Carry Gun: Walther PPK or S&W .38 Snub


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Thain
January 12, 2006, 04:32 PM
Like I said in the title, I'm going to eventually need a fulltime carry gun, and am torn between the Walther PPK or a Smith & Wesson .38 Special J-Frame (Probably a 642).

But, I'm a newbie, and Ifigured I stir up the hornets nest by asking for advice from the folks here at THR. (Hey, at least I didn't ask about 9mm vs. .45 cal!)

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dfariswheel
January 12, 2006, 04:38 PM
Some years ago one of the better gun magazines did a writeup on just this question, and had a "shoot-out" to find out the answer.

Questions about "stopping power" and capacity aside, the Walther proved to be a much more "shoot-able" gun, and was bother faster and more accurate in drills.

The Walther was all-around easier to shoot faster and more accurately than the S&W snubby, and they concluded that for getting bullets on target, the Walther was a better choice.

Again, this is power of the cartridge aside.

ArmedBear
January 12, 2006, 04:48 PM
If you look at the numbers for a .38 Special from a 1 7/8" barrel, you'll find that they're not all that impressive. With a +P you might get 270 ft-lb. and recoil that makes followup shots more difficult. With a standard-pressure round, below 200 ft-lb.

If a .380 is insufficient, then so is that.:)

Erich
January 12, 2006, 04:50 PM
I suppose that's what worked for the author of that article. Might work for me, might not.

The only advice I could give is that you should use the one that you shoot more precisely. And only you can determine that - not a bunch of us out here in internetland. :)

With either of these small, not-very-powerful guns, precise targeting of vital structures within an assailant's body is going to be necessary to guarantee stops. Frankly, neither of these guns would be reliably good for someone who was not quite a good shot. I'd advise you buy a copy of Gray's Anatomy to go along with whichever you choose, and study how to hit the heart/aorta, brain, and upper spine from various angles - those are your targets.

m0ntels
January 12, 2006, 04:53 PM
Both are fine guns, but shoot the PPK before you buy it. I tried one once and I still have the scar from the slide on my hand. I put 100 rounds through it and I musta gouged myself about 5 times. My 642 giving my hand a bit of whip is much more comfy than getting cut every time I pull the trigger!

Randy

ArmedBear
January 12, 2006, 05:08 PM
Both are fine guns, but shoot the PPK before you buy it. I tried one once and I still have the scar from the slide on my hand. I put 100 rounds through it and I musta gouged myself about 5 times. My 642 giving my hand a bit of whip is much more comfy than getting cut every time I pull the trigger!

Randy

Note that the new PPK's from S&W have a longer beavertail than the original versions. This is a well-known problem with the design -- probably the only problem.

However, if you have big hands, I don't doubt it would still be a problem!

m0ntels
January 12, 2006, 05:45 PM
The one I shot was a PPK/S. I forget how much it weighs in at, but it was a solid and definetly pretty gun. If you like it, dont forget to look at the little Bersa/Firestorm guns. It may fit you a bit better, looks 90% as good, and is about half the price. I almost bought one, but went to the slightly larger 9mm Thunder model.

The 642 doesnt have any real cons to it if you accept the caliber and DAO pull without much griping. It is well-built, light, handy, and will do all a gun for someone not in a war zone will need it to do. Price puts it in the area of the Bersa 380. I eventually settled on getting the 642 due to the weight and shape of the gun, plus the fact I already load for the 38 Special.

Randy

ArmedBear
January 12, 2006, 05:54 PM
The one I shot was a PPK/S. I forget how much it weighs in at, but it was a solid and definetly pretty gun.

Here's a comparison of the old and the new. If you shot a German-made PPK/S, I think that it was the old beavertail.

1 old 0311
January 12, 2006, 06:14 PM
I have them both. I prefer the Walther (S&W version). Slimmer, holds 1 more round, faster reload.

Kevin

Dr.Rob
January 12, 2006, 06:53 PM
According to Q... either is a fine choice.

(What this wasn't a James Bond question?)

The PPk might need a feed ramp job to handle hollow points. I think the PPk is easier to conceal.

The J-frame can shoot much heavier bullets, and you can get one +p rated. Best to buy a .357 rated j-frame and load it with 38+p.

MCgunner
January 12, 2006, 07:07 PM
If you look at the numbers for a .38 Special from a 1 7/8" barrel, you'll find that they're not all that impressive. With a +P you might get 270 ft-lb. and recoil that makes followup shots more difficult. With a standard-pressure round, below 200 ft-lb.

If a .380 is insufficient, then so is that.:)

Except the .38 does it with much heavier, longer bullets which mean it has better penetration along with a bit more energy.

The cartridges are close, though, slight edge to the .38 for the above reason. I wanna see the PPK that can out-shoot a good 3" snub. With a 2" or under, well, it's pretty equal I reckon and I'm sure a good PPK could probably out group a lesser 2" snubby. The extra inch of a 3" barrel really does help the sight radius of a snubby that much along with giving it a little more umph. If pocket carry is desirable, I reckon the 2" gun is better, though, probably even better than the diminutive PPK. It's a pretty close race, but being a revolver guy, I think the snub would be my choice. The PPK has slightly more capacity and is flatter, but I carry a snub all the time and it's not difficult to hide.

To me, if you're a revolver type, get the revolver. If you prefer autos, get the PPK. Or, get both and flip a coin in the morning when you're getting dressed. :D

ArmedBear
January 12, 2006, 08:27 PM
I am a revolver guy. But there's something about old-design Walthers.

I think of my P1 as the revolver of semis.:p

WRT the caliber and effectiveness thing... My point is just that people who think a .380 is a useless mouse gun, a 9mm is an ineffective "Europellet", but that a .38 Special is a perfectly adequate defense round in a snubbie, haven't taken a 5-second look at an ammo catalog.:)

Marshall
January 12, 2006, 08:34 PM
The .38 Special. Most all reasons are already mentioned. I'll add or mention again, SIMPLICITY & RELIABILTIY.;)

MCgunner
January 12, 2006, 08:42 PM
I am a revolver guy. But there's something about old-design Walthers.

I think of my P1 as the revolver of semis.:p

WRT the caliber and effectiveness thing... My point is just that people who think a .380 is a useless mouse gun, a 9mm is an ineffective "Europellet", but that a .38 Special is a perfectly adequate defense round in a snubbie, haven't taken a 5-second look at an ammo catalog.:)

Oh, yeah, I totally agree with that! Heck, I carry a .380 when I want a pocket gun, smaller than my smallest 9 or .38. .380 is about my minimum that I feel comfortable relying on if things go sour. Some folks like the .32 and the platform for some of 'em is quite handy, but the KT and Guardian in .380 are quite pocketable, so why go smaller? As you say, the .380 is the equal of the standard pressure .38 special for energy out of a small gun. My little pocket gun puts up just under 200 ft lbs and while it ain't a match grade gun, it'll put most of 'em in the 8 ring on a silhouette with careful aim at 25 yards. A gun fight ain't gonna happen at 25 yards, anyway.

el44vaquero
January 12, 2006, 08:51 PM
Here's one I carry.

33827
33828
33829

kjeff50cal
January 12, 2006, 09:07 PM
How's about a Polish PPK with attitude, P-64.


http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=33831&stc=1&d=1137117581

kjeff50cal

Stevel
January 12, 2006, 09:35 PM
six of one 1/2 dozen of the other. Last summer i was going through the same sort of debate. I wound up with the Bersa .380 mainly for financial reasons. While I was looking though, the small Kahrs in 9mm looked real good. Used pricing was below the Walther.

P. Plainsman
January 12, 2006, 09:49 PM
Given that matchup, I wouldn't hesitate to choose a S&W 642. It's much lighter than a PPK, hits harder, and is likely to be more reliable. Those are significant advantages.

The PPK has an established reputation as a problem child; slide bite, jamming. Beautiful lines, but I'd insist on a fully modern design for a CCW semi-auto pocket gun.

On the snubby side, you should bear in mind that there's some very well-designed .38 Special +P defensive ammo out there. The .380 ACP typically uses 85-90 grain bullets, with 100 grains marking the top end. In contrast, most seasoned shooters who carry .38 Special snubs load them with far heavier bullets. Either 158 grain lead semi-wadcutter hollowpoints (the venerable "FBI load") or the new, specially designed 135 grain Speer JHP with an extra-wide hollowpoint design to facilitate expansion.

Personally, I'd rather have five rounds of one of those bullets on tap, in a highly reliable design like the J-frame revolver, than seven of virtually anything in .380. The one load that may bring the .380 pistol close to parity with the snub is Cor-Bon's hot .380 JHP, which some say is hard on guns. I'd still take the 642.

Here's a side-by-side evaluation from Gun Week that came down firmly in favor of the .38 snub over the .380 pistol.

http://www.gunweek.com/2005/feature0620.html

Now, one advantage of a 3" DA/SA .380 pistol over a 2" DAO snubby is shootability. One has to train harder to master the small revolver. Some people are allergic to wheelguns. Unless you fall in that minority, the snubby's lighter weight, ballistic superiority, and other advantages make it the default choice.

PS: The quality small 9mms coming on the market -- those are a different story. I would have a tough time convincing someone that he made a mistake in choosing, say, a Kahr MK9 or PM9 over a .38 snub. But you asked about .380s, and even from a strictly "tactical" standpoint I think the snub is a superior carry weapon to a .380 PPK.

PPS: For the same weight as a PPK, you could actually get a steel J-frame S&W or a Ruger SP101 in .357 Magnum -- dramatically more powerful than a .380 ACP. These guns are very shootable with .38+P.

420Stainless
January 12, 2006, 10:04 PM
Neither. I love my Interarms PPK/S: Carry it often, shoot it well, find it very reliable, it doesn't bother my hand, and I deeply appreciate its beauty.

It is, however, very heavy for its size. If I wasn't so comfortable with her, I'd be checking out a PM9, P11, or P3AT.

bubbygator
January 12, 2006, 10:42 PM
Best choice is J-frame, because.......


you can add a Crimson Trace lasergrip!!!

http://www.crimsontrace.com/images/lg_205.jpg

jrc7sbcglobal
January 12, 2006, 11:49 PM
First off a CCW gun as a defensive, not offensive option.
There is a big difference between looking for trouble and protection.
Any handgun powerfull enough to get into a firefight with is too large to carry.
What you want is one you can have when you wear dress pants or swimming trunks. I discovered this living in Orlando. It's 90 degrees at 8am.
I have been researching the best carry gun for about 20 years now, and all I can do for you is give you my opinion based on real life experence from having CCW's in 4 states over the last 20 years.
1. Your best defence is surprise.
2. The goal is to get away from the problem, not stand & shoot it out.
3. If the threat is over 25ft away they are not a threat.
4. If you have to wear a holster, you should carry a 45acp or 50bmg.
5. More people have been killed with the 25acp than any other caliber.
Given the above facts, the 380acp is hands down the best bet because the guns for it are small and flat and easy to conceal. There is very little difference in a 380 and a 38spl. Using Hydrashocks there is probably no difference.
I have found only 2 380's that meet all the above criteria.
I have carried 3 Colt Mustangs in different configurations and thought it was the best going. Put it in a wallet holster in you back pocket and you don't even know it's there. Only problem is Colt quit making the Pocket lite. When I found out they are selling for $1000+ I put mine in the safe. If you ever have to use it you probably will not get it back from the police.
I now carry in a pocket holster the Keltec 3AT. It is half the size & weight of a stainless Mustang. With the keltec clip draw on it you can clip it on your swimming trunks and not know it's there. They even have a lanyard that you can wear it around your neck like a neckless. Talk about a surprise for the scum bag in the rest stop. :what:
Now I know there is going to be hundreds of know it alls that are going to jump all over this post with their opinions of stopping power, reliability, quality, etc. to defend their idea of a carry gun, and that is OK. But when they do think about this, 7 hydrashocks, double action like a Glock, no safety, polymer frame(no rust), only 11oz fully loaded, and best of all $250.
Let them top that. :neener:

MICHAEL T
January 13, 2006, 12:31 AM
First when will all these OLD stories about the Walter biteing stop. The new S&W has corrected that problem. Also the doesn't like HP and jams My PPK/S is around 30 years old (INTERARMS)It feeds and shoots every brand of 380 Ive tried.

If the PPK or PPK/S were so bad they would have stopped makeing long ago.
Now I carry my PPK/S 90% of the time I also have a S&W M-49 bodyguard I carry I don't feel unarmed with either. I do shoot the Walther better and with Corbon 90gr HP or the new DPX don't see 380 a problem at SD range I'm a civ not a cop .

Bersa are nice but don't pocket carry well They are a little larger than the PPK/S I also have one or these.

461
January 13, 2006, 12:50 AM
I went through a pretty intense Walther phase a few years back and they can be extremely reliable and accurate. Worst feature of the design is the trigger pull weight- it will never be light and reliable. Great gun and if you like it you'll be well served. Given the choice, I think I'd probably opt personally for the wheely myself and it is purely a personal preference having nothing to do with reliability or stopping power. Bottom line they are both very close to equal and you need to decide which you prefer- before choosing either one I'd want at least 500 rounds without a hiccup through anything I'm betting my life on. Good luck.

gazpacho
January 13, 2006, 04:45 AM
In general, the heavier the gun is, the less likely you will want to carry it. The PPK is 21oz, 642 is 15 oz. The ammo for both is about the same (7rds x 90gr = 630gr 380acp, 5rds x 125gr = 625gr 38spec). So you are looking at about a 6oz difference. Is that significant enough of a difference? Well, the longer you carry, the more likely you are to say YES.

Bulk is also a considerable factor. The PPK is compact and slim. The 642 is a big lump. This give the PPK a considerable advantage in that its small size gives you more options for carry.

KISS. Keep It Simple, Stupid. The more complicated the gun is, the more likely it will fail. Call it Murphy's Law if you will. The PPK is a more complicated gun than the 642. It requires that the spent cartridge be physically removed from the chamber for the next cartridge can move into position and be fired. Also, the initial DA trigger pull of the PPK is notoriously heavy. I think it is something on the order of 18# to 20# pull. You seriously need to consider the accuracy of your first shot. The 642 is very simple, point and pull the trigger, then pull the trigger again. On the other hand, reloading the 642 is a slower more complicated process than the PPK. The concealed hammer of the 642 does have one small advantage over all semi-autos and most other revolvers, in that it can be fired, repeatedly from a place of concealment, like a coat pocket or inside a purse. The working mechanisms of semi-autos in particular are likely to jam after the first shot.

If you are recoil tollerant, I would recommend the 642 with either the Speer Gold Dot 135gr +P 38spec. That cartridge was specifically designed for snubnosed revolvers for the NYPD. On paper and in jello, it's a superb performer. Or, you can go with the 158gr +P LSWCHP of various manufacturers. It's the famous "Treasury" load, and it works REAL well. Neither is fun to shoot. If you are really recoil tollerant, try either of those cartridges with the 340PD. 3oz lighter and $300 more expensive.

If you choose the PPK, I would recommend the Speer Gold Dot 90gr +P 380acp cartridge. It tends to function and expand well out of shorter barrels.

My choice? I carry the 340PD with GD 135gr +P. I SUCK at clearing FTFs and FTEs with small semi-autos.

MadMercS55
January 13, 2006, 05:02 AM
From my experience I'd go with the 642 well over the PPK. That being said, I have only had trigger time with newer-S&W PPK's. The 2 I tried had horrendous reliability issues even with FMJ ammo. Neither were mine, but were friends who found their size attractive. Total rnds fired per weapon were 300 in one and 200 in another. The problems just didn't go away with time. I do hear favorable things on older PPK's however.

Ala Dan
January 13, 2006, 08:06 AM
Actually, I've carried both a Walther PPK/S or a quality .38 caliber snub
at one time or another over the year's~!:uhoh: My PPK/S (I've owned 2)
were made in Germany, and were extremely reliable. Nowdays, we have
an American made Walther PPK (from '95), also in .380 ACP that is very
reliable. But, in my way of thinking sooner or later any semi-auto
is subject too lay down on you in time of need~!:eek: Yes, I still carry
semi-auto's till this day; but I keep 'em properly maintained and I am
fully aware of how to clear a malfunction.:D

BTW, I do sometimes alternate the carry of a quality .38 caliber snub
with that of my semi-auto's.:cool:

Pilot
January 13, 2006, 11:13 AM
My wife carries a S&W 642 with the CT laser grips and loves it. I often carry a Beretta M85FS in .380 and I think of them as relatively equal ballistically. The Beretta's 4 inch barrel and +P .380's help a lot. The 642 is lighter and more concealable however.

m0ntels
January 13, 2006, 12:49 PM
I dont know if I'd call ALL the PPK/S stories old. It was 2 yrs ago with about a year old gun. If they've changed since then I couldnt tell you cuz I havent looked to try one again after the first time. Different people shoot different guns for many reasons, and ergonomics is a big one. It wouldnt matter to me if I was the only person in the world that got cut by a PPK, because it did cut me. Why would I buy a gun that hurt me to shoot? I dont knock the PPK for anything, other than that for me it was a biter.

I've heard stories of the BHP biting tons of people too, and the same number of people will tell you it is the best auto ever made. If someone asks me to shoot one, I wont say know just because I've heard a story. But I had heard the PPK will bite larger hands, so before shelling out the money, I rented one, and I'll be damned, I got bit.

Try before you buy is a good policy if it's at all possible. That's what I did, and it saved me a bunch of money and hassle. No one can tell you how any particular gun will shoot for you. Rent some, ask other people if you can try out one of theirs, or take the gamble and spend away. Same old story as always.

Randy

Thain
January 13, 2006, 01:43 PM
All the FLGS in my area that have ranges and rentals don't rent Walthers. :uhoh: Which depresses me to no end, because I'd love to squeeze of a few boxes on a P99. (I'm a big fan of the P99, using it for years in airsoft. Although I've never handled the "real steel" gun.)

My CCW needs are all the typical: small or I won't carry it, decent stopping power, and accuracy. I also need something I can carry in a short sleeve button-up dress shirt, Dockers, and no jacket. (Business casual dress for my sales job, and alot of time spent in hot RVs on the lot, or sitting at my desk being bored.)

I'm convinced the .380 or .38 are good enough and close enough for my defensive needs. I'm a Used RV Salesman, not an off-duty cop, so I forsee most encounters will be with 'mere' muggers and other street criminals.

Just pulling a gun should resolve most of these conflicts (statistically anyway) and putting a bullet or two into them should wrap up the conflict if brandishing doesn't (agian, goign by statistics).

Both guns have been around, been covertly carried, and been trusted for the better part of a century. American cops have loved their .38's forever and a day, European cops have loved their PPKs.

From the feedback here, I'm going to conclude that the best idea is simpy to try them both, and pick the one that fits me better.

Maybe I can find a way to "test drive" a Walther, given their price I'm sure the FLGS is more than willing to do what it takes to sell me one. :D

Good news is that my wife refuses to trust autoloaders, so we'll be getting at least one .38 snubby for her... Worst case scenario, I get the PPK for me and borrow her snub when I want to play with a wheelgun at the range. :D

MICHAEL T
January 13, 2006, 02:54 PM
One last thing 2 times here I saw 380+P their is no 380+P as approved by SAMMI . No numbers have ever been set like 38+P or 9+P Their some hot ammo from europe and Corbon about tops here but none are +P. If you see that on 380 its a come on..

Thain
January 13, 2006, 03:04 PM
Allow me to display some ignorance, but what is SAMMI and why do I care for what they've approved?

I gather they are some type of industry assoc.?

P-35/53
January 13, 2006, 03:05 PM
If both guns are reliable comes down to which suits your method of carry and which you shoot best and are most comfortable with.

cookekdjr
January 13, 2006, 03:07 PM
I have a 342PD, the titanium version of the 642. It weighs 10.8 oz.
Its not flashy or exciting, and it only holds 5 rounds. From time to time (especially when I'm broke) I think about selling it.
But then I think about what I'd replace it with. Which would be a 642, the same gun, only 15oz instead of 10.8oz.
Then I put the 342 back in my pocket, and start thinking about what other gun I can sell, b/c the 342 is just too useful.
There's a reason lightweight J-frames have been produced for decades...and will continue to be.
-David

Father Knows Best
January 13, 2006, 03:17 PM
I got a really nice Walthers/Interarms stainless PPK/s in trade about a year ago. Last month, I traded it away for a Swede Mauser. Why? Because the trigger was the worst piece of trash I have ever felt. The double action pull for the first shot is long and HEAVY! And I mean HEAVY! My Lyman digital trigger gauge couldn't get a reading on it, because the gauge maxes out at 12 pounds and that was nowhere close to where the trigger started to move. I couldn't hit the broad side of a barn with the first shot on that thing. The single action trigger pull wasn't bad, but of course there is no safe way to carry it with the hammer back. I looked into having a 'smith lighten it up, but they all said the same thing: that's just the way it is -- a byproduct of the PPK's design. In other words, "live with it." I couldn't.

I also got the dreaded slide bite a few times.

It was reliable, and fed hollowpoints just fine (some apparently don't). Accuracy was acceptable, though the sights were pretty poor.

The 642, on the other hand, is a gem. It's lighter, and shoots a more powerful cartridge. It will not jam, EVER. The trigger is smooth and consistent from shot to shot. With a set of crimson trace lasergrips, it's an awesome CCW gun.

Allow me to display some ignorance, but what is SAMMI and why do I care for what they've approved?

I gather they are some type of industry assoc.?

It's SAAMI, not SAMMI. It stands for the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturer's Institute. They publish specifications for cartridges, including acceptable pressure levels. They have standards for +P and +P+ for some cartridges, so if you see a 9 mm +P or a .38 special +P, you know what you're getting. The point is that there is no SAAMI standard for a .380 "+P", so you really have no idea how ammo marked as such is loaded. Since the PPK isn't designed for anything over standard .380 pressures, anyway, you shouldn't try it.

MICHAEL T
January 13, 2006, 03:37 PM
Thanks for correcting the SAAMI I'm not home where my cheat sheet is. I guess that time Father Knows Best was true. . As to trigger on PPK/s its a close range SD pistol and you won't notice heavy trigger it if for real. I have gotton use yo mine and can hit very well first shot. I still find trigger to be lighter than Beretta tom cat on DA and SA

Technosavant
January 13, 2006, 04:12 PM
I just recently went through the "pocket gun conundrum" and ended up choosing a S&W 642 (the thread is around here somewhere, shouldn't be too far down the list). I felt that the PPK/Bersa Thunder sized guns would likely be too long for good pocket carry; while thin, I was worried about the butt sticking out of my pocket. I was looking hardest at the Beretta Tomcat (shoots the less powerful .32ACP round), but I just worried too much about the lack of ability of that thing. It felt great in the hand, would conceal very well, was of high quality, but there isn't much point in having a gun if it won't get the job done. The 2" revolvers (be they a S&W 638 or 642 or the Taurus 851) do fit well in Dockers-type pant pockets (you WILL want a pocket holster), are the standard for reliability itself, and the .38spl is plenty competent (it isn't up to the .45ACP, but guns that shoot that round can't be pocket carried).

I even shot my 642 at the range today, both 130grn "regular" FMJ and 125grn +P SJHP ammo. I could tell the +P kicked slightly harder, but I did mix the ammo in the cylinder (x of regular, y of +P), and it was not always easy to tell which was which. Recoil was VERY manageable, even though my pinky (curled under) get a bit sore after 50 rounds. I could easily keep rapid-fire rounds not only in a silhouette at 7 yards, but in the middle of said target (don't even have the CT grips).

I would recommend a S&W 638 or 642 without any hesitation at all. Mine will reside in my pocket on those days when I must dress as you do (business casual). It will be able to do so with ease; just don't keep anything else in that pocket.

middy
January 13, 2006, 04:16 PM
I'd go for the snubby. They are just too easy to stick in your pocket and forget about.

As far as a .380, I think the Sig P232 (http://www.sigarms.com/products/classicpersonalsize-models.asp?product_id=42#) is a "better PPK".

tbeb
January 13, 2006, 04:34 PM
I carried a 13-shot .380 ACP for nine years. Today I carry a S&W 642-2 which is an airweight, centennial style .38 special +P revolver with a short stainless steel barrel, stainless steel cylinder, and alloy frame. To me, it is the perfect pocket gun. It is simple to operate, and it is reliable with any bullet style one wants to use. I also feel the best .38 special ammo is a better manstopper than the best .380 ACP ammo.

Thain
January 13, 2006, 05:36 PM
I spend a good portion of my day... sometimes for weeks on end... sitting in Dockers (or similar slacks) in front of my PC in the office. I'm very much afraid of a CCW 'printing' while seated.

It seems to me the thinner cross section of the PPK (or similar) would be less of a problem than the .38 Snub.

Ah, the eternal debate about where and how to carry! :p

cookekdjr
January 13, 2006, 05:49 PM
I spend a good portion of my day... sometimes for weeks on end... sitting in Dockers (or similar slacks) in front of my PC in the office. I'm very much afraid of a CCW 'printing' while seated.

It seems to me the thinner cross section of the PPK (or similar) would be less of a problem than the .38 Snub.

Ah, the eternal debate about where and how to carry! :p

Thain, check out this review of the 342pd to see how a light J-frame prints:

http://www.gunblast.com/SW_342PD.htm

This is THE gun to carry in a pocket holster. No one will ever know its there.
-David

Father Knows Best
January 13, 2006, 05:55 PM
I spend a good portion of my day... sometimes for weeks on end... sitting in Dockers (or similar slacks) in front of my PC in the office. I'm very much afraid of a CCW 'printing' while seated.

It seems to me the thinner cross section of the PPK (or similar) would be less of a problem than the .38 Snub.

Whether a pocket gun prints through your clothing or not is a function of the clothing you wear and the holster you use, not the gun. You should never carry without a holster -- even a pocket gun! With a decent holster, a 642 will not print. In fact, its light weight will make it much less noticeable than a PPK, because it will be less likely to show the characteristic "sag" of a heavy object in a pocket.

Trust me on that last point. My brother is a LEO. He spots gangbangers carrying concealed from 100' away by the way the pockets on their pants or jackets sag.

ArmedBear
January 13, 2006, 06:01 PM
Whether a pocket gun prints through your clothing or not is a function of the clothing you wear and the holster you use, not the gun. You should never carry without a holster -- even a pocket gun! With a decent holster, a 642 will not print. In fact, its light weight will make it much less noticeable than a PPK, because it will be less likely to show the characteristic "sag" of a heavy object in a pocket.

Trust me on that last point. My brother is a LEO. He spots gangbangers carrying concealed from 100' away by the way the pockets on their pants or jackets sag.

Sure. But a middle-class guy in Dockers with something heavy in his pants doesn't arouse suspicion. I've often had heavy stuff in the pockets of khakis. It's not illegal to carry something weighing more than an ounce. Unless it's pot.:p

Hkmp5sd
January 13, 2006, 06:07 PM
I have carried both the Walther PPK and S&W 649. My preference is the PPK in an IWB holster. It is thin and totally concealable, even with nothing but a t-shirt on. Never prints.

kentucky_smith
January 13, 2006, 06:08 PM
For something in that size range, you may want to look at either a Makarov or a CZ-83 in 9x18. Or a small-carry Beretta.


But for the way you want to carry, you also may want to drop down a caliber and look for smaller carry gun, like a keltec P32

ArmedBear
January 13, 2006, 06:14 PM
I have carried both the Walther PPK and S&W 649. My preference is the PPK in an IWB holster. It is thin and totally concealable, even with nothing but a t-shirt on. Never prints.

When you get arrested for indecent exposure, do the cops pat you down and find it, or do you just tell them about it and hand it to them?

ArmedBear
January 13, 2006, 06:17 PM
BTW I think it IS relevant to discuss the different types of PPK's.

The trigger and the beavertail are different. These are major complaints with the original guns, Interarms versions, etc. I'd like to know how the S&W versions are. If the problems are solved, I'm probably getting one. If not, I'll get a CZ83 or something.

196pc
January 13, 2006, 06:51 PM
I've carried a PPK and a S&W 640 for off duty & backup. I now carry the 640 with 158 grn SWC HP's. Its easier for me and if I have to I can fire through a coat without jams. I still like the Walther though.

tangodown
January 13, 2006, 07:35 PM
Dont get either one, get a Kahr in .40!!! Currently I carry a para warthog, great gun but heavy... Here are three of my carry guns ...

<img src="http://i29.photobucket.com/albums/c258/jjpatterson/100_1085.jpg" alt="Image hosted by Photobucket.com">

profile view of s&w and ppk...

<img src="http://i29.photobucket.com/albums/c258/jjpatterson/100_1086.jpg" alt="Image hosted by Photobucket.com">


I have a Kahr in .40 on the way. After shooting my buddy's kahr I finally found a pistol that is light, reliable, comfortable to shoot, and easy to shoot well. But if you have to get one of these the ppk is so damn easy to shoot and hit what you are shooting at, it just points right.

tangodown
January 13, 2006, 07:37 PM
Dont get either one, get a Kahr in .40!!! Currently I carry a para warthog, great gun but heavy... Here are three of my carry guns ...

http://i29.photobucket.com/albums/c258/jjpatterson/100_1085.jpg

profile view of s&w and ppk...

http://i29.photobucket.com/albums/c258/jjpatterson/100_1086.jpg


I have a Kahr in .40 on the way. After shooting my buddy's kahr I finally found a pistol that is light, reliable, comfortable to shoot, and easy to shoot well. But if you have to get one of these the ppk is so damn easy to shoot and hit what you are shooting at, it just points right.

lbmii
January 14, 2006, 03:28 AM
My dad has a WW2 era Walther in 32acp and it has way too many reliability issues IMO.

Cosmoline
January 14, 2006, 04:12 AM
I've owned multiple examples of each over the years. The Walther PP and PPK are nice, esp. the earlier ones. They offer more rapid fire than a .38 Special and are easy shooting. BUT, they are often ammo sensitive and can be prone to jams. You need to test your piece extensively and make sure the loads you have for carry will cycle in the handgun/magazine combination in question. I had a PP that would shoot Winchester silvertips with near 99% reliability but would choke on hot FMJ, and a PPK that would do the exact opposite.

A model 36 or similar S&W snub is a bit more difficult to master. But once you've learned how to use it, it is as accurate and only slightly slower than the .32 ACP semi. It is also NOT ammo sensitive, and can eat most anything you feed it. The S&W snub also comes in far more choices than the Walther. There are stainless, blued and plated models, various barrel lengths and an array of shrouded, unshrouded and semi-shrouded hammers.

Either is a good choice for a light CCW piece. It really comes down to preference.

Thain
January 14, 2006, 10:58 AM
My dad has a WW2 era Walther in 32acp and it has way too many reliability issues IMO.

Wouldn't any 50+ year old firearm have some potential reliability troubles? I know there are guys out there with 1903-built Springfield `03's and genuine 1911 year M1911s... But I gotta beleive these are exceptions to the rule.

I would be buying new in the box (NiB) or previously owned only from a trusted freind or a highly regarded dealer.

Since this will be my primary self-defense tool, I'm not adverse to paying top-dollar for a new gun, and maybe some tinkering by the `smith. (Although at the same time, I'm not goign to buy a Platinum-frame, jewel-encrusted, Super Death Ray Bullet, limited edition, $3,000 pistol.)

Marshall
January 14, 2006, 11:52 AM
Since this will be my primary self-defense tool, I'm not adverse to paying top-dollar for a new gun, and maybe some tinkering by the `smith.

For a primary self defense gun why would you want to buy something that requires tinkering? You want "no brainer, pull trigger, go bang".


Speer Ammo GDHP:


.32:
60 gr. 960 fps 123 ft lbs


380:
90 gr. 990 fps 196 ft lbs


.38+P:
125 gr. 945 fps 248 ft lbs


.38+P SB:
135 gr. 860 fps 222 ft lbs

You can get more FPS from Cor Bon in 2.5" barrels but it's still proportionally the same between the three.

.38 would be my choice in a heartbeat.

geekWithA.45
January 14, 2006, 12:09 PM
The Walther (and copies) is easier to carry, somewhat easier to shoot, heavier, pretty hostile to lefties like me, and the heavy, crunchy trigger blows chunks. It is a much prettier gun. {Sorry, I'm a trigger bigot.}

The 642 with the laser grips is lighter, a little bulkier in width, has a heavy but reasonably smooth trigger, takes a little practice to master, has dinky little sights that are hard to pick up quickly, and .38 +p is less marginal than .380. Once mastered, it's pretty goofproof.

I go with the 642, mainly because of the lefty hostility of the Walther. The only real complaint I have with the Smith snubbies is the lack of a full length ejector. Reloads are complicated by the need to tear at least one or two rounds out before slamming the speedloader home.

And incidentally, no one should use any speedloader other than the Safariland type.

Ex-MA Hole
January 14, 2006, 05:15 PM
...it'd be an easy choice.

I had a PPK/S, it was awesome. VERY accurate, felt good, concealed well, very ,very nice looking.

I only had one minor, unimportant problem with it.

It didn't like to shoot. You know, the reason that I carried a self defense gun? I know, minor technicality. It was good for about 1 jam every mag or so. I actually carried my p22 all the time, because she always goes bang.

Traded the PPK/S for a 642, NEVER had a misfire. Yup, the 642 is sort of ugly, not as accurate (8-10" diameter vs 4-5), but it goes bang every single time.

So we have 5 shots vs 8. 100% reliability vs ???.

642 for me.

gunfan
January 14, 2006, 05:35 PM
That said, the revolver 'gets the nod'. Reliability is the one and only reason. 5-6 reliable rounds from a revolver beats the hell out of a "click" when you'd damn sure better have a "bang". The only autoloader of this size in which I would have complete confidence is my Bersa. "In revolver I trust".

Scott

MassMan
January 14, 2006, 05:50 PM
Both are fine guns, but shoot the PPK before you buy it. I tried one once and I still have the scar from the slide on my hand. I put 100 rounds through it and I musta gouged myself about 5 times. My 642 giving my hand a bit of whip is much more comfy than getting cut every time I pull the trigger!

Randy
My PPKS (1976) has been smooth since day one. My Mauser HSc "bit" me for 25 rounds and I had enough. A friend bought it and had me try it after he had put 300 or so rounds through it. Smooth as silk. Wish I kept it. The lesson I learned is that many guns are tough on the hand until broken it.

palerider1
January 14, 2006, 05:55 PM
smith and wesson has made some nice changes to the ppk. i personally would like the ppk for myself. make sure to get a stainless one.

BryanP
January 14, 2006, 06:15 PM
I just made my choice and purchased a S&W 638. It has a shrouded hammer instead of completely enclosed like the 642, but still a little J-frame .38. I plan to add Crimson Trace lasergrips to it in the reasonably near future.

If I was going to go with a .380 it would be to go for an even tinier pistol such as the Kel-Tec P3AT. Of course, the difference between the 638 and the P3AT for me is that I haven't even fired the 638 yet and I would feel no qualms about loading it and relying upon it if I had to. I wouldn't trust a teeny semi-auto like the P3AT until it had undergone a very thorough breaking in and testing period.

If I had my heart set on a PPK-style I'd either get a Bersa (just as good and a lot more economically priced, if not as attractive) or a SIG P232 (better than the Walther in almost every respect but looks much like one).

English John
January 14, 2006, 06:41 PM
We can only offer personal opinions, even the guys that suggest guns larger than those you ask about. I would say look at, and try out if possible, the KT 3AT, a PPK, and the whole line of Smith snubbies including the light-weights, including the .32 Mag. Choose what YOU like. The guys that insist on a holster even for pocket carry are right. I am retiring, and have passed down a GP-100, an SP-101, a Springfield PDP .45, and a PPK/S to my wife and kids. (It was really hard giving up the PDP.) I kept a KT P32, S&W M36, a 3" M37, and a PPK. The PPK will go to C&S for a rebuild, and will be carried in Alessi leather with CorBon and 2 spare clips. The 2 .38s will be safe-queens. Works for me, YMMV.

PX15
January 14, 2006, 07:05 PM
Shoot both and decide for yourself...

If you are planning on having your wife, lover, or both ever use the firearm then I suggest a revolver.

I have a S&W 638 (Bodyguard) with Crimson Trace Lasergrips and it works for me. I HIGHLY recommend the CT Lasergrips..

Best Wishes,

JP :D

longeyes
January 14, 2006, 08:59 PM
Snub for carry, PPK for the photo shoot.

Average Joe
January 14, 2006, 09:31 PM
I'd go with the S&W 642.

10-Ring
January 15, 2006, 03:42 AM
OF the 2 options, I like the S & W snub...IMHO (YMMV) (BYOB) (MSRP) (ABCDEFG) But it might really depend on what you like & shoot best :)

Thain
January 15, 2006, 11:00 AM
If you are planning on having your wife, lover, or both ever use the firearm then I suggest a revolver.

Well, my wife will be getting the revolver because it's what she wants... But I should point out that she started shooting before I did, is a crack shot with her shotgun, and hasx her eyes on a Redhawk. (Although I keep thinking she'd really love a Colt S.A.A.)

She's just as handy with a gun as I am, and if she wasn't five months pregnant at the moment, we'd both be down at the range instead of me sitting on the computer talking at you.

Don't under-estimate them Michigan women...

Now, what to get for my lover.... ... :p ;)

BloodyRAzorBlades
January 18, 2006, 10:35 PM
I personally like the walther ppk's.

fastbolt
January 19, 2006, 03:17 PM
Interesting question, and one which comes up quite a bit among some of the newer cops we see ...

I know quite a number of older guys (my age group ;) ) who still have one or a couple of Walthers laying around. It used to be that having a little Walther as an off-duty weapon was sort of like having a lodge pin.

That started to change once we mandated qualification with personally owned off-duty weapons, and specified that only factory hollowpoint ammunition was authorized for off-duty usage.

Aside from the commonly heavy (and sometimes rough) DA triggers encountered in different versions of the Walthers, and the potential for 'slide bite' to occur and sometimes adversely affect functioning ... some folks discovered that their favorite little pistols wouldn't consistently feed JHP ammunition.

I've watched a lot of Walther owners over the years, at both L/E qualification ranges and CCW qualification ranges, experience some occasional issues with various vintages of Walthers PP-PPK-PPK/S pistols ... although I haven't seen one of the newer S&W models come through, yet. Seen lots of folks that apparently don't invest much time in malfunction clearance drills and skills, too.

I've seen the occasional owner who has one that seems to feed & function just fine, too.

Personally, I couldn't care less what other folks choose to use for off-duty weapons, as long as it's authorized and reliable with JHP/BHP ammunition. I have my preferences and I don't begrudge other folks theirs ...

When it comes to the specific question of this thread, however, I'm one of those folks who choose to use one or another .38 Spl/.357 Magnum 5-shot revolvers.

If I feel the need for something the approx size of a Walther PPK-PPK/S .32 or .380 ... I have a CS9 chambered in 9mm. The new PPK/S weighs 22.4 oz and has 7+1 capacity of .380; the PPK weighs 20.8 oz and has 6+1 capacity of .380; while the CS9 weighs 20 oz with 7+1 capacity of 9mm. The only potential 'disadvantage' of the CS9, for some folks, may be the bulky Hogue grips, in comparison to the Walther model ...

Now, there are some potential 'disadvantages' to the diminutive 5-shot J-frames, and their cousins, too. The reduced grip dimensions, heavy DA trigger, short sight radius and sometimes difficult-to-see iron sights (especially for aging eyes) and light weight (especially with the Airweight & Airlite S&W guns) may require more developed revolver skills, and more frequent training & practice, than larger & heavier revolvers.

The off-duty weapon most often found on my person is a 642-1 Airweight, BTW.

shell70634
January 19, 2006, 04:21 PM
I carry a 640 in 357 as an off duty gun and i'm very happy with the comfort, concealment and power. Simple to use, effective, and enough holster option to please most.

MICHAEL T
January 23, 2006, 12:34 AM
The Walther (and copies) is easier to carry, somewhat easier to shoot, heavier, pretty hostile to lefties like me,

I go with the 642, mainly because of the lefty hostility of the Walther.

Twice you say the Walthers is hostile to lefties Iam a lefty and carry a PPK/S every where I go . Its not hosital to me or any other L/handed person I know. What is the problem. I also own a Bersa 380 it not hostile either.

Jeff22
January 23, 2006, 02:53 AM
I have a Walther PPK and Sig 230 and a S&W 36 with the 3 inch tapered barrel and a S&W 60 with the 3 inch heavy barrel. I've done a lot of shooting with all of them and like all of them.

However, I shoot the best with the S&W 60. The difference is NOT very great. I do have Pachmayr "compac" grips on the revolvers (because I have big hands) so it fits me a little better. I have a STRONG preference for 3 inch barrels on the S&W J Frame platform. The sights are better, the extra barrel length helps the balance a little and the sight radius is incrementally longer.

If you buy a Walther, get the barrel throated. You may also find that it's a little sensitive in operation to bullets with a shorter overall length (OAL). Mine works better with slightly heavier bullets with a longer profile. Neither of my .380s particularly likes lead reloads.

You might also consider a Kahr P9 or similar size gun for this mission.

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