Walther PPK Review Walther PPK/S

Walther PPK Review

A Walther PPK Review: A classic, iconic pistol which is still desired to this day after over 80 years of production. Before I bought it, I read review after review for 2 months before I finally decided to pick it up. I can’t lie and say that the James Bond 007 fame didn’t help- it is a sexy little pistol. But that wasn’t the only reason I was interested in it. I was looking to serve several purposes. I wanted something I could carry as well as for home defense. That it is iconic and sexy as hell was just a perk. If it did not have a solid reputation, I wouldn’t have gotten it in the first place.

I always like firearms that stand the test of time. There are for sure more modern guns that are great in their own right, but I figured that the Walther PPK has been in production for 80 years for some reason. Reviews confirmed the PPK’s reputation, and now with a few years with it under my belt, I can confirm this myself.

First, the Walther PPK is a single-stack, .380 ACP (9mm Short, 9mm Kurtz), Single/Double Action. I have the Walther PPK/S model, which holds one more round and has a longer grip, but otherwise the action, slide and everything else are identical. So the PPK/S is 7 (+1). Here are the specs if you want to see those.

I held both the Walther PPK and the PPK/S. I originally wanted the PPK, as I wanted the original sized pistol as well as the original caliber the PPK was designed for (.32 ACP). But I couldn’t help but feel how much more comfortable the PPK/S was, and so ended up getting the PPK/S in .380. It was the right move for a few reasons. Comfort is obviously one, but also .380 is a very common round these days so is good for considering cost and availability of ammo.

Holding the Walther PPK/S

I have one of the newer models- the S&W version. There are earlier versions like the Interarms model. The S&W models have some tweaks from the earlier models, most notably a tang extension to avoid what they called ‘Walther bite.’ This was where your hand would get clipped by the slide and cut you. With the tang extension on the S&W model, this has never happened to me- not even remotely. Problem solved.

You can get the PPK/S in Stainless or blued models. Both look great, but I ended up opting for blued as I thought darker fit the purpose of CC better.

The Walther PPK/S is small, cozy to hold, fantastic quality, but expensive and may not be for everyone. If you can, you should try this out at the range prior to getting it since it is not the cheapest gun around. The quality is awesome. It is solid steel. You pay for it, but as usual, you get what you pay for. I paid over $600 out the door for mine, but this little guy will last forever if I take care of it, so I felt like it was worth it.

It weights in at a pound and half- unloaded. This is pretty heavy for some, especially if you are considering this as a CCW. Personally, I have grown to like the weight as it feels like I am actually holding something. It feels solid and I know it’s there. It may be cumbersome compared to other compact CCW’s due to the weight, but you may like the weight as I do. If you are interested in lighter, cheaper options- this may not be the one for you. But make no mistake- This is still a good CCW, and was designed exactly for that purpose. In fact, this is one of my two mains CCWs.

PPK/S compared to my hand.

PPK/S compared to my hand.

It is very accurate- one the reasons I love this thing. Groupings are very good even with its small sights. If you are a decent shot, you’ll be okay. That is one thing to keep in mind, too, is that the sights on this are small. If you wear glasses or simply like the larger, easier to see combat sights of more modern pistols, you should rent this first to see how you fare with it.

Walther PPK/S sight picture

Small, but accurate and functional sights. I may throw a little high visibility paint on mine.

Recoil and muzzle flip are both reasonable. With it being such a heavy pistol, it handles a .380 very smoothly and everyone who has shot it always complements it feel. Even with rapid fire or double taps, I can return back to battery quickly and be on target.

The original grips are thin and plastic. This was one of my only beefs with this, seeing as I felt the rest of this gun was super quality. It was the one part I felt was cheap. They are decent but thin which is okay for CCW, and that is the point, after all. But I ended up opting to upgrade and picked up a pair of buffalo horn grips. It added to the sexiness of this pistol for sure, but it also added to the footprint and weight since the new grips are wider. This ended up being a positive, as when I hold the PPK it is even more comfortable and ergonomic. Others who have held it with the the grips had the same comment. For larger hands grip upgrades may be the way to go, but otherwise most will be fine with the stock grips.

Sweet buffalo horn grips.

Sweet buffalo horn grips.

There are two possible cons for some- heavy slide and heavy trigger pull. This may be a problem for smaller hands or women who like the easy slides of smaller, more modern polymers. The double action pull is something like 13-16 pounds. Pretty heavy, but this is something that (once again), I have grown to like. I figure if you pulled that heavy double-action trigger, you meant it.

The Walther PPK also has a decocker, which also functions as the safety. (There was a recall some years ago, so if you are buying any used S&W model PPK- make sure you check out the serial number and get this fixed if it is a recalled number. It was a recall with the decocker, so is VERY important that you check this out.) The decocker blocks the firing pin, but as the title of it implies, it will also decock the hammer without firing (I still ALWAYS have it pointed in a safe direction- just in case). I have found that a modern or inexperienced gunners fumble with this function. They expect the functions of a 1911 or newer DA pistol. So I have grown more and more uncomfortable letting inexperienced shooters or anyone unfamiliar with the PPK fire this at the range. Once you are properly drilled with it, you’ll be fine. I probably shouldn’t need to say this to most, but read your instructions.

I have read some reviews about issues with reliability, but that seemed to be the older Interarms models for the most part. I have had almost 0% fails with this pistol. In fact, I had a few FTE- but that was due to the shitty steel-cased Russian ammo I was using and I feel like it would have jammed in any semi-auto. It was total junk, grainy cased garbage. The only other FTF’s were in other people’s hands at the range and was due to user error- not the pistol. In my hands this has never had a FTF or FTE other than the time above with bad ammo, and has been 100% reliable. I have over 800 rounds through mine. I’m comfortable relying on it and I trust it. It’ll do its job.

In the box is a lock, test fire, instructions, lock and two mags. The one mag has a pinky rest, and the other is flush. I thought this was a nice perk having the two types of mags.

They do manufacture this in .32 ACP, which was the original round this pistol was designed for. Walther also released a .22LR model over the last year or so. I have not shot either one of these but the .22 does look fun. The .22 is about $300-400 bucks, so maybe on a rainy day and a couple of extra bucks I will pick one up.

I had considered selling my PPK/S- but just once. I loved the gun, but I wanted to not have to carry 20 different calibers of ammo and wanted to move away from .380 altogether. I took it to the range one last time. I was so on-target with it, it felt so comfortable and I simply loved this gun so much that I decided I just couldn’t sell it. So, I guess the .380 stays in stock.

The Walther PPK/S is a great option for CCW. It is a small, cozy, quality, classic and historical pistol that will remain in my collection for a long time. Thanks for reading our Walther PPK Review.

10 Comments

  1. Get the buffalo grips off and get an original good condition scond hand checkered grils from the original ppk. Trust me its better. Great article and review and happy shooting my friend.

    • Yeah, I may do that. The size is obviously perfect of the stock grips, I just wish they weren’t plastic. I don’t prefer plastic. I was looking at Eagle Grips recently and they have some cool ones that are closer to the stock size. Thanks for the compliment!

  2. My walthers are long gone. I replaced them with a Makarov. Same gun. Just a Russian twist to the theme.

  3. I have both the S&W PPK 380, and the new .22LR.

    I bought the .22 first and thus far have been pleased with it. I did have one episode where a bullet failed and blew out the extractor. I called Walther and they fixed it for free including shipping. Since then I’ve fired almost 2,000 rounds through it with just a few FTF, FTE and these I attribute to the ammo used at the time. It is a really fun, accurate gun to shoot, and in 22lr not very costly.

    I just had to have its big brother, so at a recent gun show I spotted the S&W PPK in 380 and bought it. I went across the street to my local indoor range and shot a box and it worked flawlessly. The only “issues” I have to deal with are 1) the trigger on single action is very light, and 2) it takes a very strong hand to rack the slide. His will become easier over time.

    Both guns are very easy to strip for cleaning, and can be cleaned in just a few minutes.

  4. I just got the ppk-s from a LGS . Mine is the S&W version and im glad it is . Its got 2 improvements over the interarms which is the smoother feed ramp and the longer frame tang which i like . And i have 1 in 22lr which is a hoot to shoot!

    • How is it in .22LR? I haven’t gotten the chance to handle it yet?

  5. The .32 acp walther made by interarms is 100% reliable. The ones made by Smith & Wesson are seriously ugly with that beaver tail & not reliable. Originally these guns were designed around the .32 acp cartridge. Guns that chamber the 380 cartridge are pretty much iffy @ best. The only ones that I’ve found that work every time are the Sig Sauer P230-232 series.

    • That’s good to hear. I think the Interarms version got a bad wrap for unreliability. I disagree with the S&W models. That beaver tail eliminated the famed Walther bite and still looks like a sexy little pistol to me. But each to their own. I almost did buy the .32 model as I wanted the original PPK that the round was designed for, but after handling the PPK/S .380, it felt very comfy and was the one for me. I’ve had at least 500+ rounds through my PPK/S .380 and the only times I’ve had any issues with one FTE with steel cased junk surplus ammo and FTF was only in someone else’s hands as they didn’t know the operation of it very well. In my hands, it’s been totally reliable. I also dig those Sigs, too. Nice looking pistols.

  6. Is the magazine extension really called a “thumb rest” as you state? The pistol would have to be upside down for your thumb to touch it, then you would have to fire the pistol with your pinkie finger. Otherwise a nice article. I also have the PPK/S in .380, and the only time I had a FTF was once when I was not holding the pistol firmly.

    • Lol. Yes, it was designed for people with opposable thumbs. No, it was a typo. We fixed it. But yes, it’s a great pistol. I think it gets overlooked a lot with a lot of the newer options, but is still a great option.

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