Gratuitous Gun Pic: Walther PP (.32 ACP)

From Collectors comes this little peach:

Okay, here’s my take on this classic.

The Walther PP / PPK models are quite possibly the sexiest-looking pistols ever made*.  Those sleek lines and usually-faultless operation make for a tempting package — on the surface — and as James Bond’s gun, it works.

Unfortunately, Reality intrudes.  The .32 / .380 ACP (7.65mm / 9x17mm in Eurospeak) Browning cartridges are not serious self-defense options, and unfortunately I find that shooting the “more powerful” 9mm Parabellum (9x19mm) to be rather unpleasant in the small PP frame.  (My opinion;  yours may vary.)

One would think that it would be fun shooting the smaller .32 ACP cartridge in the PP (as it is with the Colt 1905, for example), but it isn’t — at least, not for someone with large or beefy hands such as mine.

The last time I fired a PP pistol, I became aware of some wetness in my grip, discovered that the sharp edges of the PP’s slide had made two razor-like cuts in the web of my hand, and I was bleeding like a stuck pig.  Painful, and a pain in the ass to clean up (which one has to do immediately, because blood does ugly things to a gun’s bluing).

My shooting companion — the owner of the PP — was a slender woman who had small ladylike hands, and who had therefore never been cut by the recoiling slide.  She loved shooting her little “purse gun”, as she called it, and was horrified that it had wounded me.

So as pretty and sexy as the Walther PP and PPK pistols are, there is a public health warning attached to them.

All that said:  I’d get the above pistol in a heartbeat, because it’s beautiful and sexy.  But I wouldn’t shoot it that much, unless wearing a shooting glove.

*with the possible exception of the Beretta 70-series .22 pistols.


  1. I owned a beautiful little PPK 40-odd years ago. It shot accurately … everything folks say about the fixed barrel is true … but it was unreliable as hell. It never bit my ladylike hands, but I could barely get a whole magazine through it without some kind of failure. I was happy to let it go in a cash crunch a few years later. Probably should have kept it and framed it. A thing of beauty.

    As for .32 ACP, the old man brought home a Ruby variant from WWII in that caliber. What an awful little cartridge it is … not one of JMB’s (PBUH) better ideas. Semi-rimmed, what the hell is that? I gave that weapon to my brother as a souvenir of dad, but told him to never, ever bet his life on it.

    By the way, I believe the original James Bond weapon was in .25 ACP, not .32. Apparently Mr. Fleming knew dick about stopping power.

    1. Fleming knew civilized enemies – ones that would lie on the ground and scream for a medic when just barely perforated. You didn’t need stopping power, but just the capacity to make a painful and bloody wound. Even the worst Nazi thugs were generally “civilized” in that one way, and if Fleming saw action at all, it was against them.

      If he’d tried to run spy missions against Japanese, the IRA, or any of the other groups attempting uprisings against British colonialism, he’d have a whole different opinion on stopping power.

  2. A long time ago I had an Iver Johnson .32 that looks just like the PP/PPK but it had feeding problems and multiple sends back to the factory never fixed i9t so I traded it in on a Beretta Bobcat .22 which I still own.

    Like you, that Iver, while shooting it with 2 hands, the slide trenched 2 perfect grooves over the top of the first knuckle on my left thumb. Yes, it hurt like 4 MFs.

    You just can’t hold the little’ns like the big’ns.

  3. I always thought these were some of the sleekest:

    Browning Renaissance Pistol, 25 and 380
    Colt 1903/1908 Hammerless 32/380

  4. One should never whip out your PP when trouble is brewing.

    Seriously though, I appreciate the old Walthers. However, there are better choices for a defensive handgun these days. Like for instance the new Walthers – I have 3. 2 PPS’s (40 and 9 – M1 style woth the paddle mag release) and a P99c in 9mm. They all shoot beautifully. The 40 is my daily carry piece, but I have carried the P99c when I want more capacity. The 9mm PPS is just for practice/backup/’cause I like it. Great pistols.

    The only problem is the newest Walthers switched to the button magazine release which I don’t like as much. Now only option is HK for new.

  5. You just can’t hold the little’ns like the big’ns.

    Are we still talking pistols here?

    I shoot and occasionally carry the Polish P-64, arguably a copy of the Walther, in caliber 9×18 Makarov.

    Accurate, good looking, and in actual measurable terms, as capable as any handgun round, in spite of biases from the 1911 crowd. Clint Smith, paraphrased: Pistols make holes in people, rifles make holes through people, shotguns blow chunks off people.

    But it’s heavy, has limited magazine capacity, and it’s blowback operated, so not fun to shoot or carry.

    I’m upgrading to a higher-capacity, ever-so-slightly more potent 9×19 plastic gun and a red dot as a Christmas present to myself. I just haven’t decided which one yet. Locked-breech delayed blowback makes even those lightweight guns more fun to shoot.

    1. Let’s hear it for commie surplus. The side arm I carry most is a Hungarian PA-63 in 9mm Makarov. Definitely a PPK copy but with an aluminum frame. For me, doesn’t draw blood, just pounds the web of my hand between thumb and fore finger. Need a break after two mags.

      For most of the year here in Texas, my dress is T-shirt and cargo shorts. I use a “Sticky” brand pocket holster. Hornady makes a DPX load. Works for me

      Tech notes. In stock trim, PA-63’s double action trigger pull is horrendous, like about 24 lbs. Happily, this is easily corrected with replacement Recoil and main springs from Wolff. Also, the magazines do not drop free because the slide stop tap on the magazine follower drags in the mag well. Correction of this requires a bit more tinkering.

  6. My hand must be just slightly less beefy than yours as I only received a single slice from my PPK in an early range session; but, DAMN, it did bleed like hell. Plus, since this was an impromptu range without any amenities, nothing handy to stanch the flow of blood was without the usual collection of grit and such, and stung like hornets.

  7. I have a Hungarian PA-63 which is almost a tit-for-tat copy of the PPK only in Makarov.

    I hate shooting it. Its the one gun I’d sell/trade if given the opportunity. I still keep it loaded and hidden “somewhere” in case things get mostly peaceful again.

    Never shot the PPK myself however, had a buddy who had one and didn’t love it.

  8. OBTW, Kim, I decided to do my first round of pistol broswing at Collector’s.

    You really need to drop in there next time you’re near Houston. It’s huge.

  9. I have a Luftwaffe cartouched 7.65mm PP pistol. It has a lot of holster wear but the markings are there. Compared to a 9mm it is like the difference from 9mm to 45ACP.

  10. Ah, the Berretta model 70; with the four-inch threaded-barrel the Mossad used it to dispose of many of Israel’s enemies over the years… Cole’s imported a few of them many years back; for $270 one could own one. IIRC they were sold out in about a week.

  11. Actually the pp/ppk where only made in .32 or .380, the only 9mm of the PP family was a prototype that was never adopted by the German Army
    I have PPK and ad the opportunity to shoot the PP wich I found much more reliable.
    Plus one for the PA 63 never had any problem with it and found it very acurate for that kind of pistol. thoo bad that I had to sell it.

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