seems to surround some guns, which often has little bearing on the
capabilities of the weapon itself. In the fifties, the popularity of
cowboy movies, and T.V. shows brought a resurgence of interest in the
legion of obsolete .45 Peacemakers which had been gathering dust in gun
shops for decades. In the sixties, a generation of shooters who had
grown up watching detective movies in the forties and fifties all wanted
a .38 snub-nose like the ones their hard boiled heroes toted. In the
seventies gun shops could not keep the S&W M-29 revolver in stock
after Dirty Harry turned the gun into a legend.
The Walther PPK was carried by no less a man than
James Bond. With such a sterling endorsement the gun could not help but
become an icon. In the actual Ian Flemming novels, James Bond carried a
Berretta .25; but for some reason the Walther was thought to be a better
choice for the movies. The Bond gun was in 7.65 caliber (32auto), which
would not be the choice of most American shooters, due to it's low power
levels, and uncertain stopping power.
As all Bond fans know, this gun was first presented
to Sean Connery in Dr. No, by a major who was latter to be developed
into the Character Q in the series. This was a bit of an update on the
original novel series, set in the thirties, written by Flemming, in
which Bond carried a Beretta concealed on his person, and a big 45 in
his Bentley. The Bentley was updated to an Aston, the Beretta to a PPK,
and the 45 seems to have disappeared all together.
This gun was used in the first 17 James Bond movies,
up until the introduction of the new Walther P-99 as primary armament in
Tomorrow Never Dies. as such, the
PPK was carried by all five of the "official" James Bonds. I
suppose it's retirement was overdue. In 1963, when it was first
introduced into the series, the PPK was a cutting edge weapon, with
fairly sophisticated features, and a bit of an exotic feel, when
compared to the standard revolvers and army pistols floating
around. It also held some of the aura of German weaponry, which was a
sort of an acknowledgment of the German war machine of W.W.II. Still,
time passes. Pistols today are plastic, have double column magazines,
lasers, tritium sites, and all sorts of other refinements. Bond no
longer wears a Rolex, Drives an Aston Martin, or carries a PPK.
Considered to be a German gun, it was also made in
France and the U.S. Knock offs were made in Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and
Russia, and there is no shortage of copies and imitations. The gun
itself is very old world and refined, much like the character who packed
it. Developed in the twenties, it was one of the first double action
pistols, and was used by the German police. Production of the PP (Police
Pistol) model, with a longer barrel and grip, began in 1929. The
Shortened PPK (Police Pistol Short) version was introduced in 1931. The
action of the PPK was the basis upon which the latter P-38 was developed.
In order to overcome import restrictions, and to help offset German
labor costs, which were getting pretty high, the PPK began to be
manufactured in the United States in 1978, by Ranger Manufacturing in
Gadsen, Alabama. A stainless version was soon offered by the American
manufacturer. Present day American production guns are made under
license, by Smith and Wesson.
My gun was made in Germany and imported into the U.S.
in the seventies by Interarms. The Walther PPK could not be brought into
this country because import restrictions, introduced in the notorious
gun control act of 1968, prohibited importation of guns that were under
a certain size. Walther solved this problem by mating a PPK slide to a
PP frame, which held one more round and made the gun tall enough to be
acceptable. This gun was called the PPK/S, and happens to be the model I
own. You can see the Interarms mark towards the front of the slide, on
the right hand side of the gun. The story of Interarms, in Alexandria
Virginia, and their relationship with the U.S. intelligence community is
a fascinating tale in it's own right.