History of the Walther PPK

Yes, this is the gun made famous by James Bond. In the first Bond movie “Dr. No”, Bond used a Beretta 22. Upon seeing the movie, a Glasgow gun expert said to Ian Flemming “I like everything about your James Bond except his deplorable taste in weapons. A Beretta 22 is utterly useless as well as being a lady’s gun – and not a very nice lady at that!”

Bond in Dr. No. His first gun was a Beretta 22, seen here.

Flemming corrected the oversight and in the next Bond movie “Thunderball”, British armorer Major Boothroyd outfitted Bond with the now famous Walther PPK to replace the Beretta 22. This model became Bond’s choice of handguns through the Sean Connery and Roger Moore years. Boothroyd was, from this movie on, affectionately known as “Q” (Quartermaster).

The Walther “PP” series was the main production variant of German gun manufacturer, “Walther”, with “PP” meaning “Polizei Pistole” (Police Pistol). A pocket version was introduced in 1931, known as the “PPK” for “Polizei Pistole Kriminal”, with Kriminal symbolizing this new pocket variant was to be used for covert undercover police work…read between the lines…”Nazis”, since the Nazis were the dominant political party in 1931 Germany.

The PPK was highly praised because of its compactness and reliability as well as the unique signal pin indicating that the gun was either loaded or unloaded. It protrudes from the rear of the slide when the chamber is loaded. If the chamber is empty it stays inside the rear slide. This loaded chamber indicator does not exist on the rim fire models, only the center fire guns.

Bond’s first Walther PPK, from Thunderball, sold for $260,000 at a London auction.

The PPK was well suited for undercover and intelligence work. It was compact, reliable and had reasonable stopping power. Many of the post-war intelligence agencies standardized on the PPK. In addition to MI5 and MI6, the PPK has been used by Germany’s BND, France’s SDECE, Israel’s Mossad and Switzerland’s Intelligence and Security Service. And, the Chinese intelligence service even actually issued a PPK clone.

However, here in the U.S., standardization was not possible. After the 1968 Gun Control Act went into effect and the PPK was barred from import, diplomatic pouches from Germany often bulged with brownish-red Walther PPK boxes. The Gun Control Act prohibited the importation due to the size of the gun. Under the legislation, a pistol must earn a number of points for various sporting features. The PPK could not earn the required points. The Walther firm, not wanting to lose US sales of the PPK, developed the PPK/s. By combining the frame of the PP, which was deeper than the PPK, and the slide of the PPK, the PPK/s was born. The PPK/s met all of the requirements for a handgun to be imported into the United States.

Scaramanga and his golden gun square off against Bond and his trusty sidekick, his Walther PPK

The PPK/s was first manufactured in the United States in 1978 by Ranger Manufacturing in Gadsen, Alabama. Today, both the PPK and PPK/s are manufactured with the .380 ACP, aka, the “9mm Short” as the standard caliber, a good personal defense round, provided the shooting range is short. Only American models have been produced in stainless steel. The German models are made with a blued finish.

The Pierce Brosnan years ushered in the latest model of Walther, the “P99”, and the “PPK” was relegated to the annals of famous historical movie guns.

The Walter PPK and other exceptional Walter models are available from our online store. To review and purchase a Walther PPK, click here.

History of the Walther PPK