about 0.8″ thick and a 1.1″ grip.

These days, both PPK and PPK/S come with .380 ACP and 9mm short standard. The handgun comes with both a front and a rear sight that produces a red dot.

Although this is a pretty pistol, it has some drawbacks. For instance, the gun is designed with bends and sharp corners, especially at the rear, which can leave marks on your thumb and the web of your hand. Walther upgraded the tang in its newer .380 models, making it bigger and longer, which prevents a run-in with the slide’s edges.

Design

The Walther .380 was designed to use blowback action. The upgraded version was shortened to 3.3″, making it more compact. Walther’s PPK uses single action/ double action.

Single action means that the hammer is cocked, and the trigger protrudes at the rear. In the double-action position, the hammer is down, and the spur protrudes forward.

This pistol was designed to be concealable, making it compact enough to allow small and medium-handed shooters to grip it and have better finger control on the trigger. This sorts out double-action pull for shooters with small hands.

The Walther PPK .380’s safety lever is located on the slide, an unusual yet practical position. The lever prevents you from pulling the trigger when the hammer is down, and it also locks the trigger when you engage the hammer while cocked.

This pistol’s magazine release comes in a frame-mounted button located below the side. Its grips are plastic with grooves to help you keep a firm grip on the handle as you shoot.

You also get two seven-round magazines when you purchase this pistol. The first has an extended finger rest for freelance shooting, while the other has a flat base to make it easier to conceal.

Function

The PPK’s compact design makes it suitable to conceal. It’s reliable, but you may need to perform a few finishing touches for smoother shots. It’ll take a few practice shots to get your handgun to work smoothly, and you may have to use a few rounds of ammo to break your pistol in. We recommend breaking your firearm in with cheap ammo first.

The newer PPK version is designed for amateur shooters who aren’t so experienced in handling the recoil that comes from shooting using the .380. Experienced shooters can also use this gun as a backup.

The good thing about this pistol is that it meets its intended purpose. The wavy serrations cut the glare on the top of the slide and still manage to amp its aesthetic.

The reason people prefer this gun for self-defense purposes is that its DA/SA mechanism makes it ready to use at any time. The fact that it’s hammer-fired with a safety lever makes it an even better choice for concealed carry. With this design, users can choose the resistance level they want when pulling the trigger.

Pulling the trigger makes for higher resistance. If you’re looking for lower resistance, first cock the hammer and then fire. There is an extra lock in place for safety reasons that disengages only when you pull the trigger.

The PPK and PPK/S are the same, and the difference is in the grip section. The sports version is slightly longer.

Sights and Trigger

Your PPK .380 comes with a red painted fixed front blade and a rear notch to help you keep track of your target. The red dot is small and efficient unless you have to use it in the dark, in which case you might want to invest in luminescent paint.

When it comes to its trigger, the PPK .380 takes the prize. According to the manufacturer’s stats, the trigger pull averages around 2.6 pounds in single-action mode and 13.4 pounds in double action. Unlike other .380 ACP pistols, the PPK feels smoother and lightweight.

The single-action trigger is mostly for medium distance shots, and its pull feels light. The double-action trigger is long and heavy but will pack a punch. Aside from this, the pistol is relatively steady on the hand despite its size and relative weight. Once you figure out how to handle the gun’s recoil, then you can quickly hit your target.

How To Disassemble the PPK/S

Disassembling the PPK/S is pretty straightforward:

Because this pistol uses an old-school design, reloading it takes a slightly different approach. First, you’ll need to unload the gun and remove the magazine to prevent accidental shots. Then, ensure that you’ve fixed the muzzle to face away from you.

The next step involves moving the trigger guard until it’s held only by the pin that holds it to the front strap. The trigger guard is prone to slipping back in place, so push it slightly to the side and remove the slide.

You will see the barrel with a recoil spring around it. This process is straightforward and prevents you from losing tiny parts of the gun as you disassemble it. Reverse the process to assemble it.

If you’re an amateur and afraid of forgetting how to piece it together, take pictures of every step you take during disassembly and use it as a guide.

This pistol’s spur has a hole in the middle, adding to its overall aesthetic.

Drawbacks of Using the PPK

The Walther .380 works well when you use the correct ammo. This pistol is designed to have a pre-hollow point, which should work best with round nose FMJ rounds. It’s not compatible with most other bullets, and you may have feeding problems when using additional hollow point rounds.

You may also experience some magazine jamming, but the gun is otherwise reliable. Loading the magazines is a hassle to begin with because the magazine well is too narrow, and you have to place the slide in a precise position for it to fit correctly.

This will be an inconvenience if you’re in a situation where you need to reload your gun quickly. The magazine release’s position is slightly off, which may inconvenience you, especially if you’ve been using other pistol types before.

Despite being functional, this pistol still uses its 1930s rugged design, and we think that some extra polishing would go a long way in ensuring comfortable shots.

We recommend keeping your PPK holstered even when placing it in your pocket or purse to prevent the hard edges from scratching them. You can also customize your PPK by polishing it to clear the rough edges.

The magazine release placement is higher than other pistols, and you may need to train your thumb to release the slide after you reload it.

The PPK carries lower capacity magazines than newer guns out there, so most people use it as a backup gun. It’s still an excellent self-defense choice, primarily because of its compact nature that allows you to carry it concealed.

Even though the stainless steel design makes this pistol durable, guns these days are made of lightweight alternatives like aluminum or polymer. Despite its compactness, the PPK is a little on the heavier side.

Some might say this is a good feature in a small gun as it helps to manage the recoil. However, it uses straight blowback action, which isn’t a good idea for amateur shooters considering the specs.

The Walther PPK .380 is frequently upgraded, but each new edition harkens back to the original.

Final Thoughts

After reading our review of the Walther PPK, it’s clear that this gun is not only a beautiful, solid piece. It’s also easy on your hands and will give you a great experience once you figure out the mechanics of using it. This is an excellent way to keep in touch with your inner hero for James Bond fanatics.

The German design is quite expensive, but its aesthetics and corrosion resistance makes it worth the price. It’s something worth getting and keeping. If you’re looking for a concealed weapon or a backup, this compact handgun is a perfect choice.

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