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Walther PPK - (Interarms Mfg.) .380 Auto

I always like the way the PPK looked, and when I finally held one in a gun shop, I was hooked - at least temporarily.   It was love at first sight.   I liked its solid feel, thinness, and the way it pointed.   The price was OK, so I bought it: a stainless steel Interarms PPK with three magazines.   I believed that this was one pistol that I was going to keep forever.   I believed that right up until I took it to the range.

DISCLIAMER: I know a few people that have Interarms-made PPKs and they like them a lot.   What I'm about to post is my own experience, your results may vary.

With that said, mine was a piece of crap.   I have big thick hands and was almost immediately bitten by the slide.   No big deal - it was my fault - I just needed to be more careful in the future.   Except that it kept happening!   If I didn't shoot this gun for a while, it seemed like every time I did take it to the range, I ended up getting cut by the slide.   If I took a 'natural" grip, the back of the slide ended up slicing the area between the back of my thumb and forefinger.   I wasn't holding it wrong - the web part between my thumb and forefinger was always under the beavertail.   It's just that when I gripped it tightly, my hand would compress and the meat behind the thumb-forefinger web would squish up and get behind the slide.   I'm sorry, unless you have little hands, or grip the pistol very low, the beavertail on the back of the Interarms PPK is too small.

To add to the misery, this pistol was terribly unreliable.   I had many failures to feed and failures to eject.   None of the magazines that came with it were any good.   I found an old one at a gun show (I'm not sure who made it) that minimized the feeding problems, but it didn't help the FTE problem.

I sent the pistol to a gunsmith for a once-over and general "fluff and buff".   He did his thing, and I noticed a slight improvement - It fed much more reliably - but it was still failing to eject at least once every 15 rounds or so.   It wasn't the ammo either - I tried WWB, Remington, Magtech, Sellier & Bellot, Santa Barbara, and Fiocchi with similar results.

I wanted to get rid of it but my conscience wouldn't let me sell a malfunctioning firearm.

Finally, I was cleaning it and noticed that the ejector seemed to be hung up in the "upward" position.   I flicked it with my finger and it moved down to where it should be.   It doesn't move much - less than 1/16th of an inch.   This couldn't be what was causing my problems, could it?

It was.

The machine work on this pistol was not very well executed.   When I bought it, I thought it looked fine, but there were machine marks in various places.   Compared to the S&W version, the Interarms looked like someone made it in their basement quickly, using only a hammer and file.   Among other places, there were numerous machine marks on both the back of the ejector and on the area on the frame that mated with the back of the ejector.   I polished both of these surfaces and replaced the weak ejector spring (it's a small spring that looks like a hair pin).  I put it back together, took it to the range, and the problem all but went away.

I cleaned it and took it to my local shop, where I traded it in - quickly and with a clear conscience - for about 75% of what I paid.  

It's too bad.   The accuracy of the pistol was always good, I loved the way it felt and looked, and now the pistol was, finally I think, reliable.   However, it was still too small for my hands.

About a year and a half ago I had the opportunity to try out a new Smith & Wesson PPK/S at my club.   This version of the PPK has some improvements, not the least of which is an enlarged grip and beavertail.   I put about 50 rounds through my friend's PPK.   I liked it so much that on my way home from the range I stopped into Blue Northern Trading Company in Ayer, MA and bought a new one.   You can read my range report on the Smith & Wesson PPK/S here.

Report by EddieCoyle - 2/22/2007