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Great American Outdoors

Historical Firearms

The Walther P38: The Service Pistol Of The Deutsche Wehrmacht During WWII

When I was 25 years old, I found one of these pistols in a gun shop in Lake Oswego, Oregon and it cost me $450.00 in 1982, it was on consignment (a lot of money back then for an old gun). And like an idiot, I sold it off after less than a year, but I still got all of my money back. But, when I did own it, I put at least 500 rounds through it and it handled like a champ, I’ve been kicking myself in the butt for the last 40 years for getting rid of it, oh well, live and learn.

What I thought was cool, was that even then, I felt privileged to own a genuine piece of history, since I spent almost 3 years in West germany in the mid to late 1970’s. When I got back to the United States in late 1978, while speaking to my Uncle, he told me that he had a p-38 that he brought back as a souvenir from WWII. He showed me the pistol and I was awestruck when checked it out, I was amazed to see that it had it had the “Reichsadler” (see below) of Nazi Germany stamped on the weapon, so I knew it had to come from the dead hands of a German officer.

Emblem (1935–1945) of Nazi Germany

Here’s some history about the P-38:

The Walther P38 (originally written Walther P.38) is a 9 mm semi-automatic pistol that was developed by Carl Walther GmbH as the service pistol of the Wehrmacht at the beginning of World War II. It was intended to replace the comparatively complex and expensive to produce Luger P08.

Moving the production lines to the easier mass producible P38 once World War II started took longer than expected, leading to the P08 remaining in production until September 1942, and pre-existing copies remained in service until the end of the war.

As the Luger P08 was expensive to produce, Germany started to look for a replacement as early as 1927, settling on the Walther P38 in 1938, which offered similar performance to the Luger P08, but took almost half the time to produce.

The first design was submitted to the German Army and featured a locked breech and a hidden hammer, but the Army requested that it should be redesigned with an external hammer.

The P38 concept was accepted by the German military in 1938 but production of prototype (“Test”) pistols did not begin until late 1939. Walther began manufacture at their plant in Zella-Mehlis and produced three series of “Test” pistols, designated by a “0” prefix to the serial number. The third series pistols satisfactorily solved the previous problems for the German Army and mass production began in mid-1940, using Walther’s military production identification code “480”.

Several experimental versions were later created in .45 ACP, and .38 Super, but these were never mass-produced. In addition to the 9×19mm Parabellum version, some 7.65×21mm Parabellum and some .22 Long Rifle versions were also manufactured and sold.

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H/T – Wikipedia



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