|Article Written by: Ryan Jones|
The Walther PPK is a gun that virtually needs no
introduction. It has been in service since 1929, and is
still a viable defensive pistol. Originally produced in
Germany in the city of Zella-Mehlis at the Walther
factory, the gun was used by the Nazis, and no doubt
others officially and unofficially during the Second
World War. It was put to good use during that war and it
is believed that Adolph Hitler himself used one to
commit suicide in the end, in my opinion a good use
Some years after the end of that brutal conflict, Walther re-opened their factory in Ulm/Donau, Germany and began to produce the pistols again. These pistols were imported to some degree to the United States until the Gun control Act of 1968 banned their importation. This led Walther to Produce the PPK/S, by all accounts the “American PPK” which simply uses the frame of the larger PP with the shorter slide of the PPK. They are good guns, and have ridden in countless holsters and pockets for more than 40 years, but they are not a true PPK.
Around the mid 1980’s Walther sold the rights to produce the Walther PPK and PPK/S to a company called INTERARMS based in Virginia. They in turn began producing Walther pistols here at home and for the first time in decades, a true PPK was again available. More notable, for the very first time the PPK was available in Stainless Steel. The one used in this article is one of the INTERARMS produced models. INTERARMS folded several years back now, but the pistols are still available, being domestically produced by Smith and Wesson.
The PPK has been offered in three calibers, the .32 ACP, .380 ACP and .22LR. The gun in question is a .380 ACP. It has a magazine of six rounds plus one, and can be carried safely fully loaded. It is a Traditional Double Action/Single action design, the first shot being a long heavy double action stroke with all consecutive shots being single action, with a light pull. The safety lever doubles as a decocker on this pistol, and flipping it down with the hammer back will cause the hammer to fall safely while blocking the firing pin. It also features a loaded Chamber indicator at the rear of the slide, which can be both seen and felt when there is a pesky case in the chamber. The gun will fire without the magazine in place, to remove the magazine; one simply presses the release button located in the proper spot, on the left side of the pistol just forward of the left grip panel and out it pops.
Takedown is accomplished by pulling down on the
trigger guard, shifting it to the left or right so that
it rests against the frame, retracting the slide and
lifting up on it before sliding it off, which takes
longer to write than to say. The gun is easy to clean
and maintain and in over 2000 rounds has exhibited no
parts breakage or malfunction that I can think of.
By contrast, the Polish P64 has a much more mundane and
uninteresting history. Here are some facts that I have
found, but be advised that research material is scarce
when it comes to this arm, most likely due to its lack
of adoption by any nation but Poland and its lack of
status to collectors other than a cold war relic. P-64
was designed during the late fifties by a team of Polish
army officers. The team developed two different
prototypes, but ultimately the P64 was chosen in 1961 to
replace the Polish version of the Russian Tokarev TT-33
pistol as the standard service pistol of the Polish
military, police and government agencies. In the mid
1960’s the pistol began manufacture at the Radom arsenal
in Poland, it was officially designated "9 mm pistolet
wz. 1964" (9 mm pistol model 1964). In 1972, minor
changes to the trigger mechanism and shape of the hammer
(larger hammer spur) were introduced.
While a serviceable design, the P-64 had several shortcomings, which included heavy recoil due to lack of proper ergonomics, a small magazine capacity for a duty-style, on the belt, service pistol, small and difficult to pick up sights with a short sight radius for a service pistol and, in my opinion the most grave of all, a extremely heavy double-action trigger, which has been reported to be from 23 to 29 pounds (which I don’t doubt for a second). The Polish government began work to correct these problems in the early seventies and eventually P-83 was adopted as replacement for the P-64.
Another interesting note as that, while the P64
looks, operates and functions almost exactly the same
way as a Walther PPK, it was supposedly designed from
the ground up by Polish engineers. I find this hard to
believe, as while the P64 is not a direct copy of the
PPK, you cannot pick up a P-64 and not think that the
designers at least picked up a Walther and were
impressed with it, using the design as a framework for
the P64. More likely, the P64 is a PPK clone, but the
Polish government/military establishment would never
openly admit this, especially under the communist
influence Poland was subjected to during the time of
adoption and their notable other pistol designs.
|David O’Connor Takes aim with his Walther PPK/S, the Walther PPK and Polish P-64 were both fired and carried extensively over the course of several months, as you can see, Dave Decided on a PPK/s, a PPK with a bit longer grip frame for his larger hands.|
|Over the course of several months now, myself and several other shooters have had the opportunity to fire both the pistols in a single range outing. Here are some general impressions.|
|Zachary Ziviski fires the P-64 after drawing from the pocket. Despite costing less than half of the Walther, the P-64 Managed to hold it’s own in as a defensive pocket pistol.|
Reliability: Both pistols feature stellar
reliability. They will both function with whatever ammo
you are able to find for them, including hollow point
rounds, which, incidentally, were not designed for
either gun. All in all this is a dead draw, as the two
pistols are equal in this respect.
Accuracy: Both pistols are accurate enough for their intended role. Shooting at a competitive match is not that role and trying to shoot them off the bench at twenty-five yards for group is… well, stupid. Neither gun is a target pistol, they are both used as pocket pistols for defending ones life against an aggressive individual who means to do you serious bodily harm or kill you. This means that most of the contact will be less than 21 feet, with the shooter under stress, so tiny groups from the comfort of the shooting bench prove nothing. In this respect, they both are capable of holding their own. In shooting at a distance of less than seven yards, they will both deliver center mass hits on a man sized target in less than three seconds from the pocket. The groups, shooting stances and sight alignment are not pretty in this type of shooting, but neither is having to shoot in the first place. In the combat shooting role, they are equal, with neither being at a significant disadvantage.
With all of the above being said, there is still the matter of practice. Responsible individuals that carry a pistol for legal purposes of self defense carry great responsibility along with it. While they must be well versed in the legal aspects and implications of a shooting, they also must be proficient with the arms that they choose to employ in that role, in my opinion, more so than the local police officer, who will find a jury more sympathetic to a stray bullet hitting a bystander, than some “Rambo civilian” (as stated by the local prosecutor at trial) in the same situation.
|A Typical group shot with the P-64 in Single action mode at 21 feet. As you can see, in the pocket pistol accuracy department, this gun has few rivals.|
Here the Walther wins, hands down. This is even more
frustrating for the P-64 as all of the shooters who used
it were generally able to shoot VERY impressive groups
with it, but only in its single action mode. The P-64 is
to put it mildly, incredibly accurate for a gun of this
type, but is inhibited significantly by its absolutely
awful double action trigger. As a test, I dry fired the
pistol in double action seven times, rapidly pulling
through the stoke for three, and slowly pulling it for
four, this led to my index finger being red, numb, and
eventually sore for the rest of the day. The single
action also is at a disadvantage as it is very light
with a mile of over travel and a hint of creep. Doing
draw and fire drills at the range, or practicing
double-taps on target is no big deal with the Walther
and can be done all day with little to no discomfort,
but with the P-64, you are one tough person if you can
pull this off through a whole box of Wolf ammo.
Ergonomics: Both of these pistols feel relatively good in the hand, with a slight edge being given to the P-64 for overall "feel" when picked up and pointed. But one should keep in mid that neither pistol is suitable for someone with very large hands. One of the shooters that fired the Walther, with particularly large hands, wound up with two bloody groves in the web of his hand from the slide blowing back, and never again picked it up.
Of the two pistols, the Walther proved much more "shootable," while the P-64 was a brute to the shooting hand. The index and middle finger of the shooting hand were quickly battered by the P-64's snappy recoil. This proved to be the case whether the pistol was shot with two hands or one and all shooters, from experienced to novice, had this happen to them. The Walther is snappy, but the recoil is more to the web and palm of the hand with no slapping experienced to the fingers. Neither gun is a good choice for left handed shooters or beginners because of the recoil and the lack of a safety/decock lever on the right site of the frame.
|The Walther PPK and P-64 both have machining done to the top straps to reduce glare. Not the larger sights on the PPK and the similarity in size and locations of the safety-decock levers.|
The tiny black sights of the P-64 were able to produce
hits, but the Walther's easier to pick up front dot and
vertical wide post on the sights were a significant
advantage. Magazine changes were also much easier to
accomplish with the PPK, but this is largely a
range-time thing, as magazine changes are statistically
rare in a fight.
As far as Overall Ergonomics and shootability, the Walther wins.
|Shooting the P-64 with a limp wrist produces this result. When held stoutly, the pistol still rises quickly.|
|Ammo Considerations: There are several other factors that can be used to compare the two pistols. One that is of paramount importance is the amount of power the gun delivers on target. Neither of these guns are powerhouses, but they can both be used for defensive purposes. I have to give the advantage to the P-64 in the power department but in the real world, the difference is minimal, and probably would not affect the outcome of a fight. Though I don't claim to be a gun fighting expert.|
|Walther PPK, Polish P-64, and Walther PPK/S. Ammo is Speer Gold-Dot Hollow-points for the Walthers and Horandy XTP Hollow point for the P-64. As you can see, the sizes of the rounds are not all that different.|
The availability of ammunition is another matter all
together. There is only one real hollow-point round
currently loaded for the 9mm Makarov Cartridge with
defensive purposes in mind. This is the Horandy XTP
hollow-point that it is currently available from several
mail order ammunition retailers, as well as a very few
well-stocked gun shops. Be weary of anything else for
serious use, as the imported variety of hollow-point
type rounds in this caliber are untested at best and
they may not be any better than a standard ball round
(and could be worse). It is also advisable to avoid hand
loaded ammunition in the defensive role, as again, there
are legal implications involved, such as a Prosecutor
accusing you of creating, “significantly more deadly,
homebrewed ammo.” (I don’t mean to be tough on lawyers
in this article, but the above legal scenarios have
happened at trials in recent years, so the concerns are
more than justified.)
The .380 ACP as chambered, in the Walther, is so common, that you can literally find good defensive ammo at the local box mart. This is in the 9mm, .38 special, 40. S&W class as far as availability goes and also tends to be less expensive than comparable quality 9mm Makarov ammo, when you can find it. When it comes to ammo, the P-64 has more power, but the .380 is available with a much better variety of bullets, is cheaper, and easier to get, I'll let you decide which the winner here is.
Carry Considerations: Holsters are also hard to come by for the P-64, but this is of little concern, as the P-64 is so close to the size of the Walther that most holsters designed for it, will work for the P-64, especially the nylon types that do not have precise bone fitting. I carried the P-64 for most of the day in a nylon shoulder rig designed for the Walther and noted that it worked fine.
Both pistols are easy to carry, as they are thin and do not print even under the lightest clothing. With either of the these pistols, Bermuda shorts, a T-shirt and sandals can be worn while still going about armed, normally with the piece happily concealed in the pocket, that is the reason why the Walther is successful, and why the P-64 is useful.
There may be smaller pistols, there may be more powerful pistols of similar size, and with the widespread use of plastics on guns in recent years, there are certainly lighter pistols, but ether of these guns are good for legally concealed carry. The guns are less than an inch wide across the grips, they both lack large sharp edges, slide stops and large protruding sights to hang up on clothing, and they both can deliver hits on target at realistic fighting ranges with a high hit probability. This is where both of the guns are the most similar, and it is another dead draw.
Conclusions: So what have we learned? Well, take the information presented and decide for yourself. Me, I would personally pick the Walther if I had the choice, but if I did not, the P64 is good enough to fill the role of a defensive carry piece. I feel that either gun could be used for the defensive role, and would feel well armed with either. That being said, the Walther is better for practice and overall handling.
Nevertheless, the question remains, can a Surplus gun be used for more than just novelty? The answer in my opinion is yes, at least in this case. Perhaps we will delve into the question again another time, but for now, I will be keeping an eye out for a good P64 to add to my collection.
|Article Written by: Ryan Jones|