Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Quiet Walther PP

The magnificent Walther Polizei Pistole (PP)
The Walther Polizei Pistole (PP) first appeared in 1929.  It was decades ahead of its time.  The Walther PP introduced the first practical double action-single action trigger system.  The Walther trigger system became a world standard for over eight decades and continues to this day.   The PP is one of the most influential pistols of all time.  It’s the direct ancestor of the compact Walther PPK, and as such was widely copied in Europe after the Second World War.
Post war PP (top) and post war PPK

The Walther PP is usually mentioned as background context to the wildly popular and successful PPK.  The PP is mentioned in passing, but never as a ground breaking pistol.  The PP is not given much acclaim for its outstanding accuracy, durability, and reliability. The Walther PP was manufactured in large numbers concurrently with the PPK, and was employed as a rather small size service pistol by the German Army and Police. The Walther PP was available in the same calibers as the PPK, mostly in 7.65 (32 ACP) and smaller numbers in 9mm Kurtz (380 ACP) and in 22 long rifle. The 22 long rifle was strictly a civilian market offering.  Interesting, it was widely used for personal protection by German civilians who lived and worked in occupied territory during World War II.
A wartime manufacture PP .22 (top) and a postwar 7.65 PP used by the German Police.
The Walther PP soldiered through World War II and provided excellent service.  The PP’s performance and reliability was never compromised, even in the roughly finished late war examples.  After the war the PP and PPK were copied in East Germany and Turkey. Other pistols, such as the Soviet Makarov and several Hungarian hand guns, and the Czech CZ 50/70 series guns were clearly influenced by the PP and PPK.  The PP came to the rescue of American shooters when the idiotic Gun Control Act of 1968 outlawed the importation of the West German made PPK.  The PP frame and the PPK slide were mated to create the legally importable Walther PPK/S (S for “States” model).  The French company of Manurhin, manufactured a licensed version of the Walther PP and PPK.
Bond (Sean Connery) with a PP instead of a PPK in Dr. No

The PP was the stand in for the PPK in the Bond movie, “Dr. No”.  I don’t think anyone really knows why the PP was so heavily used “Dr. No”, my guess would be the sleek appearance and slightly larger size of the pistol.  There may have been a fear the PPK would look too much like a small toy. 
CIA Agent Felix Leitner (Jack Lord) and 007 James Bond (Sean Connery) both equipped with Walther PP pistols in lieu of the PPK.

 By the early 1970s the threat of terrorism (Munich Olympics and the Baader-Meinhof terrorist gang) caused the German police to shift to heavier weapons. The light caliber small capacity Walther PP was replaced by 9mm Parabellum weapons. The PPK was still popular as a concealment pistol for police and of course among the legion of James Bond fans. 
Larger more powerful pistols such as the P.38/P.1 (top) gradually replaced the PP in police service.

Even today, the excellent accuracy of the PP surpasses many modern duty firearms. The durability, reliability, sleek appearance, and history give the Walther PP a small but devoted following among collectors. The Walther PP is an unsung hero which provided exemplary service in peace and war.

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