Walther, maker of the definitive sexy “little” gun, the PPK, has re-entered the .380 ACP fray with the PK380, a gun that departs from that paradigm. It also distinguishes itself from the current vogue among manufacturers of seeing who can make the smallest .380 ACP pistol. It’s an exciting execution of an interesting idea. After all, how small is small enough and how small is too small?
The PK380 is hand filling yet compact pistol that satisfies a largely ignored market niche—the ergonomic .380 ACP. Ever since the Kel-Tec P3AT debuted, everyone’s been in a hurry to make a pocket-sized .380 ACP. Sure, they are ideal for deep concealment and are effortless to carry, but you pay a price in both handling and felt recoil attenuation. There is more than a little to be said for those two qualities. Moreover, not everyone needs the smallest gun possible and not everyone relies on pocket carry.
The PK380 is sized for holster carry. In comparison to other belt guns, the PK380 is still fairly small and with proper attire, easy to conceal. For many people, the .380 is a viable and necessary belt gun, not just a backup. Typically, these people don’t want to have to dig under a lot of clothing to reach a deep concealment piece. Moreover, a lot of people just shoot better with the mildly recoiling .380 ACP and a hit with one is worth more than ten misses with a .45 ACP. While it may be tradition to denigrate smaller, medium-bore chamberings like the .380 ACP, such criticism is often no longer valid. Premium ammunition has greatly improved over the past several years and top-quality cartridges in .32 ACP, .380 ACP and 9mm are far more effective than in days past.
The PK380 has a highly functional appearance with little given over to style. It has an industrial, machined look—very geometric with some softer curves around the grip. The black-on-black pistol has a prominent Walther banner and the model name on the slide. There are slanted rear cocking serrations; high, drift-adjustable rear sights; dual manual thumb safety levers; an accessory rail; finger grooves and Walther’s dual magazine release levers that fit flush against the underside of the triggerguard. While not exactly pretty, it has a no-nonsense look, which may have more appeal to serious buyers than the sinuous lines Walther used to be known for.
The included key is inserted into a hole on the left side of the frame in order to disassemble the PK380 for maintenance.
Running your hand over the gun presents a surprising contrast between what you see and what you feel. With its dark, straight lines, the gun looks hard-edged and sharp, but it isn’t. It is nicely dehorned and smooth. The rowel hammer spur and the thumb safeties are rounded and the magazine release does not protrude. Even the front surface and top of the high rear sights are satisfactorily smooth.