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A big problem with p 38's is the top cover. Beware if you use hot 9mm loads you risk having the top cover and all the small parts inside blowing off. Most parts are easy to find but the firing pin lock can be difficult to find for WW2 guns. I have replaced a few of them and all are the result of using hot or +p loads.
I rarely shoot my matched ac45 P38 (I've only shot maybe 50 rounds since I purchased the gun a year ago). But sometimes Helen just looks so cute I can't resist. Last time, the top strap popped off (and the rear sight smacked me in the forehead). What a naughty girl, that Helen!

Anyway, I did find the strap, sight, and firing pin/spring in the leaves by my feet (mirable dictu!). As someone (Mike?) noted, put back together properly, the strap should stay in place. But I'm the one who installed the strap when I first purchased it, as I recall it somehow popped out when first cleaning/inspecting.

My question is, is this just a reflection of my choice of ammo? (I used 124gr FMJ which seems unremarkable), or does the strap suffer from wear (looks unlikely, simple design)? I can't imagine I put it together incorrectly, but anything is possible. Any suggestions or tips on attachment?

Once re-assembled she will go back in her cradle and I'll use the P5 for my fun. But I know I'll be tempted to take her out every so often. Just like I occasionally drive my 1972 Norton Commando or my 1973 Triumph Tiger: rarely. I suppose that means I'm slightly more shooter than collector, although from this thread it's clearly a continuum, everyone to their tastes and risks. As anyone who drives vintage will tell you, you take your chances.
 

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It is possible, I suppose, that the extra slide velocity generated by the use of +P ammunition might cause the top cover to fly off, but I don't believe it. I still maintain it's either incorrect assembly or a too-loose fit between the cover and the slide.

M
 

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It is possible, I suppose, that the extra slide velocity generated by the use of +P ammunition might cause the top cover to fly off, but I don't believe it. I still maintain it's either incorrect assembly or a too-loose fit between the cover and the slide.

M
I'm voting with MGMike on incorrect assembly (even though it was me the last time). I watched a few videos where gents were popping in that cover with a firm press of the thumb. Well, I've got pretty strong thumbs, and there was no way the cover would ever "snap" into place. I crushed it down and back with my meaty paws and no love. I suspect that last time I only got it "90%" in place. So this time I took out a small tap hammer, and gave it a gentle whack, and didn't it settle down nice and tight. Pretty sure it won't go flying out again, but I'll stick with gentle loads too, just for those rare times I take it out of its case.

Thanks gents.
 

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Decision Made

The gunsmith who sold me my P38 (manufactured by Mauser circa April 1943) has repeatedly assured me that, so long as I do not shoot +P or +P+ ammo (or some other hot load), my handgun will outlive me with proper cleaning regiment. I have studied the warnings and opinions expressed within this thread, and have concluded that my P38 is a firearm -- not historic relic -- which, if capable of being fired, should be enjoyed within my lifetime. I also note that Mauser did not begin manufacturing the P38 until late 1942; and I suspect that whatever "shortcuts" German armament made during the war did not occur so early when Mauser began production. I am 65 years old, and while I would very much like my son to inherit this historic firearm, I am not going to vault this firearm to preserve for my future generations who will most probably be saddled with the same paradox as to whether it should be preserved or used. My guess is that my descendants will most probably use, at the range, for self-defense, or at IDPA/USPSA meets some more modern handgun (making even my Walther PPQ obsolete.
 

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Will Report Event Outcome

I have previously opined that my P-38 should be used for shooting, not acquiring dust as an historic artifact, and I intend to demonstrate this conclusion later this month at my local I.D.P.A. event in south Jersey. I intend to use this firearm shooting American Eagle 124 grain 9mm ammunition which ballistic load was that intended to be shot by the German Army. I will report as to the experience although I suspect that my P-38, containing only eight -- not ten -- rounds with magazine release at the heel of the handle, will probably not fare as well as the firearms otherwise permitted to be used by the I.D.P.A. as "Stock Service Pistol." I had been lobbying for the I.D.P.A. to create a new division -- which I had suggested be labeled as "Nostalgic Specialty Division" ("N.S.D.") to umbrella historic single stack magazine guns not otherwise limited to 45 caliber -- but that has been ignored. Nevertheless, if I could not carry my Walther PPQ-M2 5"barrel, then I certainly would carry my Walther P-38 which is, quite frankly, a great shooting gun. Will keep all advised as to developments.
 

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Years ago I used to regularly shoot skeet with a Winchester M12 riot gun. I did not hit as many birds as the other fellows, but that gun --which was my "house" gun and on which I would stake my life in an emergency-- became VERY familiar to me.

Otherwise, a short-barreled shotgun, having no recreational or hunting use, tends to be fired rather seldom, with a resulting lack of close affinity.

M
 

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Interesting read, lots of opinions and good points. I've been around weapons most of my life and enjoy their company a lot. Thought I'd show a few on my "war dogs' as has been expressed here a few times. All are matching and all are shot a lot! However, there's a lot of love that goes into these before and after...

https://photos.app.goo.gl/8nGewWUge9jezwKd9
 

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If we talk about shooting from old weapons.
Because the weapon that does not shoot is not a weapon but a toy. And there is no way to control the technical condition without the risk of damage.
A reasonable solution is seen in the preliminary heat treatment to eliminate the effects of natural aging of steel.
This is heating to a low tempering, about 200 Celsius for half an hour.
This is usually done in a lead bath.
Exact tempering conditions should be sought in the heat treatment reference books for a specific steel.
 

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I have just discovered that my WWII P38 has a cracked slide. I'll keep it and order a remanufactured and continue to shoot it. Any comments welcomed!
 

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Sorry to hear that, Monte. Sounds like no one got hurt. A complete P1 slide (heavy preferred) would work on a wartime steel frame. Most parts interchange (but not all).
 

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Martin,

you over estimate the language skills of our members here:). The parts that will not interchange, even with fitting, are:

firing pin
firing pin block
safey
hammer

I do not know the English word for Anschlagbolzen so somebody else has to complete the list.

Honestly, German is my native language and I still wouldn't know how to translate many of these words ;)
 
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