You already thought it but I’ll say it: Bond, James Bond.
Yes, it’s that gun – an undisputed legend of the silver screen. The Bond movie franchise made the sleek, refined Walther Arms' PPK famous in the hands of the British super-spy, but the gun has a rather checkered (pistol grip pun intended) and interesting past that predates smooth and suave Sean Connery as 007.
The original Walther PP (Polizeipistole or police pistol) was a series of small handguns created by Walther in 1929 for German police and military. Wildly successful, the PP inspired lookalike pistols from several European manufacturers, including the Soviet Makarov, the Hungarian FEG PA-63, the Polish P-64, the American Accu-Tek AT-380 II, and the Argentinian Bersa Thunder 380.
As is often the case in the gun world, legislation messed things up, forcing Walther to get creative with the production and distribution of the PPK, thanks to the Gun Control Act of 1968, which, among other things, altered the rules about manufacturing guns in the US and set up the Federal Firearms License (FFL) system we have today. Out of the new manufacturing and importing standards came the PPK/S, a more “sporting” version of the pistol that fit the new guidelines, including the need to weight two more ounces. Yes, gun laws can be downright silly sometimes. Who knew?
Of the many PP variants, the most popular by far has been the PPK, which sports a shorter grip and barrel for improved concealability.
Over the years, the PPK has been offered in a variety of calibers, including .22, .32, .380, and 9mm, and slight variations in the platform. Here are three of the most significant variations:
In addition to the gun’s fame and fortune in the Bond films, the PPK has its place on the “infamous” list, too.
For example, German’s Fuhrer and coward-in-chief Adolf Hitler offed himself and girlfriend Eva Braun with the .32 caliber version deep inside his bunker as the Russians encircled Berlin at the end of World War II. And South Korean dictator – yes, South Korea was at one time a dictatorship – Park Chung-hee was gunned down in 1979 by Kim Jae-gyu, the director of the Korean Central Intelligence Agency, in a push to return the country to democracy.
Mass production of the PPK ceased in 1992 as polymer pistols gained popularity and metal-framed handguns sales dropped. The gun was still made but in very limited quantities by outside licensed manufacturers. However, Walther, which moved its headquarters to Fort Smith, AR, took a chance with a reintroduction of the PPK in 2018 in .380 ACP. The magazine is a scant 6+1.
For one extra round, you can pick up the sport (PPK/S) version that features a slightly longer grip with a 7+1 magazine.
Few guns have withstood the test of time like the brilliantly designed PPK. While the PPK is more of a collector’s gun, this snappy, classy little pocket pistol has been quietly growing in popularity as an EDC piece.
Regardless of how you choose to classify the PPK, or whether you prefer it in stainless steel or black, it will forever enjoy a distinguished place in the annals of firearms history.
David Workman is an avid gun guy and a contributing writer to several major gun publications. In addition to being an NRA-certified RSO, David trains new shooters on basic handgun skills and CCW requirements and is a strong advocate for training as much as you possibly can. “Real life shootouts don’t happen at a box range.”
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