Walther PK380 With Laser No. WAP40010 380 ACP
We recently tested guns with factory-fitted lasersights in the February 2013 issue. Here’s an excerpt of that report.
Lasersights on handguns are common today. Scan the used-handgun case at a gun shop, and more than likely you’ll 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, SIG’s P238, and Walther’s 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 Sauer’s P238 Tactical Laser No. 238-380-TL 380 ACP, $829; and Walther’s 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.
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 — 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. Don’t 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 laser’s 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 Walther’s slide was easy to manipulate, and the slide stayed open on the last shot. The double-action trigger was clean like the Ruger’s, and the single-action pull was not as good as the SIG’s, 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 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.