A few names in firearms manufacturing conjure up mental imagery of classic german and European engineering. Walther is at the forefront of that list, along with Heckler and Koch, SIG Sauer, etc. They are a stalwart of excellence from Germany, owner of the most iconic pistol in cinema (PPK), who continues to push the envelope of engineering and modern manufacturing.
The Formative Years of Walther
The modern Walther firearm, legally known as Carl Walther GmbH Sportwaffen, is a piece of German firearm nobility. Founded by Carl Walther in 1886, the Walther story begins over a century prior.
The Walther lineage begins around 1780 by the chief armorer of now-defunct Kassel Armory, a gentleman named Matthias Conrad Pistor. Now, Mr. Pistor was a descendant of the Walther family, which we do not need to get into the matter's genealogy.
The only important part is in the late 1880s when in modern-day Thuringia the shop was established which apprenticed Carl Walther, where the company specialized in target rifles (still a mainstay of the company), and hunting rifles.
Interestingly enough, Carl Walther was not the change agent for Walther specializing in pistols, but his eldest son, Fritz Walther.
Fine Target Rifles
If you are flipping through the channels during the summer Olympics, trying to find something besides gymnastics or swimming, you might luck upon the 10-meter air rifle event. Chances are at least decent that you are still, to this day, going to see a rifle with Walther painted on the stock. Their LG-series of rifles hails back to 1974 with their fantastic LGR, which rewrote the record book for indoor air rifles.
The World Famous Walther Pistols
It was harkening back to 1908 when Fritz Walther made the push to break into the pistol market. The initial offerings were in .25 ACP and .32 ACP in their models 1-5 and 7-9. But the model which set them apart is their iconic PP, which was released in 1929. Of course, this is the forerunner to the PPK of Bond lore, but that's getting ahead of the story.
As World War II loomed, the German military sought a replacement for the excellent but very costly Luger P-08 pistol. Walther offered a revolutionary solution to Luger design's expensive manufacturing practices by stamping parts of the lower receiver rather than milling or forging. Since the lower receiver is not subject to the upper receiver's high pressures, they could safely implement this inexpensive and straightforward process into a supremely reliable and popular pistol, which the German military used for several years.
The Bond Era
Nothing elevates brand recognition like a pop culture reference, and there is perhaps no more iconic cinema pistol than the PPK, made famous as the weapon of choice by James Bond. It remained his pistol of choice through “Tomorrow Never Dies” in 1997, where he used the P99. However, by most popular demand, Bond picked the PPK back up in 2008 for "Quantum of Solace," and then again in 2012 for “Skyfall." Either way, Bond always carries a Walther.
Walther firearm is a classic manufacturer of excellent firearms. At the top of their game, they owned a chuck of pop culture for decades and owned the firearm contract for the German military's official sidearm. While they have been eclipsed by the likes of Glock and SIG Sauer in recent decades, they are still producing fine firearms at reasonable prices and should not be ignored as a viable option by today's buyers.