April 1998

Firing Line 04/98

Walther PPK/S
For as long as I’ve been a subscriber, I have always been interested to know what Gun Tests thought of my personal choice of a firearm, the Walther PPK/S. Last month’s (December 1997) comparison of .380 double action pistols finally answered that question. I have to admit I was more than a little disappointed in your remarks. The testers commented that the tang was insufficient to prevent slide bite and that “more often that not” the PPK/S, the current test weapon excluded, “either failed to feed or failed to eject.” Unfortunately, I also have to admit that every word of it was true.

I purchased my Walther in September of 1996. As a shooter with small hands, the diminutive Walther just felt right. However, from the first clip, my PPK/S has either failed to feed or failed to eject with maddening frequency. At the least, this has been a source of constant frustration and embarrassment (ever been to the range with friends?). These petty issues aside, the more serious problem is that this sort of performance is totally unacceptable for a device that is intended to provide self-defense.

I sent the pistol back to Interarms this summer (1997) to have them take a look at it. It was returned eight weeks later with no documentation of what, if anything, had been done to correct the problem. From my own observations, I know that they changed the recoil spring. However, the functioning problems continue.

I am very curious to know what catastrophe could have befallen such a legendary design. How can Walther bear to leave their name on such a poor representation of their product? In any case, I am about at my wit’s end with this thing. Do you know of anything that can be done to correct these problems, or are the flaws inherent in the design? If the latter is true, then it’s time to go shopping. I reckon I should have started subscribing to Gun Tests sooner.

Matthew Bastian
Robbinsville, NJ


According to Roy Melcher, Interarms’ Director of Engineering and Technical Services, Interarms imports but does not manufacture this Walther. Its blowback design has not changed. Nine out of ten times, feeding and ejection problems experienced with the PPK/S are ultimately traced to how the pistol is held. It must be fired with the wrist very firm and is unforgiving when it is not. If a firm wrist does not resolve the problems you’re having, feel free to contact Mr. Melcher at 703-548-1400.


Out Of The Box
In the February, 1998 issue of Gun Tests, you made an editorial comment to the effect that one has a right to expect a gun to shoot perfectly right out of the box. I will agree with one exception. First, the gun must be cleaned and lubricated.

Most guns, especially those imported from overseas, are generally full of a gunk that I assume is placed there to prevent corrosion while in transit. I have received new guns that would barely function until they were thoroughly cleaned and lubricated. Then they worked as they should.

Also, most new guns, especially semiautomatics, seem to require a breaking-in period. This usually consists of having at least 100 rounds fired through them. It would save the new owners a lot of grief and money if this was done at the factory. However, there is no excuse for malfunctioning guns that have been cleaned and lubricated.

Jim Snoddy
Bloomington, IN


When we said that a gun should shoot properly right out of the box, we meant that it should work reliably without being altered. This doesn’t include cleaning and oiling. Before any new firearm is fired, it should be cleaned, oiled and inspected. Check for things such as the improper operation of the safety(s) and foreign objects, such as packing material, obstructing the bore.


Federal Cartridge Co.
I am writing you a note about the Federal Cartridge Co. This past hunting season I bagged a great whitetail buck, but I had some concern about the performance of my ammunition. So, I contacted Federal with my concerns.

To make a long story short, not only did they address my problem, but they went beyond what I expected. My hats off to Brad Holmbo in customer service and to all those folks behind the scenes who are respnsible for putting out a quality product.

Jim Reymann
Gig Harbor, WA