Walther P38 airsoft pistol – Part 1
by B.B. Pelletier
Happy New Year!
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 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.