Umarex Walther PPK/S

Umarex Walther PPK/S

Re-experiencing the first blowback action .177 caliber semiautomatic air pistol

By Dennis Adler

A little over 17 years ago Umarex introduced its first blowback action CO2 semi-auto air pistol, the Walther PPK/S. The latest version (left) is remarkably close in appearance to the PPK/S introduced by Walther in 1968 for importation and sale in the United States.

A little over 17 years ago Umarex introduced its first blowback action CO2 semi-auto air pistol, the Walther PPK/S. The latest version (left) is remarkably close in appearance to the PPK/S introduced by Walther in 1968 for importation and sale in the United States.

A little over 17 years ago, Umarex stunned the world of airgun with the introduction of the first ever blowback action semiautomatic air pistol. Up until that time air pistols that looked like semi-auto handguns did not have slides that moved, or in any way actually functioned like a cartridge-firing pistol. With the debut of the PPK/S in 1999, Umarex and Walther wrote a new chapter in the design and manufacturing of air pistols, a chapter that is continually being revised, even by the original author, Umarex.

The Umarex Walther PPK/S was the first of its kind in two categories, the first Umarex replica airgun for .177 caliber steel BBs, and the first replica airgun with a blowback system. Not only was this the first airgun of its type, it was the first that used the basic fundamentals of the original cartridge-firing model in its design, right down to the disassembly of the Walther PPK/S.

Original PPK/S (right) and latest Umarex PPK/S CO2 model have more in common than not when it comes to details, weight and handling. The .380 model weighs around 26 ounces, the Umarex PPK/S slightly less at 22 ounces.

Original PPK/S (right) and latest Umarex PPK/S CO2 model have more in common than not when it comes to details, weight and handling. The .380 model weighs around 26 ounces, the Umarex PPK/S slightly less at 22 ounces.

The CO2-powered model managed to stick around through a couple of iterations, including one version with a faux suppressor, (very James Bond), and though not a particularly accurate, nor powerful airgun, its legacy was that of being the first commercially successful CO2-blowback action air pistol in the world. If you didn’t buy one the first year it came out, or the version with the threaded muzzle and faux silencer, this is your next chance to get your hands on a classic, no matter how you feel about its under powered velocities, and still not modern methods of loading the CO2 and BBs.

The Umarex uses a 15-round stick magazine with a full size PPK/S floorplate finger extension to give the airgun a proper profile when loaded. The new recessed seating screw in the base of the CPO2 channel and hex head tool have done away with the old exposed seating screw to give the air pistol proper exterior lines.

The Umarex uses a 15-round stick magazine with a full size PPK/S floorplate finger extension to give the airgun a proper profile when loaded. The new recessed seating screw in the base of the CO2 channel and hex head tool have done away with the old exposed seating screw to give the air pistol proper exterior lines.

The very latest model to come from Umarex is a reprise of the same PPK/S model with one very important feature “deleted,” the exposed seating screw handle for the CO2 cartridge. This was a necessary design 17 years ago, but not today. The latest PPK/S which will be available within the month has replaced that awkward telltale handle with an internal seating screw and a separate hex head tool to tighten it. This gives the new PPK/S airgun cleaner lines, and that makes it worth owning all over again!

The majority of original PPK/S air pistol design features have been retained in the new model, including the use of 15-round BB stick magazines which are easy to load and remove from the grip well, using the PPK/S-type magazine release on the frame. The stick magazines are still slow to load since the follower does not lock at the bottom and you have to hold it down while loading BBs into the port at the top; it’s best to stock up and have several ready to go.

The .177 Caliber PPK/S

The Umarex Walther PPK/S uses a 3.5 inch smoothbore barrel, which, like the PPK/S cartridge model is affixed to the frame and surrounded by the recoil spring, thus making the blowback action airgun and cartridge guns identical in operation.

Both the airgun and the cartridge gun have blowback actions with barrels fixed to the frame and the recoil spring surrounding the barrel. Field stripping is accomplished the same way with both by removing the magazine, pulling down on the triggerguard to release the slide, drawing it to the rear, lifting it up over the hammer, and then sliding it forward off the barrel and recoil spring.

The .177 and .380 ACP models have blowback actions with the barrels fixed to the frame and surrounded by the recoil spring. Field stripping is accomplished the same way by removing the magazine, pulling the triggerguard down to unlock the slide mechanism, drawing the slide to the rear, lifting it up over the hammer, and pulling it forward off the barrel.

The slide also locks back after the last round is fired so the hammer is cocked when reloading and the gun ready to fire when the slide is released. Unlike the .32 and .380 ACP models, however, the Umarex uses a single action trigger, thus to fire the first round the slide either has to be racked or the hammer manually cocked. The grip contour is just slightly different but very close in size and shape to the cartridge model with the finger extension base plate on the stick magazine. What the airgun lacks is the white dots on the sights (which would be a nice addition), along with a functioning thumb safety on the slide (still cosmetic only on the PPK/S air pistol). In its place the CO2 model uses a frame-mounted safety on the right side, which is easily worked with the trigger finger. These are small compromises for the overall detail and blowback action operation.

While the PPK/S airgun disassembles the same and generally looks the same with the barrel fixed to the frame and surrounded by the recoil spring, all the parts are not the same. The polished lever at the lower center of the frame is part of the airgun’s slide operation and this piece, with a small copper spring wound behind it, are not attached to the frame and will fall off if you are not careful. IT is also important o be sure the spring is in its proper position when reassembling the slide to the frame. In truth, there is very little reason to disassemble the PPK/S airgun, but you can. Just be careful to get it back together correctly.

While the PPK/S airgun disassembles the same and generally looks the same with the barrel fixed to the frame and surrounded by the recoil spring, all the parts are not the same. The polished lever at the lower center of the frame is part of the airgun’s slide operation and this piece, with a small copper spring wound behind it, are not attached to the frame and will fall off if you are not careful. It is also important to be sure the spring is in its proper position when reassembling the slide to the frame. In truth, there is very little reason to disassemble the PPK/S airgun, but you can. Just be careful to get it back together correctly.

To test the new PPK/S air pistol, Umarex .177 caliber steel BBs were used and a target set out at a distance of 15 feet. With the fixed sights and no white dots, target acquisition on a black background like the B-27 silhouette target used for the test is a little more challenging but at that distance it’s more point shooting than precision target sighting.

Not surprisingly the Umarex Walther PPK/S fits Walther PPK/S holsters like the famous Bianchi Blackwidow #5 thumb break belt holster, manufactured today by Safariland.

The Umarex Walther PPK/S fits Walther PPK/S holsters like this famous Bianchi Blackwidow #5 thumb break belt holster, manufactured today by Safariland.

That said, my first 15 shots all hit in the 9, 10 and X rings with the majority pulling to the left. With a minor correction I put the next 15 across the 10 and X rings with a center-to-center spread of 3.01 inches and a best five rounds inside the X.

The blowback action gives the small PPK/S airgun a more realistic feel. It also adds to the test of one’s skills to get the smoothbore barreled pistol back on target for the next shot. The pistol could really use a white dot front sight like the .380 ACP models, but with a single action trigger pull of 5 pounds 9 ounces, the Umarex PPK/S is easy enough to keep on target.

The blowback action gives the small PPK/S airgun a more realistic feel. It also adds to the test of one’s skills to get the smoothbore barreled pistol back on target for the next shot. The pistol could really use a white dot front sight like the .380 ACP models, but with a single action trigger pull of 5 pounds 9 ounces, the Umarex PPK/S is easy enough to keep on target.

Stepping back to 21 feet, the maximum distance for any degree of accuracy with this blowback action air pistol, I put 10 of 15 shots around POA (the 8 and 9 rings at 2 o’clock) inside 4.0 inches, with five flyers going high and low.

For a small airgun with a 295 fps average velocity, which is 65 fps slower than the comparable Umarex Beretta Model 84 FS (which uses a self contained CO2 BB magazine) the PPK/S acquitted itself nicely at 15 feet with a best group measuring 3.01 inches.

For a small airgun with a 295 fps average velocity, (65 fps slower than the comparable Umarex Beretta Model 84 FS, which uses a self-contained CO2 BB magazine) the PPK/S delivered a best group at 15 feet measuring 3.01 inches.

Overall, at 21 feet with a 3.5 inch, smoothbore barrel and blowback action, accuracy with the PPK/S was not disappointing but it is more fun to shoot than for accuracy alone. This is simply the latest version of a very cool and significant air pistol in the lineage of blowback action designs; and still worth every penny of the price!

A word about safety

Blowback action airguns provide the look, feel and operation of their cartridge-firing counterparts and this is one reason why they have become so popular. Airguns in general all look like guns, blowback action models more so, and it is important to remember that the vast majority of people can’t tell an airgun from a cartridge gun. Never brandish an airgun in public. Always, and I can never stress this enough, always treat an airgun as you would a cartridge gun. The same manual of operation and safety should always apply.

3 thoughts on “Umarex Walther PPK/S

  1. I was hoping for a complete redesign with a more realistic and shorter grip frame, a co2 containing mag, and higher fps . The Beretta 84 and theMakarov put this pistol to shame . Had one initially , was my first replica air pistol but when it stopped working I got rid of it . My first handgun was a German made Ppk/s , and later I purchased one of the first USA made ppk pistols off the US assembly line . Was my CCW pistol for years. Would like to see some hard hitting replica airgunpocket pistols like a Colt 1908 380,Mauser HSC and the little Colt 380 Government 380, Beretta 1934and Bond’s first pistol the 918.


    • I think a lot of people were hoping for two additional changes in the next generation Umarex PPK/S, including a self contained CO2 BB magazine like the Beretta 84 FS, and a working thumb safety on the slide. This new model is more of a single change update than an all-new model, which I too, hope comes along in the future, but I still think this one change is a noteworthy one for looks, and the gun does shoot well enough for both its design and price point. We’ll just have to wait and see what comes next. Umarex really follows consumer demands, so if enough people want a more accurate PPK/S, chances are that Umarex will deliver one some day. Look at all they have done in new airguns just over the past few years. The PPK/S is certainly due for a full makeover, but there has to be enough consumer demand to justify the costs.


  2. I would think a re design would be appreciated and would sell. Looking at the pictures there seems to be a way to shorten the grip frame to true PPK/s or maybe to true PPk dimensions. Add the brown wrap around grips from the original PPk ,get velocity up to 360 fps ,add a true working safety ,and a new King has been crowned. This version is notable for its’ historic value , as you mentioned , but it really obsolete by today’s standards. Would have thought that after the Makrov Ultra, these things would have been done.


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