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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Modernizing the P88 -- What would you improve?

Curious what the fellow P88 community would improve or modernize on the P88? I realize that this classic should be preserved, but from a durability standpoint, what exactly would you like?


I only ask this because I read a ton about potential problems that have sprung up on these pistols before Walther released the P88C. The full size is such an elegant design, I just wish I could shoot it more without feeling any guilt. Mine is NIB.


I recently won a GB bid for a P88 parts kit (everything minus frame), and Numrich sells blank frames for <$20. I've had ideas about steel frame rail inserts, full length dust cover (like the XM9), maybe even an accessory rail, or a smaller rear backstrap. Would be a fun build and a fun shooter.


In any regard, would love to hear any input on this. Cheers!
 

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Have you handled both?
Question; When is a compact handgun NOT a compact handgun? Answer; When it's a P88C.


The P88C APPEARS significantly smaller in images, due to the full length dust cover. In reality, the "compact" (faux-compact?) has a barrel that's a whopping .2" shorter then the P88.


This tidbit from Wiki sums it up......"The standard P88 was heavily criticised for being bulky, heavy and expensive; the Compact solved none of these issues.".


I'm a hardcore P5 collector (seven at this time), even own a Lang, yet I don't own a P5C. Don't like the smaller grip size, shorter trigger reach, even the "look" is off to my eye (unbalanced grip longer then barrel/slide overhang look).


I have ONE compact in my collection, the P88C. Because it's NOT compact.
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Have you handled both?
Question; When is a compact handgun NOT a compact handgun? Answer; When it's a P88C.


The P88C APPEARS significantly smaller in images, due to the full length dust cover. In reality, the "compact" (faux-compact?) has a barrel that's a whopping .2" shorter then the P88.


I'm a hardcore P5 collector (seven at this time), even own a Lang, yet I don't own a P5C. Don't like the smaller grip size, shorter trigger reach, even the "look" is off to my eye (unbalanced grip longer then barrel/slide overhang look).


This tidbit from Wiki sums it up......"The standard P88 was heavily criticised for being bulky, heavy and expensive; the Compact solved none of these issues.".

I have ONE compact in my collection, the P88C. Because it's NOT compact.



It's pretty difficult to come by older handguns in CA, so I've only experience with holding the P88, not the Compact.


The criticisms I've read about here in regards to the P88 are its girthy grip, and in some cases, stress fracturing around the magazine release (and frame rails on the XM9).


I for one would be interested to see if anyone had any idea how to possibly reinforce these spots, while still preserving the essence of the pistol. I wouldn't mind buying a bunch of spare frame blanks and mocking up things to it just to imagine what it would be like. I would essentially have parts for a home build (granted CA no longer allows it, so it'll wait until I move).


And to answer your question: A USP Compact isn't really all that compact. It's nearly as large as a P7M13.
 

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Romeo_Alpha01 what makes the P88 in your experience “better”, I was contemplation the Q5-SF but perhaps I rather stay with my P88 fixation/collection_urge....any insight welcome.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Romeo_Alpha01 what makes the P88 in your experience “better”, I was contemplation the Q5-SF but perhaps I rather stay with my P88 fixation/collection_urge....any insight welcome.
I think my bias towards the P88 is a bit subjective but I’ll try to explain. My bias comes from collecting pistols with some sort of technological or historical significance. I bought the P88 and Q5 SF within a month of one another. Was the perfect combo to complete lineage to the P99.

So with the P88, I prefer it simply to being Walthers last hurrah to old world craftsmanship. While it was never perfected and considered to many as a commercial flop for Walther, you can’t deny its accuracy for being a common browning tilting action pistol. It’s compared secondly to the Sig P-210 which was also intended to be a service weapon. Aside from the P7, the P88 was one of the first fully ambi pistols for commercial market, although the controls were clunky.

Fast forward to the Q5 SF. There’s no denying it’s an accurate performer here as well. Ambi slide stop, good machine work, etc. This was accomplished with machinery and good marketing.

I feel the P88 is just as accurate in a lighter package, and overall more innovative for its time. It has Walthers old world pedigree. Both pistols to me, while awesome, we’re both in some ways cobbled together to get into market. The genesis of the Q5 is almost parallel to the P88, plagued with small mechanical issues, and slow sales. The Q5 SF didn’t pioneer anything new or draw any sort of inspirational breakthrough in pistol technology either.

Walther, no doubt makes quality pistols. Their niche has always been tailored to shooters who demand uncompromising accuracy. I don’t think Walthers new products, including the Q5 SF are anything inspirational anymore. With all the new doodads and go fast design, it doesn’t seem like a Walther anymore. I’m in my early 30s and I always thought Walthers were suited for distinguished shooters. Just seems now Walther is the hipster you see with a business suit, minus the tie, but wearing sneakers and a fitted hat.

The P88 will always be that however, even if it was Walthers incomplete answer to the budget friendly Beretta 92 series. It led us to the P99, and then to the PPQ. The sillouette of a P88 is elegant and classic, while still relevant in today’s market of gun culture 2.0.

Sorry for the long ramble, but I hope somewhere in there I gave you an honest answer!
 

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Thanks Romeo, indeed my thoughts are quite similar to yours and although as beginner for only 3 years now my cruisade started with a Tavor-IDF, PS-90 and Springfield-TRP I got soon attracted to the historical and timeless PP series at first (mainly the 60-80s generation) based on my childhood JB upbringing but the more I read books, studied and reviewed (including you and all the other great guys on this forum) I came to the conclusion that the P88 series is just the best of the best FOR ME.....nothing beats all metal, the feel, solid, powerful, balanced and moreover great looking. Understanding the love of others for P5 and P38 and the reasons why, for me the P88 embodies the PHD level in Walther gunmaking. Having said that you made me complete my mission 2 days ago and I was fortunate to add a Competition to my collection. Thanks and Regards!
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks Romeo, indeed my thoughts are quite similar to yours and although as beginner for only 3 years now my cruisade started with a Tavor-IDF, PS-90 and Springfield-TRP I got soon attracted to the historical and timeless PP series at first (mainly the 60-80s generation) based on my childhood JB upbringing but the more I read books, studied and reviewed (including you and all the other great guys on this forum) I came to the conclusion that the P88 series is just the best of the best FOR ME.....nothing beats all metal, the feel, solid, powerful, balanced and moreover great looking. Understanding the love of others for P5 and P38 and the reasons why, for me the P88 embodies the PHD level in Walther gunmaking. Having said that you made me complete my mission 2 days ago and I was fortunate to add a Competition to my collection. Thanks and Regards!
Glad you are enjoying it. Nothing could describe how elated I was when I bought my P88. Of the 4 Walthers I own (P99, P88, Q5 SF, and P5C), the P88 gave me the tingles when I finally found it, which is not an easy task where I live. When I found another one a month later, I had to buy that one too and eventually gift it to a good friend who also share the same taste. The only other time I ever felt this way was when I found a P7M13 and Mark 23 within a month of each other.

Every time I hold the P88, it really reminds me of the more of Walther in its hay-day. It’s almost like a stress reliever because when I look at Walther’s current offerings with the Liberace-style design queues, it’s really cringe worthy. I feel like a distinguished gentleman when I shoot it. Really classy piece!

When I defect from the communist west I hope I can follow in your shoes and also have a P88 champion, along with finally being a free citizen. Cheers and congrats again!
 

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Romeo come on over soon, I defected exactly 20 years ago with no regrets.......took me 17 years to get over my introcdinated west European gun fear before I got the taste of full freedom and jumped into the second amendment rights I now have......make sure you get to the south when you jump.... ;-)
 

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Have owned many unique Walthers over the past 40 years and the P88 was pretty interesting when I first owned it. Loved the design and finish etc. but hated the clunky feeling of the gun and esp. controls. Back in the late 80’s I just liked my Sig 226 better so I ended up selling it. Gunstore nearby has had a couple in the case and I’ve taken one out to handle again. It’s interesting but only as it relates to Walther history. My P5 I got in 83 I still love and would never sell even if I don’t shoot it much anymore. Personally, I would have no interest in a modernized P88. I like what they are doing with the Q4/5 SF pistols.
 

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... the P88 was pretty interesting when I first owned it. Loved the design and finish etc. but hated the clunky feeling of the gun and esp. controls. Back in the late 80’s I just liked my Sig 226 better so I ended up selling it. ...
The P88 owed its existence to the U.S. Army's XM9 program specifications which called for a big, high-capacity service pistol in 9mm with a Chinese restaurant menu of wish-list features. Walther had never built such a pistol before.

Their first efforts looked so much like unabashed copies of the SIG/Sauer that Walther management sent the designers back to the drawing boards with orders to make it look different. Unfortunately they couldn't shake their target-pistol mentality and were fixated on precision and innovative features than on durability, simplicity and cost --fundamentals which SIG/Sauer had down pat.

In the end the XM9 finalists were those entries with the longest developmental time behind them. Had the Swiss not been so arrogant the Pentagon might have chosen their gun over the Beretta.

M
 

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I do like my P88 but I was rather shocked when I reviewed its performance in the U.S.Army test trials. Walther entered two guns and both cracked their frames at repetitively low round counts which threw them out of the running for sure. If I remember correctly they both cracked at only 7,000 rounds of shooting. To be fair the Beretta 92 the military adopted cracked its slides at high round counts too but I think it was much higher round counts than the Walther. Maybe someone could step in here and give us the number of rounds fired out of the Beretta's before they blew up their slides. I think it was very high round counts though. I just cannot right now remember the number of rounds fired when they faild.

As far as accuracy. One of the reasons I bought the Walther P88, besides it being one of the last high quality metal guns Walther ever made, was the bragging and ballyhoo by gun writers about the gun's great accuracy. I found my P88 to be no more accurate than some of my vintage High Power Brownings and I found the P88 accuracy way behind the Sig Nuehausen P210 (original gun not the cast iron junk model being made today).

I like to shoot my P88 but now have semi-retired it as I have over 2,500 rounds out of it and because its an investment I am not going to keep shooting it and end up cracking the frame. I may be acting too paranoid because I am a hand loader and I always shoot very low power rounds out of all my 9mm guns compared to the red hot loads the military used in their testing so I imagine I should get way more service life out of my P88 than the Military did. If I remember correctly in the Military testing the frames cracked at about 7,000 rounds. That's not very much shooting life. So I am guessing I should get way more rounds out of mine but I still hesitate to take the chance.

I would have liked to have seen this problem corrected and the gun still being made today for the well heeled and even not so rich connoisseurs of fine weapons. I would have even liked to have seen a steel framed gun made.

I think there is a market for high end well made high quality guns even today, its just that some enterprising individual should start up a company and issued no stock in it. It is the stock holders that demand that everything being made today be made a cheap as possible for maximum profits even though many consumer products break as they come out of the box. I remember days gone buy when you bought a consumer product from a prestigious manufacturer and you expected and knew you bought high quality that with minimal care would often last a life time. Many of the younger generation never experienced this and expect everything they buy today to self destruct in short order.

Yes I admit there are some plasticky and stamped sheet metal guns that do work a long time but plastic and stamped sheet metal is not quality and never will be. You do not get pride of ownership out of a piece of plastic and that is why people like guns like Walther P88's, Browning High Powers, vintage Colt and vintage Smith & Wesson revolvers, not the junk Smith and Colt are making today. Yes for the most part the Colt and Smith revolvers are made of metal but what kind of metal (junk MIM castings) and what kind of workmanship and how many omissions and short cuts were made in producing them. No wonder the older guns often sell used for more than new guns.

Beretta 92's now have cast iron locking blocks that go snap, crackle and pop, junk plastic triggers and safeties and junk plastic op rods just to name a few of the rip offs in the newer 92's. Just one more example of why people like the older made guns like the Walther P88's.
 

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There are too many good guns around for me to ponder about improvements of the already passable Walther P88. I bought my pre-owned P88 around 1994 and have to admit, that I only ran a box or two of mild reloads through it in the past 15 years.

Like many here on this forum, I enjoy quality firearms and as a long time competitive shooter, I do not want the gun to be the limiting factor in my performance. Owning several vintage Walthers, P210s, pre-lock S&W revolvers, Korths & MR73 revolvers, Colts and one SIG Sauer, as well as many others, I find the absence of mentioning the fine Sphinx saddening.

While the Brno CZ 75 was a good design, adding Swiss craftmanship into the equation has definitely resulted in a fine firearm! The trigger characteristics and built quality of the AT2000S are ... Swiss, typically Swiss.

 

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I do like my P88 but I was rather shocked when I reviewed its performance in the U.S.Army test trials. Walther entered two guns and both cracked their frames at repetitively low round counts which threw them out of the running for sure. If I remember correctly they both cracked at only 7,000 rounds of shooting. To be fair the Beretta 92 the military adopted cracked its slides at high round counts too but I think it was much higher round counts than the Walther. Maybe someone could step in here and give us the number of rounds fired out of the Beretta's before they blew up their slides. ...
The XM9 version of the P88 and the redesigned commercial version of the P88 introduced about two years later were quite different guns with significantly different characteristics. Cracked frames in each version stemmed from different, unrelated (and unshared) flaws that could have been corrected. As between the two, the XM9 may have had greater potential, but neither of them had the development time behind it to successfully compete against Beretta or SIG, either militarily or commercially. By that time, Walther was already in terminal health financially, and had neither the time nor money needed.

In the XM9 trials the Berettas did not "blow up their slides". They successfully completed the required 10,000-round endurance test, and would not have been adopted otherwise. The exact cause of the later cracking and breaking of some Beretta slides in military service was never conclusively established, as some that were subsequently tested exceeded 30,000 rounds without distress. The cause of failure in individual cases may have been non-standard ammo, or erratic heat treatment, or something else. Whatever the cause, beefing up the slide walls put an end to it, in much the same way as "fat" slides effectively cured a similar problem in Walther P1/P38s.

M
 

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While the Brno CZ 75 was a good design, adding Swiss craftmanship into the equation has definitely resulted in a fine firearm! The trigger characteristics and built quality of the AT2000S are ... Swiss, typically Swiss.
And just in case you missed it, Sphinx has been “resurrected” as Phoenix, although they are producing the 3000 lineage instead of the original 2000 line. The quality, and prices, are also “typically Swiss”.
 

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For 30+ years Tanfoglio in Italy made a lucrative business of cloning and creating variants of the CZ75; it also sold finished or semi-finished components to many others in the gun business --in the United States, Israel, Switzerland among others--to market under their own names. There was a ready market in the USA at that time because imports from Czechoslovakia were still barred. One such company was a putatively Swiss company with Solothurn in its name, imported for a time by Action Arms, which also imported the UZI. It was not clear whether its parts came from Italy or from the Czechs, but quality control of the end product was unspeakable. I ordered two of them in succession, returning each for problems that were obvious straight out of the box. One of them had a chewed-up bore that looked like a reamer had broken inside it; I've forgotten what was defective in the other, but neither was even remotely acceptable. I don't know if the earliest Sphinx, which showed up shortly thereafter, was related.

M
 

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And just in case you missed it, Sphinx has been “resurrected” as Phoenix, although they are producing the 3000 lineage instead of the original 2000 line. The quality, and prices, are also “typically Swiss”.
Maybe I should start another thread and do a side-by-side comparison of the service model SIG P210, the target -6 version and the Sphinx. I can throw a comparison of the P88 and a few P5's in, as well.

I consider all of the above pistols more accurate than the average service pistol and do not mean only mechanical accuracy but off-hand achievable accuracy. One of the things that have always intrigued me with the P210s was that the internal finish was so excellent. Only Ratzeburg Korths and the old, old fashioned Swiss 1882/29 compare in that respect.
 
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