Umarex Walther PPK/s
James Bond shot one and Adolf Hitler shot himself with one, so Mike Morton examines the iconic Walther PPK and Umarex’s updated Walther PPK/s
Umarex Walther PPK/s
It’s the climax of The Man With The Golden Gun. Francisco Scaramanga challenges James Bond to “a duel between titans – my golden gun against your Walther PPK”. As we all know, Roger Moore’s character emerged victorious, thanks to his trusty handgun. And thanks to Umarex, airgun shooters can get into Bond mode themselves. Sort of. While it’s nice to see airguns created out of original designs, there’s a huge appetite for CO2-powered replicas, and Umarex is an absolute master of this craft, with the subject of this review, the Walther PPK/s, being a prime example.
This little pistol has a smoothbore barrel, shoots 4.5mm (.177) BBs and is powered by a single 12g CO2 capsule. The stick magazine has a capacity of 15 rounds and an average shot count of around 60. Better yet, the PPK/s offers a blowback action.
While the Walther PP series is steeped in real history, I think it’s fair to say most shooters would want this gun because of its association with 007 in the Ian Fleming novels and in particular on the big screen.
My last handgun review was the mighty Smith & Wesson Model 29 from Umarex, the original being a firm favourite with film fans thanks to its use by Clint Eastwood in the Dirty Harry movies. So it’s almost a case of history repeating itself with this gun too.
Inspector ‘Dirty’ Harry Callahan was a giant of law enforcement with a gun to match, while 007 needed something more covert, but still offering some stopping power, with the PPK being ideal. Bond, in his various on-screen guises, used the PPK from Dr. No all the way through to Octopussy, where he briefly swapped it for the similar-looking Walther P5. Everyone’s favourite secret agent then moved on to the bulkier Walther P99, only to return to the PPK in Quantum Of Solace. But I’m getting a bit off-target, as the handgun I’m testing here isn’t a standard PPK at all.
Key specifications – Umarex Walther PPK/s
Gun supplied by: John Rothery Wholesale (bisley-uk.com)
Model: Walther PPK/s
Calibre: 4.5mm (.177)
Ammo type: BB
Action type: Blowback
Magazine capacity: 15 rounds
Sights: Open (fixed front and rear)
Trigger action: Single-action
Powerplant: One 12g CO2 capsule
Approximate shot count: 60 rounds
What’s in a name?
The CO2 handgun offered by Umarex is actually a Walther PPK/s, so a little explanation is in order. The whole series dates back to 1929 and the original Walther PP. In 1931, the PP was made smaller and lighter, being much easier to carry and finding favour with the German police. This was designated the PPK (polizeipistole kriminal) and it’s this version of the gun that’s used by James Bond.
According to Jane’s Infantry Weapons, the PPK/s was designed in response to the Gun Control Act of 1968, which restricted the importation into the United States of handguns not meeting certain criteria, including weight. The PPK was a little too light, and because the US was an important market for Walther, a slightly heavier pistol was created by mating the longer frame of the Walther PP with the barrel of the PPK. The size and weight increases were only marginal, but the new PPK/s was now heavy enough to pass the US import test.
Say yes to the ‘s’
The ‘/s’ in PPK/s stands for ‘sport’, presumably because it was geared towards the civilian market rather than towards a covert government organisation. Umarex’s /s variant is, true to form, a very good replica of the original.
While the metalwork of early PPKs was treated to a blued steel finish, modern PPK/s pistols are treated to a black QPQ (quench-polish-quench) nitrocarburising case-hardening finish, and Umarex has chosen to go for this more recent look with the CO2 version.
While gun blue does look lovely, Umarex is giving us an accurate representation of a current PPK/s, the other finish available on the powder-burner being stainless steel.
The bottom of the magazine on earlier PPKs was flush with the grip, with a small flat metal plate protruding forwards. The mag was redesigned with a more pronounced shelf, making it easier to grip hold of when doing a mag change and also providing a more comfortable rest for the pinky finger.
I’m not sure if any powder-burning PPK/s models had the earlier magazine, but the one we have here includes this ‘pinky shelf’. The extended lip at the bottom of the magazine provides a comfortable place to rest the little finger, while stopping it from curling round the bottom, and certainly makes it easier to extract the magazine.
Umarex has given the PPK/s a raft of authentic features, notably the official Walther logo on the slide and grips, as well as the calibre designation of 7.65mm on the left-hand side of the slide. This of course is incorrect for the airgun, but is a nice touch nonetheless. The actual airgun calibre data appears on the right-hand side of the slide in front of the fake ejector port, with the characters in white, but nevertheless suitably restrained so as not to destroy the authentic feel of the gun.
Another discrepancy is the safety catch. The power-burner’s catch is on the slide, just in front of the hammer, while this part on the airgun is inoperable.
The actual Umarex lever-style safety catch is located on the right-hand side of the frame just forward of the grip. The catch is on ‘safe’ with the lever in the down position. The lever will remain locked in place until the small tab on the end is pressed in towards the frame, after which the lever can be slid up into Fire mode. The tab does not need to be pressed in to take it off ‘fire’ and back to ‘safe’, which is a good feature for safety reasons. I also like the fact that the red painted dot that signifies the gun is live is the same style and size as the original, even if it is on the opposite side of the gun.
As with many other CO2 handguns, the left-hand grip pops off to reveal the CO2 loading bay. The piercing screw is turned in via a hex key, which you will need to keep handy when it’s time to swap 12g capsules. While the manual makes no mention of this, the Umarex website says the key can be stored inside the grip. The left-hand grip does indeed have what looks like a stowage bay moulded on the inner surface, but the chunky little hex key that actually comes with the gun is the wrong shape to be stored inside the grip and must be kept separate.
Loading up the Walther PPK/s
The magazine is released by depressing the catch on the frame, after which it will pop out just enough to let you get hold of it easily, but not so much that it will fly out and land on the floor. This is yet another positive, helpful feature.
The mag is a single-stack type, meaning each BB sits immediately on top of the one below, rather than a double-stack configuration where the BBs are layered almost two abreast in a concertina pattern. The magazine is loaded by holding down the follower and keeping it there under spring tension while up to 15 BBs are loaded. I usually grimace when I see magazines that don’t have a gate into which the follower can be temporarily slotted while you load the BBs, but it’s actually fairly easy to hold this follower in place after hooking your thumbnail over the top, as the follower is only under a moderate amount of spring tension.
Shooting the Walther PPK/s
With the PPK/s gassed up and a loaded magazine inserted, it’s time to have a blowback bonanza.
The manual suggests disengaging the safety catch and then making ready, but I’d suggest doing it the other way round by racking the slide to make the gun ready, and then taking off the safety immediately prior to squeezing off the first shot.
My BB shooting tests are carried out outdoors, and this initially proved a problem for the 12g CO2 capsules and our British winter. This gas is extremely temperature-dependent, and the bitterly cold weather I was shooting in proved too much, with the gun cycling, but the capsule not delivering enough pressure to actually launch a BB. This is no fault of the gun, just the shooting conditions, but is a reminder of the fickle nature of carbon dioxide when it’s being used as a propellant.
My subsequent method of testing, which solved this problem, was to use CO2 capsules that had been stored in a warm environment and were only taken outdoors at the very last moment. The recommended ammunition is of course Umarex’s own steel BBs, but I like to test other types too, as I expect most people will try to shoot what they have to hand, and to this end added Smart Shot low-ricochet BBs and Dust Devil frangible BBs to the list.
Accuracy testing was carried out at 6m, shooting at my standard 1in Birchwood Casey Target Spots. Group size averaged 45mm with the Umarex ammo, 60mm with the Smart Shot and a better-than-expected 55mm with the Dust Devils, which usually come last. The iron sights on the PPK/s are fixed. I’m left-eye dominant and found the sights bang-on in terms of windage, and about right for elevation too, with the point of impact being slightly low when using the Umarex BBs.
Despite warming the gun, the gas and even the ammo, 10m proved too far with all types for any meaningful accuracy, although this would probably not be a problem in warmer weather. Nevertheless, the PPK/s did deliver 60 effective shots per capsule when shot at the shorter distance.
Being a blowback, the gun gives a pleasing kick in the hand, but is gentle enough not to take you too far off aim when you’re taking repeated shots. There are plenty of great features in the PPK/s, and one of them is the last round hold-open feature, which prevents the slide from closing on an empty magazine, letting you know it’s time to extract the mag and reload. This saves both gas and embarrassment should you lose count of how many BBs you’ve fired.
Another nice feature about the Walther PPK/s is the ability to remove the top slide for maintenance and cleaning. To do this, you need to ensure the gun has no gas and is unloaded, then extract the magazine and cock it, either by racking the slide or thumbing back the hammer. The trigger guard pulls double duty as it holds the slide in place in normal use, but can be hinged down from the front, allowing the slide to be pulled back, tilted up at the back and then removed. Be careful not to damage the slide recoil spring, especially when reversing the procedure, because although the spring is large it does bend easily.
So what do I think of this gun? OK, it’s not actually Bond’s PPK, as Umarex’s variant is a Walther PPK/s, but to all intents and purposes it’s the same. So I think it’s reasonable to say that when you buy this handgun you’ve also bought yourself a licence to thrill.
The Umarex Walther PPK/s is a petite replica of a petite original, and while it’s not the same as James Bond’s gun, it’ll give you a similar tactile experience so you can unleash your inner 007; Scaramanga, watch out!