Plinking Quietly With Mr. Bond
The Walther began sales of the PP in 1929. The Polizeipistole (Police Pistol) was followed in 1930 by the PPK, Polizeipistole Kurz or Police Pistol Short. The Kurz featured a shorter length and shorter height. The PPK enjoyed almost overnight popularity and sold well for several decades. In 1968 Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. Three months later Lyndon B. Johnson signs into law the Gun Control Act of 1968, which among a smorgasbord banned the import of handguns subject to a test designed to prevent the import of affordable and small handguns. Like the Glock decades later, the PPK found itself short. Walther addressed the sudden loss of its largest market by replacing the PPK frame with the longer and heavier PP frame. This gave it enough points to be imported, and was called the PPK/S.
The notoriety of the PPK is nothing short of immeasurable, and yet has a few outstanding events. What may be the most widely known example is its use by Adolf Hitler, who committed suicide with a 7.65 Browning (.32 ACP) Walther PPK in 1945. In 1979 President Park was assassinated by Kim Jae-gyu, Director of the Korean Central Intelligence Agency, with a 7,65mm PPK. Then there is the third event, an event which most certainly cannot be called the least among them.
The name is Bond, James Bond
James Bond first receives his iconic Walther PPK in Ian Fleming’s sixth Bond novel, Dr. No. Nearly sixty years later at least one James Bond film has included PPK/S 22, reportedly because unlike all other versions it allows a muffler to be affixed from the factory.
There are countless options for a 22LR handgun. The Ruger Standard/Mark series has been in production for closer to sixty than fifty years. .22 caliber rimfire revolvers have been produced and popular for more than twice that. They have been produced by numerous companies under myriad names: From Colt, Ruger, and Smith and Wesson down to Iver Johnson, US Revolver Company, Harrington & Richardson, Hopkins & Allen, Forehand & Whitworth, and Forehand Arms Company – to name only a few. Like all firearms these revolvers should not be underestimated, examples of their use include the 1968 assassination of Robert F. Kennedy with an Iver Johnson and the 1981 attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan. Even today this sort of rimfire revolver is recommended by some for very-low budget self defense. Much more commonly and perhaps more practically 22LR handguns are ubiquitous as a recreational handgun. All told in the great sea of 22LR handguns the PPK/S stands alone. If someone has a PPK/S 22 you can fairly reasonably conclude it’s because of James Bond, but the pistol should not be discounted standing on its own merit.
The PPK/S 22 offers the third least overall length minus barrel length of any 22LR pistol made in the past decade, and of those three is the only one with a threaded barrel. With too short of a barrel the projectile loses what little energy 22LR offers, and with too long of a barrel cheap ammunition is supersonic. With little overall length wasted a pistol can be more compact, which is especially important with a five inch tube screwed onto the muzzle. The second such pistol is the Sig Sauer P938-22, a truly wonderful pistol which has unfortunately had its threaded barrel version discontinued. The 22LR pistol with the least wasted overall length is the US Fire Arms ZiP-22. There is very little good to say about the ZiP-22.
The double action pull of the PPK/S 22 is off the scale, literally in this case. It’s best compared (disfavorably) to the P64 or M1895 Nagant double action revolver. The break is fairly clean, but to quote one shooter: “Don’t even go for it, just pull back the hammer.” If the safety is engaged while cocked the hammer will be decocked but not prevented from returning to full cock. The inertia of the hammer being dropped can slightly move the safety lever forward, disengaging the safety. If the safety is engaged from double action this problem does not present. Overall not a big deal, but something that must be kept in mind. Not unusual for its time and European origin the pistol lacks external controls. This is annoying, but not strictly a problem. Its single action trigger by contrast is quite good. The pistol uses ten round magazines which are slightly expensive but are durable and easily obtained. After five or six thousand rounds of bulk ammo it’s fair to call the pistol reliable, at least when suppressed. Overall, it’s a fairly good pistol.