When one thinks of the famous German gunmaker Carl Walther GmbH Sportwaffen – a company founded in 1886, headquartered in Ulm and Arnsberg, Deutschland, with a U.S. subsidiary in Fort Smith, Arkansas – chances are two of the gunmaker’s particular designs come to mind: James Bond’s iconic Walther PPK 32.ACP (7.65mm) and the WWII-vintage Walther P38 and Cold War rebooted P1 9mm semiauto pistol.
However, in the heady days of the Cold War, Walther produced another double-action semiauto pistol that’s worthy of consideration: the 9mm P5 autopistol.
Walther P5 History and Specifications
The P5 was worthy of inclusion in the “5 Best Walther Guns On Planet Earth” article.
It is one of the most unique semiautomatic pistols out there, by virtue of the fact that it ejects its spent brass to the left instead of the to the right. As gun writer Graham Baates wrote in a May 2022 article for The Truth About Guns titled “Discarded Greatness: The Walther P5 9mm Pistol”:
“Although my example has yet to malfunction at all, I imagine this would make identifying the malfunction much easier for right-handed shooters.
I wondered if there would be any issues from the ejected brass being distracting or coming back at the shooter, but I didn’t experience that through more than a dozen different types of ammo … So if that’s not a risk, why not have an ejection port where most shooters can more easily see what’s going on with the gun.”
Another fairly unique feature is the integrated slide release and decocker – like the SIG Sauer line of traditional double-action autopistols, the P5 eschews a manual safety – which is only emulated by the SIG-lookalike Arex REX Zero 1 and Zero 2S and the Serbian-made NB Inat evolutions of Zastava copies of SIG.
To quote Mr. Baates again, “Is there a risk of accidentally de-cocking the Walther P5 when only intending to release the slide? Nope, it’s not possible, I’ve tried. When using the lever as a slide release it comes to a hard mechanical stop. To de-cock you need to release pressure for a moment, then sweep down again.”
Other interesting features include dual, side-mounted recoil springs, a tilting firing pin, and a non-tilting barrel.
The P5 first went into production in 1977, born of the then-West German government’s request for a more modern pistol than the P1.
Alas, this then-new Walther 9mm didn’t really catch on with the in-country military and Polizei entities, with only the police forces of Baden-Württemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate adopting the gun for duty issue.
Fortunately, the P5 wasn’t a total bust, as civilian market sales, along with adoption by the Dutch National Police Corps (Korps Nationale Politie) kept the gun in production ‘til 1993, with over 100,000 being built.
The P5 has an aluminum frame and a single-stack magazine with an 8+1 capacity. Weight is 1.75 pounds, overall length is 7.1 inches, barrel length is 3.5 inches – generating a muzzle velocity of 1,161 feet per second – width is 1.3 inches, and height is 5.1 inches.
Personal Shooting Impressions
My shooting experience with the Walther P5 took place back in circa 2004 at the Los Angeles Gun Club in Downtown L.A. To reiterate what I said back in December, “Alas, though the ergonomics felt good and reliability was 100 percent, the barrel was so badly worn out from so much range usage that the accuracy left much to be desired.”
Let me elaborate on that a bit further: it gave me good shot groups, but even at a measly 21 feet, the rounds were waaayyyyy off from the point of aim, and before anybody asks, yes, I was using proper sight picture, grip & stance, trigger control, and breath control, and what’s more, other guns I was firing that day –range rental guns and personally-owned gats alike – shot just fine for me at that very same range session.
That said, I’d love to get the chance to shoot a P5 with a bore in better condition in order to get a better assessment of the pistol’s practical accuracy potential.
Want Own a Walther (W.O.W.)?
According to the True Gun Value website, “A WALTHER P5 pistol is currently worth an average price of $1,817.86 new and $1,147.24 used. The 12 month average price is $1,817.86 new and $1,147.24 used.” The Guns International website currently has three listed; one at $1,850.00 USD, one at $2,200.00, and the third one at a whopping $3,300.00 due to being a “100 jahre year 1886 1996 presentation 9mm pistol #177 in oak leaf acorn carved box rare gun!”
Meanwhile, GunsAmerica has one at a slightly less painful $1,599.00. Ach Scheisser! Bring a bankbook.
Christian D. Orr has 33 years of shooting experience, starting at the tender age of 14. His marksmanship accomplishments include: the Air Force Small Arms Ribbon w/one device (for M16A2 rifle and M9 pistol); Pistol Expert Ratings from U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP), Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) Criminal Investigator Training Program (CITP); multiple medals and trophies via the Glock Sport Shooting Foundation (GSSF) and the Nevada Police & Fires Games (NPAF). Chris has been an NRA Certified Basic Pistol Instructor since 2011.