Part of the following is a post I made on one of the other Walther Forums, but it applies here also.
PW arms recently imported what are said to be the last of the P-38/P-1 from Germany. They are police turn-ins.
I was at Dan's and handpicked two pristine P-38 pistols (one a '60 and the other a '62) for myself and a '61 for one buddy from a lot of about 100 or so P-38 marked pistols. I also went through literally hundreds of mags to get date-matched mags and boxes of holsters and cleaning kits to get new (unused) leather holster for each as well as three cleaning kits (one metal and two plastic box). All of the accessories were still in the arsenal-sealed plastic.
I also got two P-1 holsters; one green (dated 5/88) and the other camoflage pattern (dated 5/98).
The P-83s are black finish with alloy frames, perfect grips and no wear whatsoever. They were $270 each (P-1 holsters were extra). I think that is a few dollars more than SOG and some of the others, but as I said Dan's is the source through PW imports and so he had the pick before they were sent out.
The late-50's, early '60s pistols are almost identical to the original wartime P-38, except for the alloy frame; many even have "original" P-38 slides (I understand that late '50s til '73 are designated P-38, after that date they are designated P-1). Later the pins were added to allow P+ ammo, so with the early ones you should not feed a steady diet of the stuff from what I understand.
The P-1 pistols that he had (and he had a ton of them), were also in excellent to good condition. Many of them were parkerized and/or reassenaled in a park-type finish, many of the mags were paper-wrapped, as were the holsters and kits; others were packed, but obviously used.
He also had a few with steel frames and dates from the '40s as well as at least one P-4 with the short barrel--most of them were in poorer condition.
He also has P-1 shooters for about 250, most of those are rearsenaled with a parkerized finish.
BTW, I had the opportunity to handle over 100 of the P-38 and an equal number of the P-1 pistols and it is really interesting to see the various changes and iterations as they were developed--changes in the machining, proof-marks, finishes, grips, etc
My advice is to get one now while they are available. Dan is a great guy and a real straight arrow to deal with.
Just a few details about P1/P38s. "Original" P38s were made from 1938 to 1945 by Walther, Mauser and Spreewerke, with some parts made by Fabrique Nationale in Belgium and Brno in Ceskosolwakia. They all had the steel frame (if you except prototypes). The last "war-time" P38s were made by the French at the Mauser factory in Oberndorf in 1945-6. The civilian variant was called HP (for Heeres Pistole - Army Pistol). The P38s were - theoretically - reserved for military use and the HPs (manufactured only by Walther) for civilians and police forces. In fact, there was a lot of mix as the Wehrmacht was constantly missing guns.
In 1956, as the new german army was looking for ordnance, Walther offered his P38, which had so well served during WWII. The Bundeswehr choose a variant with alu frame and a dull black park finish. From 1956 to about 1963, it retained the name P38. From that date, it received the official designation P1 - P38 being reserved for the civilian market. And this time again, there was some confusions, as Walther took what it had handy to complete the lots for army (and police).
So the usual surplus from the Bundeswehr (or police) will be either a pre-63 P38 or a post-63 P1 (both with alu grip and black dull park finish). But you can find some "irregular" post-63 P38 with army or police markings, some being even finished in high gloss blue, which was a luxus variant sold on the civilian market at a higher price.
As there was some experiences of slide breakages (pre-Beretta!) with the NATO ammo, the slides were reinforced in 1968 (higher walls both sides). In the middle of the 70s, the frame was also reinforced with an hexagonal pin. This pin is situated on the "step" where the locking block rides. Recoil and return movements do erode the frame on this place on the old design. P5s have the pin from the beginning on.
P.S. Don't want to be pedantic, but I see a frequent error (even in the FAL link and in Gangarossa books) about the end of the P1 in the Bundeswehr. German never replaced the P1 with the HK P7 during the 80s. It was tested, maybe some elite units took some but the P7 was never officially adopted on a large scale. The replacement for the P1 came in 1996 with the HK P8, which is a variant of the USP.