Walther's flagship pistol for the past century has been the PP series handgun and for good reason. It is both old-school cool and often overrated.
The background of the gun is well established. Fritz Walter, the heir to the famed Carl Walther rifle works, moved in the early 1900s to expand the company into handguns with a line of simple blowback pocket pistols to compete with models like the Colt Vest Pocket and Pieper Bayard. Moving to more advanced designs using a workable single-action/double-action trigger system by the 1920s, the Polizei Pistole, or PP series, soon became a smash-hit, despite the fact it was twice as much as the company's earlier models.
While not the first DA/SA handgun on the market, the PP was much more successful and soon an abbreviated version pitched as a detective's gun, the Polizei Pistole Kriminal, hit the catalog in 1930. With a 3.25-inch barrel and offerings not only .32 ACP (the original PPs bread and butter) but also spicier .380 ACP, which was then and still is seen as big medicine for European LE types, the sleek almost Art Deco PPK soon filled holsters and desk drawers.
After the war, with Walther's historic Zella-Mehlis plant in Soviet hands in East Germany, the company shifted operations to the West German city of Ulm, where they remain today. However, production of the PP and PPK largely moved to the French concern of Manurhin to comply with restrictions by the victorious Allies against producing weapons in Germany. Even when the restrictions lifted, Walther continued to have Manurhin produce the PP/PPK series and components into the 1980s under license – and the French company also briefly sold the guns under their own rollmarks as well. Meanwhile, to comply with U.S. import laws after 1968, S&W made the PPK/S under license in America.
With that background covered, drink in this PPK/S that was brought into the country by Interarms while Jerry Ford was still in office.
One thing for sure, when visiting the range, the PPK continues to turn heads and sparks interest. Although it has very small sights, they are workable, and the gun is almost surprisingly accurate. Guns like these are not only collectible, shootable, and useable, but are a great device for bringing new people into the shooting community. I can't tell you how many times I have heard, "I always wanted to shoot one of those," when the old Walther comes out of the safe for a breath of fresh air.
These days, Walther has finally gotten over the hurdle of having their PPKs license-produced by others through establishing a manufacturing facility in Fort Smith, Arkansas, so you can expect the next generation to be well-supplied with this 1930s throwback that never really went out of style.