Friday, October 27, 2017

Walther "first developmental" stage Wehrmacht military contract P38 pistol.

Collectors estimate that this specific series of pistol was manufactured from 1937 to late 1939, with this specific pistol probably manufactured in Nov/Dec 1939. It is estimated that the total production in this first group was no more that 15 during the entire 1937 to 1939 time frame with only 2 examples even known today. Noted on page 90 of Vol. 1 of the book "The P.38 Pistol", by Warren Buxton.

These were considered as a test models so all examples were heavily tested, most to destruction or were eventually destroyed during or after the war. These early prototype P38 pistols each exhibited unique features, that were usually never incorporated into the standard production models. This example is fitted with the following:

1) A side mounted decocking lever, (not a safety lever) that incorporated a rectangular shaped "retracting firing pin" and very unique "anvil" shaped hammer nose:

2) A double action only firing mode, where the hammer is not engaged at all, (which is actually a continuation of the earlier "MP/F" concealed hammer pistols):

3) A unique left grip panel that features a raised/reinforced section directly behind the slide release lever. This features was also deleted from regular production as a cost and time saving measure:

4) A very unique early style slide that has slightly thicker side rails, with rear sections of the slide machined slightly narrower where the serrations are machined in.

5) It is fitted with the early concealed extractor.

Interestingly enough the locking block has several hardness test pin-punch marks on the side and both sides of the slide have been spot annealed where the recoil spring lugs are on the inside of the slide, obviously Walther was concerned about these cracking when fired during endurance testing.

It is felt that this early prototype pistol was intended as an "Wehrmacht Test" pistol and is probably one of the first examples so tested that ushered in the beginning of the Nazi P38 Military production contracts. The the fact that it sold at auction for over $30,000 would seem to indicate its rarity.