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Education / Training Walther P38 airsoft pistol – Part 1

Walther P38 airsoft pistol – Part 1

by B.B. Pelletier

Happy New Year!


New Walther P38 is an accurate replica of an ac 41 wartime P38.

Let’s start 2008 with a look at a new green gas airsoft pistol from Umarex. It’s a Walther P38, and the realism has been emphasized. This one is a true copy of an ac 41-issue gun, which was made during 1941. The biggest change made in ’41 was a switch from a polished blue finish to a matte black military finish, and a total of 112,795 pistols were produced that year.

What is a P38?
Germany needed a sidearm it could produce in great quantities to replace the aging P08, or Luger. The P08 was admired by most who used it, but the intricate machined parts required to make the gun were too complex for a country about to go to war. The gun had to be 9mm because the country was already heavily invested in that caliber.

Walther had created several new pistol designs throughout the 1930s, and in 1938 they finalized the design of a 9mm double-action pistol made from stamped metal parts. They called the civilian version the HP for Heeres Pistole and the Army adopted it as the model P38. Being double-action (the first such pistol), it was possible to carry a round in the chamber with the hammer down and put the gun into action rapidly by just squeezing the trigger.

Comments on the firearm
Double-action pistols were not common in 1971, when I bought my P38. I bought it because of its military heritage, but was soon put off by what I thought was a sloppy design. If the M1911A1’s in my arms room seemed loose and clunky, the P38 was a downright rattletrap! I wanted it for its double-action; but when I tried the long creepy trigger, I was unimpressed. My pistol was a beater – a WWII parts gun that had probably served well, but I was used to revolvers and tight 1911s, so I couldn’t overlook its shortcomings. It was explained to me that the gun was built loose to tolerate desert sand and the mud of a European battlefield, but I just couldn’t overlook it, which is why I no longer have it.

I’m telling you this in case you’ve had similar experiences with P38s…because this new airsoft pistol is nothing like that! It’s reasonably tight and the double-action pull is remarkably light and easy. The manufacturer has gone to great lengths to make this pistol as close to the original gun as possible. The grips are a dark brown with red flecks, and the lanyard clip is on the left panel where it’s supposed to be. All the controls are real and operate as they should. Takedown is typical, if somewhat altered because of certain internal parts required for the functioning of a green gas firing mechanism. I found it easy to disassemble but challenging to reassemble until I understood how the green gas parts had to be positioned.


The P38 airsoft gun comes apart like the firearm.

The pistol comes with adjustable Hop-Up, so some degree of accuracy is expected. I promised to test it at 10 meters for one of our readers, so we’ll see just how good it might be.

The manual safety is located on the left side of the slide and is a decocking safety. In other words, when the gun is cocked and ready to shoot, putting on the safety lowers the hammer safely without firing the gun. Releasing the safety allows the trigger blade to return to its normal position.

The sights are fixed but can be drifted in their dovetails for windage corrections. The gun appears to be all metal except the grips, but looks are deceiving. There’s a lot of plastic on the outside. The gun weighs 26.4 ozs., which is about a half-pound shy of the firearm’s weight. No doubt the use of plastic lightened the gun. Like all green gas guns, the magazine is a considerable part of the overall weight, and spare mags cost $33 because the gun’s powerplant is housed inside.

The gun comes with a single magazine, an Allen wrench to adjust the Hop-Up, a pinch of 0.12-gram BBs (perhaps 25) and a manual written in Japanese (I think). Pyramyd AIR has linked the gun to ammo weighing 0.20 and 0.25 grams. The owner’s manual seems to indicate 0.12-gram BBs, but I’ll test it for accuracy and velocity with all three so we know. Normally, gas pistols do best with 0.20-gram BBs.

author avatar
Tom Gaylord (B.B. Pelletier)
Tom Gaylord, also known as B.B. Pelletier, provides expert insights to airgunners all over the world on behalf of Pyramyd AIR. He has earned the title The Godfather of Airguns™ for his contributions to the industry, spending many years with AirForce Airguns and starting magazines dedicated to the sport such as Airgun Illustrated.

20 thoughts on “Walther P38 airsoft pistol – Part 1”

  1. BB,

    You test largely junk airsoft guns, presumably because that is what Pyramid largely (but not exclusively) deals in.

    Get a hold of a nice replica. A VFC, Inukotsu, or even a late model TM AEG would really surprise you, and let you write a more credible article/blog. A ‘green gas pistol’ running .12g BBs is just long hand for junk, and by not indentifying that fact make anythign you write on the item…weak.

    If you want pistols, go grab a Western Arms, chances are they make an exact replica of half a dozen of your favorite 1911s, or get a KSC Glock. These, and many others, are real high quality items.

    Regardless of what you write about the P38, the pistol article on your website, or what you’ve written here on the springer sniper rifles you’ve tested, think about how nonplussed you must really be at their performance. Now imagine an airsoft gun that can outshoot a 392 at 15 yards. My Tokyo Marui Hicapa 5.1 does, and I’m an amature shooter at best. Wouldn’t that make for a nicer writeup?

  2. Hi Capa 5.1,

    Take a look at the search function on the current blog page. It allows you to search the entire blog, which is more over 725 posts, for terms embedded in the title and text.

    I did review the Hi Capa 5.1 back on May 10, 2005. It’s a wonderful gun for the money, but not up to competition standards.

    Here is the title of that review:

    Hi-Capa 5.1 Marui blowback airsoft gun is packed with realistic features & a blast to shoot!

    Later this year I will build a competition 1911 for IPSC. I am considering the Marui gun as a starting point because it is a solid, well-built gun of good medium quality.

    Western Arms is another solid gun of medium quality that I might consider. It all hinges on whether I want to build an Open gun or not.

    In the meantime, I will continue to review ALL airsoft guns that strike my fancy. I built up two battle guns for skirmishing that were documented in Shotgun News. Did you read that review, by any chance?


  3. Happy New Year All.

    Thank you for the past year of great articles. I look forward to reading more. Firearm, Pellet, BB or Airsoft,if it can shoot I enjoy it.

    Joe G in Jersey

  4. BB. Boy you are a TROOPER!! From me as well as your other fans, Im shure, HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! Not many comments on airsoft,but that is ok, this is mostly about pel. guns. My only exp. w/ airsoft was recently w/ unknown type that I found very usefull for “BUTT” shots on wife to keep her in line!!! After I let her shoot me in back I realized that she needed to be a little further out of line before I take that shot!! THAT THING STINGS!! Well, she took it away from me & gave it back to her friend!! Ive heard that they can be pretty accurate,, My only REPORT can be that I got pretty good one “CHEEK” groups on moving target at about 2-3 yrds.!!! LOL. !! BB. THANKS FOR YOUR DEVOTION TO ALL OF US OUT HERE & HAVE A BLESSED NEW YEAR!!!!! YOUR FRIEND IN S.C. Tim.

  5. B.B.

    Does pyramydair ever consider selling paintball guns? They have pellet guns, bb guns, airsoft guns yet no paintball. Seems like yet another way for pyramyd to expand its sales.

    Just curious, Kyle.

  6. Kyle,

    You may not have noticed but Pyramyd diesn’t go in for airsoft skirmishing as much as they could. Their primary interest in airsoft is for action pistol (IPSC), though they do sell some combat-related equipment and very little IPSC-related equipment at present.

    Since paintball is only about games, they don’t see it as part of their business plan.


  7. BB.,After looking at PA. airsoft line up, decided MUST have one of my own! Looking back my wife & I had fun w/ the one we borrowed! In light of the fact that we are going to be exp. lows in the teens next couple days, this could be fun indoor shooting!! Were going to Wally W. early am. see what we can get, then she is going to check out PA. while Im at work. I think I may be in for an ambush when I get home!! Must admit BB. some of those airsoft guns look pretty cool & will keep shooting skills honed inside when its TOO COLD outside!! Sorry now I paid Orkin,, I think nearly 1 ft. lb. could take out cockroach!! Thanks again BB. Tim.

  8. BB,
    I think its admirable that Pyramyd is going the action pistol route as opposed to skirmishing. Skirmishing is very fun (ive been in a couple myself) but i can see why others would think it would be a bad idea. Airsoft needs what paintball has, that is a more regulated sport and public understanding.
    What is IPSC? Id be interested in hearing more about that. Thanks

    Nate in Mass

  9. BB and Nate,

    I did a google search and found that IPSC is short for International Practical Shooting Confederation. I didn’t read all that much but from what I got it is an association that promotes skill with a defensive pistol. Its’ credo if you will is Accuracy, Power and Speed. In ISPC you can only use 9mm or larger pistols hence the term power in the credo. It seems remarkably like field target in that there are targets with small kill zones at variable ranges (from what I understood). Seeing that BB seems to know a lot about defensive pistols and is a 1911 shooter, I bet he can enlighten us much more.
    Now I can see why PA doesn’t carry paintball or combat related airsoft if they are promoters of IPSC. So BB, what did I miss?

    Happy new years, Kyle.

  10. Lesson Learned Today,
    Off topic but applicable to all the spring and gas ram guns that have been talked about recently. I went to the range to try out a new load for my .45 and took my HW50 along to fill in the time I would have to wait between target posting times. The gun had been shooting very well up unitl a few days ago and I chalked it up to me. Somedays I cant hit the broad side of a barn. Well I had shot some 2.5 and 3 inch groups with the 45 at 25 yds so I was feeling OK, but when I got out the HW50 I was shooting the same 2.5 inch groups at 25 yds. I checked the scope, I switched pellets, I even looked at the stock screws. I like to keep all my stock screws straight horz or vert with the gun, I will even put thin shim washers in to make sure they are tight in those positions and they were fine. When I got home I used my gunsmith screwdriver set to check all the screws and the trigger guard screws were at least 1.5 turns loose and the forarm stock screw was loose a full turn. This stock has been tightened since new and the screws had not moved but I guess with the cold weather and dry air the stock has shrunk and the action was loose, although you couldnt feel it. So even if you have loctited your screws and you know they havent moved, check them again you may find your gun shoots better than you thought.

  11. Happy New Year BB and Everyone!

    Sorry to be off topic, and a late response. Life gets in the way sometimes… BB, sounds like we only need $15K- $20K each for astro equipment. I have 3 telescopes, the largest being a 10″ F/6 Dob. All home built due to cost. Yet, my 11X70 binoculars get the most use for “just looking around at the sky”.

    Any chance that one of those gas springs will fit or be adaptable to my Izh 513M? I love the gun, but it would be nice to get rid of the buzz when shooting light pellets without using tar. Not really looking to increase power, although I don’t want to lose too much either.


  12. Nate and Kyle,

    Kyle got it right. The term “power” refers to a power factor, which takes the weight of the bullet and the velocity into account. A high-power gun will also recoil more and be slower on recovery. Nine millimeter is the smallest caliber, and, because it has almost no recoil in IPSC guns, it can be lightning-fast. Watching champion shooters like Doug Koenig run through the course is the most inspiring thing the shooting sports can offer, in my opinion.



  13. /Shooter,

    A homebuilt telescope, no less. I bet you are proud of that.

    As far as the IZH 513 goes, I wouldn’t hold my breath. There are no other popular (or unpopular) rifles that are like it, so the design would be somewhat unique.

    I’d look into some black tar, if I were you.


  14. Thanks for the info, BB. I’ll look up Maccari’s site and get some tar, not only for the Izh, but also for the TF 99. When I rebuilt the TF 99, I made a spring guide out of some B7 (hard) threaded rod to replace the broken plastic guide. Put in a heavy duty, rectangular profile die spring from McMaster Carr with trust washers to take out some of the torque. I pulled out the funky leather seal, and made a teflon piston end to hold new teflon and nitrile seals. Also straightened the receiver to get rid of the barrel droop, then stoned all the contact points on the trigger parts and recrowned the barrel. I guess this is one of the “so-so” Chinese barrels. Shoots smooth as silk and really consistent now, except for the “Piiinnnnggggggggggg” of the new spring guide. Just like a high pitched tuning fork… About the same as my Izh- godd groups are about .17- .19″ at 10 yards.

    I like my telescope a lot. Not much to look at though. I have about $750 in it without eyepieces. They were about another $500 for a small set. You can buy a complete 10″ dob for less than that now, but not with a Meade research grade mirror set and a JMI reverse Crayford focuser. It gives me some good views when the seeing conditions are good. Astronomy can eat a lot of money really fast. Airguns can eat up its share of money fast too!


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