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Old 02-29-2012, 05:55 PM   #1
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P.1 questions: Fat slides and hex pins

So, who knows the answer to this?

Were the fat slides introduced because of the occurences of cracks on the aluminum frames on the P.1's, or because of an issue with the slide cracking on P.1/P.38's? Or was it something else entirely?

I know that the hex pin installation was a result of cracked aluminum frames on the P.1. Was the fat slide change associated with the hex pin fix on the P.1? I have heard that there was an issue with some cracked slides on all steel P.38's (presumably 1938-1945). But I have no confirmatory knowledge of this.


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Old 02-29-2012, 06:26 PM   #2
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The fat slide was Walther's answer to a high incidence of slides stretching, cracking, and eventually breaking, at the locking block cutouts. I have personally examined dozens of slides , both late-war Mauser and postwar Walther, cracked or broken in this way. Whether this was the result of more powerful or widely variable postwar 9mm Para ammunition or of some other cause, I am unable to say.

I do not believe that cracking of the frame was or is a frequent occurrence. I personally have seen only a very few, cracked in different places, from which I draw no opinion as to the cause.

The hex lug was added for an entirely different reason: to extend the service life of the frame by providing a hardened steel wear surface for the locking cam. Frames that have seen a lot of use, especially when dirty or without lubrication, show considerable wear and displacement of aluminum at that point, which makes the action locking/unlocking rough and less consistent and reliable.

The hex lug does not make the frame stronger; it is only an insert and does not "cinch" the frame together to prevent splitting. It could be argued that broaching the hole for the insert actually makes the frame integrally weaker. But it lasts longer.

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Last edited by MGMike; 06-08-2012 at 10:11 AM. Reason: typo
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Old 02-29-2012, 06:30 PM   #3
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Yeah, the fat slide was a response to cracked/broken slides. The Beretta 92's had the same issue early on, as they used the same dropping block locking system. And the cutouts where the locking lugs engage the slide are a natural weak spot.
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Old 03-01-2012, 10:26 AM   #4
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I posted this in another thread below but since this is a sticky, it may be useful to repeat here, with a little elaboration:

The importance of the hex pin is much overemphasized. The fat slide is far more important, but the truth is that the absence of both is not a catastrophe, provided one uses sensible ammunition. These guns are half a century old. Treat them accordingly, and they will give you very respectable service. New recoil springs are not a high priority if they are not collapsed or kinked, but easy-to-chew ammunition for their old teeth is important.

In WWII military service the Germans strictly controlled the specifications of the ammunition used, so it is entirely possible that cracked slides were avoided or at least minimized. I know of no evidence one way or the other that slide breakage was a problem then. I've never seen an early Walther "ac" slide broken-- though that doesn't mean that none were.

The problem seems to arise in postwar use. This happens to coincide with a wide variety of ammunition becoming available. 9mm Para ammunition is now made in dozens of different countries by scores of manufacturers, and its specifications vary greatly. Measure cartridge case length of various samples with a micrometer and the differences you'll see are remarkable, sometimes visible with the naked eye. This affects headspace, and excessive headspace is abusive to the P38's locking system, as it provides room for the locking parts to get "a running start" before the engaging surfaces slam together.

This is aggravated by more powerful 9mm ammunition, such as adopted by the postwar German police; American police did the same thing. It isn't long before things start to break. Mind you, I am not contending that is the cause of slide stretching and cracking (it could be metallurgy, or a lot of other things) but it is evidence.

Certainly Walther acted in the late 1960s to increase the thickness of the slide sidewalls, and that appears to have remedied that problem.

M

Last edited by MGMike; 03-01-2012 at 06:11 PM. Reason: syntax
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Old 03-02-2012, 10:02 AM   #5
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Great info. Thank you all.
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Old 03-04-2012, 01:39 AM   #6
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Thanks for the technical explanation. I was wondering why walther added the hex pin, which I thought would also weaken the frame with another hole. But this info was great. I'm naturally leery of aluminum or polymer frames even with steel inserts. And buyers might want to avoid buying aluminum frames to rebuild a P1, as they could have stress or cracks not seen in pictures.
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Old 07-02-2012, 02:11 AM   #7
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mr.mosin .22
Im confused... what does a fat slide, look like... I have a p38 p1 made in 62,.. with no hex bolt... what would I have a fat, or lean slide?
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Old 07-02-2012, 05:35 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mr.mosin View Post
Im confused... what does a fat slide, look like... I have a p38 p1 made in 62,.. with no hex bolt... what would I have a fat, or lean slide?
.
You probably have the "lean" unreinforced slide. Here are photos to show the difference. The front sight with the white dot is on the "fat" reinforced slide assembly...
.

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Old 07-06-2012, 02:02 AM   #9
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Some features of mine

First, thank you for your efforts :-) I just want to know about my gun, I am not looking for any possible rare gun, and I could not care less, if its as common as air... I'd just like to know where my gun could have been... commercial use, surplus police/ army, or issued police / army.

In my lap right now I am looking at my p38/p1 and this is what I see going on.

on the slide (non Walther banner side). Two eagle proofs 1/62 (Jan of '62)
Frame same side, two eagles above trigger guard

Under gun barrel: two eagles and a little *"Roundel*" (The circle with a dot in it.)

Walther Banner Side: Roundel, Walther Banner Waffenbk. ULM/DO P 38 Cal 9mm White safety "S" Dark "F"

Frame Side: SN Matching to slide. Roundel No import marks.

I have white dot sights.

Take down:
Barrel Part:
SN 3 DIGIT matches slide.
Barell has "13" and two hash marks ' || '
The locking push button stopper, has "Y1" stamped into it.

Slide:
no inside stampings, but in the hammer well, just above the "nail head." There is a "8" stamped there

frame:

Frame has a "4" stamped into it just in front of the trigger spring well.


Its very high polish finish, and it looks like all of the Walther verbiage, at one time was white.. residue white paint in the letters.

any ideas? thanks.
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Old 07-06-2012, 04:11 AM   #10
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The circle w/dot means your P-38 was inspected to federal police & military standards. My German commercial P-38 has the circle w/no dot. Your best bet is to post photos of both sides of the gun and the serial number is also important. The eagle proofs of the Material Testing Agency are different then the German Eagle/N commercial proofs for example.
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