Silencer Ready

Instead of the customary Browning-style tilting barrel, the P38 barrel slides forward and aft in recoil, with a locking block beneath the barrel that rotates up into locking notches on either side of the slide. Unique, and, like the DA system, one of a precious few handgun features not invented by John Browning. Mostly important for suppressed guns, this eliminates the cantilever effect where the added leverage of a suppressor’s weight keeps the rear of a tilting barrel locked up into place and unable to cycle.

Walther produced suppressed versions of the P38s, some with an added latch to keep the slide shut during firing, as well as the slightly shorter P4 and snubnosed P38K (both of which omitted the problematic slide top cover), and the alloy-framed P1 adopted by the West German Bundeswehr and the closed-slide P5 and P5 Compact. Given the Germans’ well-founded fascination with subcaliber conversions, the P38 was made in .30 Luger and .22 LR, with conversions in .22 LR and 4mm. The 4mm was available until recently from Lothar Walther, the still active barrelmaker founded by Carl Walther’s son.