Walther P38 BB Pistol Review
12 April, 2017
Supplied by Umarex USA
High muzzle velocity
Low shot count
Not fully field-strippable
VALUE FOR MONEY
At a Street Price of $100, the Walther P38 BB pistol participates in a very crowded marketplace. There’s a great variety of choice in replica BB pistols selling at $100 and even more in the range between $90 and $110.
The Walther P38 BB pistol offers great realism, blowback operation, excellent accuracy and a high muzzle velocity. And as both Walther and Umarex are divisions of the same company, this is actually not a licensed replica of the firearm but a CO2 version of the centerfire pistol from the original manufacturer. It’s fairly priced, in the HAM team’s opinion.
|HAM Test Rating||88%|
|Value For Money||Fairly priced at $100.|
|Firearm it Copies||Walther P38|
|Best BB Tested||Hornady Black Diamond|
|Street Price at Time of Test||$99.99.|
|Ammo Type||.177 caliber steel BBs.|
|Power Source||1 x 12 Gram CO2 cartridge.|
|Useful Shots per Fill||About 60.|
BUY FROM PYRAMYD AIR
Walther P38 CO2 BB Pistol
BUY FROM AIRGUN DEPOT
Walther P38 BB Pistol
REALISM – LOOK AND FEEL
There’s no doubt about it. The Walther P38 BB pistol is a very realistic copy of the P38 centerfire original. Size, weight and handling are all spot-on. Only the limited rearward travel of the slide, together with the correspondingly-limited size of the empty cartridge ejection port, is not exactly true to the original.
Weight of the Walther P38 BB pistol tested by HAM was 31 Oz, including a CO2 cartridge. This is almost identical to the service weight of a partially-loaded P38 firearm, which weighs 27.5 ounces when empty.
The Walther markings on the left side of the frame are correct, too. The right side of the slide also carries the code “ac”. This was the German code for Walther manufacture, of course.
At a range of a couple of feet, it’s practically impossible to tell the Walther P38 BB pistol from a P38 firearm. The gun fits into a regular P38 holster and, indeed, Airgun Depot has replica P38 holsters available in brown and black, or in a combo with the Walther P38 BB pistol.
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P38 Replica Black Holster
ACCURACY AND POINT OF IMPACT
The Walther P38 BB pistol tested by HAM gave excellent accuracy with just about all the standard set of BBs.
This is a definite “soda can killer” at 6 yards range, with a high probability of hitting even at 10 yards! The groups achieved with the Walther P38 BB pistol at 10 yards match the best we’ve found with any of the other CO2-powered BB pistols tested by HAM to date.
In particular, the Umarex, ASG, Hornady and Avanti groups were really good. The Hornady Black Diamond BBs gave the most accurate group with the Walther P38 BB pistol we tested.
Point of impact was also very good for the Walther P38 BB pistol tested by HAM. Elevation was just right for 6-yard shooting with most BBs, although there was a clear tendency for the test gun to shoot slightly to the left. The Crosman Copperhead BBs shot a little low, as did the Avantis at 10 yards. But overall, the fixed sights of the Walther P38 BB pistol are pretty well set for hitting those soda cans.
COMPARISON TO MAKERS CLAIMS
Umarex USA makes a number of claims for the Walther P38 BB pistol. First is muzzle velocity.
The manufacturer claims that the Walther P38 BB pistol will achieve 400 FPS muzzle velocity. The P38 tested by HAM will certainly achieve this – and more – in warmer temperatures than the cold – 60 degrees F – range we used for our testing. That’s excellent performance!
Umarex also claims that the Walther P38 BB pistol can be realistically field-stripped – like the firearm original. This is not really accurate. The P38 firearm is field stripped by first removing the slide (the barrel can be removed from the slide in a later step). This is not so with the Walther P38 BB pistol. The operator’s manual explains how to remove the barrel assembly from the gun while leaving the slide in place.
Pyramyd Air’s website provides the following warning about what happens, should think about going further and removing the slide. “The owner’s manual shows you how to remove the barrel. Do NOT go any further than that. Do NOT remove the slide. There’s a very long, narrow spring that will quickly, suddenly pop out. If you lose that spring, the gun will not function as intended. The importer does not carry replacement springs if you lose your spring”.
A lot of firearms-replica BB pistols – including many from Umarex, like the Legends P08, for example – can be field-stripped with great realism. But, unfortunately, the Walther P38 BB pistol is not one of them.
The Walther P38 BB pistol tested by HAM demonstrated good consistency.
Average muzzle velocity was between 368 and 390 fps with the standard range of HAM test BBs. This is about par for a blowback BB air pistol, as was the Standard Deviation we found on test.
Standard Deviation – the measure of shot-to-shot variability in the string was consistently in the 9 – 19 fps range. The average of 12.36 FPS for the Standard Deviation is average-to-good for the Walther P38 BB pistol tested by HAM. The Walther P38 BB pistol shoots slower and slower throughout the string. This is, however, as expected among CO2-powered BB pistols, particularly one with a strong blowback action such as this. And the slowing of successive shots is fairly predictable.
The trigger pull weight was also fairly consistent. It varied only a maximum of plus or minus 8 Ounces around the average pull weight of 9 Lbs 8 Oz.
During HAM testing, the Walther P38 BB pistol suffered no jams or misfires.
REALISM – TRIGGER AND ACTION
There seems to be some confusion at Umarex about the type of trigger fitted to the Walther P38 BB pistol. The manufacturer’s website states that it’s single action only. However, the rear of the product packaging shows “single and double action”. See photo below.
In fact, the Walther P38 BB pistol differs from the firearm original in that it is single action only. The product packaging is incorrect. This means that the hammer must be cocked by hand – or by racking the slide – in order to start shooting.
The trigger pull weight is also somewhat heavy.
Published trigger pull weights for the P38 firearm range around 6 – 7 Lbs for single action operation and 14 – 16 Lbs for double action. The Walther P38 BB pistol tested by HAM had a trigger pull weight that averaged 9 Lbs 8 Oz in single action. So, the BB pistol has a trigger pull that’s both significantly heavier than that of the firearm in single action, yet much lighter than the firearm used double action.
HAM tester Doug Wall commented in his testing notes: “The trigger pull on this gun is heavy! It’s also quite rough. This makes it somewhat hard to shoot accurately.” But – as you can see from the test targets – Doug still made a great job of the accuracy testing!
The slide, slide release, safety, magazine release and hammer all work similarly to the firearm P38.
The slide of the Walther P38 BB pistol blows back strongly on firing with a satisfying effect. The travel is not so long as that of the firearm, but it’s far enough to give a good effect and cock the hammer correctly.
As with the original P38 firearm, the magazine is dropped by pulling back on the release at the base of the grip. This is definitely less convenient than the more commonly-found button magazine release system, but that’s the way the Wehrmacht wanted it!
The Walther P38 BB pistol tested by HAM gave 60 shots at 60 degrees F with a muzzle velocity of above 150 fps from one 12 gram CO2 cartridge. This is on the low side shot count for a blowback CO2-powered pistol and – like muzzle velocity – would be higher if shot in a warmer environment.
Blowback operation continued to function for the full 60 shots, however. Also this relatively low shot count was balanced by a high muzzle velocity.
As the magazine can be loaded with up to 20 BBs, this means that you’re likely to achieve around three full magazines of shooting from each CO2 cartridge.
Muzzle velocity for the Walther P38 BB pistol tested by HAM was the highest we’ve recorded for a blowback, CO2-powered BB pistol.
As you can see from the table below, the Walther P38 BB pistol achieved a maximum average muzzle velocity of 390 FPS for a 10-shot string fired with Crosman Copperhead BBs.
This is particularly impressive as the test range temperature was somewhat lower than usual – at just 60 degrees F. As with all CO2-powered airguns, the Walther P38 BB pistol will shoot faster at higher temperatures, so it’s likely that many users will see higher figures than this.
In HAM testing, the magic 400 FPS muzzle velocity with BBs was actually attained – and exceeded – with the first shot of several strings. However our standard test protocol measures muzzle velocity over a 10-shot string average.
|BBs||Average Muzzle Velocity||Average Muzzle Energy||Accuracy|
|Crosman Copperhead 5.13 Grain||390 FPS||1.73 Ft/Lbs||Very Good.|
|Umarex Steel 5.29 Grain||368 FPS||1.59 Ft/Lbs||Excellent.|
|ASG Blaster 5.32 Grain||370 FPS||1.62 Ft/Lbs||Excellent.|
|Hornady Black Diamond 5.36 Grain||383 FPS||1.75 Ft/Lbs||Excellent. Best Tested.|
|Daisy Avanti 5.44 Grain||382 FPS||1.76 Ft/Lbs||Excellent.|
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Hornady Black Diamond Steel BBs, .177 Cal, 5.1 Grains, Anodized Finish, 1500ct
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Hornady Black Diamond BBs 1500 Count
APPEARANCE AND FINISH
Overall appearance and finish are highly realistic. Even in the hand, it’s difficult not to believe that the Walther P38 BB pistol is not a centerfire firearm. Unusually, the obligatory “WARNING: Not a toy, etc…” legal markings on the slide are stamped into the slide and not printed-on. This means that this is not an obvious blemish on the appearance – as can be the case with some other replica pistols.
The Walther P38 BB pistol has a molded frame and a molded slide, not the machined stainless steel of the centerfire version, but it’s really not that obvious at at range of more than about two feet.
The “wrap around” plastic grips have a very realistic wood effect. There’s even separate – non-functional – metal screw heads set in each side of the grip. This indicates much attention to detail. It would have been so easy just to make them an integral part of the molding. The lanyard loop on the left side of the grips is also metal, although – as this side grip is removable for loading CO2 cartridges – it’s probably not a good idea to rely on this as a means of securing the Walther P38 BB pistol in practice.
One contentious aspect of the Walther P38 BB pistol is the finish of the metal parts.
Many of the CO2-powered firearms replicas previously reviewed by HAM have a matt black powder coating on the metal parts. Although not completely realistic in many cases, this does passable represent the dull phosphate (or similar) finishes used on many military sidearms. The Walther P38 BB pistol takes a different approach for finish.
In this case, the metal parts of the pistol are finished in a high gloss, blue-black paint. Undoubtedly this is intended to simulate the high-gloss blued finish present on the metal parts of the firearm original. At a distance of 2 – 3 feet, or so, it certainly looks the part, but close-up it’s less satisfactory.
The frame of the Walther P38 BB pistol tested by HAM exhibited the typical “orange peel” effect of spray painted finishes when viewed at very close range. This is not present on the slide, however, which appears highly polished.
So is this paint finish of the Walther P38 BB pistol good, or not? HAM tester Doug Wall didn’t like it at all. But HAM Publisher Stephen Archer felt it was a pretty satisfactory attempt to represent deep bluing. You’ll have to decide this one yourself!
BUYING AND OWNING
Although the Walther P38 BB pistol may not be available at your local big box sporting goods store, it’s readily available online from all the usual dealers, including Airgun Depot and Pyramyd Air.
Like other BB-firing replicas from Umarex, the Walther P38 BB pistol has a 90-day warranty. Although this is greater than the warranty period provided by some other manufacturers (ASG and SIG give just 60 days), Crosman provides 12 months warranty on its BB replica pistols and Gletcher gives a class-leading 18 months.
As with other BB pistols, the Walther P38 BB pistol is not designed to be repaired by the customer. But the P38 is at more of a disadvantage. The CO2 valve is inside the gun and is not incorporated into a combined magazine/CO2 cartridge holder as is the case with many CO2-powered BB pistols. This means that a valve malfunction cannot be cured by simply swapping with a replacement magazine. If the valve fails on a Walther P38 BB pistol, that’s the end, unless it’s still under warranty.
Additional magazines are available for the Walther P38 BB pistol. Having multiple magazines pre-loaded with BBs is the best way to ensure a long, enjoyable shooting session with the P38.
CO2 cartridges are loaded into the frame of the Walther P38 BB pistol. There’s a plastic knob in the base of the grip for tightening the CO2 cartridges. In some models, this knob can protrude from the underside of the grip in a somewhat unsightly manner. But the Walther P38 BB pistol has the knob recessed inside the grip. It’s completely covered by the magazine floor plate in use. Very good!
Access for changing CO2 cartridges is gained by removing the left side section of the grip. Cleverly, the magazine release is built-in to this side section, giving clearance for the CO2 cartridge tightening knob to be operated easily.
BB loading is easy. There’s a stick magazine that fits up into the front of the pistol grip. The follower spring can be held down by the catch and BBs are simply loaded through the top of the magazine.
Packaging of the Walther P38 BB pistol is good, with a strong card box. This will help ensure that your new air pistol reaches you in perfect condition, no matter what rough treatment a shipping company may deal out to the parcel.
The Walther P38 BB pistol is supplied with an excellent illustrated instruction manual. This provides considerable operational and safety information for using the Umarex P08 blowback pistol. It’s in English, French and Spanish. Also included a leaflet explaining how to register your airgun (for warranty purposes) and a useful “Airgun Safety Rules” leaflet.
SAFETY FIRST. Due to the realistic appearance of this product, handle it as you would a firearm. Do not display it in public or in any place where it could be mistaken for a cartridge firearm. This air pistol is for use with .177 caliber lead pellets, not steel BBs.
6-YARD TEST TARGETS
10-YARD TEST TARGETS
BUY FROM PYRAMYD AIR
Walther P38 CO2 BB Pistol
BUY FROM AIRGUN DEPOT
Walther P38 BB Pistol
This entire article including scoring, test targets etc is Copyright Hard Air Magazine and may NOT in part or in whole be reproduced in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from the publisher.