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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I think this forum needs some activity so I just wanted to share some details on the P38 I acquired while on vacation in New Mexico. If anyone ever wants the ultimate in info on P38's, make sure to visit www.p38forum.com. Those guys know every intimate detail on these pistols. I am just a novice in comparison.

First off, this is an ac44 all matching P38. The ac44 code means that it was built at the Walther plant in 1944. Notice the finish. The outside is very rough and not polished. Therefore the blueing is very faded. Factory blueing needs a polished surface for a long lasting deep blue, however since 1943 the Germans were desperate to cut corners to speed up production.



The frame is actually a redish color, this was due to improper use of blueing salts, I can only speculate there were slave laborers who did the less critical work such as blueing.

On the right side you can see the nazi and Werhmacht acceptance stamps. Under the eagle are the number 359, which also signifies this proofed at the Walther plant.



When looking for a wartime P38 it is important that the barrel, slide and frame have matching serial numbers. Through the years people have mismatched them, damaged them or maybe some GI's at the factory put them together wrong. Only some ac45's are supposed to be mismatched as the factory was getting desperate to put P38's together before they were overrun by Patton's 3rd army.

 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
Below is a picture of the barrel. Notice the locking block underneath is left in the white (unblued). A blued locking block is a good indication of a refinish job.



I was lucky to get mine with a correct magazine. At this time in the war they were no longer putting serial numbers on the mags to match the gun.



Of course one downside to buying this gun is it did not have the original grips. I did not know this until after I bought it and researched. The black grips that came with it were made by Mauser Werke, who also made P38's. The Walther P38's at this time were wearing reddish brown grips filled with sawdust to help stretch the meager oil reserves that were needed to make plastics. Fortunately I found someone selling the proper grips for my gun, so I bit the bullet and paid $150 for them. Here is a pic with my other WWII pistols, a Sauer 38H and Walther Modell 5:

 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Now, how does it shoot? Well, most collectors would say never shoot an all matching gun. But, I couldn't resist. It is incredible, way better than a P1 and I can shoot better groups with this P38 than my P99's. Even though the outside is rough, the inside is made like a watch, everything is thight where it needs to be. I will reserve shooting it much. One has to make the decision if it is really worth shooting and taking the risk. The P38 had a price of 590 on it, I talked them down to 520 and spent 150 on the grips, which brings my investment to 670, which is about correct for an all matching ac44.

The collectors really value leaving WWII guns alone. I have seen some ac45's with a high polish blue, which means of course someone reblued them and polished them up, probably because rust set in and there was nothing more they could do with the gun. The ealier P38's from 1938 to about 1942, should have a polished blue, but after the fall of Stalingrad, Germany incorporated the help of Mauser Werke and Spreewerks to help Walther in the manufacture of P38's. Quality finish went to the wayside.

By the way, for general reference, if you see a P38 for sale, wartime ones never say "Walther" on them, instead they have manufacturing codes:

ac - Walther
byf - Mauser
cyq - Spreewerk

Since this is such a great shooting gun, my next quest is to try to find a cheaper mismatch for target shooting. I found an all matching cyq from a local dealer asking 495, I am thinking maybe Christmas?? There is something about the nice heavy steel frame that just makes this gun easy to shoot.
 

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Nice posts, and very nice photos, banddoc. Thanks for sharing that good-looking Walther and the background information. I don't know that I'd be shooting a correctly matched wartime P38 anytime soon (that's why they made the P1, you know -- to let the rest of us know what it feels like to shoot one). But there's no question that they are things of beauty and were precisely made, even by today's standards. Every serious Walther collector should get at least one and tuck it safely away.
 

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No harm in shooting them, that's what they were made for. But you just have to be sensible in your choice of ammunition, which should be mild generic stuff, not +P or hot handloads. The original "thin" slides of WWII and early postwar guns have a tendency to crack at the corners of the locking lug recesses when subjected to pounding from higher pressure ammunition than they were designed for. Contrary to the oft-expressed views of many, it has nothing to do with the recoil springs.

M
 

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MGMike: I tend to think of them all as safe queens -- a living, breathing part of history that can't be replaced once they are gone. You wouldn't practice painting on a Monet, so why run ammo through a wartime P38? Not everyone holds with that view, of course -- and it's true that hundreds of thousands of the things were made during the course of the war. That's what makes a horse race.

I've got a couple of them and wouldn't think about firing them up under most any circumstance. When I get the itch, and I do often, I take out one of the P1s and appreciate the craftsmanship of the Walther design without either concern for the past. :)
 

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Searcher: You can keep the safe queens, but please send your Monet to me.

M
Mike: Too late. I shot it full of holes on the range with the P1 after running short of pie plates. As the French often remark, "C'est la vie." :) Or, as Maurice Chevalier used to croon, "Thank heaven ... for little Monets ..."
 

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The beauty of a Monet is that when you are standing far enough away to see the picture, it's too far away to notice the bullet holes.

M
 
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