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I recently inherited this gun from my father who bought it in the late 50s or early 60s from a private seller in California. It had sentimental value to him because his father was KIA in WWII when my dad was only 8 yrs old.

I am trying to find out more information about the gun. I reviewed the marks post and from what I can glean it seems the gun was the 138th gun made in July (g) 1944. It also has marks that appear to indicate it was a Nazi gun. But I definitely could be wrong. Attached are some pics. I appreciate any info you all are able to provide.
 

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There were about 1450,000 P.38's made by Walther in 1944.

The production date was approximately July 1944, but not due to the 7th month being equal to the 7th letter of the alphabet.

The production blocks were 10,000 pistols. The started with no letter suffix and once 10000 were produced, they started over and assigned a new letter suffix in alphabetical order for each subsequent block.

For example January 1944 included the first block with no letter suffix, and the beginning of the "a" block. February 1944 included the remainder of the "a" block and the start of the "b" block. March included the rest of the "b" block and the start of the "c" block. April had the "d" block while May and June had the "e" and "f" blocks respectively because production numbers had increased. July then had the entire "g" block with production continuing at about 10,000 units per month through December and the "l" (L) block.

Walther first achieved 10,000 units per month in April 1941 and they hit that mark often enough afterwards that 10,000 units may well have been a contract target in 1941 and 1942. There were 110,000 and 120,000 produced respectively in 1941 and 1942, into the "j" and "k" blocks respectively. However there were 150,000 produced in 1943 (though the "m" and "n" blocks in December 1943, suggesting the targets were in excess of 10,000 units per month.

As noted above, production lagged in the first few months of 1944 (probably due to allied bombing), but production for 1944 was still around 130,000.

Walther stayed on track at about 10,000 per month through March 1944. The Walther factory was captured in April 1944, part way through the "c" block. Some "c" and "d" block P.38s were completed from parts. These were assembled for GIs by former factory workers and they are usually non matching number pistols.

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I suspect that even if there was a monthly cap of 10,000 pistols in some months, that factory workers didn't put down their tools and take the rest of the month off. It's possible and even likely that a low number pistol was made late in the preceding month, or if production was a bit behind that a high number pistol in a block was made early in the succeeding month. Production numbers and block dates are approximate, not definitive.
 

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The plum color in the bluing of the frame normally occurs when the bluing tank temperature is just bit too hot It is more common with harder steel alloys with higher percentage of chromium in them, and the plum color shows up over time. The stamps are sharp and the tool marks are still there, so it is most likely the original bluing.

Both Walther and AEG manufactured grips would be correct for your pistol. Externally they look the same, so you'll have to remove the grips and note the markings underneath to determine what you have.

Your pistol is in very good condition, so take care if you plan to shoot it. Ideally you should install new recoil and hammer springs to prevent the slide from getting battered and to prevent any rounding of the locking surfaces - both are the result of springs that are too weak and allow the action to open too soon.

There have also been cases of P.38s developing cracks around the locking lug recesses and just in front of the breech face. This is probably an artifact of shooting it with ammunition that is loaded to excessive pressure, creating excessive slide velocity, or shooting the pistol with weak recoil springs.

In that regard, the P.38 was not designed for a 9mm +P load, and NATO ammunition varied by country but had a higher maximum allowable average pressure limit than standard 9mm ammunition, so it's best to avoid 9mm NATO ammunition. The post war P.1 had a slightly heavier slide to accommodate the 9mm NATO ammunition.

The standard WWII German military 9mm cartridge used a 124 gr bullet at a velocity of about 1050 fps in a P.38. Beginning in late 1941 the Germans started developing other loads to conserve lead. The 9mm M.E ("mit Eisenkern", with iron core) had a blackened bullet jacket and weighed 100 grains. The even later 9mm S.E. ("Sintered Eisen, sintered iron) used a sintered iron bullet with no jacket, was gray in color and weighed about 90 grains.

The British also developed a lighter 115 gr load early in WWII, and I suspect it's the association with lighter war time produced rounds that results in people suggesting lighter bullets for P.08 and P.38 pistol. There's nothing wrong with going lighter, but a hit loaded 115 gr cartridge is just as hard on the pistol as a hot loaded 124 gr cartridge.

As with any older Walther pistol, be aware that the firs control parts were face hardened for durability with softer, more ductile steel in the center. However, they tend to become more brittle over time when subjected to repeated impacts. Decocking levers in particular are prone to breaking due to hammer impacts, so with the PP series pistols and P.38 series pistols it's always a good idea to hold the hammer when decocking and manually lower it after you depress the decocking lever.
 

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Interesting twist on history.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thank you BB77

Thank you for all the background history. Apart from the grips which I need to remove to check, do the other marks indicate the remaining parts are all matched? I'm not sure what marks to look for to tell.
 

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Thank you for all the background history. Apart from the grips which I need to remove to check, do the other marks indicate the remaining parts are all matched? I'm not sure what marks to look for to tell.
Yes the frame and slide and the front of the barrel block should have the same serial number. Remove the slide and look at the bottom of the locking block, there you see the last three digits of the serial number the suffix letter if there is one.
 
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