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Back when the P38 was coming out, tilt barrels were a rather new thing. The 1911 had the swinging link and toggle system, and it wasn't until the P35 Hi power that the linkless barrel lockup was introduced. Many other guns chambered in calibers like .380 ACP and below were usually simple blowback. So how did Walther come up with the locking block and why did they choose to go that route?
 

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Locking blocks, sliding or pivoted, to hold the breech closed during the period of highest pressure when powerful cartridges are used, go back to the earliest days of automatic pistol design. Study an early Mauser or Bergmann.

It was used in many forms in many firearms. Look, for example, at Browning's M1918 BAR, or early Hotchkiss machine guns.

M
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Locking blocks, sliding or pivoted, to hold the breech closed during the period of highest pressure when powerful cartridges are used, go back to the earliest days of automatic pistol design. Study an early Mauser or Bergmann.

It was used in many forms in many firearms. Look, for example, at Browning's M1918 BAR, or early Hotchkiss machine guns.

M
Could one possible explanation why Walther came up with the locking block system is because the FN/Colt barrel lock up might have been patented at the time? At least that's what this forum post (#4) from this Firing Line thread suggests.

https://thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=107116
 

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Most of the people who speak authoritatively about patents have never even read one.

Patents are limited geographically and in years. The latter vary, but it's doubtful that any Browning locking patent was still active in 1938

M
 

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Not to be pedantic, but, Walther did not "come up" with the locking block.
It dates to the earliest successful semi automatic pistols from the late 1800s, as MGMike said earlier.

Walther chose to use a locking block design for the P.38, however, they did not invent the thing.
 

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Perhaps someone should have asked Fritz Barthelmes, the Walther company engineer who designed the P38, that question in the years after the war when he lived in Germany. He was evacuated by US Forces to the west and continued working, later with his son. His design papers were presented by his son to the city museum in Zella-Mehlis where they were displayed in 2008 in an exhibition on his life and accomplishments. Perhaps the answer to the question is in those papers. Here is an image of him.
 

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Tilting barrel?

Back when the P38 was coming out, tilt barrels were a rather new thing. The 1911 had the swinging link and toggle system, and it wasn't until the P35 Hi power that the linkless barrel lockup was introduced. Many other guns chambered in calibers like .380 ACP and below were usually simple blowback. So how did Walther come up with the locking block and why did they choose to go that route?

I believe that one of the German army's requirements for the 1930's pistol trials was that the barrel be exposed ala the P08 and the Mauser HSV. Such a barrel would have made the use of a tilting barrel problematic at best.
 

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P.38 locking block

Walther must have made a good decision. I recently bought a 9mm Beretta M9 (the one the US Army used for about 25 years) to sit in the same drawer as my P38s. It uses the same locking block technology, and still sold today. That is why I bought it.
 

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Walther must have made a good decision. I recently bought a 9mm Beretta M9 (the one the US Army used for about 25 years) to sit in the same drawer as my P38s. It uses the same locking block technology, and still sold today. That is why I bought it.
I did the opposite. Bought a 92FS as my first handgun and a year later, I found a post war P38 for a good price. Wanted a P38 ever since I fired one and because it contributed so much to the Beretta 92's design.
 
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