walther info needed


July 8, 2008, 05:30 PM
Walther P38
serial # 7912

I found this in my grandfather's library after he passed away. I do know that he was never sent overseas, so he must have come to own it some other way. My family has been keeping it in a safe deposit box for some years now and recently took it out to show my husband. I don't have images of the magazine because it was left in the safe.

Any info you could give us would be greatly appreciated.


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July 8, 2008, 06:08 PM
It's not a P-38.

It is a pre-war commercial HP, just like it says on the slide.





Jim K
July 9, 2008, 04:15 PM
It is a commercial HP (Heerespistole or Army Pistol), but not pre-war.

During the war, Walther had permission to produce some commercial pistols for sale to authorized civilians, German or foreign organizations, or countries that were allied with Germany, service personnel, etc. Those guns were not technically P.38's because that was a military designation and they were not part of a military contract. (Just like Colt pistols identical to the military Model 1911A1 were not marked that way, being marked "Government Model" instead.) They were made at least as late as 1943. Note the commercial Eagle/N nitro proof mark, not the military WaA proof/acceptance markings.

Of course, the wartime "commercial" guns were made on the standard P.38 production line, with all of the parts, grips, etc., being used in current P.38 production; only the markings were different. The parts had the "hidden" serial numbers, unlike the military contract guns which had parts numbers visible. Most of those guns seem to have gone to Austrian police, the Ustasha and others. When later sold, quite a few were imported into the U.S. Unfortunately, they were refinished, blurring the original markings by polishing, as is the case here.

So the guns are fairly rare, but rarely found in original condition, in which case they will bring a several hundred dollars more than a Walther P.38 in similar condition. Some evaluation guides do not mention those guns, mentioning the HP only as made in the pre-war period, or confuse them with the pre-war guns, which can be distinguished by finish, markings, and the "square" firing pin.


July 9, 2008, 04:38 PM
I was thinking with a 7912 serial number, it would have been a fairly early one.

They only made the first 12,000 P-38's between 1939-40. And the P-38 was based on the earlier HP design with a few changes.

The internal extractor like this HP has was changed to the later external one after the first 1,500 P-38's were made.
I can't see the firing pin, so can't tell if it is square or round.

In 1939, Stoger was already selling HP's in the U.S., and had been for awhile.

Six of one, half dozen of the other whether it is pre-war or not, depending on which country you live in and your view of world history.

We didn't enter the war until 1941, so, pre-war for Americans, post-war for Germans?

I always took pre-war as used in gun dating to mean prior to our entry into the war in 1941, and I think this gun was made before then based on the serial number if nothing else.


Jim Watson
July 9, 2008, 05:23 PM
Looks like an external extractor to me. That and the ribbed military grips make it look to me like one of Jim K.'s type of HP, just a P38 with commercial markings. And apparently reblued, as he mentions.

July 10, 2008, 06:13 PM
Thank you all for your input! You've all helped us out greatly. :)

Jim K
July 10, 2008, 08:33 PM
The MP and the first couple of thousand HP's had the concealed extractor, and that one clearly doesn't. The history of the MP/HP/P.38/P1 is confusing and the only informative book on the subject, Buxton's, is likely to add to the confusion rather than clear it up.

But I have one of those HP's and an examination of both the pistol overall and its component parts in comparison with a Swedish HP and wartime P.38's indicates clearly that it is not one of the 1938-1940 commercial HP's. The Swedish 1939 contract model is quite different in detail, but also has the external extractor as well as a high quality finish.

True that the term "wartime" is subject to one's viewpoint, but dates are not.


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