War Dogs Part 5 The P.08 and P.38

War Dogs Part 5

On the firing line – Luger P.08 vs. Walther P.38

By Dennis Adler

The Umarex Walther P.38 (right) and Gletcher (and Umarex) P.08 Parabellum are nearly identical in overall design, dimensions and operation to the original 9mm pistols.

The Umarex Walther P.38 (right) and Gletcher (and Umarex) P.08 Parabellum are nearly identical in overall design, dimensions and operation to the original 9mm pistols.

 Between the Walther P.38 and Luger P.08 we have two preeminent German handgun designs; two very different approaches to a 9mm military sidearm, nearly half a century apart from each other and  built by two of the most famous armsmakers of all time. Packing all that history into a pair of CO2- powered, .177 caliber blowback action handguns is a tall order, but Umarex and Gletcher have managed to do exceptional work on each design.

The P.38’s barrel length is slightly shorter (internally) at 4.75 inches, overall length of the gun is 8.5 inches and carry weight 30.5 ounces; very close to the original P.38’s weight of 33.5 ounces. The P.08 weighs in at 36 ounces with standard 4-inch barrel and empty magazine, which is about five ounces heavier than a 9mm, and has an overall length of 8.74 inches; identical to the 9mm model.

The P.38’s barrel is slightly shorter (internally) at 4.75 inches, overall length of the gun is 8.5 inches and carry weight 30.5 ounces; very close to the original P.38’s weight of 33.5 ounces. The P.08 weighs in at 36 ounces with standard 4-inch barrel and empty magazine, about five ounces heavier than a 9mm, and has an overall length of 8.74 inches; identical to the 9mm model.

The Umarex P.38

The airgun’s all metal construction adds to the authentic look, weight and balance in the hand. Barrel length is slightly shorter (internally) at 4.75 inches, overall length of the gun is 8.5 inches and carry weight 30.5 ounces; very close to the original P.38’s weight of 33.5 ounces. As previously noted in War Dogs Part 4, the trigger design on the P.38 looks correct but has a double action only trigger pull even when the slide’s recoil has pre-cocked the hammer. This makes the trigger pull a lengthy 8 pounds, 8.5 ounces. Not heavier than many double action/single action Walther models; a PPK has a dreadful double action trigger pull of almost 14 pounds, countered by a single action pull averaging 6 pounds 1.0 ounces. The single action trigger pull on a 9mm Walther P.38 averages 7 pounds, 14.0 ounces. So, in comparison, the double action trigger pull on the .177 caliber Umarex Walther P.38 isn’t that different from the 9mm model’s.

With precise dimensions, both the P.38 and P.08 fit reproductions of WWII era holsters. (Holsters courtesy World War Supply)

With precise dimensions, both the P.38 and P.08 fit reproductions of WWII era holsters. 

The finish on the Umarex Walther P.38 is second to none and one of its strongest assets, combined with an average velocity of 400 fps (the average for blowback action pistols is 310 to 325 fps). The gun bears authentic Walther markings, and the mandatory verbiage on the right side of the slide is done in small letters that blend in with the polished finish. On these points alone the Umarex exceeds most expectations compared to the majority of blowback action CO2 pistols.

The Gletcher/Umarex P.08 Parabellum (Mod 1)

I have decided to call the Gletcher and Umarex models with separate CO2 channels and stick magazines (which is comparable to the P.38) as a (Mod 1) in order to differentiate them from the more costly models with self-contained CO2 BB magazines.

A 9mm P.08 weighs in at 36 ounces with standard barrel length and empty magazine, has an overall length with the 4-inch barrel of 8.74 inches, and an average trigger pull of 2.25 pounds. A P.08 is also a single action only pistol, whereas the P.38 is a double action/single action design. The Umarex/Gletcher (Mod 1) models have an average trigger pull of 8 pounds, 4 ounces, almost double that of a 9mm model but commensurate with the double action trigger pull resistance on the Umarex Walther P.38.

Getting the P.08 airgun ready to fire is identical to the 9mm; load the magazine, pull the toggle to the rear, and take aim. The thumb safety also works exactly as it does on the 9mm Parabellum.

Getting the P.08 airgun ready to fire is identical to the 9mm; load the magazine, pull the toggle to the rear, and take aim. The thumb safety also works exactly as it does on the 9mm Parabellum.

As for fit and finish, the Gletcher being tested has a pleasant, polished finish with a deep blue black sheen, but not as bright as the P.38’s, and far from the level of finish found on original excellent condition 9mm P.08 models. Still, compared to other WWII era airguns with flat black finishes, this is a superior look for the P.08.

Ready on the firing line

Both guns were chronographed before the tests with the Umarex Walther P.38 maintaining its reputation with average velocities ranging from 389 fps to 409 fps. The P.08 (either Gletcher or Umarex Mod 1 versions) generate higher average velocities than self-contained CO2 BB magazine models, and the test gun put rounds through the traps at an average of 356 fps to 386 fps. Average velocity for the Luger P.08 models with self-contained CO2 BB magazines is 285 fps to 300 fps.

Tests were done from a range of 21 feet using a Weaver stance and a two-handed hold. The Gletcher P.08 was faster to shoot with a shorter, lighter trigger pull and an average velocity of 356 fps to 386 fps.

Tests were done from 21 feet using a Weaver stance and a two-handed hold. The Gletcher P.08 was faster to shoot with a shorter, lighter trigger pull. Average velocity was 356 fps to 386 fps.

Both military-style pistols have rudimentary notch rear and ramped blade front sights, the P.38’s pinned and the P.08’s dovetailed. The P.38 has a much larger and easier to acquire rear sight at the back of the slide, whereas the Luger rear sight is integral with the toggle link and rotates out of view with each shot. It is also a much smaller, notched rear cut and significantly more difficult to reacquire after each round. This is the same on original 9mm models.

The Umarex Walther P.38 is a very authentic looking and handling pistol, right down to a heavy double action trigger pull. Unfortunately, there is no single action pull after the airgun has cycled the action. It remains a double action only trigger.

The Umarex Walther P.38 is a very authentic looking and handling pistol, right down to a heavy double action trigger pull. Unfortunately, there is no single action pull after the airgun has cycled the action. It remains a double action only trigger.

Tests were shot at a range of 21 feet using a Weaver stance and two-handed hold (as shown in the shooting photos of the P.08). The guns were loaded with 15 rounds each (the P.38 actually holds 20 and the P.08 21). The P.08 out shot the P.38 by a slight margin with a smoother and slightly lighter trigger pull that landed 15 total shots within the A-Zone of an IPSC target, with a center-to-center measurement of 1.50 inches, and a best group (in one ragged hole) of 9 shots measuring 0.75 inches edge to edge.

The Gletcher P.08 out shot the P.38 by a slight margin with 15 rounds inside of 1.50 inches, and a best group (in one ragged hole) of 9 shots measuring 0.75 inches edge to edge

The Gletcher P.08 out shot the P.38 by a slight margin with 15 rounds inside of 1.50 inches, and a best group (in one ragged hole) of 9 shots measuring 0.75 inches edge to edge.

The P.38 has a heavier, longer trigger pull than the P.08 and lighter slide rebound (airgun recoil) than the Luger’s toggle link The P.38 punched 15 rounds at 400 fps into a 1.75 inch circumference with a best group of five 5 rounds at 0.625 inches in the center.

The P.38 has a heavier, longer trigger pull than the P.08 but lighter slide rebound (airgun recoil) than the Luger’s toggle link. The P.38 punched 15 rounds at 400 fps into a 1.75 inch circumference with a best group of five rounds at 0.625 inches in the center.

The P.38 has a longer, harder trigger pull combined with a fair amount of stacking. The pistol delivered a best 15 shots in the A-Zone of the IPSC target measuring 1.75 inches, and a best group of 5 rounds at 0.625 inches. Both guns shot close to POA, but the P.38 is not quite as precise as the P.08 at 21 feet.

Once more the age old battle between double action and single action triggers rears its head. A lighter, shorter single action trigger pull, even with a more difficult to define rear sight, can still out shoot a heavier double action when it comes down to pinpoint accuracy, at least with these two very authentic WWII era blowback action airguns.

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.

 

5 thoughts on “War Dogs Part 5 The P.08 and P.38

  1. The first P08 airgun I picked up was the non blowback da only . Had the look but that was all. Had the Gletcher been out I would have gone for that one . Sort of a stop gap between the first modelUmarex and the final co2 mag version. The P08is a fun pistol to shoot. Picked up the limited run WW 2. Version as well .That one got the grips right.In real firearms I would want the P08 to collect and shoot at the range. For real world carry would go with aP38. Safer to carry loaded , more reliable. Never bought into the slow to reload hype of the bottom locking mag system like the P38 orColt 08.You can learn a pretty fast reloading technique if needed . If you are hunkered down behind a tank , it may not matter. With all theco2 replica airguns out , now the bolt action Mosin – Nagant ,theMP40 subgun coming , if we could get a bolt action Mauser 98,O3 Springfield , Garland ,M 1/2 Carbine , Thompson and Greasegun , throw in the Mausrr712 , could have some pretty decent WW1 and 2 shooting scenarios as well as Pre WW2 Wild Bunch scenario shoots


  2. I think history has proven you right on which of the two would be carried, the P.38 hands down for its double action/single action trigger, de-cocker, and other safety features pioneered by Walther with that gun almost 80 years ago.

    For those of you who read this article earlier today, sorry about the couple of typos, which have been corrected. It happens when you work late at night as I sometimes do.


  3. Nice to see someone besides me shooting from a Weaver stance . I dusted off the my Umarex P08 , put up a target at 21 feet and was surprised by the accuracy of the P08 . Didn’t have my P 38 handy so I took out a Colt Commander for comparison. Pretty much dead even . Surprising with the better sights on the Commander. One caveat is that the toggle action snaps you back on target quickly. Would probably be even better with a shoulder stocked Artillery model .


    • A rear sight moving on a slide or rotating down and back up into place on a toggle, is still moving, but I see your point on the P.08. As for stocks, wow, I can tell you I have put a real Broomhandle shoulder stock on the Umarex Mauser M712 and it makes the gun far more accurate. It would be nice to see an Artillery Model P.08 (Navy Luger) with long barrel and detachable shoulder stock in .177. A lot of folks would sign up for that!


      • I know it takes some feedback , but Umarex has the basic structure in the P08 for some interesting historical , Legends variations like the Naval and Artillery models, Same goes for the P38.l.


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