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walther ppk/s

Go Behind the Scenes of Building a Walther PPK/s

Few things in life are better than opening up the box and holding a brand-new gun in your hands, but when I flipped open the latches on that Walther case and pulled out the PPK/s Black, the feeling was different.

The gun was brand new, but holding this particular PPK/s was like being reunited with an old friend. That’s because just a few weeks prior, I had built this gun myself on the Walther Arms Inc. factory floor in Fort Smith, Arkansas.

How Walther Makes A PPK In 4.5 Minutes Flat

walther ppk/s
Bins of grips wait to be paired with newly built pistols.

While there to record some episodes for the No Lowballers podcast, of which I am the host, the crew and I were treated to a full factory tour. This included seeing where Walther’s iconic PPK and PPK/s pistols are built.

The employees who build these guns have it down to a science—they’re able to put together a complete gun in just 4.5 minutes. Much of this is thanks to some specialized jigs and equipment that they’ve got at the stations to make the whole thing much easier than if you were trying to do the same thing at your own workbench.

After watching the staff work, Cody Osborn, Walther’s Director of Communications and Channel Marketing and our factory tour guide dropped a bomb of a question: “Do you want to build your own?”

Now, what kind of question is that!? Of course, I want to build my own! Now that the silly question had been answered, I was paired with an employee and got to work!

Steps To Building A Custom Walther PPK/s 

The first step was to grab one of the bare frames. Well, bare isn’t really the right word. The frames are finished—they’ve been serialized and coated with black Melonite—but they still need to be put together into a complete firearm.

assembling a walther ppk/s
A specialized jig is used to make the installation of the triggerguard easier. Above right: An employee carefully applies red paint by hand with a toothpick.

Starting at one end of the workbench and moving in a small assembly line motion, I worked my way from one station to the next, slowly (and I do mean slowly) installing all of the parts. As I mentioned before, the specialized jigs helped make things easier, but the installation of parts like the mainspring, plug, guide and pin, as well as the triggerguard plunger and spring still took a bit of finessing for a newbie builder to get right.

Pick a Slide & Paint by Toothpick

With the frame complete and my trip from left to right finished on this side of the bench, it was time to swing around to the other side and pick up a slide. There were multiple foam trays full of completed slides waiting to be mated with frames. On an adjacent table was another employee who was painstakingly applying red paint by hand with toothpicks and needle applicators to the front and rear sights as well as the safety indicator.

In a world where everything is mass-produced and automated, the hand painting was something that caught all of our attention and we spent an inordinately large amount of time watching and talking to the applicator as we marveled at his precision and wondered how he didn’t go cross-eyed.

Install Grip Panels

With the slide in hand, I installed a recoil spring and manipulated the triggerguard to allow the slide to fit to the frame properly. From there, I grabbed right and left grip panels out of bins that were properly labeled so that even the dimmest gun writer could tell which one was which and how they were properly fitted.

This is a good time to address quality control. The right-side grip that I grabbed was out of spec. No matter how many turns I made with the screwdriver, the screw simply wouldn’t tighten down. It was put aside in a discard area and a new grip went right on. The left side had no issue. At this point, I was holding a fully assembled PPK/s, but the process was far from over.

Robot Shoots PPK/s Robotic Function Test

Sure, it now looked like a gun, but did it function like a gun? That was for the break-in machine to decide. Nestled in an enclosed box, pneumatic arms and levers worked the double-action trigger and then racked the slide and worked the single-action trigger. Not only did this ensure proper basic function, but it also smooths out the action a bit.

walther ppk/s
In the on-site range, guns are proofed and then test-fired. Above right: The author points to his gun in the bin of newly assembled PPK/s pistols.

Three weighted bars that I can only describe as reverse trigger pull gauges were then used to test the safety engagement and the trigger pull weight. Each weighted bar was different, each being designed to test different functions: proper safety engagement, proper single-action engagement, and proper double-action engagement.

Having passed those three tests, it was time to log it in as a completed gun. Bar codes were scanned, serial numbers recorded, and the gun was inserted into a bin with other recently completed guns.

Function Tests With Super-Hot .380 +P Loads

Once again, though, the process wasn’t over. From there, the guns made their way to the indoor shooting room. Inside, the gun’s magazine was loaded with two rounds of proof-load ammo, which is 35% hotter than .380 +P loads. The theory is that if the gun is going to fail, it will do so at this point. The gun was then put into a jig and two rounds were fired mechanically to keep myself and the employees safe. Having survived the proof rounds, it was time for a final test fire.

With five rounds of regular-power .380 in the magazine, I got to shoot the final test fire myself. Upon successful completion, the gun went back into the bin with other guns to be readied for shipping.

walther guns factory floor
Inset above: Walther’s pride in the PPK/s is apparent by the gun’s fit, finish, and packaging. Main photo above: The Walther factory is large, but the entire PPK and PPK/s production takes place in this one small area.

How, exactly, that part of the process is handled is not something I’m privy to—aside from seeing the giant rotating platform that they used to wrap pallets of guns in shrinkwrap before loading them up and shipping them out and wishing I could take a ride on this industrial version of a Sit ‘n Spin.

Home Range Testfire—My PPK/s Baby Gets Delivered 

The next time I saw the Walther PPK/s that I built was when I took delivery of it, opened up those two latches, and saw my new old friend once again.

After seeing it survive the proof rounds and then my own test firing, I had little doubt that the gun could shoot. Still, I had to get in some proper range time.

I shot 140 rounds through the PPK/s, consisting of a mixture of 85-grain JHP PUNCH rounds from Federal Premium, 88-grain JHP rounds from a Remington value pack, and 99-grain Hydra-Shok Deep rounds from Federal Premium. As expected, it cycled all 20 full magazines flawlessly.


Why I Love My New PPK/s Black

The fit, finish, and presentation of the PPK/s Black is fantastic. Also offered in stainless, Walther recently moved the Melonite finish application in-house for the Black guns. This gives them an extra bit of quality control over the finish of the final product.

Since the Walther PPK/s is a smaller gun—though not quite as small as the PPK—it should be noted that the gun comes with two magazines, both of which are equipped with the pinky extension. Personally, I like the extra purchase that the extension provides and I appreciate that the mags come like that from the factory and I don’t have to shell out extra cash for some extra grip.

In a throw-away era of plastic and cardboard, it was a nice change of pace to open up the box and find a molded case that mimics carbon fiber with the Walther banner embossed on the lid, stitching around the edges, and two solid metal clasps protecting the cargo within. Inside is a cut-foam insert for the gun and spare mag, but the foam and the box lid are covered in a rich blue velvety material with the Walther banner again embossed in the lid.

From the beginning of the process on the factory floor to the final presentation in the box, it’s clear that Walther Arms is really proud of the heritage behind the PPK and the PPK/s—and they should be. Almost 100 years after the PPK was developed and almost 60 years after the Walther PPK/s was introduced, there’s something special about having seen these iconic guns being made (and making one myself) in a relatively small space within a really large factory in Fort Smith. There’s a lot of history on that Arkansas workbench, and I’m proud to carry a piece of it in one of my holsters.

For more information or to order your own Walther PPK/s, visit waltherarms.com.

walther ppk/s black

Specifications: Walther PPK/s Black

ACTION: DA/SA semi-automatic
BARREL: 3.3 inches
OA LENGTH: 6.1 inches
WEIGHT: 19 ounces (empty)
GRIPS: Polymer
SIGHTS: Fixed front and rear
MSRP: $849

The Walther PPK/S in .32 ACP Returns

Walther PPK/S is now once again available in .32 ACP.
Walther PPK/S is now once again available in .32 ACP.

Walther PPK/S fans—and there are millions of them—will be super-pumped to know that the classic PPK and PPK/S guns are once again available chambered in the tiny but mighty .32 ACP.

Walther PPK Backstory

The revamped pocket pistols pay homage to the Walther PPK lineage that started over 80 years ago. That’s when the Police Pistol Kriminal (PPK) broke the mold when it brought a more practical and reliable concealment option to officers doing undercover work.

Modernized Performance

“Few guns have withstood the test of time like the PPK,” said Jens Krogh, vice president of marketing and product development for Walther Arms, Inc. “To this day, it’s still one of the most sought after concealed carry pistols on the market, which serves as a true testament to Walther’s long-enduring legacy. We have no doubt bringing back the historic PPK/S in .32 ACP will make our consumers, plus overall fans of the world’s most renowned secret agent, extremely excited too.”

PPK .32 ACP Features

·Fixed front and rear sights

·Top strap is cut with a wave to reduce glare

·Double or single action trigger

·PPK/S frame option for the “sport” version with a longer grip

·Rear slide serrations brings a non-slip grip and classic Walther styling

·Hammer Drop Decocking Safety for confident, safe handling

·Beaver tail extension improves shooting comfort and stability

·Classic checkered panel grip

·Magazine with finger rest

For more, check out waltherarms.com

Back And Better Than Ever: The Walther PPK Series
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