There are very few firearms that are more commonly known than the Walther PPK. Not everyone may know what a Walther PPK is, what caliber it is, or what separates it from a Walther PP, but almost everyone knows WHO uses a Walther PPK. Ian Fleming’s licensed to kill British Secret Service agent 007, Bond, James Bond.
We are first introduced to Bond’s Walther PPK in Doctor No. Bond had been carrying a little Beretta 418 in .25 ACP cartridge (6.35mm). The books tell us the Beretta got hung up in 007’s waistband (during From Russia With Love), and the movie (Doctor No) says it jammed on him. Either way Bond gets nicked by a bullet and spends time out of commission, so M has Q issue him the Walther PPK .32ACP (7.65mm). Today’s Bond, Daniel Craig, uses a Walther PPK/S in .380 ACP (9mm Short, Kurz, 9x17mm).
In 1929 Walther of Germany developed a slim semi-automatic handgun that they marketed towards Law Enforcement. They called it the Politzeipistole (Police Pistol), or PP for short. The next year, Walther shortened the barrel by .6 inch and the grip by .4 inch to make a smaller package suitable for concealed carry by plain-clothes officers, or Kriminal as the Germans called Detectives and Inspectors. Adding the K for Kriminal to PP gets us the legendary PPK. Later the United States passed the Gun Control Act of 1968 that, among other things, said imported handguns have to match a system that gives points to length, height, and other “sporting features”. The PPK just didn’t Add Up for further importation. So, in order to get everyone’s favorite spy-gun into the hands of more Americans, Walther simply put the longer PP grip frame on the shorter PPK barrel and slide assembly to make the appropriate point score. And thus, the PPK/S (for Staaten or States) was born.
By today’s standards (or prejudices), all these cartridges are all pretty weak for self-defense. However, lets judge them through the lenses of History. Remember, 1929 European lawman’s needs are a far cry from Idaho rancher Elmer Keith’s needs. Keith invented the .357 magnum in 1934 and the .44 magnum in 1955, and most people did not know anything about the .44 magnum until 1971 when Inspector “Dirty” Harry Callahan tells the world about “the most powerful handgun in the world". Besides, everyone knows 007 is such an amazing super-spy that he always hits what he aims for. Doesn’t shot-placement and smarmy comments always drop the bad guy?
Well, we have all of these guns here at the J.M. Davis Arms & Historical Museum in Claremore. We are celebrating our 50th year of operation all 2019, so come see us soon because you only live. . . twice.