Perfecting A Walther PP


Looking almost stock,the S&W J-Frame rear adjustable sight and
Roy’s shop-made front turned the Walther PP .22 into something unexpected.

In a recent Insider, we chatted about the joys of small-frame .22 autos (Nov/Dec 2022). Part of the charm of the little guns is they’re easy to carry, easy to shoot, often surprisingly accurate and just plain handy. But alas … one of the pitfalls is the fact virtually none of the small .22 autos have truly adjustable sights.

Sure, you can knock a sight left or right to adjust for windage, but if your elevation is off, it’s time for welding up the front and re-shaping or filing things down. The downside to all that is you’ve now carefully zeroed for just one load, and we all know .22 ammo varies like crazy, so chances are good the next load you shoot will stray off onto another bit of target real estate.

About 40-odd years ago, I read an article by Skeeter Skelton where he mentioned MMC had made a tiny adjustable rear sight for his Walther PPK .22. But alas, MMC said it was so difficult to do Skeeter’s was going to be a one-off. Legions of Walther fans sighed in despair. I’ve wanted something like that sight for decades and have simply never found anything that would work.
Until now.

When he set the S&W sight on the Walther
slide, Roy knew he was onto something.

Here’s preliminary drilling, tapping and screw sizing and shaping.

Casting About

Over the years, I’ve collected countless little drawers full of, as I call them, “assorted gun parts.” Pins, screws, hammers, triggers, springs, rifle action bits, factory sights of a zillion sorts, sling swivels, flat spring stock, barrels … well, you get the drift. What amazes me more than anything is the fact my increasingly aged brain can recall a specific part “I know I have” — even though it was acquired 35 years ago and stashed.

Need a front side-plate screw for an S&W Victory Model? My hand will reach instinctively to the right drawer. Hammer pivot pin for an 1895 Harrington & Richardson 1895 falling block? Oh, got it right here.

So I was digging in my “don’t throw these away because they’re not that broken” rear sight drawer, and my eyes fell upon a smaller-sized S&W J-Frame adjustable rear sight assembly. By a miracle of coincidence, my Walther PP .22 was laying on my bench right at hand. I looked a the sight, then at the Walther as my brain dusted off some ancient thought. Then I looked at the sight, then back to the top of the Walther’s slide again as dawning swept over me. I admit my fingers trembled slightly as I reached for my Starrett dial caliper. I also noted the J-Frame rear didn’t need the complicated T-slot cut a K-Frame sight needs. About one minute later, I realized … it just might work.

The front dovetail had to be shallow and it was a bit stressful
as the dovetail cutter worked its way through.

Roy made the front sight on the mill, then re-shaped it and
Loctited it into place. Here he’s testing the initial fit.

And Did It?

You bet. Some delicate filing on the rear sight dovetail on the Walther, and drilling and tapping two tiny holes to hold the sight on had the rear looking like it was factory-installed. Ha! The front was a bit more complicated as I could find nothing in my various stashes that’d work. I milled out a tiny front, then cut a corresponding very shallow dovetail in the slide, muttering “Oh please, oh please” as the cutter worked its way through. There’s not a lot of slide meat there. I pressed the rough sight home and Loctited it in. With a thumping heart, I donned my ear protection, glasses and loaded the magazine.

It worked.

A few trips back and forth to the mill to get the front sight height correct, then a bit more work shaping it “just so,” and my dream of an adjustable sight on my trusty Walther .22 was a reality. Double ha!

I stumbled onto a couple of challenges. There’s not much thickness to the slide, so the rear sight “strap” holding it on needed two screws to keep things in place. Also, much to my surprise, the steel S&W uses on that strap spun two twist drills before I ended up using a carbide end mill to make the holes. I also draw-filed the serrations from the sight plane on the slide top to get the rear to sit right. I also measured about 50 times (100?) before I took that front dovetail cut, and even then, my stomach was in a knot hoping the dovetail cutter didn’t break through the slide top. Whew!

Here’s five shots at 20 yards. It’s great to be able to
properly center groups using the adjustable sights.

So, the moral of the story is if you have a bit of skill, the right tools and think outside the box at times, dreams can actually come true. I checked with Dusty, my young friend here who builds custom 1911s and such, and he said he’d be willing to chat if someone wanted this work done. The hitch is you’d need to locate an adjustable rear sight for an S&W J-Frame first, as they’re not that common. I’m not sure what this work would cost, but keep in mind it may not be cheap!

I met Skeeter a time or two just before he passed away. I wish I’d had this gun to show him. I know he’d have smiled.

For more info:, email: [email protected]

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Thompson Center Association

Shooters everywhere dearly love the TC single shots. Nevertheless, S&W, who owned the company, decided to close it down, and it’s now officially gone. But there are still tens of thousands of us out here who still want to learn, buy, shoot, share and enjoy this amazingly versatile gun/barrel system. I’m not sure, but I think I have about 15 barrels and three frames and plan on finding more. If you want to learn more, get involved, find cool guns, parts, barrels and accessories and get the wonderful “One Good Shot, the Journal of the Thompson/Center Association,” you need to join up! Membership is about $35, as I recall, and the magazine (4x yearly) is well worth the money alone. The people are great, and I’d call them all “gun people” in the best meaning of the words.

Email them at [email protected] or find them at If you want, call Art Lamontagne, the president, at (207) 252-3663 for more info. He’s a great fellow and knows his TC stuff!

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