excellent review. rep given
I have finally got around to writing a review of the Walther PK380. Why? Well because when I went to research this particular firearm I found some comments and only only limited reviews. Though the reviews were written by some gun writers that I respect, I also understand that they are gun writers and will soon be out of business if their comments are not at least neutral. Also. I know the question has been asked about the PK380 on this board. Since this is my first attempt at reviewing a firearm I hope that I can cover all topics.
Why this Pistol? - A little explaination is in order. I went with my wife (lets refer to her as the Ol Lady) look at pistols for her to use. She is not new to shooting, however with the kids she does not get out as much as I would like her to. After our daughter was born this spring the Ol Lady developed arthritis in her hands, fingers, wrists, and feet. Weird stuff and still doctors don't know why. Due to this condition she has very little strength in her hands and can not open jars or bottles, resulting in half of the pliers and channel locks in my toolbox now taking residence in the kitchen. This also means that she can not pull the slide back on a full size auto or manage the double action pull of a revolver. Recoil is also a concern which eliminated ultra-lite weight revolvers and pocket guns. Another restriction put forth by the Ol Lady was no revolvers and no pink guns. No problem her gun, her rules.
What did we look at? - XDm 3.8 9mm, Sig 229, Glock 19, Bersa .380, Ruger SR9, S&W MP9, Taurus 24/7, Ruger SP101 (I know revolver, but they are so sweet!) & of course the Walther. There were other guns but these were a few that could have met the basic requirements. Obviously price was not a major consideration, but the Ol Lady did cringe a bit about spending more then $400-$500 on a gun. Price point is definately a factor for the newer or less experienced gun owner. I have noticed this as well with other people seeking advice about the purchase of that first handgun. Again the Ol Lady is making the purchase so we have to go with what she was comfortable with.
Why did the Ol Lady choose the PK380? - It was the only automatic pistol that fired a suitable defense cartridge that she could manipulate the controls and that felt good in her hand.
What did we pay? - The Walther PK380 with 3 magazines and case cost $398 plus tax. I would consider this to be affordable.
So you bought it, but how does it perform on the range? - Honestly it is a fun shooter, but lets break it down in more detail.
Accuracy = The accuracy for this gun like all Walthers that I have owned over the years is good. After a single magazine the Ol Lady was getting solid A zone hits on a IPSC target at 10 yards. The little pistol had no problem rapidally hitting a 5 inch paper plate at 15 yards. At one point while test firing I even fired at a chest sized steel plate set at 80 yards and was surprised to hear a faint clank 4 of 8 shots.
Sights = The sights are metal, three dot and easy to pick up. The Ol Lady wanted a gun with good sights that she was fimiliar with and she got it. It also has a rail for lights and a laser. The Ol Lady did not want the laser, but we may consider a flashlight in the future.
Trigger - Yep it has one. Not really good or bad. Comfortable in both single and double action operation. Due to the narrow grip of the gun it feels almost like making a fist to fire that first shot.
Recoil = Recoil is very light. In fact not a lot more then some .22s. Lets face it the .380 cartridge in a 19 ounce gun is going to have some bark. But the full grip of the Walther and the fact that it is not a straight blowback action like many .380s really dampens the recoil. In comparision I have bruised the palm of my hand from the recoil of the Walther PPK and have felt the sting of the Sig P230. Micro pocket pistols like the KelTec seem to leap from my grasp. The Walther PK380 was simply a joy to shoot.
Ergonomics = The gun feels and points right. The Ol Lady picked it up and I think the idea of the other pistols just sort of faded away. At one point during our range trip my close friend, who happens to be a firearms enthusiast and swat instructor, stopped by. He immediately chastised me on the purchase of an unreliable .380. After all the only .380 worth having is a Sig and the definative pocket gun is a Kahr. I handed him the gun and the first words out of his mouth were "wow this thing feels good in the hand, maybe ***** would like one of these!" (***** being his Ol Lady of course.)
Ambidextrose = The Ol Lady is a lefty and left eye dominate. Still she tries to shoot a pistol right handed. I think not and I vow to break her of this evil habit. The Walther PK380 is at home in the hands of regular folk and south paw alike.
Weight = At 19 ounces empty it is not a pocket gun, but it would be suitable for a purse or IWB holster. I carried it around the house in a cheapy IWB uncle mikes made for my P99. It was light and slim.
Capacity - I can't really decide. 9 rounds of .380 would make an attacker take notice. Couple that with the fact that the bullets are leaving a 3.6 inch barrel and now we have the makings of a credible defensive weapon. With is 2-3 more rounds then the micro mouse guns and a bit more velocity due to barrel length, I would feel that may family is safe knowing that the little Walther is near. Still, a gun this size could have easily held a double stack mag and few more rounds.
Reliabilty - If I didn't feel it is reliable I wouldn't let the Ol Lady keep it, but this has to be managed. Afterall, she are not purchase another plinker. (Side note - I admit it, I am just not a .380 fanboy. Every .380 that I have laid my hands on were finicky. KelTec, PPK, P230 all of them! And trust me I have handled several of each over the years. When my buddy raves about how great his Sig P230 is I had to ask, "so how many rounds have you personally run through it?" Answer - just a few and then I gave it to dad. "Yep thats what I thought." I sometimes wonder if it has to do with the inherent properties of the cartridge? So let the flaming begin! I mean it when I say that I am glad that your pocket pony has never jammed, but personally I am going to put a few hundred rounds through a gun before I trust my kids lives to it. ... Rant Over!) So, the PK380 was in reality no different in this department then other .380 offerings. The gun kinda ran with WWB and will flat will not function at all with American Eagle. It eats up the Prvi Partizan, dirty Serbian ammo, but I can still manage a malfunction with a limp wrist. Just what I like to see a defensive gun that is both ammo and technique specific. To acknowledge the difference, the gun ran 100% perfect with both aluminum cased CCI blazer and 90 grain Hydra-Shok defense ammo. Strong hand, weak hand, limp wrist, sideways, upside down. Apparently it likes a stout loading and we ran enough shells through the gun that I am comfortable it is going to do its job. So, keep it clean and run plenty of your chosen defense ammo through it before carrying. You better make sure it runs because there is no tap, rack, bang for this baby and because of the size if it fails you won't even have a decent club.
Safety = I hate the safety, darn reverse european styling. Can't reach it to flip it off under pressure. Also no slide stop, great for the south paw but pain in the arse for clearing jams. Next there is no decocker. Basically you engage the safety and let the hammer down. Theoretically this should be very safe as long as you don't forget that *&%$ safety. Personally if I were to carry this gun I would put on safe, hammer down, disengage safety. Just make sure you have a good holster. In contrast the Ol Lady actually likes the safety because it is hard to disengage. S for safe, F for fire, safety completely blocks the firing pin. In her mind it makes sense, so if she likes it then we will train around it.
Construction = Took it out after purchase and the extractor broke after 8 rounds. Still ran fine with the hot ammo though. Back to Smith & Wesson! Keep in mind this gun says Walther but it is made by the parent company Umarex. They bought Walther some time back and their products are marketed through Smith & Wesson. Overall, fit and finish are OK. Better then a KelTec, similar to a Taurus, but not like my P99. It is made of heavier metal and seems to have better fit than the P22. It does not rattle and function is smooth. I feel that it is of acceptable quality given the price point. It isn't hard to clean, but who designs a gun that needs a plastic key to dissemble. Especially on a gun marketed for defensive use. Then of course there is the goofy trigger lock that is engaged with the same key. Gotta love those Hillary/Pelosi holes.
Customer Service = Took it back to the dealer and Smith & Wesson had it back to me in 3-4 weeks. Not the fastest, but acceptable. I never saw a bill and got a letter stating what was repaired. Not the first gun that I have sent back so no harm no foul. Guns break it happens, just make sure the company is there to back it.
Overall I give the gun 3 stars. Due to the unique requirements of the firearm I think the Ol Lady made a good choice. She has some reservations now because of the early broken extractor and some jamming issues related to ammunition, but things like that are to be expected when breaking in a new gun. 9 rounds of full powered .380 in an easy to shoot package give this gun a specific market. I think it is a better choice for people with disabilities or small stature then the pocket .380s currently being sold. Given the size of the gun I would have personally choose a .38 special with 2-4 inch barrel, but revolvers are not for everyone. I am not ready to retire the service pistol, but we will be keeping this gun and with training it will be a nice addition to our self defense portfolio.
Last edited by VERT; 11-20-2010 at 12:34.
excellent review. rep given
Great review, thanks for posting.
"Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy" Ben Franklin
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I would like to thank everyone for all of the positive response. I also found it interesting that other PK380 owners have had similar observations.
Ive got to ask, but I assume you say Sig P230.... you mean Sig P238?
I love 'lovemywoods'' woods!
I currently own two of theses. One for my wife, which she carried for about 4 - 5 months and its sat in the safe for the past two months and the other I keep inside my vest. I pretty much share your same reviews with the gun. The safety really isn't a issue for me but the "decocking" method is. Another issue I have with both mine is the way the slide really eats up the barrel. Both of mine show sever wear on the barrel after only a few hundred rounds. I didn't have any issues with the extractor.
I purchased my mother a first edition when they first came out. she picked the pk380 for many of the reasons you mentioned, ergonomics, easy slide, low recoil Etc.
I agree with your review of the gun. Hers has functioned very well and the only concern I have really had is the wear or "chunk" out of the front of the barrle.
I have heard of many malfunctions from other people, but she has run about 200 Rnds. of Aguila through hers and never had a problem.
It meets her conditions and seems to be a fine gun for what she uses it for.
Did you already send it back, or would you mabey be able to post pics of the broken extractor for us?
Good review, +1
Already sent it back. I actually think it was the ejector that was broken. Shiny spot on it. The letter from the shop listed extractor. Maybe they replaced it for good measure. Have not experienced the barrel gouging but the top of the chamber does show wear. Does not concern me. I do think the gun is reliable but ammo specific. I have put 300 plus rounds through it. Some ammo will not even lock back the slide, others run flawlessly.
great review! i have been looking at this particular model and i like the feel of it in my hand (southpaw).