Friday, February 7, 2014

Sauer 38H, Almost Bond


Sauer 38H with holster
The Sauer 38H was one of the best small pistol of World War II. It had the unique de-cocking lever which has not been used on any pistol since. It is one of the most enjoyable 7.65 (32 ACP) pistols for shooting. Like the legendary Walther PP and PPK, the 38H is outstandingly accurate, reliable, and robust. It was rumored to be a favorite of German paratroops in WW II. The German Army and police used the pistol extensively and there were no complaints.  
Beretta 1934 sometimes used in early Bond movies and misidentified as a 25 ACP Caliber.
 
Ian Fleming, an excellent and imaginative writer but no gun expert, created the super-agent 007 James Bond. Bond was armed with an early 25 ACP Beretta. Geoffrey Boothroyd, a Scottish firearms expert, wrote Fleming on this matter. Boothroyd suggested a colt snub-nosed revolver and a proper holster.  Fleming insisted on Bond carrying a semi-automatic pistol. The two men came up with two handguns which were sufficiently advanced and rakish enough for Bond. The Sauer 38H and the postwar Walther PPK were the finalists.  The Walther won on several points, more stylish looks. It was a German but not exclusively NAZI pistol.    It was considered state of the art and was still in production. The 38H was produced only during the NAZI years and went out of production in 1945.

Sauer 38H (top) and a prewar Walther PPK, the PPK is more compact and sleek.
 
The Walther PPK was chosen and Boothroyd was rewarded by Fleming naming the original “Q” Major Boothroyd.  Fleming also titled Geoffrey Boothroyd as the official armorer to James Bond.  Of course Walther a skyrocketing demand for the PPK due to the Bond movies. A phenomenon not seen until “Dirty Harry” popularized the S&W Model 29 44 Magnum revolver.
Prewar Walther PPK(top) and the eventual Bond gun, the postwar PPK.
 
A few side notes, the Beretta 25 ACP is seen in the early movies as a Beretta 1934, as similar but larger design.  The 38H would have a great Bond gun, but its past clearly mitigated against it. The Bond legacy has induced Walther to produce an alloy slide and frame Walther PPK/S in 22 Long Rifle. I hope this new gun lives up to the legend.     

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