If you are a firearms collector or entertain the idea of becoming one, the collecting of Walther manufactured firearms is a very exciting and rewarding venture. With Walthers you have a wide range of firearms that the Walther Company manufactured — or is manufacturing — from which to choose. There are rifles, shotguns, pistols and flare and air guns. All have different models, variations of the models, calibers and gauges. Second, if you become knowledgeable in the field your purchases should increase in value not only allowing you to have the excitement of collecting, but the accumulation of equity in your collection.
The Walther Company, led by its family members, have been manufacturing firearms since 1886 when Carl Walther founded a gun shop in the town of Zella, which was later incorporated into the town of Zella-Mehlis, Germany. At first, Walther produced shotguns and rifles. Later, Fritz Walther, Carl’s oldest son, joined the firm and brought his genius for design to the company and it expanded its production into pistols.
Although the Walther Company has produced many types of pistols from the early 1900s, the Models PP and PPK were latecomers on the automatic pistol scene when compared to such pistol manufacturers such as Mauser, Luger and Colt as they did not make their appearance until 1929. However, shortly thereafter they were being sold in all parts of the world. These beautifully-made guns were the first of the original double-action blowback semi-automatic pistols. They had a successful commercial design with a high polished blue finish that was second to none.
A few years after the Models PP and PPK appearance on the world’s firearm market, Adolf Hitler and the National Socialist German Workers Party took over the reigns of the German government, the military and the police. It was then that a majority of the Walther production was contracted for by the NSDAP, German army and the national police.
With the emergence of the NSDAP as the power in Germany, the increase in military power was ordered, and the Army High Command-OKH-Heereswaffenamt began placing contracts with the Walther Company for both the Walther Models PP and PPK. Most of the models were contracted in caliber 7.65mm.
There were contracts for a smaller amount of Model PP in caliber 9mm Kurz and even less in the Model PPK in the same caliber. Depending on their serial number range, these pistols showed Crown over N. or Eagle over N. nitro proofing on the right side of the pistol’s slide, barrel and chamber. The military acceptance proofs, Eagle over 359 and Eagle over WaA359 were placed on the left side of the pistol’s slide and frame to the rear of the model designation and to the rear of the trigger on the frame.
The Models PP and PPK with the Waffenamt proofs began with a high polished blue finish on each pistol. But as the years progressed toward the end of World War II and the labor diminished these models showed a milled finish. The following is a short description of the Models PP and PPK bearing the Waffenamt proofs.
The first of the Models PP and PPK with the high polished blue finish had the Eagle over 359 proof on the left side of the slide and frame with an occasional proof on the left rear of the slide at the tang. Grips were black on the Model PP and brown on the Model PPK.
The second series of proofs was the Eagle over WaA359. These too were found on high polished Models PP and PPK except there was no proof on the rear of the slide at the tang. Grips were black and brown respectively.
The third series was the Eagle over WaA359 found on the milled finish models till the end of World War II. On these later pistols the proofs remained in the same location on the pistols with some changes in the pistols themselves. On the Model PP you will find the standard two-piece black grips as well as reddish colored grips.
Near the end of World War II Walther pressed its wood grips with the Walther Banner. On some of the late PP models there will be an AC proof on the right side of the slide in conjunction with the serial number. Some of the late Waffenamt Model PPs will have no legends or inscriptions on the left side of the slide. These models have flat frames with no step at the trigger guard hinge, and some have no indicator pin. On the Model PPK, the pistol will have the standard brown, one piece wraparound Walther grips and will be found with grayish grips as well as black ones.
The Model PP and PPK in 9mm Kurz are both fairly rare pistols. With Waffenamt proofs they are even rarer. These pistols usually have bottom magazine releases. Their magazines will have the Walther Banner and Cal. 9mm on the left side of the magazine. Many of the 9mm Kurz models had the magazines numbered to the serial number on the pistol. These 9mm Kurz models all had a high polished finish.
There were earlier manufactured Walthers that were used by the military. Walther began to manufacture pistols in 1908 with their production of the Model 1. The Model 4, produced in 1910, was their first really successful pistol. This semiautomatic was the approximate size of the Model PPK that saw use in World War I although there are no records showing that the German military placed a contract with the Walther Company. Most were carried as sidearms by officers of the German Imperial Army. The Model 6 was basically a large Model 4 in caliber 9mm Parabellum.
It was designed for the German Imperial Army in 1915. It was the first pistol that Walther designed and produced for the military and the first Walther in 9mm parabellum. It was produced for a period of two years and there were probably less than 1500 manufactured. After the war, some Model 6s remained at the factory. They were proofed “Made in Germany” and exported, some to the United States. In the United States the Model 6 is quite rare and commands a high price.
The Model 7 was a small version of the Model 6 in 6.35mm. Walther produced these pistols for the military for about six months. They were carried by many German officers. Although in 6.35mm it was the largest 6.35mm pistol produced by Walther at the time.
In 1920 and 1921 Walther produced both the Models 8 and 9 for commercial sales. They were the first of the modern Walthers with many features seen later in the Models PP and PPK. Both these pistols were favorites of German officers in World War II as hide-out pistols. However, the Model 8 was carried by many officers in a holster on their belt.
The military Model PPK is more difficult to find than the Model PP. The high polished pistols in both models are both fairly rare. It will take some time for a collector to put a collection of Waffenamt Models PP and PPK together, but with perseverance one should be quite pleased with his or her collection. One should remember in the collecting of firearms, Walthers or any other maker, condition is everything.
This article appeared in the Standard Catalog of Military Firearms, 6th Edition.