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.

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.