June 3, 2013

Walther PK380 With Laser No. WAP40010 380 ACP, $489

We recently tested guns with factory-fitted lasersights in the February 2013 issue. Hereís an excerpt of that report.

Lasersights on handguns are common today. Scan the used-handgun case at a gun shop, and more than likely youíll find a rig that the former owner customized with a laser sight. In the new-pistol case, you will also see factory-fitted laser sights on handguns.

We were interested in how factory-fitted lasersights would affect our judgment of three previously tested 380 ACP pistols, the Ruger LCP, SIGís P238, and Waltherís PK380. The Ruger earned an A- grade in the June 2008, and the SIG notched an A- in the June 2010 issue, and the Walther got a B-, also in the June 2010 issue. The lasered versions of those handguns are the Ruger LCP-LM No. 3718 380 ACP, $443; SIG Sauerís P238 Tactical Laser No. 238-380-TL 380 ACP, $829; and Waltherís PK380 With Laser No. WAP40010 380 ACP, $489. Would the addition of a laser sight change our mind about the pistol? Would the addition of a laser bulk up a pocket pistol with a gadget? Would the laser be an asset or a detriment to an already fine pistol?

The three pistols spanned the spectrum of action types. The Ruger is a DAO (Double Action Only). The Walther PK380 is a traditional DA/SA (Double Action/Single Action) pistol, where the pistol can be fired DA and subsequently fired SA. The SIG, SA only, was set up like a mini 1911. These pistols are made for close work, so we tested for accuracy at 15 yards with open sights, but were more interested in using the lasers in unconventional shooting positions, much like you might encounter in a real-life confrontation with a bad actor. Our goal with these lasered pocket pistols was to quickly project the red dot on target and punch holes in targets efficiently and effectively.

The PK380 was pleasant to fire because of the fuller grip, but the trade-off was less concealability. The red indicator lights on the laser were a feature testers appreciated, especially in bright light conditions.

We used D-1 tombstone-style targets with a 4-inch-diameter X-ring and an A-ring and B-ring at 8 inches and 12 inches, respectively. The rings are visible at close range ó about 5 yards, but beyond that and depending on your eye sight, the rings are undetectable.

All three employed red Class IIIa lasers. The warning label was blatantly affixed to each laser. Donít point the laser beam in eyes, as permanent eye damage can result. (Never mind the damage from a 380 slug.) Laser beams can reflect off certain surfaces like TV screens, mirrors, glass, etc. Make sure you test the laser of an unloaded weapon so you can experience how the laser beam can react. Also note that laser sights should also be removed when cleaning the weapon, as oils and solvents are not good for the laserís electronics. As in any test, we focused on the major areas of importance with these pistols, such as reliability, concealability, shooter comfort, and accuracy. But because of the lasers, we zeroed in on how the optics affected handling, printing, and other carry issues.

WALTHER PK380 WITH LASER WAP40010 380 ACP, $489

Where the Ruger and P238 were sleek looking, the Walther was aggressive and edgy. The Walther PK380 was much larger than the Ruger and the SIG. Similar to the SIG, it has sharper edges, and the iron sights snagged on pant pockets. The PK380 was definitely a holster pistol, we thought.

Many testers liked shooting the PK380. The grip felt good in the hand, they said. The small finger rest on the magazine floorplate allowed shooters with big hands to comfortably hold the gun. Like the SIG, the Waltherís slide was easy to manipulate, and the slide stayed open on the last shot. The double-action trigger was clean like the Rugerís, and the single-action pull was not as good as the SIGís, our testers said. Those unaccustomed to DA/SA triggers at first felt the trigger was malfunctioning, but that is a training hurdle with these types of pistols and is by no means a negative. Shooters with both the Ruger and Walther, because of the DA trigger, were able to aim the red dot and watch the red dot twitch as they followed through with their trigger pulls. In anticipation of the gun firing, some shooters saw the red dot twitch off center, indicating a flinch that needed to be corrected. The recoil was soft with no muzzle flip.

The Walther's laser easily removed and reattached from the pistol's accessory rail without the use of tools. The PK380's laser sight was flush with the muzzle of the pistol, giving it a finished look.

The PK380 was easy for testers to control, and like the other pistols, was fired without the use of iron sights, though in bright light there was the need to have sights to find the red dot. The laser needed to be adjusted to align with the iron sights, and that was accomplished via a small screwdriver supplied by Walther. The laser easily and quickly could be attached and removed from the pistol by pulling down on tabs on either side of the sight and sliding it forward and off the rail.

The laser was turned on via a sliding switch that was hard to reach and manipulate for some shooters. Only right-handed shooters could turn on the laser with their shooting fingers. A nice feature of the Walther was a pair of tiny red lights that faced the user. These lights were lit when the laser was activated and that was comforting to many users who at times, especially in bright light, did not know it the laser was activated.

Our Team Said: The Walther was fun to shoot, and our shooters liked that the laser could be removed and re-attached with no readjusting of the sights. A major downside was that the Walther was bigger than the Ruger and was not as easily concealed.

Comments (15)

I have never fired or held a good, I feel the need to do so now to protect my familly. I am investigating what gun to buy. I like the height of the grip and the guns simpicty and the laser but not its size or weight. RLR

Posted by: rlr | November 20, 2013 12:50 PM    Report this comment

I have never fired or held a good, I feel the need to do so now to protect my familly. I am investigating what gun to buy. I like the height of the grip and the guns simpicty and the laser but not its size or weight. RLR

Posted by: rlr | November 20, 2013 6:45 AM    Report this comment

I have never fired or held a good, I feel the need to do so now to protect my familly. I am investigating what gun to buy. I like the height of the grip and the guns simpicty and the laser but not its size or weight. RLR

Posted by: rlr | November 20, 2013 6:45 AM    Report this comment

I have never fired or held a good, I feel the need to do so now to protect my familly. I am investigating what gun to buy. I like the height of the grip and the guns simpicty and the laser but not its size or weight. RLR

Posted by: rlr | November 20, 2013 6:43 AM    Report this comment

I have never fired or held a good, I feel the need to do so now to protect my familly. I am investigating what gun to buy. I like the height of the grip and the guns simpicty and the laser but not its size or weight. RLR

Posted by: rlr | November 20, 2013 6:42 AM    Report this comment

I agree with that idea, Cecil, but as I mentioned in one of my former posts (above), I greatly favor 9x19mm over the .380, and the SIG Sauer P290 that I got at the last gun show, in Belton, does the same for me that the PK.380 could do.....but better. The SIG laser, that I purchased online from SIG, is designed and engineered specifically for the P290, and it is the best laser that I have seen, with the exception of the Lasermax guide rod laser that I have in my SIG Sauer P229 DAK.

Posted by: canovack | June 8, 2013 10:37 AM    Report this comment

Thanks Colonel. I sort of liked the way it looks, even though a .380 isn't a put them on the ground round, it can get their attention.

Posted by: Cecil B | June 7, 2013 8:58 PM    Report this comment

If memory serves me correctly, Cecil, I saw several at the last gun show I attended, and it seems to me that they were quite competitively priced. I don't recall the exact price, since I wasn't particularly interested in the PK380. You might want to try the next gun show that comes to San Antonio, to see what's available.

Posted by: canovack | June 7, 2013 10:27 AM    Report this comment

I like the Walther. Wonder if you can really find one for $489?

Posted by: Cecil B | June 6, 2013 10:30 PM    Report this comment

Major Trouble - I have both the P-22 and the PK-380, with lasers. I also had the laser unit on the P-22 pop it's battery cover. Mine was a fairly early unit, and tape ended up being my fix too. my daughters and son also have P-22's with lasers, and the latter made units have not had this problem. My PK-380's laser unit has not had any issues as well, except that I found I had to use a little Lock-Tite to keep the zero after a lot of range time. I only carry it in a hip holster because of the bulk, but I love it. The only pockets it seems to comfortably fit are cargo pockets, so even though I'm a bulky guy, most jeans pockets are still too shallow to conceal it to a level I'm comfortable with, so for me I stopped trying. As an aside, losing weight and going to smaller jeans didn't help! But for all that, I love the gun, and often carry it in warmer weather.

Posted by: Stephen A | June 6, 2013 7:31 PM    Report this comment

I own the Walther SP-22 4" bbl. The Walther Factory Laser would pop of it's battery cover and drop the batteries on the ground with each shot. The battery cover is on the bottom of the laser, and the new cover Walther sent me does the same. I use duct tape to keep it on. If this happens under the recoil of 22RF, I'm very concerned about the 380 recoil doing the same. Is the battery cover on the bottom of the laser unit?

Posted by: Major Trouble | June 6, 2013 3:57 PM    Report this comment

Those of us who have posted in this forum for many years, make our comments out of the desire to share information. While we sometimes make comments that are not always supportive of certain products, the intent is not malicious, but rather to simply make other firearm enthusiasts aware of certain considerations that may warrant their attention. That I come on fairly critical of caliber .380, in no way am I condemning it. As we often say....."When going to a gun fight, the first rule is.....bring a gun". Any gun is better than no gun, and I certainly would not want to be in front of a .380 when it is fired.....

Posted by: canovack | June 6, 2013 10:49 AM    Report this comment

I own the PK380, I've found some of the negative comments a little harsh, but I'm a big man and everything fits well... I have the Veridian laser (green) and it seems to be visible much better than my red lasers... There more money but worth it....

Posted by: Desert | June 6, 2013 10:31 AM    Report this comment

Oooops.....conveniently LOCATED on both sides of the laser unit.....

Posted by: canovack | June 4, 2013 9:17 AM    Report this comment

Walther continues to make an interesting variety of firearms available to the shooting public. While I do own a few .380 pistols, I carry them only as back-up pieces to a major caliber pistol. I am reminded here of an experience by a friend of mine..... An old Army buddy had purchased a Walther PK380, and in the spirit of being well trained in its use, he attended one of the four-day training classes at Frontsight. When I asked him how it went, he was very enthusiastically complementary of the Frontsight training and all of the staff members. He also told me that after the first few rounds fired from his PK380, he rented a 9x19mm pistol from Frontsight, because his .380 impacts did not reliably score on the targets used at Frontsight. With that in mind, I found myself purchasing a Kahr PM-9 as a back-up to my usual belt-carried major caliber pistols.

Recently, I purchased a SIG Sauer P290 to also be used in the back-up role, and I was delighted to find that it came with a fitted Kydex holster that occupies very little space on my belt. I was further impressed by the integrated laser that can be purchased from SIG Sauer specifically for the P290. It fits snugly on the pistol with a unique attachment to the pistol's dust cover, and the holster furnished with the P290 is already compatible with the pistol-laser combination. That the P290 is a 9x19mm piece that comes with a dedicated holster, a six-round magazine, and an eight-round magazine, makes the P290 a real winner.....especially with the dedicated laser whose switches are very conveniently locate on both sides of the laser unit just forward of the trigger.

Posted by: canovack | June 4, 2013 9:14 AM    Report this comment

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