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German Weapons

> Pistols

Walther P38

Walther P38

Walther PPK

Basic Information
Type Semi-automatic pistol
Place of Origin Nazi Germany
In service 1938-present
Wars World War II
Designer Carl Walther Waffenfabrik, Mauser Werke, Spreewerke
Technical Specifications
Length 216mm
Weight 800g
Barrel Length 125mm
Cartridge 9x19mm Parabellum
Action Short recoil, locked breech
Muzzle Velocity 365 m/s (1200 ft/s)
Feed System 8-round detachable single-stack magazine
Sights Fixed iron sights, rear notch and front blade

The Walther P38 is a 9mm semi-automatic pistol developed by Walther as a service pistol to replace the costly Luger P08.


The Walther P38 semi-automatic pistol was developed by Walther as the service pistol of the Wehrmacht at the beginning of World War II. The concept version of the P38 was accepted by the German military in 1938, and testing of the pistol began in 1939.


By 1931, the German Army had already began their search for a replacement of the Luger P08. Fritz Walther saw the opportunity for his company to design a new pistol; one that had advantages in cost, reliability, and fewer parts. Several pistol designs influenced the production design of the P38, including the PP and the PPK. By 1938, the HP, or Heeres-Pistole, had an external hammer, which the army preferred, and a single case harden locking block, which prevented it from cracking. The HP was put in production for commercial sales, and was accepted by the German army later on, under the official model name of P38. In total, roughly 1 million were built.


The P38 uses a double action trigger design that is simlar to the earlier Walther PPKs. It also incorporates a loaded chamber indicator. The P38 was the first locked-breech pistol to use a double action trigger. The shooter could load a round into the chamber, use hte de-cocking lever to safely lower the hammer without firing the round, and carry the weapon loaded with the hammer down. When the trigger was pulled, with the hammer down, it fired the first shot and the operation of the pistol ejected the fired round and reloaded a fresh round into the chamber. These are all features found in many modern day handguns.

The first designs submitted to the German Army featured a locked breech and a hidden hammer, but the German Army requested that it be replaced with an external hammer. This led to the adoption of the P38 in 1940.

The fixed barrel design mechanism operates by use of a wedge-shaped locking block underneath the breech. P38 pistols from the initial production were fitted with walnut grips. Howver, later on, they were replaced by Bakelite grips.


The P1 was adopted by the Bundeswehr in 1957, as a slightly modified version of the P38. It remained in service until the early 1990s. The P1 had a receiver that was made from aluminum alloy, instead of steel to reduce weight. The P4 was another variation of the P1, and had a short barrel. The Walther P5 was later developed in the 1970s as an improved version of the P38. It was adopted by police forces in Rhineland Palatinate and Baden Wurttemberg.

Photo gallery (7)

"Walther P-38." Web. 04 Aug. 2010. .
"Walther P38." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 04 Aug. 2010.

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