Classic handguns – the Walther PPK

Classic is an overused and seldom defined term. What exactly is a “classic” handgun? Ask ten people and you’ll probably get ten different answers, and ten different lists of “classic” guns. However, there are a small number of handguns which I’m fairly confident would appear on most people’s list, including the one I want to talk about here: The Walther PPK. Although it was introduced almost eighty-five years ago, the PPK is still available, virtually unchanged from its original form. That in itself is testament to good basic design, but the PPK is also perfectly sized, a decent shooter and of course is has an association with a certain British secret agent…

Development

The pocket pistol (what we’d now call a compact or sub-compact design) wasn’t a new idea in the 1920s. A number of manufacturers including Colt, Mauser and Steyr all offered small, easily concealed semi-auto pistols. However, most were of a hammerless design and were intended to be carried with a round in the chamber. Manual safeties were provided, often of the cross-bolt type, but accidental discharges due to light, single action triggers were frighteningly common. Revolvers, which required a long, double action trigger pull were generally safer, but less popular for concealed carry due to their greater bulk. What the market wanted was a compact semi-auto pistol which incorporated a revolver style double-action trigger.

Fritz Walther, the eldest son of founder Carl had persuaded his father to enter the pistol market in 1908. Recognising the need for a safer pocket pistol, in 1924 Fritz registered a German patent for a “self-loading pistol with magazine and revolver self-cocking lock and double action trigger“. Development continued until 1929 when the Walther PP (Polizei-Pistole) was released. The PP was a mid-sized, blowback operated design with an external hammer and double and single action trigger. Additional safety elements included a manual safety which also locked the trigger and hammer, a de-cocker and a loaded chamber indicator. Another notable feature was the takedown system – rather than using a separate lever or catch, the trigger guard of the PP was hinged at the rear. Rotating the trigger guard down and letting it rest against the frame allowed the slide to be removed. Reliability, safety and a reasonable price ensured that the PP immediately became popular both as a police handgun in Germany and as a civilian weapon in that country and elsewhere.

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The Walther PP

However, though it was smaller than a full-size military pistol, the PP was still relatively large and was mainly used as a sidearm by uniformed police. Walther almost immediately began work on a more compact version suitable for use by undercover and plain-clothes officers. In 1931, the Walther PPK was released. Visually and mechanically similar to the PP, the PPK featured a shorter barrel and grip and a smaller capacity magazine, making it the perfect concealed carry weapon. Incidentally, the “K” in PPK stands for Kriminalmodell (Detective model) and not Kurtz (Short) as is sometimes claimed.

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Early Walther PPK produced in Zella-Mehlis

Use

The PPK was an instant success, being quickly adopted by police and civilian users in Germany and elsewhere. Both the PP and PPK also became very popular as German officer’s sidearms. In this period, German army and navy officers were given an allowance to select and purchase their own pistols, and very large numbers chose the small and light Walther pistols and not, as Hollywood would have us believe, the larger and heavier Luger.

Why was the PPK so popular? The de-cocker and double action trigger certainly made it less prone to accidental discharge than some other pocket pistols and it was a reliable and effective shooter. It was also relatively cheap, being one of the first commercially produced handguns to use pressed steel parts. But most of all it was the perfect size. Very small handguns are difficult to grip and fire accurately. The PPK was just big enough to provide a good and comfortable grip while being small and light enough for concealed carry. Even more than the PP, the PPK was an instant commercial success.

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Post-war Walther PPK from Ulm, with “pinky rest” magazine extension

Initially, the PPK was manufactured at the Walther plant at Zella-Mehlis in Thuringia, Germany. Following World War Two the plant was relocated to Ulm in Baden-Württemberg, though for a number of years firearm manufacture was forbidden by the Allied powers. As a result, in 1952 Walther licensed production of PPK series pistols to Manufacure de Machines du Haut-Rhine, a French engineering company better known as Manurhin. Manurhin produced the PPK from 1952 until 1986, though their licensed versions continued to feature Walther markings. Production of the PPK at the new Walther plant in Ulm finally resumed in 1955, though early models utilised many parts manufactured by Manurhin. It wasn’t until 1986 that full manufacturing and production of the PPK was undertaken in Ulm and this continued until 1999. The only significant new version produced during the post-war period was the PPK/L, featuring a lightweight dural frame.

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Manurhin Walther PPK

In 1978, Walther also granted a manufacturing license to US company Ranger Manufacturing to produce both the PPK and the new PPK/S. These versions were distributed in the US by Interarms. The PPK/S was produced in response to the US Gun Control Act of 1968 which set minimum sizes and weights for imported handguns. The PPK was simply too small to comply with these new requirements, and the slightly larger PPK/S was produced by combining the slide and barrel of the PPK with the frame and grip of the original PP. From 2002 Smith & Wesson began production of a licensed version of the PPK/S in the US. S&W are now the only producers of the PPK and the pistol remains part of their current range.

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Interarms stainless steel Walther PPK/S

The PPK was produced in several calibres. The majority were 7.65mm, though a 6.35mm version was produced in relatively small numbers. The PPK was also available chambered for the .22LR round, principally to provide a police practice and training weapon which used much less expensive .22 rimfire ammunition. The PPK was also chambered for the 9mm short (9x17mm, also known as the .380 ACP) cartridge, but this was considered the limit for the strength of the slide, and no versions were produced using the more powerful 9mm Parabellum (9x19mm) cartridge.

Visual style

I don’t normally consider the appearance of a pistol separately. After all, a handgun is a functional piece of equipment which is principally designed to operate efficiently rather than to look good. However, there is something about the appearance of the PPK that I can’t entirely explain but which makes this pistol look as fresh now as it did in 1931. As is the way of things, I started to wonder why that might be…

The design of any item is inevitably influenced by events in the wider world. The Walther PP and PPK were designed at a time of political change and social turmoil in Germany. However, this period was also notable for the influence of the German Bauhaus art movement. Started in 1919 by German architect Walter Gropius, Bauhaus took the concepts and philosophy of high art and translated them into the industrial production of everyday objects. Rejecting the ornate and ostentatious Art Nouveau which had gone before, Bauhaus stressed simplicity, functionality, unity and ease of use and manufacture. A Bauhaus artist had to be not just creative in an abstract sense, but also capable of translating this into functional and useful manufactured objects. Though it’s notable that many of the things created by Bauhaus artists also have a timeless and elegant aesthetic that makes them as visually appealing as they are functional.

“It is harder to design a first rate chair than to paint a second rate painting – and much more useful.”

Walter Gropius, the Bahaus Manifesto

cppk14Take a look at this “cesca” chair above, designed by Hungarian architect Marcel Breuer, a leading member of the Bauhaus movement. Look familiar? The chances are that if you visit any modern office or public space, you’ll see something very similar to this 1928 creation. Why has this design lasted so long? I suspect the answer is because it’s comfortable, practicable and simple to manufacture and yet it somehow manages to appear contemporary more than eighty years after it first appeared.

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Tokarev TT-33 (top), Walther PPK (centre), Enfield Number 2 (bottom)

I haven’t found any evidence that the engineers at Walther who created the PPK were directly influenced by Gropius or the philosophy of Bauhaus. But by the late 1920 the ideas inherent in the movement, that industrial production could and should generate objects which had artistic value, were prevalent in Germany and elsewhere. Take a look again at the PPK and consider the Bauhaus ideals of simplicity, unity and ease of use and manufacture within a visually pleasing whole. Is the PPK a Bauhaus pistol? I certainly think so. Also, try comparing the PPK to a couple of roughly contemporary handguns – the British Enfield Number 2 revolver and the Russian Tokarev TT-33 for example. Both were perfectly adequate handguns, but unlike the PPK both now look very dated and neither could be mistaken for a modern design. Somehow the PPK looks as good now as it did in 1931, which suggests a design which, in some indefinable way is “right“. Whether or not its designers were consciously influenced by Bauhaus, I believe that the PPK embodies the ethos of the movement perfectly.

James Bond and the PPK

However, one of the reasons the PPK is so well known has nothing to do with its abilities, design or appearance. The James Bond novels of Ian Fleming were hugely popular in the 1950s and 1960s. Strangely however, for the first five novels Fleming provided his hero with a Beretta 418 in .25 calibre. Which is an ineffectual and rather rubbish gun for such a tough hero.

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Beretta 418. James Bond gun? Really?

In 1957 while he was writing the sixth novel, Fleming received a letter from Bond fan and firearms expert Geoffrey Boothroyd who pointed out that the Beretta was “a lady’s gun – and not a very nice lady at that!” Boothroyd suggested that it would be much more appropriate to provide Bond with a Walther PPK in 7.65mm calibre. Fleming agreed and Boothroyd went on to provide advice about firearms for the following Bond novels. In recognition, a new character was introduced in Dr No; – Major Boothroyd, the MI6 armourer known as “Q” who is described as “the greatest small-arms expert in the world”.

cppk9When Albert “Cubby” Broccoli came to make the first movie based on a Bond novel in 1962, the screenplay was based on Dr No, and so the movie Bond (then played by Sean Connery) exchanged his Beretta for a PPK from the very start. The PPK continued to be 007’s screen sidearm for sixteen more films and 35 years, until in Tomorrow Never Dies in 1997 it was swapped for a Walther P99. However, with the advent of Skyfall in 2012, the third film starring Daniel Craig as Bond, the character has once again reverted to using a PPK, albeit modified with a palmprint recognition system. The Bond connection gives the PPK additional cachet, and ensures that it is recognised by people who otherwise know very little about firearms.

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Walther PPK Replicas

Given the enduring appeal of the original plus the James Bond connection, there have been surprisingly few decent replica air pistols based on the PPK. Ignoring spring powered replicas, which are pretty dire, I’m aware of just two: The Umarex PPK/S in 4.5mm and the Umarex/Maruzen PPK in 6mm.

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The Umarex Walther PPK/S

The Umarex CO2 powered 4.5mm version was introduced back in 1999 and was the first Umarex blowback pistol. In some ways it’s a great replica – all metal, heavy with great fit and finish and strong and snappy blowback. Unfortunately in other ways it’s not so good. I don’t care for the moulded-in-place slide-mounted safety, or the actual safety which is a moving lever at the front of the right grip (though it’s similar to the safety fitted to some prototype PPKs). It’s also not terribly accurate compared to more modern BB shooters. However, the main issues for me are when I first bought one were the large and visible CO2 tightening tab at the base of the grip and the shape of the grip itself, which has been stretched to accommodate the CO2 cartridge. The tab has been replaced with a less obtrusive recessed allen screw, but there’s nothing you can do about the lengthened grip which, to me at least, completely loses the pleasingly squat profile of the original. However, this is overall a decent PPK/S replica and it does have the virtue of being readily available and relatively cheap.

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The Maruzen Walther PPK

The 6mm Walther PPK from Japanese manufacturer Maruzen is a much better visual and functional replica (it’s also licensed by Umarex, but for the sake of clarity I’ll refer to it as the Maruzen PPK here). It’s a gas powered blowback replica and the slide mounted safety, magazine release and takedown all work as they do on the original. It incorporates Walther markings and this version accurately replicates the short, squat grip of the original. Even the magazine incorporates a pinky rest, just like the original. The metal finish version looks particularly good and in 2011 a 125th Anniversary edition (celebrating 125 years of Walther) was released. However, this is an all plastic replica which is very light (around 375g) and it shoots only in the 220-240fps range, so it isn’t particularly powerful. It can also be very difficult to find new, and production seems to be sporadic.

Shooters Design (a company specialising in aftermarket parts for airsoft guns) produce a full metal kit for the Maruzen PPK, which replaces the plastic slide and frame with metal versions, though a heavyweight slide return spring is also required. I’m not sure if this kit is still in production and it is certainly hard to find. The Maruzen PPK has good functionality and looks good, but is too light to be an entirely convincing replica and it isn’t a particularly great shooter out of the box. Upgrading by using the Shooters Design kit is said to improve look, feel and function, but this is also a pretty expensive option. You can expect to pay around £125 ($200) for the basic pistol and over £200 ($325) for the upgrade kit, if you can find one. I have been looking for a Maruzen PPK and an upgrade kit for some time, and if anyone has either one they’d be willing to donate or sell for review, I’d be very happy to hear about it!

Conclusion

Whether you regard it as a piece of Bauhaus art, an industrial artefact from a significant historical era, a James Bond movie prop or simply a compact and pointable handgun, the Walther PPK doesn’t disappoint. It’s small, light, looks great, fits most hands and shoots better than its small size and relatively antiquated design would suggest. It’s no accident that in 2003, when Walther engineers set out to create a new compact pistol (the PPS), they used the weight and dimensions of the PPK as a guide to what looked and felt right. If ever a handgun deserved the “classic” label, it’s the Walther PPK.

It’s disappointing that the PPK is under-represented in the replica world. The Umarex and Maruzen versions both have good points, but neither is entirely satisfactory. We’re still waiting for a weighty PPK replica which is also a decent shooter and mirrors the functionality and distinctive look of the original.

Links:

The Walther PPK (on the Walther Arms website)

The Umarex Walther PPK/S

Shooters Design kit for the Maruzen PPK (on the redwolf airsoft site, but don’t get too excited because it’s currently out of stock)

The Bauhaus movement

Related pages:  

Umarex Walther PPK/S review

Modifying the CO2 tab on an Umarex Walther PPK/S

Classic Handguns – The Glock 17

Replacing the CO2 loading knob on an Umarex Walther PPK/S

This article explains how to replace the ugly plastic CO2 tightening knob on older versions of the Umarex Walther PPK/s with a less obtrusive screw.  However, please remember that CO2 and airguns are potentially dangerous.  If you attempt any modification you may end up with a pistol that is unusable, unreliable or even dangerous.  So, don’t undertake any modification unless you understand it fully and are confident that you have the necessary skills to complete it safely.  If in doubt, get advice from an expert.  I accept no responsibility for any damage, injuries or aggravation which may be caused if you decide to try this mod.

I have owned two Umarex Walther PPK/S, and they are generally great pistols (read the review here).  However, in my opinion the appearance of this replica is spoiled by the CO2 tightening/piercing knob which projects below the butt.   On early models this is a huge plastic wing nut.  On later models it’s a slightly smaller plastic tab.  On both it looks kind of stupid. On the latest versions it has been replaced by a much less obtrusive screw – this article is for anyone with an older model who wants to bring it up to the standard of the new version.

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Ugly!

Fortunately, replacing the plastic tab with something less obtrusive is simple and doesn’t require many tools or much technical expertise.  The simplest solution is to simply cut off the plastic knob with a hacksaw and then cut a slot in the end of the remaining threaded stem, which allows tightening by using a screwdriver in the slot.  However I tried this on my first PPK/S and I found that so much force is required to tighten with a screwdriver that the slot in the mild steel stem quickly opened up and became unusable.  What I wanted was a more permanent solution.

To do this job you’ll need the following:

A small hacksaw.

A small (approx. 1mm dia) drift.

A ruler or vernier caliper for measurement.

A suitable screw and nut to replace the plastic stem and knob.

Before starting the work: MAKE SURE THERE IS NO CO2 IN THE PISTOL!  Otherwise, this job will get very exciting, very briefly as you remove the pins that retain the CO2 tightening parts in place.  No kidding!

Once you’re sure there is no CO2 in the gun, start by removing the left grip and the magazine.  Then you need to drift out the two small diameter pins which hold in place the plastic cover which keeps the CO2 tightening stem in place.  To do this you’ll have to remove the right grip by removing the single screw which holds it in place.  Be careful not to lose the safety catch spring.  Once the pins are out, replace the right grip to protect the safety catch mechanism.

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Once the pins are removed, you can take off the black plastic cover and remove the tightening stem, retaining nut and knob.  The pistol should now look like this.
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The next step is to find a suitable screw and nut to replace the plastic stem and knob.  You can use anything that will fit – I happened to find a stainless steel socket-head screw and a matching nut in my toolbox, so I used those.

It’s very unlikely that your screw will be of the right length, so you’ll need to cut it down to size.  First, place the new screw in the pistol with an empty CO2 to check the required length.
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Then, measure the excess to find out how much you need to cut off.
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A tip if you’re cutting anything with a thread – before you start, thread a nut on above the area where you intend to cut. The cutting will  inevitably damage the thread, but if you have a nut in place, when you unscrew it, it will help to re-make the thread.

Once the excess part of the screw shaft is cut off with a hacksaw, file and sand the cut end until it is smooth and flat – this is important, otherwise the CO2 cartridge may slip off the end of the screw when you tighten it.  Then, put the new screw and nut in place, replace the plastic cover and the two pins which hold it in place.  Now try tightening to hold an empty CO2 in place.
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If the new screw holds an empty CO2 securely in place, you can try loading a full one.  Hold the CO2 cartridge firmly in place with your thumb as you tighten to stop it twisting out of the way.
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And that’s it, job done.   Problems?  The end of the original tightening stem is dished to fit the bottom of the CO2.  Your replacement won’t be.  Potentially, the CO2 can slip off the end of the screw as you’re tightening.   So, you do need to flatten off the cut end of the new screw as much as possible and hold the CO2 cartridge firmly in place as you tighten the screw.  You also need to remember to bring a suitable allen key when you want to shoot the PPK/S.

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I am not recommending that you do this mod to your Umarex PPK/S, though I do think that the modified pistol looks much better.  After the mod my PPK/S was still as reliable and powerful as before.  However, as noted at the start of the article, undertaking any modification to an air pistol is potentially dangerous, so please don’t do this unless you are certain that you can complete the work safely.  One of the nice things about this mod is that it’s completely reversable – if you don’t like using a screw for CO2 tightening, just replace the tab, stem and nut which you removed and you’ll be back to standard.

Related pages:

Umarex Walther PPK/S review

Umarex Walther PPK/S 4.5mm

I thought I’d start with a review of a replica of one of the most successful and well known semi-automatic pistols of the last hundred years – the Umarex Walther PPK/S.  I have owned two Umarex PPKs – one in black and a polished model.

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Real steel background

It’s a real stopping gun.”  Major Boothroyd, Dr No.

Carl Walther GmbH was founded in 1886 in the city of Zella-Mehlis in what was then the state of Hesse in Gernamy.  The company initially made hunting and target shooting rifles, but in the early 1900s it began producing pistols.  The company produced several moderately successful semi-automatic pistols before the Walther PP (Polizei Pistole) was released in 1929.  The PP was designed as a sidearm for uniformed police officers and was a blowback operated, double action, semi- automatic pistol which could be chambered for 9mm, 7.65mm or .22 calibre rounds.  It was one of the first mass-produced pistols to use stamped parts, and quickly gained a reputation for high quality and reliability.  In 1931 the PPK (Polizei Pistole Kriminalmodell:  Police Pistol – Detective Model) was introduced.  This was similar in appearance to the PP, but featured a shorter barrel and smaller grip and was intended as a concealed-carry weapon for plainclothes or undercover work.

Looking at the PPK today, it’s hard to believe that this pistol was first produced more than eighty years ago.  It’s a clean, classic and instantly recognisable design which also happens to be a useable and reliable handgun.  It has been copied many times, but seldom bettered.  It’s a testament to that fine basic design that it is still in production today, under license by Smith and Wesson in the USA.

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.22 calibre Walther PPK, 1965

Picture courtesy http://www.adamsguns.com/ via Wikimedia commons

The PPK was very widely used by German police, security and armed forces before, during and after World War Two (Adolf Hitler shot himself with a 7.65mm PPK).  Although movies and television shows would have us believe that the Luger was the typical German officers’ sidearm of this period, this was not the case.  The Luger was issued as a sidearm only to NCOs and to selected specialized units such as paratroopers, tank crews and pilots.  It was never an officer’s pistol.  In the Wermacht, officers were provided with a clothing and equipment allowance from which they were expected to buy their own pistol.  The small, light and reliable PP and PPK were overwhelmingly the most popular choices, generally in 7.65mm calibre.

The PPK and James Bond      

Not so much a killing machine, more of a personal statement” “Q”, Skyfall

But let’s be honest here; the principal reason the PPK is so well known (even amongst people who aren’t particularly familiar with firearms) is that it’s the weapon of choice for a certain British Secret Agent.  Though this wasn’t always the case.  For the first five Bond novels Ian Fleming equipped his hero with a .25 Beretta 418, an oddly effeminate choice of gun for such a macho character.  It wasn’t until 1957 when he was writing Dr No that Fleming received a letter from Bond fan and firearms expert Geoffrey Boothroyd who pointed out that the Beretta was “a lady’s gun – and not a very nice lady at that!”  Boothroyd suggested that it would be much more appropriate to provide Bond with a Walther PPK in 7.65mm calibre.  Fleming agreed, and Boothroyd came to provide him with much useful advice about firearms over the years.  In grateful recognition of this, a new character was introduced in Dr No; – Major Boothroyd, the MI6 armourer and head of “Q” Branch who is described as “the greatest small-arms expert in the world”.  In the novel Bond is persuaded to reluctantly give up his Beretta and accept a PPK as his main weapon (though he doesn’t actually use the PPK in the story, choosing instead his backup weapon, a .38 Smith & Wesson Centennial Airweight revolver).

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Sean Connery with PPK, 1962

When the first of the Bond films came to be made in 1962, the screenplay was based on Dr No, and so Sean Connery exchanged his Beretta for a PPK from the very start.  In the movie version of Dr No, Bond uses the PPK and it continued to be 007’s screen sidearm for sixteen more films and 35 years, until Tomorrow Never Dies in 1997 at which point it was swapped for a Walther P-99.  However, with the advent of Skyfall, the third film starring Daniel Craig as Bond, the character has once again reverted to using a PPK, albeit modified with a palmprint recognition system.

The Umarex PPK/S

So, when Umarex were looking for a weapon to use as the basis for their first replica blowback air pistol, the PPK was the obvious choice, particularly in view of their close links with Walther.  The Umarex Walther PPK/S was introduced in 2002 and is a reasonably accurate visual replica of the original (though sadly it doesn’t include palmprint recognition).  The PPK/S is a version of the PPK which is slightly larger than the original in order to comply with the US Gun Control Act of 1968 (since World War Two the USA has been the biggest market for the PPK).  The Umarex PPK/S shoots 4.5mm steel BBs, is powered by CO2, has a 3½” smoothbore barrel and a drop-out magazine with a capacity of 15 BBs.  The Umarex PPK is available in all-black finish, or black with a polished slide, or completely polished.

Packaging and presentation  2.5/5

Both My PPKs were purchased second hand and didn’t come with a box.  If you buy a new one, it will come in a small and not especially impressive cardboard box containing the pistol, one magazine and a short user manual.

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Visual accuracy  7/10

Overall size and appearance are close to the original and the replica features Walther markings.  However, the outline is slightly different to the original – the rear frame extension appears to be shorter on the replica and the frame and grips are longer, presumably to accommodate the CO2.

PPKS comparison

Umarex PPK/S (left) and original 9mm PPK/S

There are a few other things which mar the visual accuracy of the replica.  The safety catch mounted on the left hand side of the slide is moulded in place on the replica – the actual safety is a sliding lever at the upper front of the right grip.  The tightening knob for the CO2 projects below the butt of the grip.  On earlier models this is a substantial plastic “wing-nut”.  On later models it’s a slightly less obtrusive but more flimsy folding plastic half-moon.  On both my PPKs I replaced this with a less obtrusive screw (see article link at bottom of this post).

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Original plastic tightening tab and stainless steel screw replacement

With the exceptions noted above this is a good visual replica of the original, which is probably unsurprising given that Umarex and Walther are part of a commercial joint venture.  It is rumoured that some parts of the Umarex PPK/S are interchangeable with parts from the original.

Functional accuracy  11/15

This is a blowback pistol which operates in single action only (unlike the original which shoots in double and single action).  The magazine is drop-out, but is a small, slightly flimsy plastic affair that is released by use of the magazine catch on the left of the grip.  The magazine also incorporates the bottom front part of the grip.  CO2 is stored in the frame and is inserted by removing the left-hand grip cover.

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The slide locks back when the last BB is fired.  However just as on the original, there is no slide catch – to release the slide it must be racked again with a loaded magazine or with no magazine in place.

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As originally produced, the Umarex PPK/S could be correctly field stripped.  The trigger guard was hinged at the rear, and moving the guard down and clear of the frame allowed the slide to be removed.  However, a plethora of owner problems (if you’re not careful, it’s very easy to have a tiny spring twang off into the middle distance when you remove the slide) led to later models having the trigger guard pinned in place.

Shooting  25/40

When you pick this pistol up it’s immediately apparent that the ergonomics are very good indeed – although this is a small pistol it fits comfortably into the average man-sized hand and points very naturally.

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The first thing you notice on firing is the kick from the blowback operated slide – it’s very strong and feels out of proportion to the small size of the pistol.  It produces a satisfying bang too, and this coupled with the strong kick make it feel much more powerful than it really is.  Running a six shot string of Blaster steel BBs over the chrono gave an average of only 270fps, though this was on a very cold day indeed.

Accuracy is variable – hardly surprising when you’re shooting BBs through such a short, unrifled barrel.  Careful shooting in reasonable temperatures generally gives me groupings of around 3”, though with occasional flyers.

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Eight shots, 6yds, steel BBs.  Outer ring is 6″ diameter.

However, shooting in very cold conditions highlighted an unusual problem – while using the pistol prior to writing this review, I was shooting in a very cold conservatory where the temperature was well below freezing (though the CO2 was stored and loaded in a much warmer part of the house).  Other pistols I shot on the same day worked as expected, though with predictably low velocities.  The PPK/S however would only fire around ten shots with full power; after that it wouldn’t generate enough power to cycle the slide.  However if I took it into a warm room for a few minutes it would recover and would be able to fire another ten shots or so before running out of oomph again.  Odd; I don’t know whether it’s a foible of this particular pistol, or whether the Umarex PPK/S is especially susceptible to cold?  In reasonable temperatures, you can expect to get around 60 full power shots from a single CO2.

Quality and reliability  12/15

This is a well-made, well finished, all metal replica (other than the plastic grips).  Only the magazine feels a little flimsy.  Black versions are painted rather than blued, but the paint is fairly thick and seems to be chip-resistant.  There are no known reliability issues.

Overall Impression  13/15

Nice quality, good weight, good ergonomics, strong blowback and a loud bang all make this a very satisfying pistol to handle and shoot

Conclusion

This is a nice replica of a classic pistol.  Like the original, the Umarex PPK/S is small, but good ergonomic design means that it doesn’t feel that way when you pick it up.  It fits even large hands comfortably and points easily and naturally.  This, combined with the loud bang and pronounced kick make shooting very satisfying, even if the actual measured power and accuracy aren’t particularly impressive.

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Add to this the fact that this is a well-made and nicely finished pistol, and of course the cachet of the James Bond connection, and it’s easy to see why so many people choose to include an Umarex PPK/S in their collection.

Overall score: 70.5/100

Buy:

You can buy this replica at Pyramid Air here.

Related pages:

Classic Handguns – The Walther PPK

Umarex Walther CP99 Compact Review

How to remove the CO2 tab from an Umarex Walther PPK/S

Lubricating air pistols

Links

Umarex web site