Model: P38 ac-44
Serial Number: 4357f
Year of Manufacture: 1944
Caliber: 9mm Parabellum
Action Type: Single or Double Action Semi-Auto with Removable Magazine. This pistol has a de-cocker lever.
Markings: The left side of the slide is marked “P.38”, and “4357f” and “ac 43”, which identifies this pistol as being made by Walther in 1944. The left side of the frame is marked “4357f” and with an “Eagle over 359” Waffenamt (code for Walther). The right side of the slide is marked with an Eagle holding a globe with Swastika between by two “Eagle / 359” Waffenamts. The left barrel flat is marked with an “Eagle / 359”, the front barrel flat with “4357 / f” and the right flat with a dot. The dot is probably a hardness punch mark. The left side of the barrel stop is marked with an Eagle holding a globe with Swastika, the right side with an “Eagle / 359” and the bottom with “357 / F”. There is also an Eagle holding a globe with Swastika marked on the left rear of the barrel. The inside surfaces of the grip panels are unmarked except for the mold number marking. The left side of the grip frame is marked “7” and the left side of the front sight is marked “3”.
Barrel Length: 5”
Sights / Optics: The pistol is mounted with a flat topped “U” notched rear sight dovetailed into the slide and a Patridge style blade front sight dovetailed into a banded base on the barrel.
Stock Configuration & Condition: The grips are reddish black serrated plastic with a slight thumbrest on the left side that enclose the backstrap. A lanyard ring protrudes through a slot molded into the bottom of the left grip. The grips show minor wear in their bright finish giving them a mottled dull/bright finish. There are a few tiny marks in the serrations of both grips. The grips rate in about Fine overall condition.
Type of Finish: The finish is a military blue. While the barrel and slide have an almost black coloration, the frame has a plum color characteristic. This coloring began to crop up in 1944 due to a hasty and poorly controlled bluing process. Like the earlier ac-43 3rd Generation pistols, the barrel is un-polished and shows lathe marks.
Finish Originality: The finish is original.
Bore Condition: The bore is gray with sharp rifling. There are a few small spots of extremely light erosion near the muzzle.
Overall Condition: This pistol retains about 90% of its metal finish. There is thinning on the edges of the barrel band and slide with minimal thinning on the trigger guard and front strap. There are few light handling marks in the barrel and the right sides of the slide and frame. There is also a spot of surface loss on the right side of the frame from rubbing on the trigger bar. The serrations on the safety, hammer, slide release and takedown lever are sharp. The grip screw is sharp and the markings are clear. Overall, this pistol rates in about Fine condition.
Mechanics: The action functions correctly. The double action trigger pull is a little stiff, and the single action pull has a tiny amount of creep. The slide is tight to the frame. We did not fire this pistol.
Box, Paperwork & Accessories: This pistol comes with a total of one 8 round blued single stack magazine. The left side of the magazine is marked “P. 38v / ac” and the spine is marked with a single “Eagle / 359” Waffenamt, identifying it as having been made by Walther. The magazine is marked correctly for this pistol. The magazine body shows minimal wear, several light handling marks and a spot of pinprick surface erosion on its lower right side. The floorplate shows spots of surface loss at the rear from the magazine latch and thinning on its edges. The magazine is in about Fine condition.
Our Assessment: The P38 occupies a significant place in history. It was the first locked breech pistol to have a single action/double action trigger. After the start of WWII, Walther could not keep up with the production required, and production was ordered to commence at both Mauser and Spreewerke in 1940. By the end of the war, Walther had only produced about 580,000 of the 1.2 million produced. When Walther first began making the P38’s, all of the small parts including the grips were serialized, but as the war went on, this practice was gradually discontinued. This pistol was made by Walther in 1944. By this time, the small parts were no longer serialized and the grips had neither serial numbers nor inspection stamps. The frame has a plum colored blue finish as a result of hasty and poorly controlled bluing processes. This pistol has all matching numbers and is correctly marked. The pistol is in about Fine condition with 90% of its original finish remaining. The pistol shows thinning on the edges of the barrel band and slide with minimal thinning on the trigger guard and front strap. There are a few light handling marks in the barrel and on the right sides of the slide and frame. There is also a spot of surface loss on the right side of the frame from rubbing on the trigger bar. The grips are serrated reddish black plastic that show minor wear in the bright finish, giving them a mottled dull look, and there are several tiny marks in the serrations. The bore is gray with sharp rifling and a few tiny spots of extremely light erosion near the muzzle. The slide is tight on the frame. No collection of WWII small arms would be complete without a P38 made by each of the three manufacturers, and many collectors have one from each year that they were made by each of the three manufactures, in addition to most of the common variants. This pistol is in nice condition for its age, and with its original finish and matching numbers is sure to catch the eye of the serious collectors.