Walther’s LP III: A single-stroke from the past

by B.B. Pelletier

Blogger went down sometime late April 23d. Apparently Google (the Blogger host) uses Blogger to post the status of Blogger for all Blogs, so they are not able to post any news about this. Apparently no comments can be posted while Blogger is down, but past posts are unaffected.

Many of you are fascinated by single-stroke airguns, judging from your comments whenever we post a report about one. Today, we’re looking at one of the early single-strokes, though by no means the first. Walther’s LP III was made between 1973 and 1985. Though it was intended as a target pistol, the rules for air pistols hadn’t been codified when it came out, so it can look different that the traditional target pistols we know today.


Walther’s LP III resembles their famous Olympia .22 target pistol of the 1950s. This model has the less expensive sporting grip.

History
Because this is the LP III (for luftpistole, model three), you might assume there was also a II and a I. The II existed, alright, but there was never an LP I from Walther. I would guess it had to be changed significantly and was never released for production. The LP II looks very much like the III, but it had a significantly different valve that proved troublesome in the field. In fact, a decade ago you could buy an LP II for about two-thirds of what an LP III brought, simply because nobody trusted the valve! The LP II was made from 1967 through 1972.

Single-stroke valves
We get a lot of questions about single-stroke valves, so maybe this is a good time to clear things up. A single-stroke pneumatic is an airgun that accepts just one pump of air to fire. I get very upset when people mistakenly call a spring gun a “one pump gun.” I know they mean one stroke of the barrel or cocking lever, but a spring gun is nothing like a pneumatic, and this sloppy terminology just confuses the new person.

Another big question is, “Why can’t I put in a second pump? It would make the gun even more powerful, wouldn’t it?” No, in fact, it wouldn’t. The pump head on a single-stroke pneumatic is also one end of the air reservoir. If you try to pump a second time, the air from the first pump will escape through the air inlet hole. I hope the drawing makes that clear.


This drawing shows why you can only put one pump of air into the single-stroke reservoir.

How it worked
The LP III was pumped with a lever that fit around the triggerguard. It popped down and drew the piston all the way back (it was concealed in the grip), then returned to the closed position to pressurize the gun. This lever was the LP III’s biggest fault, because it was too short to do the job efficiently. It took about 35 pounds of force to close the lever, and that seemed like even more because everything was so closely spaced. Many grown men could not pump the gun even once! As hard as it was to pump, it tired most competitors in a match. Repeated pumping left them with sore hands. The alternative target pistols weren’t much better, but the FWB 65 was both a little easier and much more accurate, and that spelled the end for this Walther.


The pump lever is completely withdrawn in preparation for pumping the pistol. The barrel is shown broken open for loading, but it doesn’t have to be to pump the gun.

Besides the pump lever, the LP III was also a breakbarrel for loading. A latch under the barrel pivot unlocked the barrel, which was tipped down to expose the breech. There was no spring resistance to this tipping; it was only for loading the pellet.

Although I don’t have an LP II with target grips to show you, the only difference was the adjustable wooden grips, themselves. Compared to a 10-meter pistol of today, these grips seem crude and awkward, but in their day they were considered very nice.

As nice as it was, the LP III held only a 5-shot group of about 0.16″ at 10 meters. That’s aspirin-busting accuracy, but it’s also about three times larger than the groups that today’s target pistols can shoot. It has a trigger so nice it’s only been surpassed in the last 10 years, and the sights sit very low in the hand. Power is in the 350 to 400 f.p.s. region with light target pellets.

As a collectible
There is a lot to collect with an LP III. First, there are two models, one with target grips, the other with plastic (shown). There’s an early model with a raised rib formed into the barrel and a later model with a round barrel. Finally, there’s a hard presentation case that also holds all tools, sight inserts and literature. The LP III is making a comeback after a couple of decades of being ignored. So, if you want one, better get going!

16 thoughts on “Walther’s LP III: A single-stroke from the past

  1. B.B.
    Love your drawing that shows why a single stroke pneumatic cannot be pump the second time. Did you ever do an article on how multi-pump pneumatic works? I like to know.

    KYW


  2. BB

    I read that many people upgrade their hw97 with venom kits.Should I do that?Or do you suggest that I do that when my rifle needs a tune up from use.

    And where do I get this kits?I searched the webly website and the web but no luck.Please give me a link. The one that I should get is the FAC model because I live in the US.Right?

    Is the fac kit the one with no 12FP limit?

    Thanks.

    CF-X guy


  3. Hernan,

    You live in Puerto Rico, so you have to buy in the U.S. Is that right? You cannot purchase an airgun from Germany or from England, so 12 foot-pounds and FAC, which are ONLY concerns in the United Kingdom, do not concern you. Any U.S. HW97 you buy will be as powerful as they come – as I reported in the blog. They DID have an energy problem YEARS AGO, as reported, but it was cleared up a long time ago.

    Concerning Venom, they are no longer operating out of Webley. Webley was reorganized recently and everything has changed.

    If you want a tuneup for your HW97, you’ll have to get it from somewhere else. I recommend you get on Google and start looking.

    B.B.


  4. KYW,

    Actually, there is a lot to report about multi-pumps. They have different pump styles and some have pressure-limiting devices.

    It might be fun, but it would be more than one post for sure.

    B.B.


  5. BB,

    Ok.If the US hw97k is at his best I dont need a tune.I guess ive better stop reading those UK forums.Thats where I get my conserns.Its just that when you look in the web for info on thehw97 you mostly go into UK websites.If you know of a trusted website(other than this blog) that has info and pics please tell me.I

    Also,I will be selling my cf-x to buy the weihrauch hw97k.My cf-x has had about 2500 shots through it.It has no scratches an the only thing is rust on the trigger because of my sweaty hands.Ill sell it with a bsa 4×32 scope and a hard case.What is the lowest price I could sell this rifle for?

    If someone is interested please email me at hernan_classic@yahoo.com
    with your offers.I bought the riffle new from on january 2006.I have the manual,and everything that comes with it.Thanks and BB,tell me what my cf-x could be worth(dont have to exact but only your thoughts)Thanks.

    CF-X guy


  6. Need advice. I am most likely posting in the wrong spot. Sorry. I am new to airguns and quite frankly falling in love with them over my many traditional firearms. As a new owner of a gamo silver shadow supreme I am going through the learning curve quite well but am stuck at on topic I can’t get clear. That is, Will light weight pellets ruin my gun?? I ordered from gamo some of their new raptor pellets which weigh 5.3 grains. They haven’t arrived yet but in the meantime I have been consuming info on the web like you can’t believe. I keep running into warnings to not use light pellets as damage will occur. Any truth to this? Please help i would appreciate it. Mike in PA


  7. Mike,

    The Raptor pellets won’t hurt your gun but they are pretty useless otherwise. They are inaccurate and they don’t penetrate as well as other lead pellets.

    You should try Crosman Premier lites (7.9 grain) and JSB Exact domed pellets. Both of those will make your new rifle a shooter.

    B.B.


  8. BB,

    Ok.If the US hw97k is at his best I dont need a tune.I guess ive better stop reading those UK forums.Thats where I get my conserns.Its just that when you look in the web for info on thehw97 you mostly go into UK websites.If you know of a trusted website(other than this blog) that has info and pics please tell me.I

    Also,I will be selling my cf-x to buy the weihrauch hw97k.My cf-x has had about 2500 shots through it.It has no scratches an the only thing is rust on the trigger because of my sweaty hands.Ill sell it with a bsa 4×32 scope and a hard case.What is the lowest price I could sell this rifle for?

    If someone is interested please email me at hernan_classic@yahoo.com
    with your offers.I bought the riffle new from on january 2006.I have the manual,and everything that comes with it.Thanks and BB,tell me what my cf-x could be worth(dont have to exact but only your thoughts)Thanks.

    CF-X guy



  9. RE: The explanation on spring/air or spring/piston air arms I believe is you can cock a piston only once. A pneumatic gun is like pumping up a tire, the more you pump the more pressure you create, to a point. Your diagram is very good.

    Brent



  10. Brent,

    There are two different LP IIIs. One looks like the first photo in this report and the other has a wooden grip with a palm shelf.

    Then there are accessories in the box with the gun. A sight set came with the pistol, if I recall correctly, and the owner’s manual had a test target pasted to the back cover. Finally there is a cleaning rod.

    Then there are two different boxes. The cheap one is cardboard and dark brown in color. The expensive one is wooden and lined with sky-blue satin. There is also a black carrying case that some might call a box. It has a sky-blue satin lining.

    Finally, the Walther LP III has a fatal flaw. The piston seal is made of material that disintegrates with age.

    So which box is the gun in, does it have the manual and accessories and does it still work?

    I assume 100 percent finish, because most LP IIIs have it.

    B.B.


  11. Brent,

    Re: Value of a Walther LP 3

    According to the current blue book of airguns the LP 3 is worth $275.00 in 60% condition and $450.00 in 90% condition. To this you can add 15% if you have the ribbed barrel instead of the round barrel. You can add 20% if you have the fitted case and can add another 20% if you have the match grade adjustable wooden grips. There are a lot of variables with this gun. In B.B.’s article he detailed a few:

    “There is a lot to collect with an LP III. First, there are two models, one with target grips, the other with plastic (shown). There’s an early model with a raised rib formed into the barrel and a later model with a round barrel. Finally, there’s a hard presentation case that also holds all tools, sight inserts and literature.”

    If you would like a little more accurate estimate of value please detail what you have and maybe B.B. can put a finer point on it.

    kevin


  12. I know I'm throwing this in late. But there is an error in the review reguarding model variants. There were 3, not 2. B.B. mentions the 2 stardard frame models with either sporter or wooden target grips. Then there was the true traget model – the LP3M. Its grip frame and tang were machined differently to allow the gun to sit much lower in the hand. It's wooden target grips look similar to the target grips available for the standard LP3 but are not interchangable due to being cut to fit the different grip frame. Also all 3 had early and late barrel variations. The early barrels were contoured for their entire length like the LP2 barrel. Later barrels all transitioned to round ahead of the receiver like the one pictured.


  13. Great! My father bought one of these guns. We competed much against each other and had lots of fun.

    Since he´s gone away about 14 years
    ago, i still use it. Works well.

    Me and my father replaced the piston once in the middle of the
    90´s and i have never
    had any trouble with it. This is a
    real quality gun.

    The best of all is that my last name is WALTHER….



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