The name Walther is synonymous with the one man every teenage boy wanted to be like…James ‘007’ License To Kill Bond!!! And why not? He always had a drink. Always had a nice car, with gadgets. And he always, ALWAYS got the girl. For a man with so much suave and coolness going on, the diminutive Walther PPK/s that he carried didn’t sit that well with us Americans. After all, we gave the world the legendary Colt Peacemaker and the immortal Colt 1911, both 45 caliber while the PPk/s is .380!! None the less the .380, like Bond, has survived to this day and is still considered a viable self-defense round if employed properly.
My path to the PK380 came about because of my wife…a first time shooter. The journey for her started with trying my CZ-75, my H&K USP, SIG P250 and a friends Glock 26. She loved the CZ but the one constant across all the pistols was the recoil spring and the strength needed to pull the slide. My fix was to take her to a store and set her loose to try whatever she wanted. After talking with the salesman and then asking me follow up questions, she picked the PK. The things that make the PK shine are the exact reasons why she picked it for her first firearm. Size. Mild Recoil. Good grip angle. Low bore axis and that so easy to master slide pull.
The reasons why she has since switched are also the same bad points on the gun. Mediocre sights. No slide release. No decocker. And, while not a show stopper, there is a little tool needed for take down. Needing a tool necessitates keeping it in a very safe place or figuring out a field expedient way to turn the locking mechanism.
Overall it is a very ascetically pleasing handgun with contemporary lines. As you can see in the picture, it is roughly the same size as a Glock 19. That size makes taming what little recoil there is a non-issue! It’s European heritage shows through with the trigger guard mounted magazine release. It’s not a bad place, just different and it does make it truly ambidextrous. My H&K pistols have the arrangement and I have not found it to be a hindrance. The key, as with everything,
is to practice with it and not switch back and forth between it and a more traditional frame mounted release. The magazines also feature a small downward curving lip that helps accommodate larger sized paws like mine.
Thanks to the short-action and the size the PK380 is a joy to shoot even with full +P ammo. The design of the spring may fool you when first pulling the slide to the rear. It’s virtually effortless compared to other similar sized .380s on the market. You almost get the feeling that it will be a sharp recoiling pistol…and then you pull the trigger! The weight of the slide combined with the sturdy recoil spring slows the rearward movement of the slide just enough to all but disappear the recoil.
Accuracy wise, don’t expect a “tack-driver” after all it is a .380 firing out of a 3.6″ barrel!! Employed properly though, it has more than enough accuracy for self defense from 7 to 10 yards (21 – 30 feet) Our PK seems to favor Winchester loadings which were the most accurate shooting just over 3 inches at 10 yards. If you don’t have a ruler handy just take medium size coffee cup and place it anywhere over your vital organs and you’ll see it’s plenty accurate enough! Controlling follow up shots are aided by having the finger rest on the magazine lip and the size of the grip is just large enough to fill your hand but not be obtrusive.
Downsides of this little pistol is that well, it isn’t THAT little!! Of course it’s not a behemoth by any means, it’s still pretty large for a .380. While not prohibitive in Concealed carry there are many other .380s on the market that are appreciably smaller. Yes the size makes the recoil easy, but it does take a little more to hide. The other issue that I consider a negative, and it is personal, but there is no way to release the slide without first removing the magazine. The thing that a lack of a slide release does is force a different manual of arms for letting the slide go back into battery. I know the “tactical” rage these days is to seat your magazine and then reach up and pull the slide rearward and letting go thereby chambering a fresh round. It’s great if you practice it a lot but if you don’t you may be inviting a slide bite on your finger or hand if you aren’t careful. I watched on a range as a new shooter got his hand caught twice by the slide going forward and failing to make sure his hand was clear. Yes it can be fixed by practice but as with that young man it may bring a halt to enthusiasm for the days training.
No matter if you prefer your martini shaken or stirred, this offering from Walther definitely continues the fine tradition or firearms. James Bond would do well carrying one…shaken of course.
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