Firearms / Pistols / Walther P38

Walther P38

General Facts

  • TYPE
    Pistol

  • ORIGIN
    Germany

  • NICKNAMES
    Pistole 38
    Walther P1 (West German service)
    Walther P4 (West German police model)
    Heerespistole / HP (commercial version)
    Pistola Walther 9mm M/61 (Portugese service)

  • DESIGNED
    1938

  • DESIGNER
    Carl Walther Waffenfabrik

  • PRODUCTION
    1939 - 1945 (P38)
    1957 - 2000 (P1)
    1974 - 1981 (P38K)

  • PRODUCERS
    Germany - Walther
    Germany - Mauser Werke
    France - Manurhin
    Norway

  • QUANTITY
    About 1 million produced, including 6.700 P4 and 2.600 P38K.

  • UNIT COST
    Unknown

  • CHARACTERISTICS
    Rugged and reliable
    Double action
    Limited magazine capacity
    Rather heavy

Introduction

The P38 is a pistol of German origin. It was developed slightly before World War 2 and was one of the iconic German weapons during the war. It was developed by Walther as a cheaper alternative to the costly and complex Luger P08. The P38 was the first locked breech double action pistol. The earlier Walther PP was also double action, but blowback operated instead of having a locked breech. The design of the Walther P5 was derived from the P38.

Design

The P38 is a short recoil operated semi-automatic pistol. It has a distinctive look caused by the barrel protruding several centimeters from the short frame. As one of the first double action pistols a unique feature was the ability to carry the P38 with a round in the chamber, allowing for rapid use.

Firepower

The P38 is a semi-automatic pistol that fires the 9x19mm round from an 8 round single stack magazine. Small quantities have been produced in 7.65x21mm Parabellum and .22 Long Rifle, mostly for civilian use. The maximum effective range is 25 to 50 meters.

Users

The P38 was extensively used by Nazi Germany during World War 2. During and after the war it was adopted by various nations around the world, most of them in Europe. Post war West Germany adopted the P1 in 1957. Nowadays most P38 have been replaced by more modern designs which generally have a higher magazine capacity and are lighter as well.

Variants

P38

P38: The P38 is the standard World War 2 era production model with steel frame. Early commercial models were known as the Armee Pistole and Heeres Pistole and featured minor differences.

  • Specifications:
  • P38
TypePistol
Caliber9x19mm Parabellum
Magazine8 round detachable box
OperationShort recoil, double action
Fire selector0-1
Rate of fireSemi-automatic
Barrel length124 mm
Rifling6 grooved, 254 mm right hand twist
Muzzle velocity350 m/s
Stock-
Length218 mm
Width?
Height?
Weight0.860 kg empty
SightsIron sights, blade front and U-notch rear
Remarks-

P1

P1: The P1 is the post war production model with aluminum alloy frame for reduced weight. Besides the weight it is similar in every other aspect.

  • Specifications:
  • P1
TypePistol
Caliber9x19mm Parabellum
Magazine8 round detachable box
OperationShort recoil, double action
Fire selector0-1
Rate of fireSemi-automatic
Barrel length124 mm
Rifling6 grooved, 254 mm right hand twist
Muzzle velocity350 m/s
Stock-
Length218 mm
Width?
Height?
Weight0.772 kg empty, 0.960 kg loaded
SightsIron sights, blade front and U-notch rear
Remarks-

P4

P4: The P4 is a short barrel model of the P1, developed in the 1970's for use by the German police. Besides the shorter barrel an automated firing pin safety has been added.

  • Specifications:
  • P4
TypePistol
Caliber9x19mm Parabellum
Magazine8 round detachable box
OperationShort recoil, double action
Fire selector0-1
Rate of fireSemi-automatic
Barrel length104 mm
Rifling6 grooved, 254 mm right hand twist
Muzzle velocity?
Stock-
Length197 mm
Width?
Height?
Weight0.740 kg empty
SightsIron sights, blade front and U-notch rear
Remarks-

P38K

P38K: The P38K is a version of the P4 with a very short barrel that hardly protrudes from the frame. It was developed in the early 1980's for concealed carry by the German KSK. The K stands for Kurz, which is German for short.

  • Specifications:
  • P38K
TypePistol
Caliber9x19mm Parabellum
Magazine8 round detachable box
OperationShort recoil, double action
Fire selector0-1
Rate of fireSemi-automatic
Barrel length?
Rifling6 grooved, 254 mm right hand twist
Muzzle velocity?
Stock-
Length?
Width?
Height?
Weight?
SightsIron sights, blade front and U-notch rear
Remarks-

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