Walther began making compact pocket pistols in 1908, and over the decades, the company has built a reputation for making well designed and reliable pistols. For example, one of the company’s enduring designs and most familiar models, the Walther PPK, was introduced in 1931. This 83-year-old pistol has gone through some design changes over the years, but it is still an excellent option for self defense and conceal carry.
Walther’s heritage is based on good designs as well as pushing the envelope on manufacturing techniques. During WWII, the full-size P-38 pistol used advanced manufacturing techniques (stamped steel) and materials (such as Bakerlite, a forerunner of polymer) in the production process.
This spirit of innovation and dedication to functionality are carried into the company’s interesting and useful pocket-pistol lineup, which we examine in more detail in this article.
Walther CCP (Conceal Carry Pistol)
Today, Walther’s CCP is a perfect example of the company continuing to push the envelope on cutting-edge pistol design. What’s unusual about the CCP is the gas-delayed blowback operating system. Most compact pistols, due to their compact design and lighter weight, are harder to operate and the user feels more recoil, especially in those pistols chambered in 9mm Luger. The CCP’s gas-delayed blowback system, or what Walther calls SOFTCOIL Technology, siphons gas from the fired cartridge and directs the gas into a piston under the barrel. This creates a rear opposing force to the slide. The system, according to Walther, helps decrease muzzle rise by a third when compared to similar pistols, producing less felt recoil and faster follow-up shots.
The trigger is smooth and set at 5.5 pounds. It features a manual thumb safety, and the magazine release can be reversed to accommodate both right-and left-hand shooters. A single-stack magazine holds eight rounds. A finger rest is built into the magazine floorplate.
|Barrel Length||3.5 inches|
|Overall Length||6.4 inches|
|Weight Unloaded||22.2 ounces|
|Sights||3-Dot, removable front, adjustable rear|
The PK380 is built with a polymer frame and steel slide and barrel. The first thing you will notice when you pick up the PK380 is how good the grip feels in your hand. For a petite female to a hulking brute with hams for fists, the PK380 feels right and points naturally. For shooters with big hands, a finger rest is built into the magazine floorplate so your small finger does not dangle off the bottom of the grip.
The controls consist of an ambidextrous safety mounted on the slide near the thumb of either a right- or left-handed shooter. Flip it up to fire the gun; rotate it down to put it on safe. The magazine release is also ambidextrous and built into the trigger guard, so it is easy to release the magazine with whatever hand you shoot with. The trigger has traditional double action/single action operation, with the DA pull about 11 pounds and the SA pull at 4 pounds. The exposed hammer allows the shooter to manually cock the hammer to fire single action, or the shooter can carefully grasp and control the hammer to lower it.
The sights on the PK380 are large and easy to align, especially with the incorporated 3-dot system. The rear sight can be drifted for windage adjustments. On models equipped with a laser, which mounts easily on the accessory rail, the PK380 is easy to shoot accurately at distances beyond point-blank range.
A sliding switch turns the laser on and off, and when the laser is turned on, two red lights facing the shooter inform you that the red dot is activated. With other lasers, the only way to tell the sight is activated is to see the projected dot. This is a nice feature, especially when the sight is used in bright daylight, when it can be hard to see the red dot projected on the target. The laser sight can easily be removed from the PK380 by pulling down on two tabs on either side of the unit and pulling the unit forward and off the accessory rail.
There is not a lot of ramp-up time required to start shooting the PK380 well. First, the magazine is easy on the thumbs. Cartridges are easily pushed into the magazine. The slide is also easy to rack, and that benefit is important to many shooters when considering a pocket pistol because the slides on smaller pistols can be more difficult to pull back. Chambered in .380 ACP, the PK380 is easy to control, even for less experienced shooters. The laser sight is perfect for aiming the pistol without using the sights. Shoot it from the hip or from a cramped, confined space, and you can still accurately hit your target.
|Action||Double action, single action|
|Barrel Length||3.66 inches|
|Overall Length||6.5 inches|
|Weight Unloaded||19.4 ounces|
|Sights||3-Dot, fixed front, drift adjustable rear; red dot laser|
|Finish||Matte black receiver and slide|
Walther Model PPK
The Walther Model PPK (Polizei Pistole Kurz) was one of Walther’s earliest compact-pistol designs to use steel stampings successfully. That was high-tech in 1931. Today, steel stampings are common, and the PPK is iconic. The pistol is still popular with LE agencies as a backup gun and with civilians who have concealed-carry permits. The German military used it extensively during WWII, and Ian Fleming armed his famous spy character, James Bond, with the PPK.
The PPK and the PPK/S, which has a longer frame that the PPK, both employ a steel frame, slide, and barrel. They feature a DA/SA trigger system and hold 6+1 and 7+1 rounds, respectively, of .380 ammo.
A trademark feature of the PPK and PPK/S is the decocking safety lever. With the hammer cocked all the way back, the safety is rotated downward, decocking the hammer and allowing it to fall against the decocking lever. These models also have loaded-chamber indicators that can be seen and felt in the dark if need be, telling the user a round is in the chamber. Both models are available in a matte stainless-steel finish or a traditional deep blue.
|Walther PPK & PPK/S|
|Action||Double action, single action|
|Barrel Length||3.3 inches|
|Overall Length||6.1 inches|
|Weight Unloaded||22.4 ounces|
|Capacity||6+1 (PPK); 7+1 (PPK/S)|
|Finish||Blue, matte stainless|
For those shooters who want more bang in their pocket pistol, the PPS is a suitable combination of concealability and firepower. It is chambered in 9mm or .40 S&W. Not much larger than either the PK380 or the PPK, the PPS is lighter than the PPK and about 2 ounces heavier than the PK380. Even though this pocket pistol uses a larger round, the pistol remains thin—less than an inch thick. This means less bulk to conceal carry. The PPS has a no-nonsense, pure-business look to it, due in part to its matte-black Tenifer finish that is corrosion resistant.
The PPS uses a polymer frame that offers what Walther calls a Quicksafe backstrap, which can be made to custom fit your hand and disable the pistol when removed. No tools are required to remove the backstrap. The trigger safety requires the trigger to be pressed fully to discharge the pistol. It is striker-fire system with about a 6-pound pull. A cocking indicator that can be seen and felt slightly protrudes from the rear of the pistol. It also features as a loaded-chamber indicator by providing a small port that shows a round in the chamber. The 3-dot sights are big and bold and easy to use when acquiring a target. The sights are also made of steel, making them more durable than polymer sights.
Like the PK380, the PPS magazine release is ambidextrous and is built into the trigger guard. For those who like options, there are three magazine sizes, from units that hold six 9mm or five .40 S&W rounds flush to the butt to extended versions that hold up to eight 9mm rounds or seven .40 S&Ws.
|Barrel Length||3.2 inches|
|Caliber||9mm Luger, .40 S&W|
|Overall Length||6.3 inches|
|Weight Unloaded||21.3 ounces|
|Sights||3-Dot, fixed front, drift adjustable rear|
|Grips||Textured polymer, modular grip strap|
|Capacity||6/7/8+1 (9mm); 5/6/7+1 (.40 S&W)|
Do you own a Walther pistol? Like it? Don’t like it? Tell us about your experiences with Walther firearms in the comment section.