Walther LP53: The James Bond airgun!

by B.B. Pelletier


A deluxe LP53 is cased but does not have the optional barrel weights. Two spare sight inserts (both front and rear) compliment those already on the gun. This late model does not have the wooden cocking knob.

Fred mentioned he owned a Walther LP53, and I was reminded what a wonderful air pistol it is, so today I thought I’d share my observations.

History
The LP53 (LP stands for luft pistole – German for air pistol) was an early (1953-1983) attempt at making a .177 target pistol. It copied the lines of Walther’s famous .22 LR Olympia target pistol, and it used a spring piston to compress the air. When you look at the pistol, you wonder where the spring and piston could be, but they are tucked away inside the pistol grip.

Hard to cock
The gun is a breakbarrel, and the triggerguard serves as a long cocking link. The mechanical advantage of the cocking mechanism is not very good, so the pistol is somewhat difficult to cock for the relatively low power it generates. Walther recognized this and provided a wooden cocking knob that fits over the front sight to give you as much leverage as possible. It’s a funky way of cocking an air pistol, and many owners love it for that, alone.

Recoil simulator?
The piston springs almost straight upward inside the grip when the gun is fired. Walther touted this as a “recoil simulator,” making the air pistol feel like a .22 rimfire, but the truth is that it just feels funny in your shooting hand. It’s more like a jolt than a recoil.

James Bond
The LP53 is all metal with beautifully formed plastic grip panels. The early pistols had a beavertail extension that curved down over the web of the hand; later guns also had an extension, but it was straight. The trigger blade is thin and elegant – looking exactly like a firearm trigger. In fact, there’s nothing about the LP53 that doesn’t look right, which is why the movie posters for early James Bond films show him holding an air pistol instead of his service PPK.

Targets, only!
For all its racy looks, the LP53 is a pussycat, generating barely more than 300 f.p.s. with lightweight .177 pellets. The piston stroke is very short and the bore is small enough to fit inside the grip, so there isn’t much air to compress. At 10 meters, however, the low power is all that’s needed to punch bullseyes. Walther included three front sight posts and three rear sight notch inserts with the gun, so shooters could fine-tune the sight picture. While it will never keep up with a real 10-meter target pistol, an LP53 will shoot nickel-sized groups at 33 feet when the shooter does his best.

For those who wanted the best, a deluxe version of the gun came in a blue satin-lined hard case with barrel weights – very similar to the Olympia pistol it copied. The case was small, but it housed a real treasure! Most guns have a fixed trigger, but there is a rare adjustable version that’s known. There is also a very rare LP52 that was made for ony one year.

42 thoughts on “Walther LP53: The James Bond airgun!

  1. I am very impressed with the Legacy in .22 cal,doesn’t seem much different from a .22 rimfire accept quieter,this rifle seems to perform best in its .22 version.For some reson pyramid air seems to be the only place selling it in .22,which I find strange cause like I said it is very well suiteds for .22 cal.




  2. I’ve got the Legacy in .22cal with a Bsquare 1 piece mount and a BSA 3-12x44mm scope I scored off ebay for $50. Killer setup with a 21gr Kodiaks. Hard to beat for ~250USD IMO.


  3. BB,

    JEJEJE

    Youll find this funny but here I go.You know ive been asking questions about wether .22 is as accurate as .177.Well what happened is that I read on airgunbbs that there is a lot of pellet drop in .22 cal.But then I realised that they were talking about the 12fp versions.And later on I read one that talked about the hw97k and the guy sayed that he got it on pyramid air and out of the box it was doing 17 to 18 FPs.He said something about having a FAC to have that rifle.The point is my question.He also mentioned that there was no difference in acuracy beetween the 2 cals and that that was the case with fac models.He said that the drop happened because of the lower speeds.Can you explain that to me?

    Thanks

    CF-X guy


  4. CFX-guy,

    the slower the pellet is, the longer it needs to hit the target but every pellet has the same vertical speed. If it takes longer to hit the target it will drop more.

    When you shoot with 900 fps both guns have the same drop, but the .22 needs a stronger spring. If you´re not pinned down on 12 fps, the bigger caliber is potentially more accurate and has more smack down power.

    Markus


  5. Yes you are right I love the 21 grain Beeman Kodiaks in the Legacy,it has to be the best for price range if you ask me.I have never seen an a air rifle that is as accurate and powerfull as the Legacy for $162,the gun compares to alot of other springers that sell for 250 to $300.That is why I am glad crosman owns Benjamin/sheridan,I just hope they keep it separate because you can get some really nice air rifles for low prices from Benjamin.I truly think this gun is made for the .22 cal not .177


  6. CF-X guy,

    The others explained the reason for pellet drop very well, but I suspect a lot of folks would like to know more. Next week I’ll do a posting on interesting ballistic facts.

    B.B.


  7. B.B.

    you must have been using a very anemic version of the LP53. Mine was new in 1961 and still scopes at about 400 fps in 7.7 gr Beeman Laser sports. I have not so much as replaced the breach seal on her. Agreed, its not a power-house, but this is a long way from 300 fps. Also, you did not mention its feather-light trigger. Give the old girl her due!

    Fred


  8. just seen your site and the talk of walther AIR RIFLES I have just retrieved my LGR Match rifle after 20 years of storage..can any-one tell me where to purchase a set of seals and whether I can fit them myself ?

    is this my lucky day?


  9. Walther seals have been a problem for 40 years. Walther has never had a good support network here in the U.S. That may change with Umarex USA, but they are just ramping up and I bet vintage parts will be one of the last things they do.

    Contact John Groenewold, PO Box 830, Mundelein, IL 60060-0830, (847) 566-2365. He may have the seals you need.

    Also contact Scott Pilkington at http://www.pilkguns.com. Scott repairs a lot of 10-meter equipment.

    B.B.


  10. BB
    Can you compare the LP53 to the Avanti 747 for accuracy and noise?
    Is the LP53 a practical gun for target practice or should it be left in the display case and use the Avanti for actual shooting?
    Thanks
    MCA


  11. MCA,

    Ther 747 is more accurate. Both guns have similar noise levels. If one is noisier, it’s the 747.

    The LP53 is fine for casual target practice, but it cannot shoot as well as the 747. Expect groups the size of a dime at 10 meters with the 53, assuming a good hold.

    B.B.



  12. Chris,

    Well, they are out there. They are not uncommon at all.

    Watch the airgun classified ads and the gun auction sites and you’ll find one.

    B.B.



  13. Thanks! I’m new to the world of air guns (who knew James Bond would be poseing with a BB gun!). Could you give me some sites where to start? I live near Atlanta; is there a store front around here you know of?


  14. Chris,

    I’d start with Airgunning Atlanta. They are a field target organization and they are very active in your aera.

    Also consider attending the Roanoke airgun expo the first Friday and Saturday in November. You’ll probably see several LP53s for sale there, if you haven’t found one by that time.

    Finally, go to http://www.airguninfo.com

    B.B.


  15. “There is also a very rare LP52 that was made for ony one year.”
    Not true – I have correspondence directly from Walther that the LP52 does not exist.


  16. The LP 52 is covered in the Blue Book and I have held one.

    The Walther company in Ulm, which I visited this year, has a very small museum. They freely admit they do not have many of the guns they made, nor do they serve as the source of information for them, due to lost records.

    B.B.




  17. Hi, your statement about james bond pictured with the air pistol is not correct.

    He attended the photo shoot for the film, but he did not have the original gun with him. He was loaned an air pistol belonging to one of the photo shoot people.

    You can check this out by doing a search.




  18. “There is also a very rare LP52 that was made for ony one year.”
    “The LP 52 is covered in the Blue Book and I have held one.”

    What an outrageous claim to make – that you have held one. Not a single specimen of such an air pistol has ever been documented by any of the major airgun collectors worldwide. Not a single airgun collection worldwide contains such a specimen – including the Beeman collection. In fact, there is not so much as a bona-fide photograph of an LP52, nor any factory literature to document it.

    It seems that you and Dr Beeman are the only two people in the world that still believe that such a mythical airgun exists, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Shame on you for perpetuating such nonsense with such a ridiculous statement.


  19. Sorry pal, but you’re not going to shout me down on this. I have held an LP 52– and I don’t care what urban legend you have been listening to. It was brought to the Roanoke airgun show several years ago and the owner looked me up to show it to me.

    Had I known then that there would be a controversy I would have taken a picture.

    B.B.


  20. "I have held an LP 52– and I don't care what urban legend you have been listening to."

    The existence of the LP52 is the urban legend.

    I have correspondence from the Walther factory historian stating that the "LP52" does not exist.

    I also have Walther factory advertising from 1951 through 1954, and nowhere in any of this rare, period Walther documentation is the LP52 so much as mentioned. The LG51, LG52 & LG53 rifles are all covered in their many different forms and options, as is the LP53 – but no LP52.

    There is a great deal of credible evidence to refute the existence of the LP52, and many prominent airgun authors are in agreement that there is not a single shred of evidence to support the existence of the LP52. Your vague, yet adamant "say so" hardly constitutes definitive proof of anything – other than perhaps a failing memory.


  21. Anonymous,

    Re: The Walther LP52

    Your correspondence with Walther in Ulm, Germany doesn’t mean much since they freely admit that most of their older records are lost. Because you have some old ad’s that don’t mention a short production run of LP 52′s isn’t conclusive proof that these guns don’t exist.

    Dr. Beeman, Dennis Hiller (in his Collectors Guide to Air Pistols) and Tom Gaylord (who says he’s handled one) are all experts in the airgun field and all agree the Walther LP 52 exists.

    Who are you?

    kevin


  22. This is the last comment I will answer. I held the gun in my hand. I don’t know why you cannot comprehend that.

    The Walther FACTORY historian told me in 2006 when I toured their museum in ULM that their knowledge of Walther is full of gaps from WW II.

    Not going to get sucked into a shouting match here.

    B.B.


  23. Hi, I have just aquired an LP53, unfortunately one side of the plastic grip is missing and also I think the piston is missing , can anybody help with parts or a drawing to help me get it working.





  24. Wish to purchase Walther LP53, excellent condition, in case – live in London but coming to US Feb 6-21 – please email me on alex@alexfoleypr.com with your contact details if you have one for sale or let me know where I can purchase one – or details of airgun shows

    Alex Foley



  25. I have the deluxe version of the lp53, in blue satin case with the wooden cocking knob, barrel weigt and all the sights.
    It is in very good condition, a gift from my grandfather who bought it when it was new, how much is this "deluxe" model worth? cant find it anywere


  26. Anonymous with the deluxe version of the lp53,

    According to the blue book of airguns seventh edition the lp53 in 95% condition is worth $350.00, in 90% condition $300.00. Add 35% for fitted case, blue and gray inside. Add 25% for fitted case maroon inside. Add 10% for original brown factory cardboard box. Add 30% for original smooth blue finish. Add 25% for straight back receiver. Add 15% for barrel weight. Subtract 5% for missing sight inserts.

    I think the blue book is a little high.

    About 90 days ago I saw an LP53 at a gun show. It was in the maroon case, had the smooth blue finish, straight back receiver and sight inserts. No barrel weight. Seller was asking $525.00 and I passed.

    Hope this helps.

    kevin


  27. Tom,…i thought you and your readers might be as facinated as i was at the entirety of the performance enhancing work performed on this S&W 78G by Eric.

    I wasn't able to post the pics in the link to this blog,….maybe you can do so along with the work as outlined.

    For sure a top class act. I was especially intreagued with the interior valve work to increase the volumn and smoothness of gas flow. Add it the other work and i am in love! lol

    I will be sending out my pistol on monday to have a similiar job done.

    Joe T

    http://houseofhomelite.proboards.com/index.cgi?board=wolf&action=display&thread=290




  28. Hi Tom, yep,…i did add a comment at the end of your 3rd part in the series you did on the S&W 78G, so at least when folks search out info on that pistol they will also see what can be done to enhance the performance.


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