The Walther P38 was a pistol that was manufactured and used by Germany during World War II.


The P38 weighed 960 grams fully loaded and was about 21.3 centimeters in length, with a barrel of length 12.7 centimeters. For sights it had a rear notch and a front blade post. The P38 also had a magazine capacity of 8 rounds and caliber of 9 x 19 mm Parabellum, and it was created to replace the more expensive Luger P08. The first locked breech pistol to use a double-action mechanism, the Walther P38 had a protruding barrel reminiscent of the Luger, and a cut away slide which leaves a section of the top of the barrel exposed. [1]

The barrel and slide were locked together by a wedge. As the slide and barrel recoil, this wedge was cammed downwards to release the slide, which then continued rearwards to eject the spent case, cock the hammer and load the next round on the return stroke, pushing the barrel forward so that the wedge raises it, and locked it in position again, ready to fire the next shot.[1] The safety catch was on left rear of slide, which doubled as a decocking lever.

The magazine catch was at the heel of the butt.[1] The muzzle velocity of the P38 was about 366 meters per second while the P38's effective range was limited from 25 meters to 50 meters. The P38 had good reliability in the field and was prized by Allied soldiers who had found them.[2] There were no variants of the P38 ever produced during the war although later in the 1950s, it was readopted into service by the German military once more.


The P38 was first developed in 1938 and after it had seen small amounts of combat, it was quickly adopted into full service and oftentimes, there were not enough to be distributed.[3] However, the P38's production was later ramped up and the P38 then became a standard weapon in the standard Wehrmacht infantryman's arsenal. After the war, the P38 was not only issued to the new German military, but also numerous other countries who had bought the weapon from spare stockpiles.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Marchington, James. The Encyclopaedia of Handheld Weapons. Brassey's. 2002