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Old 02-11-2012, 06:55 PM   #1
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wilbur .22
S&W Walther stainless 380 PPK - First mpressions and chrono results

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I got to spend some time at the range today. The temperature was about 25F and windy. Bright and sunny though, so overall a very nice day.

Last weekend I bought a new stainless S&W PPK in 380, as well as a S&W Bodyguard 380. Since I've never owned a handgun in this caliber before, I was interested in their relative and overall performance. Given the reviews some S&W PPKs have received on this forum, I was also interested in whether or not I had a lemon. I also thought it would be interesting to compare S&W's latest technology to the PPK, so I've included the Bodyguard data in this post for comparison purposes.

My overall impression of the S&W PPK is quite favorable. Fit and finish are excellent. The slide moves very smoothly, and there is no rattle or looseness. Finish is very clean, with no sharp edges or tool marks on the slide or frame. Internals are well done too. The DA trigger is very smooth, but quite heavy. SA trigger is excellent! My estimate of the pull weight is about 4 lbs, and there is no creep or over travel. Very nice. The only problem I noted was that the PPK did shoot about four inches to the left of POA at 10 yards using a sandbag, but that's an easy fix. The Bodyguard shot to POA.

During the range session today, I ran four different kinds of ammunition through both guns - a total of about 100 rounds per gun. The rounds I used were all 95 grain, and included Winchester White Box FMJ flat nose, Remington UMC FMJ round nose, Federal American Eagle FMJ round nose, and Winchester Ranger T JHP. I experienced no failures of any kind in either weapon. The PPK is a blowback action, whereas the Bodyguard is a locked-breech design. However, the recoil was mild out of both weapons. I did get a bit of slide bite, in spite of the "enlarged and improved" tang on the PPK.

The chrono data shown below is averaged over six rounds of each type of ammo. Velocity was measured about three feet from the muzzle.


For the PPK, velocities ranged from about 775 fps for the WWB to a bit over 900 fps for the Ranger T. The velocities out of the Bodyguard were a bit faster for each ammunition type - a bit surprising since the Bodyguard's barrel is only 2.75 in, compared with 3.3 in for the PPK. Presumably this is due to the blowback action type of the PPK. Remington UMC had the smallest velocity distribution, and Federal AE had the largest. The Winchester Ranger T has the highest muzzle velocity of all the loads, yet ranks third in velocity scatter. This round appears to perform quite well in the PPK.

From the above data, I also calculated the energy of the round in ft-lbsf.


These results highlight the relatively low kinetic energy of the 380 caliber. Energy ranging from 130 to 170 ft-lbsf does not exactly promote confidence in the caliber as a self-defense choice. But the guns themselves both performed quite admirably today!

Dave
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Old 02-11-2012, 08:08 PM   #2
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Glenn-SC .22
Congratulations on two good guns!

... and interesting data.
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Old 02-11-2012, 11:21 PM   #3
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halfmoonclip .22
Interesting data indeed. The higher velocities for the Bodyguard may be due to the breech locking system, or to tighter barrel tolerances in that gun.

Also fortunate that you were able to run your chrono out under the sky; ever try to measure velocities under a fluorescent light?

Thanks for the info; any other shooting impressions of the Bodyguard and the PPK? I like the looks of the little Smith but not sure how I feel about the integral laser.

Moon
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Old 02-12-2012, 02:34 PM   #4
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wilbur .22
Other impressions

Here are some of my other impressions of the comparison between the two weapons. Some of this is obvious, but I include it for the sake of completeness.

Safety - the PPK safety is backwards compared to what I am used to. The BG380 lever is quite small and hard to work quickly on the draw. In most cases, I carry Condition 3, so this isn't really a problem.Carrying this way makes the user interface the same for all pistols I carry - draw-rack-pull-bang. The only difference between guns is in the trigger pull. With the PPK I get the nice SA trigger all the time. The DAO BG380 has a loooong pull that does take some getting used to. Its much lighter than the PPK DA trigger, however.

Mag Release - I am most used to shooting a 1911 in competition, so the PPK release seems too high. The BG380 release is in exactly the right place. More practice with mag changes with the PPK should help with this.

Slide Stop Lever - There is none on the PPK. To release the slide, you need to drop the empty mag and rack the slide. Frankly, I prefer this method and use it on all my pistols. The BG380 slide stop lever is very small and hard to use.

Laser - as noted above, the BG380 has an integral laser. Mine came accurately aligned with the iron sights. I suppose it will wear out at some point. I mostly use it at the range - I doubt I would have the presence of mind to turn it on in a defensive situation. Buttons seem to be in a good place for the strong-side index finger or the weak-side thumb. The BG380's primary competition in the market is the Ruger LCP. The two pistols are essentially the same size, so you don't give away anything there even if the laser doesn't work.

Recoil - I don't notice a big difference between the recoil of the PPK and the BG380. The PPK is heavier, which helps with the stronger recoil of the blowback action. The BG380 is very light, so the lighter recoil of the locked-breech action helps with this pistol.

Sights - Both are small. As my eyes get older, this may become more of an issue. I may add some paint or something to brighten them up a bit more. The PPK has a longer sight radius. Shooting from Weaver or isosceles stances, I get a slightly better pattern with the PPK.

Feel - the PPK feels better in my hand. The BG380 is quite thin, but seems to point and shoot okay as well in my opinion. I have large hands with long fingers.

Takedown Mechanism - the PPK trigger guard mechanism works well, but I like to use a piece of plastic to protect the frame. The BG380 takedown pin is quite hard to remove, but is getting easier to work as I shoot the gun more. The BG380 takedown pin has been re-engineered to make it stiffer as there were some problems with it in early production runs.

Tradition - PPK wins hands down!

Dave
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Old 02-13-2012, 11:37 AM   #5
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Ranger .22
Wilbur,

Good review, thanks.

I bought a new ss PPK/S in .380 recently and haven't received it yet. Your report is inspirational, I hope to have as good of a experience like you did.
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