The Little Sure Shot


by R.K. Campbell

photography by R.K. Campbell

January 15th, 2008




When we recommend big bore handguns for personal defense we sometimes lose sight of the fact that many personal defense shooters are occasional shooters.  Some of these folks regard the pistol as a safety device and are not as interested in shooting as you or I may be. For these shooters a small bore that is light, handy and easy to shoot is important. While I prefer the big bore, especially the .45 automatic, I have to admit there is overwhelming evidence that the majority of civilian incidents are resolved by the presence of a handgun rather than gunfire. Among the most attractive handguns for many folks is the Walther PP and PPK series. Recently Century Arms International has imported a good supply of former German police Walthers. These are the PP in .32 ACP caliber. American shooters may be more familiar with the smaller PPK but the PP is a fine pistol, a bit larger than the PPK but by no means a heavy weight. The Walther features a double action first shot trigger action, a combination safety and decocker, and excellent workmanship. The pistols are often surprisingly accurate. I have test fired a number of Walther PP, PPK/S and PPK pistols over the years. It is not unusual for such pistols to group five rounds into two and one half to three inches at twenty five yards with quality ammunition. The blowback action of the Walther features a fixed barrel. This fixed barrel combined with close tolerances often demonstrates a high level of accuracy. While the .380 ACP caliber pistols are the most popular with American shooters I find little difference between the two calibers. Neither is able to demonstrate an advantage over the other. I have found that the .380 pistols must use a heavier hammer spring to help contain recoil - the hammer keeps the slide closed until a certain level of pressure is met and dissipates - and this makes the .32ís action a little lighter. Overall the .32s are easier to use well. For the most part there is little if any difference between the two calibers in shooting results although common sense tells us the .380 has more wound potential. Common .32 ACP ball features a 71 grain bullet at about 1,000 fps from a Walther PP. This load has enough penetration if nothing else. Fiocchi ball ammunition seems a little hotter than some and often gives excellent accuracy. Accuracy seems better than any .32 caliber automatic load I have used in the past. When carefully bench resting the Walther PP, I was able to secure several two and one half inch groups at twenty five yards from a solid benchrest with the Fiocchi loads. More important at ten yards the Walther PP cut one ragged hole. This is a comfortable handgun to fire and use well, well balanced and with smooth controls and good handling. I did experience a couple of inexplicable malfunctions in firing my ex-cop Walther. Feed and cycle reliability is good but occasionally the magazine simply pops out during a firing string. This occurs with both magazines and the magazine slots are cut correctly. I have been careful not to allow my thumb to run into the magazine release during firing. I am pretty certain a magazine release spring will cure this problem as it occurs perhaps one in fifty rounds of ammunition. This simply points out the need to thoroughly proof every firearm, used or new. At any rate with the Fiocchi load the PP would be accurate enough for casual shooting and even for taking small game. I have taken a bushel or so of squirrels and a parcel of bedded rabbits with .32 caliber handguns. For the most part the handguns were Colt small frame revolvers in .32 Colt New Police, a .32 Smith and Wesson Long by any other name. The .32 Auto has considerably more zip to it.  

An interesting new load proved to be a real firecracker on the range. I obtained a few boxes of Cor Bon's 60 grain JHP. This load breaks 1050 fps from the PP compared to an honest 990 fps with 71 grain ball ammunition. Muzzle blast is greater than with ball ammunition and recoil while mild is noticeably accelerated. Muzzle signature, however, is typical Cor Bon with little or no flash.

Cor Bon makes serious high quality ammunition and the .32 automatic caliber is no exception. I have had a little trouble with some hollow points in the Walther. After all when the piece was designed in 1929 there were few if any expanding bullet handgun loads in existence. The Cor Bon JHP fed perfectly in the Walther pistol.  Accuracy was excellent, cutting one ragged hole consistently at ten yards. After firing a few hundred rounds of mixed ball and the Cor bon load in this light pistol I can see the appeal. The safety features are good, performance is consistent, and the pistol is well made. There are smaller pistols in .32 caliber but none as easy to shoot well and none that deliver the accuracy this pistol does. The sights are acceptable and the practiced handgunner using this handgun would be far from helpless at twenty five yards. In certain situations this is a pistol worth your consideration.

Walther PP Manual of Arms

Load the pistol. lower the hammer with the slide mounted decocker. You may keep the pistol at ready with the safety on or off, depending upon your choice. When you fire, take the safety off and press the trigger. The first shot is a long double action press followed by single action fire as the hammer is cocked by the slide for every subsequent shot. The pistol will lock open on the last shot. To disassemble the pistol, remove the magazine and be certain the chamber is cleared. Press the trigger guard down and to the right. Next pull the slide to the rear and up and forward. The slide will then run off the barrel. the recoil spring rides over the fixed barrel.

R.K. Campbell


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Click pictures for a larger version.


The Walther and Cor Bon ammunition just may make for a life saving combination. Both are high quality.



Cor Bonís attention to detail is refreshing. These loads feature a bullet with an ideal shape for feed reliability. The ammunition exhibits a full powder burn and good accuracy.



One of the better features of the Walther PP is the easily manipulated safety. These slide mounted safeties are better suited to light handguns than full size handguns. Finger reach is less critical with the little Walther.



An uncommon sight- the author working out a .32 automatic on the tactical range. But it is all in a dayís work.



After a run on these Blackheart targets *( Ė 304 457 1280)  all we can say is the PP will get the job done as far as combat accuracy.