One of the most interesting Walther pistols is the P38-K. The “K” is an abbreviation for the German word Kurz which translates to “short”. The model designation P38-k suggests that the pistol is a P38 with a shorter barrel. On first sight the P38k also looks like a P38 with a shorter barrel. However, the P38k is in fact comparable to a Walther P4 platform. The “safety lever” of the P38 is bifunctional; (1) it is used as a safey and (2) it is a decocking lever. The “lever” on the P38k and the P4 are decocking levers only. No external safety is present on the P38k and the P4.
Production of the P38-k started in 1974 and continued up to 1981. Only 2600 pistols were produced and the serial numbers are all within the range of 500000 – 502600.
The pistol shown here is a very early production from 1974. The serial number is 500035 and indicates that it was the 35th P38k ever produced. It has a few characteristics that are not observed on the majority (later production) of P38k pistols and is therefore considered as a prototype.
The frame is identical to a P38 frame. Cracking of these early frames was often experienced but Walther solved this problem by installing a hexagonal pin. The function of this pin was to distribute the forces more evenly and thereby reducing local stresspoints. The early P38k shown here doesn’t have the hexagonal pin installed.
Most early P38k pistols were fitted with wooden grips. This is also the case for the pistol shown here. Three markings are present on the triggerguard. The number “74″ indicates the year of production (1974). The antler is the Walther inspection stamp and the third marking is the nitro proof.
The slide is stamped with P38 with a manual chiseled “K” behind it. The decocking lever has a red dot painted which implies the presence of a safety, however no external safety is present. The serial number (500035) is only found on the right side of the slide next to a nitro proof. An adjustable front sight is fixed on the frame by a dovetail. The rear sight is also adjustable by means of a small screw.
The barrel is stamped with the Walther banner and the caliber designation “9 PARA” above a nitro proof.
A nice custom made holster came with the pistol and it fits like a glove!
Many fake P38-k pistols are around. A real P38k can be recognized by the following characteristics:
- Serialnumber between 500000-502600
- No top cover as seen on normal P38/P1 pistols.
- Manufacturing date between 1974 and 1981
- Front sight fixed on the frame instead of on the barrel
(some very early prototypes exist in the normal P38 serial range of 3xx.xxx)