Boasting classy lines, a well-recognized pedigree, and great ergos for a small all-steel gun, Smith & Wesson’s licensed take on the Walther PPK/s aimed to revive an old carry king in the increasingly polymer-focused concealed carry market. 

Sure, this iconic German blowback gun now boasted American-made parts assembled in Houlton, Maine, of all places. But the real debate across the interwebs has been its relevance. I’ve watched that debate with subdued interest over the last decade, with one camp calling it “too heavy, underpowered, and limited in capacity” while the other praised its ergonomics, looks, and reliability.

Having just come off my own blowback pistol craze, I decided to give the little PPK/s a test drive to find out for myself.

Table of Contents

Intro: Meet the PPK/s
Specs & Function 
Accuracy & Testing 
Concealed Carry 
Pros & Cons

Intro: Meet the PPK/s


S&W Walther PPK/s Pistol
More than classy, the PPK design is iconic. (Photo: Paul Peterson/

I guess it’s worth starting by addressing the obvious elephant in the room – What on earth was Smith & Wesson doing making a Walther? Well, for a time, Smith & Wesson owned Walther and hence had access to the PPK for manufacture. It cranked out PPK variants from 2001 to 2012. But the real reason was that demand for the James Bond gun never really went away.

S&W Walther PPK/s Pistol
It may look like a simple affair, but the grip angle and shape actually provide for a very nice-feeling gun. (Photo: Paul Peterson/

Walther has since cut ties with S&W and set up shop in Fort Smith, Arkansas, to relaunch its own Walther U.S.-made PPK line in 2019. Demand remained high, so that makes sense, but there’s no denying the pistol has a lot of years under its belt. Walther’s original design for the semi-auto double-action/single-action gun dates back to 1929. 

While James Bond’s “PP7” was more often chambered for .32 ACP, the boost to .380 ACP packed more power in the blowback pistol for self-defense. But does the design still stand up?

Specs & Function


S&W Walther PPK/s Pistol
Assembly and disassembly are simple. Just break open the trigger guard, pull back the slide, and lift the rear over the fixed barrel. Assemble in the reverse order. (Photo: Paul Peterson/

It’s a simple blowback system with a long history – much longer than even Walther’s classic design. Small straight-blowback sidearms were popular among private citizens and military officers – often as personal purchases in .25 and .32 ACP – even before World War I. But Walther’s often-replicated design has certainly become one of the most recognizable and respected. 

The PPK/s, like other PPKs, hosts a fixed barrel surrounded by a recoil spring. Only the slide reciprocates when fired, ejecting casings and chambering the next round. The single-stack mags only host seven rounds of .380, but the entire package is quite slender and concealable as a result. It is, however, strikingly heavy when compared to the wide variety of modern micro-9mm handguns that host higher capacities of a generally more powerful round in a lighter, smaller package.

S&W Walther PPK/s Pistol
The trigger guard pulls down and can be slightly pushed to the side to lock it open against the frame for disassembly. (Photo: Paul Peterson/

Here are some general specs:

Weight (Empty Mag): 1.475 pounds
Length: 6.7 inches
Sight Radius: 4.1 inches
Width (Widest Point): 1.2 inches
Height: 4.8 inches
Capacity: 7+1
Double-Action Pull: 11.5+ pounds (advertised 13.4) 
Single-Action Pull: 4.4 pounds (advertised 6.1)

S&W Walther PPK/s Pistol
It's a bit of an unsung feature, but the magazine release is higher on the frame, making it hard to bump but easy to use on a smaller gun. (Photo: Paul Peterson/
S&W Walther PPK/s Pistol
The slide does lock to the rear on an empty magazine, but you should note the lack of an external slide stop/release. You'll need to manually rack the slide to reload. (Photo: Paul Peterson/

The weight of the double-action trigger maxes out on my gauge at 11.5 pounds, but it’s advertised at 13.4 pounds, which seems right. That might seem like quite a bit, but it’s remarkably smooth with very little stacking. In truth, it feels like a heavy but clean double-action revolver trigger. The break for the double-action trigger is abrupt, making it a bit hard to find exactly where the wall is located.

That said, after your first double-action pull, the gun moves into a nice and light single-action trigger. There’s about a quarter inch of slack to the take-up, minor mush, and a very short reset. My gauge had the SA trigger at 4.4 pounds. The reset is light enough that I occasionally struggled to shoot slow follow-up shots over the mandatory one-shot-per-second limit at my range.

S&W Walther PPK/s Pistol
Capacity is limited with the single-stack magazine. (Photo: Paul Peterson/
S&W Walther PPK/s Pistol
The safety/decocker is slick looking, but it does take a forward motion to work it. (Photo: Paul Peterson/

Finally, this DA/SA gun hosts a safety/decocker that might feel a bit awkward to American hands. Mounted on the left side of the slide, the safety uses a forward sweeping motion that is basically the opposite of a 1911, requiring a forward and upward push to disarm the safety. The reverse motion activates the safety and simultaneously decocks the hammer. Smith & Wesson issued a limited recall on select PPK/s pistols back in 2009 over concerns with the decocker, which was remedied in-house on affected guns and updated for new ones. 

Accuracy & Range Testing


S&W Walther PPK/s Pistol
Shot group at 10 yards. (Photo: Paul Peterson/

The all-steel sights are basic but effective with a red dot at the front and a notched rear. The rear shows some of the design’s attention to detail, hosting a rear ledge for added visibility, while the top of the slide is nicely textured with a glare-reducing wave pattern. 

While it has a bit of heft, that weight isn’t all bad. It does a nice job of eating recoil. There is still some snappiness, especially with self-defense loads, but I don’t want to overstate it. The gun isn’t unpleasant to shoot if you can forgive the frequent reloads needed with a 7+1 capacity. 

S&W Walther PPK/s Pistol
Sights are fairly basic, but they lend themselves to fine accuracy. (Photo: Paul Peterson/
S&W Walther PPK/s Pistol
A healthy beavertail guards effectively against hammer bite. (Photo: Paul Peterson/
S&W Walther PPK/s Pistol
The wave-pattern cuts at the top of the slide cut down on glare. (Photo: Paul Peterson/

Overall, the weight actually gives the gun a comfortable, authoritative feel in the hand. In fact, the entire gun feels like it fits like a glove, even with my larger hands. It points naturally and wields smoothly regardless of the weight.

The first double-action pull is a bit heavy, but it’s more of a rolling pull that allowed me to keep the gun on target while shooting. In a testament to the gun as a self-defense piece, I was able to quickly put multiple rounds on target in a sub-2.5-inch group at 10 yards thanks to the trigger, sights, and controllability. 

S&W Walther PPK/s Pistol
I ran a bled of 500 rounds through the PPK/s with no noted issues. (Photo: Paul Peterson/

For my testing, I ran 500 rounds through the PPK/s. The bulk of my shooting was 94-grain budget FMJ ball ammo mixed with 100 rounds of flat-headed lead-free 70-grain Federal indoor-training loads, and 100 rounds of 99-grain Hydra-Shok Deep hollow-point self-defense loads.  

All ammo fed and ejected reliably. Better yet, the light trigger with a short reset allowed me to run the PPK/s with a fair amount of speed, which is appreciated in a self-defense pistol.

Concealed Carry


S&W Walther PPK/s Pistol
As a used gun, the PPK/s came with a nice variety of holsters, including a double magazine carrier. (Photo: Paul Peterson/

We could have a nice, long-winded debate about .380 as a self-defense round, but that’s kind of been done to death (see below link). Suffice it to say I wouldn’t want to be shot by any .380 ammo…ever. Plus, it actually has some extra merit in the fixed-barrel straight-blowback pistol game. There are limits to what you can safely do with recoil and pressure in such systems, and .380 strikes a nice harmony between power, reliability, longevity, and controllability.

RELATED: .380 ACP vs 9mm for Self-Defense – What’s the Real Difference?

Honestly, my primary concern when testing the PPK/s for carry was its weight at 1.5+ pounds loaded. The shape concealed nicely in a variety of holsters at both the appendix and 4-5 o’clock positions. The broader hybrid holsters that came with this PPK/s as a used gun from the Vault did a fine job of spreading out the weight. After a few days of regular carry, I can say it was comfortable and easy to carry.

My biggest issue turned out to be the safety. Sure, this one is a bit of a training issue, but the forward motion to flip off the safety feels clumsy compared to a downward stroke. I have to break my grip slightly to do it reliably from a draw, and I’ve just never liked that particular design on any pistol.

Pros & Cons

Here's my short list of the pros and cons:


  • Accurate with nice metal sights
  • Classy lines with great ergonomics
  • DA/SA trigger is smooth and easy to use
  • Conceals well
  • Feels solid and controllable in the hand


  • Safety requires a forward thumb stroke
  • Limited capacity at 7+1
  • .380 is not my ideal self-defense caliber
  • Heavy at 1.5+ pounds loaded

Final Thoughts


S&W Walther PPK/s Pistol
It's not the lightest, smallest, or most powerful, but the PPK/s certainly has some wins in its corner for concealed carry. (Photo: Paul Peterson/

If you demand double-digit capacity in your carry gun, then the PPK/s and most single-stack pistols are just non-starters. But if you’re comfortable with a 7+1 capacity and the .380 round, the Walther PPK series has a lot to offer. If just feels and shoots great, balancing that lower capacity with pure shootability.

Weight is a factor, and I wouldn’t really want to carry this gun without a belt. But you’ll rarely find me without a quality gun belt around my waste anyway. The PPK/s isn’t entering my personal roster of go-to carry guns, but that’s mostly because I already have that list filled. I certainly wouldn’t snub it if I was back on the market for a new carry companion, and I’m quite confident with how it shoots for me at self-defense ranges. 

As an added bonus, it has that undeniable cool factor that brings a little bit more enjoyment to shooting and carrying it.

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