Walther PK380 Semi-Automatic .380 ACP Pistol


by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

October 19th, 2009




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Walther has started shipping their highly-anticipated .380 polymer-framed auto pistol; the PK380. I first saw a prototype of this new pistol at the 2009 SHOT Show, and have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of a production gun. It is here, and I have been running a lot of ammo through this one for the past couple of weeks. Walther has been in the .380 auto pistol business for many decades now, and introduced what was the first commercially successful double-action auto pistol in 1928, the legendary Model PP, followed shortly thereafter with the more compact Model PPK.

Entering into the highly-popular .380 polymer pistol market now with the PK-380, Walther did not choose to go after the micro pistol market, instead building the PK380 as a moderately-sized auto pistol, making it easier to hold and shoot well than the much smaller .380 pistols on the market. By size and weight, the PK380 is very close to the Bersa Thunder .380 pistols. However, instead of using a blowback action, the Walther uses a locked breech short-recoil design. One of the primary advantages to this is that the PK380 does not have to use an excessively stiff recoil spring. While that might not be important to many, it is very important to those who might not have sufficient hand strength to pull back the slide in order to load most semi-auto pistols. The slides of some small pistols are very hard to operate for someone with arthritis, or for anyone that does not have a lot of strength in their hands. I get a lot of email from older shooters and women who have problems working the slide on an auto pistol. The Walther PK380 has one of the easiest to operate slides on any centerfire auto pistol, taking about ten pounds of pressure to retract the slide.

The PK380 has an eight-shot stainless steel magazine, for a total loaded capacity of nine. It is perfectly safe to carry the PK380 with a cartridge in the chamber. The pistol has an ambidextrous hammer-block thumb safety, in addition to a firing pin block. The firing pin cannot contact a primer unless the trigger is pulled. The PK380 has a traditional double action/single action operating mechanism. In normal use, the pistol is carried with the hammer down and a live round in the chamber. Releasing the thumb safety and then pulling the trigger fires the first round double action, with subsequent rounds fired in the single action mode. The thumb safety is not a hammer-drop, but merely rotates a block of steel to prevent the hammer from contacting the firing pin. The hammer can then be safely lowered manually. The double action trigger pull measured ten and one-quarter pounds on the sample pistol, and the single action pull measured four pounds, thirteen ounces. Both trigger pulls felt good and smooth. For my hand, the trigger has a bit too much curve to it. It would be more comfortable with a straighter trigger blade, or one that is a bit longer. I find that my finger contacts the tip of the trigger, but I have a fat trigger finger. Yours may be different. There is plenty of room inside the trigger guard for a gloved finger, for use in Winter.

The PK380 has an internal key lock, to prevent unauthorized use of the pistol, and the same key is used to disassemble the pistol.  The ambidextrous magazine release is easy to use with the trigger finger of either hand, and also with the thumb of either hand, whichever the user prefers. The design of the magazine release assures that the magazine will not be accidentally dropped by bumping the holstered pistol against any object, as can happen with other designs. The grip is very comfortable to my hand. It is well-designed to fit the human hand, and makes firing the PK380 a pleasure. The sights are large and easy to use, being a three white dot design, and the rear sight is adjustable for windage correction. There is an accessory rail on the frame just forward of the trigger guard, to attach laser sights or flashlights, if desired.

The PK380 is a compact pistol, but still allows a full grip for good control. The PK380 is much easier to shoot well and control than the smallest .380 pistols on the market, but is also a bit harder to conceal. The PK380 will fit into a front jeans pocket, but is best carried in a holster. Carried in something like the Cross Breed Supertuck, the pistol hides easily and rides comfortably. The PK 380 weighs in at 19.1 ounces on my scale, with an empty magazine in place. The barrel measures 3.72 inches in length, and the overall length is six and one-half inches, with a height of 5.18 inches, including the sights and magazine extension.

I tested the PK380 for reliability and accuracy using every type of .380 ammo available to me. Reliability was one hundred percent. There were no failures to feed, fire, or eject any cartridge. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Velocities are listed in feet per second (fps) in the chart below. HP is a jacketed hollowpoint bullet. FMJ is full metal jacket. HC is a hard cast lead bullet. Glaser is a specialty round with compressed lead shot in a bullet jacket topped with a plastic ball. PB is PowRBall, another specialty load from Cor-Bon. DPX is a load using the Barnes X homogenous copper hollow nose bullet. Bullet weights are listed in grains. Velocities were recorded twelve feet from the muzzle. The air temperature during velocity testing hovered around the fifty degree Fahrenheit mark.

Ammunition Bullet Weight Velocity
Buffalo Bore HC 100 1134
Buffalo Bore FMJ 95 1035
Buffalo Bore HP 90 1132
Cor Bon PB 70 1281
Cor Bon DPX 80 1050
Cor Bon Glaser 70 1166
Cor Bon HP 90 1010
Handload HP 90 862.4
Remington FMJ 90 913.3
Remington HP 88 926.5

Velocities posted were pretty respectable, and are higher than velocities recorded from the smaller .380 auto pistols tested in the past. Accuracy was also good. With combat ammo, I could keep every shot on the torso of a standard silhouette target at twenty-five yards, firing rapid fire from a standing position. I could do the same into the head of the target at seven yards. Recoil is very controllable firing rapid fire from this PK380, with even the most powerful .380 ammunition. Testing for accuracy from a bench rested position at twenty-five yards, groups between two and one-half and three inches were recorded with every brand tested, and the Buffalo Bore hard cast doing better than that, grouping five shots into two inches, when I did my part.

The Walther PK380 is a dandy auto pistol for defense, either at home or when carried concealed. It is reliable, accurate, and easy to shoot well. The slide operates easier than any other centerfire auto of which I am aware. The pistol points naturally, and is easy to handle.

Check out the PK380 and other Walther products online at www.waltheramerica.com.

For the location of a Walther dealer near you, click on the DEALER FINDER at www.lipseys.cpom.

To order the PK380 online, go to www.galleryofguns.com.

To order the high performance .380 ammo shown here, go to www.buffalobore.com and www.cor-bon.com.

Jeff Quinn

For a list of dealers where you can buy this gun, go to: To buy this gun online, go to:




Size comparison: Walther PK-380 (top) and Ruger's LCP (bottom).





Ambidextrous safety lever blocks hammer from touching firing pin.



Magazine release is also ambidextrous.





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Click pictures for a larger version.


Walther's PK380 semi-auto .380 pistol.



"Three-dot" sights.





Accessory rail.





Internal lock.



Disassembly requires use of tool provided.







Loaded chamber window.



Author's three favorite loads for the PK-380 (left to right): Buffalo Bore 90 grain Gold Dot Hollowpoint, Buffalo Bore 100 grain hard cast lead, Cor-Bon DPX.