My Wife's Walther PK380

Walther PK380

Introduction

    My wife owns one of these guns.  I own a Glock 19.  I am relatively new to guns, but I have recently (link) shot more to get used to other guns, so now I have a point of reference.  As such, and given the time we've spent with this gun, I will now review it once again.

Appearance

    First, I own a Glock 19.  I am also a military member.  I don't really care about how guns look.  I'd rather they be entirely black (hence, my Glock) because that color should be easier to hide at night.  All I care about is how a gun shoots, because, to me, a gun is just a tool.  I appreciate beauty: I grew up with my Mom being an art college student (and then teacher), spent many vacations in an art gallery, and went to music college.  But with guns, I hardly care.  Does this gun look cool?  Sure, but to me it doesn't matter.  My wife's gun is entirely black, so I'm fine with that.
    Now sure, I'd buy the best gun (since a gun is a tool) regardless of appearance.  I'd buy a pink gun, if it was truly the best for its intended purpose, and then spray-paint it black or have it coated.  So to me, appearance is a non-issue.  This gun doesn't have anything that's going to shine in the light, so I'm happy with its "ugliness".
    Compared to my Glock 19, this gun looks less intimidating, but that doesn't matter.

Ammunition and Caliber

    First, the caliber isn't a problem.  Far too many websites that are respected and have established credibility want to ignore the .380 ACP as barely inadequate.  That's not so.  With the proper choice of ammunition, it gets the 12" penetration that the FBI once said was enough to guarantee stopping power.  Second, I read far too many people using hardball (full metal jacket) ammunition with their .380 ACP guns.  FMJ is designed to go through a target, and as with 9mm in FMJ, your stopping power is going to be diminished by this.  One should read Massad Ayoob and use jacketed hollow point.  JHP does far better as a man-stopped (per caliber) and also has side benefits like decreased tendency to richochet, less energy left even if it does go through a target, etc.
    I can tell, when I shoot this gun, that .380 ACP, and this size and design of gun, are very easy on a new shooter, and/or a female shooter.  Recoil is very low ("Am I shooting .22LR?").  If not for the price (see the next paragraph), I'd shoot this gun all day.  Even single handed "Matrix style" unsupported single hand firing is ridiculously easy.
    However, .380 ACP ammunition is more expensive than 9mm.  At almost $0.50/shot, I'm not a fan of its expense.  This gun my wife's, and this was her choice, but I don't like how expensive .380 ACP is, so I would never have selected this caliber for myself.
    Compared to my Glock 19 in 9mm, ammunition is dirt cheap, especially when someone has a sale.  I can Get 9mm per shot for $0.30 when not on sale, and at $0.20 when it goes on sale, if I don't mind shooting Russian steel.  I plan to never buy Russian-made ammunition again (not because of anything Tula Ammo did, but because I want to buy American-made).
Controls
    The grip on this gun feels great in the hand.  My wife loves the grip.  It's contoured, and with the magazine having the "pinky" part of the grip, it's very easy on the hands.  It's fun to shoot.
    The safety and the magazine release, while not the most comfortable, are truly ambidextrous, as several websites have pointed out.  The magazine release annoys my wife, but I find it to be nice.  I can disengage the safety with my shooting hand, so it works, even if it's not the most ergonomic.
    The trigger is dual action and single action like a 1911 style gun.  I don't like having an exposed hammer, but it's not being used as a carry gun, and it's not mine anyways.  I do not like the initial difficult pull on this gun at all.  The subsequent pulls are good, but the initial pull is annoying to me.  I'm used to the Glock 19 and its consistent pull, and my concern is if the initial pull is more difficult than subsequent pulls, it will throw off my accuracy.  But it's not mine.
    As for the controls, one control that I wish it had is a slide lock-back lever.  I'm used to the military concept of presenting a weapon with the slide locked back, so that the recipient can verify visually that there is no round in the chamber.  The slide will lock back on this gun, but only when the rack is cycled with an empty magazine.  My Glock 19 does that but you can lock the slide back at any time with the lever.  To me, this is a huge flaw in the design of the PK380.  I know the pistol probably wasn't meant for the military: it was probably meant for female shooters (not being sexist, just a reflection of how the gun market works at times).  But I don't like it.
    As for the loaded chamber indicator, I'm not a fan.  It requires you to have enough light to see down into the chamber.  On my Glock 19, you can feel the loaded chamber indicator (it's tactile rather than visual).  I don't have to look while holding my Glock to know if it's loaded or not.  With the PK380, I must look.  I do not like this, as in a self-defense situation, it could potentially cause problems.  What if I had to look down to see if I even had a bullet loaded?  That would give a bad guy enough time to attack me, if at close range.
Reliability
    I think my wife has had two failures to fire/eject with this gun.  With a semi-automatic pistol, clearing such a jam isn't hard: slap the magazine, rack the slide, try again.  But it's worth noting.  However, the gun has multiple problems, not the least of which is the tendency of the gun to drop rounds, for lack of a better phrase to explain.  To test this, I would load one magazine with 8 rounds, rack the slide to chamber a round, and then eject the magazine.  Almost always, one round falls out of the gun as I am pulling the magazine out, because the part of the gun that strips a new round from the magazine is "over-zealous", and half-strips anoher round from the gun.  To me, this is unacceptable, as this causes the magazine not to fall out when the magazine release is pressed, and in fact sometimes make it harder (half-stripped round) to yank the magazine out.

Compared To Glock 43

    Now that I have a smaller gun, my second gun, the Glock 43, I can safely say that this gun is not worth it and has zero advantages to me in terms of concealed carry, except that the PK380 has an external safety.  The Glock 43 has more firepower (9mm > .380 ACP), and though it carries fewer rounds per magazine, the Glock 43 is smaller, and much more reliable.  And with +2 base plates on the market, capacity (when you upgrade in firepower) should have little to do with a comparison, as 9mm's power is much higher than that of .380 ACP.  Each bullet from 9mm hits almost twice as hard as .380 ACP, so really, 6 of 9mm is like 12 of .380 ACP.
    For my wife, sure, she still loves her gun, and I don't mind, nor do I blame her.  But in my eyes, this gun is garbage, and I'd rather have a Glock 42 or Glock 43, or Glock anything, than this gun.  From Watlher owners I have spoken with, the PK380 is during the S&W import time period, during which it is claimed their quality fell below their normal levels.  Hence this gun is sort of a "ripple in time" for Walther.

Bug Out / Zombie Considerations

    Before I begin this section, I do not believe in a zombie apocalypse.  I doubt our scientific minds nor our government are either smart enough or capable enough of creating (intentionally or otherwise) zombies.  Zombies originate from Voodoo witchcraft stories.  So I say "zombie apocalypse" as a non-believer.
    If society collapsed upon itself, my wife would be using this gun for the sole reason that it's hers, and that's all she/we own.  I'd be using my Glock 19.  If I were choosing any gun for a dystopian scenario, it would be a pistol in 9mm or .22LR (while I hate .22 LR, as it's a glorified BB gun, I think it will probably be one of the most plentiful rounds available).  What am I looking for in a "dystopia gun"?  A round that works, is light weight, plentiful, and cheap enough to buy in large quantities.  Nine millimeter is cheap, light weight (for a pistol round of decent size caliber), and cheap.  As for plentiful, 9mm is plentiful, as probably 25% of police forces right now use this caliber, and almost the entire US military uses this caliber right now.  The FBI recently announced (link) that it is switching back to 9mm, in fact, and with the way so many police departments eagerly jumped on the FBI bandwagon when they went with .40 S&W, I expect use in this country to increase to probably 75% of police forces.  So yes, 9mm is going to be insanely plentiful.  While .380 ACP is barely lighter than 9mm, it's not cheap, and not plentiful.  In an imaginary dystopian future I expect .380 ACP to practically disappear in favor of 9mm and .22LR and .45 ACP for pistols, with .22LR practically dominating everything due to its use in rifles.  In an imaginary dystopian future, once my wife's supply of .380 ACP was depleted, she'd probably be using the other Walther gun of the same size that is chambered in .22LR, or a 9mm pistol.
    In a street fight type scenario in such a future, my Glock 19 carries 15 rounds, and with 3 loaded magazines I have 45 rounds.  The Walther only holds 8.  With three magazines, that's only 24 rounds.
    In a dystopian future, so long as I can clean the gun, it will probably continue to work fine, as using ammunition for sporting purposes is probably going to cease.  Less wear and tear, theoretically.  But finding parts might become difficult, and PK380s need certain things such as the slide release tool.  I am not a fan of that tool or concept at all.  My Glock already dominates in terms of finding parts and repairing the gun, as 56% of police forces carry Glock, and the gun is already very popular in the United States.  The PK380 is less popular.  So in a dystopia, the Glock would be ideal, as it can be taken apart with a tool, but field stripped and cleaned without a tool, whereas if we lose the slide release tool for the Walther, we're going to have to use needle nose pliers, which we may or may not have with us.
Conclusion
    While the Walther PK380 is a decent gun, and good for the price, ultimately it's not the best, and the Glock family easily bests it in several categories.  But this isn't my gun, it's my wife's, and for her, it works great.  I don't hate the PK380, but I prefer my Glock.

Sold

    My wife finally got sick of this gun and so we sold it for $200.  Good riddance.


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