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walther firearms guide

Everything About Walther Firearms

Consider how many hands have held Walther firearms — everyday law-abiding civilians, military units, police forces, British secret agent James Bond (although he initially carried a Beretta) and even the German Reich.

History contends Hitler committed suicide in Berlin with the Walther PPK, also known as the Polizeipistole Kriminalmodell chambered in 7.65mm and released in 1930, and later a Walther PPK even found its way into the hands of the King — Elvis Presley, although he passed it on as a gift to Jack Lord, famous for the TV series Hawaii Five-0.

The name “Walther” has drifted through history since 28-year-old Carl Walther, born in 1858, started an empire in Hesse, Germany (today Thuringia) with a few tools after finishing his education in 1886, and these days the brand’s firearms remain a global presence everywhere from American concealed carriers to the Taiwan National Police Agency.

History Of Walther Handguns

walther history

Zella-Mehlis, Germany, 1886 — the birthplace of Walther guns. Initially, Walther’s firm manufactured hunting and target rifles, eventually being able to build a small factory on Katzenbuckel hill.

Just over twenty years after he began, Carl and one of his five sons, Fritz, who was interested in semi-automatic pistol technology and suggested to his father that they move into this arena, released their first pistol. It was the Model 1.

Nine models followed until 1920 when the series ended. Models 1 through 5 and 7 through 9 were chambered in 6.35mm and 7.65mm, while the Model 6 was the firm’s first attempt at a 9mm Luger. Only 1,000 of these blowback pistols were made, having deviated from a locked breech system, according to Jeffrey Strickland’s Handbook of Handguns.

A year later in 1921, the company’s automatic shotgun was in production. Around 1924, the company began to broaden its line of products by manufacturing calculators.

Yep, calculators.

Their first in 1924 was a hand-cranked pinwheel machine, with an electrical model being released in 1929, and another in 1931 that had a full keyboard. Eight years later in 1939, there were 17 models exported to multiple countries.

Meanwhile, the company was cranking out some of its most popular firearms models. After Carl Walther passed in 1915, Fritz took over the company with his brothers. The famous PP (Polizei Pistole) was introduced in 1929 and became a standard option for German paramilitary formations. According to Pistols of the World, its small size made it a popular option for army tank crewmen and Luftwaffe pilots.

Prior to 1945, a standard Walther PP was 6.7 inches long, with a 3.9 inch barrel and it was a total 24.5 oz. The caliber and respective magazine capacity varied: ten 22 LR rounds, eight 7.65mm and seven 9mm short. The PPK, similar in many ways, was subsequently released as a more compact model that could be concealed for undercover policemen.

From 1934-1938, four versions of the Walther MP (Militarisches Pistole) were produced. Initially, it was a 9mm meant to replace the P08. Its first generation was 8 inches in length with a 5 inch barrel. The second gen had a locking breech on either side with a recoil-operated mechanism. It was abandoned to produce the Armee Pistole.

The Walther AP featured an internal hammer with a double-action lock and a slide-mounted PP-style safety catch. It featured a prominent stock. Several were produced to be tested, but were also abandoned like the MP models. Two more MP models were designed, and from them the Heeres-Pistole came about, a commercial version of the model P38.

Building on that, Walther finalized a weapon for the German armed forces, replacing the Luger P08 with the Model P38, chambered in a more powerful 9mm. They could not produce enough to meet demand, so Ordnance Department ordered Mauser in Oberndorf/Neckar and the Spreewek to ramp up arms production as well.

Walther’s factory was destroyed in 1945 by occupying Soviet forces, but Fritz had escaped to West Germany with a folder of design drawings and the rights to more than 80 patents. The company began anew in Ulm and later began to produce office machines — calculators — at Gerstetten in Württemberg and Nieder-Stotzingen and soon by April 1949, the company celebrated making its 1000th machine.

For Fritz, this meant he would be able to move back into firearms production and soon a factory in Ulm was producing air guns. New iterations of the PP/PPK and P38 pistols were pushed into production, with the P38 models renamed as the P1. It would become the sidearm for the newly formed German Federal Armed Forces in 1957.

Afterward, other handgun models found their way into production: the TP (a contemporary version of the Model 9, but its dimensions were slightly larger, it was offered in 6.35mm Auto or 22LR), TPH (introduced after the Gun Control Act of 1968, it was a scaled down PP in 22 LR or 25 ACP that couldn’t be imported to the USA because its depth from slide top to the base of the magazine was too large), PP-Super (it came about in 1972 as a proposed service model for West German police), P5 (made in 1977 as an advancement to the P38 for West German police forces and Dutch national police) and P88 (initially made in 1983, 7.4 inches long with a 4-inch barrel all-in-all weighing 32 oz. unloaded, but it was reduced to the P88 Compact as a shortened model).

Walther Firearms More Recently

walther handguns

Around 1993, Walther merged with Umarex Sportwaffen GmbH & Co KG, a firm founded in 1972 that manufactures air guns, tear gas, airsoft guns and paintball markers.

Six years later in 1999, Smith & Wesson partnered with Carl Walther GmbH to bring Walther firearms to the U.S., becoming an authorized importer of the brand’s firearms. However, PW Group, which owns both Umarex and Carl Walther, announced in 2012 that a new branch — Walther Arms, Inc. — would take over importation, sales, marketing, distribution and servicing of Walther products.

The partnership between Smith & Wesson and Carl Walther still lives. Smith & Wesson still manufactures the PPK for Walther Arms, Inc. Walther will in turn still manufacture the M&P22 for Smith & Wesson, and Umarex is licensing the Smith & Wesson brand for airgun products.

Even more recently, Walther continued to secure additional contracts with police units in Taiwan, being awarded a contract to produce 49,600 Walther PPQ M2 9mmx19 duty pistols, and Estonia, receiving the Walther P99Q for its Estonian Police and Border Guard Board.

It doesn’t only produce pistols for police and military units, however.

There Are Several Walther Handgun Models To Consider

walther pistol models
    Walther Arms, Inc. offers about 10 different types of handguns for the civilian market.
  • PPX: The PPX’s listed calibers are 9mm (16 round capacity) and .40 S&W (14 round capacity). It comes with a 6.5 lbs trigger pull, .3” trigger travel, picatinny rail, 3 dot polymer sights, ambidextrous magazine release, two drop safeties and a firing pin block.
  • P22: This lightweight .22LR option comes in three colors (black, nickel and military) and has a black with laser set option. There are a couple target specific models as well. Its length is 6.3”, unless one opts for the target shooting model, which would be 7.8”. Its DA trigger pull is 11 lbs, SA is 4 lbs.The height is 4.5”. It has an ambidextrous magazine release, 3 dot polymer sights, threaded barrel and picatinny rail.
  • PK380: A concealed carry option, the lightweight (18 oz.) pistol comes chambered in .380 ACP with a 11 lbs. DA trigger pull, SA 4 lbs. Its capacity is 8 rounds, height is 5.2”, overall length is 6.5”. There are four options, three with different colors (black, nickel and angel blue) and the last with a laser set.
  • PPK: Their cultural classic and one of their claims to fame, the PPK (described above) comes in two options. The first option is the PPK (the 1931 design) and PPK/s (1968 sport version), which come chambered in .380 ACP with a DA trigger pull at 13.4 lbs and SA at 6.1 lbs. Its capacity is 6 rounds and it has an overall 6.1” overall length and 3.8” height. The second option comes in .22LR (with the same models) with a 10 round capacity. Its DA trigger pull is 17.5 lbs and SA is 6.1 lbs. The length is the same, but the height is 4.9”. There are two finishes on all models, black and nickel.
  • CCP: This is their branded Concealed Carry Pistol, which comes in 9mm Luger. It uses a Softcoil “gas-delayed blowback system” which funnels the gas pressure through a small area within the barrel to slow down and counteract the backward momentum of the recoil. It has a 5.5 lbs trigger pull, .27” trigger travel, 5.12” height, 1.18” width, 6.41” overall length, ambidextrous magazine release and comes in a darker black model or stainless steel model.
  • PPS: There is a new PPS M2 model available only in 9mm (as opposed to the base PPS’s 9mm and .40S&W). The M2, which supports a slimmer profile, has a 6.1 lbs trigger pull, 6/7 round capacity, 6.3” length, a chamber viewport and 3 magazine options (flat for concealed carry, mid for comfort and the largest to increase capacity). The older PPS model has the same trigger pull, capacity and overall length.
  • P99: This duty pistol was introduced as “The First Pistol for the Next Century.” It’s used by law enforcement agencies in North America, Europe and Asia. It comes in either 9mm or .40 S&W with compact models of each, reducing the overall length of the 9mm from 7.1” to 6.6” (and capacity from 15 to 10 rounds) and the .40 S&W barrel length from 7.2” to 6.2” (and capacity from 12 rounds to 8 rounds). The P99’s DA trigger pull is 9 lbs. as opposed to the SA 4.5 lbs. trigger pull. It has a manual decocker and paddle-style magazine release.
  • Q5 Match: This is a competitive shooter model with a slide that has options for different types of optics like Tijicon RMR, Leupold Delta Point and Docter Optics. This 9mm has a 15 round capacity, 5.6 lbs. trigger pull, 5” barrel length, 5.1” height, 1.3” width, ambidextrous magazine release, picatinny rail, two drop safeties and a firing pin block.
  • PPQ: There are four subcategories for the PPQ (Police Pistol Quick Defense Trigger), the PPQ 45 (chambered in .45 ACP, with a 12 round capacity and 4.25” barrel length) and the PPQ M2 (chambered in 9mm and .40 S&W and 15 round / 11 round capacity, respectively, with barrel lengths at 4”, 4.2”, 4.6” and 5”). The PPQ Classic is chambered in 9mm, has a paddle style magazine release, features a 5.6 lbs. trigger pull, has a 4” barrel length. The .22 LR PPQ 22 has barrel lengths at 4”, 5” and 4.6”; a 4.85 lbs. trigger pull and .4” trigger travel. The PPQ 22 is the only model in this line that doesn’t have 3 dot sights or a backstrap. All have a picatinny rail and slide serrations.
  • Creed: A 9mm with a 6.5 lbs. trigger pull able to hold 16 rounds. It has a 4” barrel length, 5.6” height and 1.3” width. There are two drop safeties and a firing pin block. It has a picatinny rail and 3 dot polymer sights. It also has an ambidextrous magazine release.

The company also produces tactical rimfire recreations of popular firearms around the world. They have partnered with other industry leaders to produce these in 22 LR.

Holster Options for Walther Firearms

gun blog writer jake smith

About The Author

Jake Smith (@notjakesmith) is a copywriter in his final year of studying public relations and apparel at the University of Idaho.