Handgun Mastery

Off the Anvil and Onto Manufacturing

There was something about being around smelting and blacksmithing shops that gave rise to special trades, such as rifle makers, and that phenomenon took place all over the world. In Germany, in 1886, Carl Walther entered into the rifle making business after his education was complete. At the age of 28, with little equipment available to him, Carl Walther, along with his assistant, began to manufacture hunting and shooting rifles using the Martini and Aydt systems.

Walther Family History

He married a lady who was from a rifle manufacturing family and together had five sons. With two of the sons completing education in business and dye making, the little family had the makings of a business within itself. So, in 1903 a small factory was built in Zella-Mehlis. One of the sons, Fritz Walther, had a keen interest in the semi-automatic pistol technology which was growing in leaps and bounds. In 1908, Fritz and his father, Carl, designed and produced the "Model 1", the first of a series of nine which were constructed by the end of 1920. They released a much acclaimed automatic shotgun in 1921 and by 1932 were producing double-barrel shotguns which were later followed by smaller caliber guns.

Innovation, Creativity and Persistence

The company expanded into the production of adding machines, but Fritz's focus was on firearms. He encouraged innovation on the part of his employees and as a result one, Walter Riem, developed a warning shot/gas pistol called Perfecta in 1937.

In spite of the fact that double-action revolvers had not broken into the market, the potential of this technique kept Fritz Walther enthused and in 1929 he managed to implement the now-famous model PP. It became an instant success worldwide. The PPK, a compact handgun, followed shortly afterward and both models proved to be perfect from the start. They are still produced and used today, particularly within the realm of law enforcement.

The Famous P38 Model Handgun

The very famous P38 model was developed for the German military and used a powerful 9mm cartridge. The P38 is still used today, with many companies copying its classic design. The Walther manufacturing plant was destroyed in World War Two but Fritz Walther was able to save a small number of patents and some designs. He built again from the ground up and in 1953 opened the new factory in Ulm, where most of the production is located to this day.

A Merger and Greater Growth

The company had its 100th birthday in 1986 and stepped into the globalization era through a merge with Umarex in 1993. Umarex is outstanding in the area of weapons manufacturing and the merger enabled the Walther tradition to be carried on in a much bigger way. The highly acclaimed police and defence pistol, "The First Pistol for the Next Century", Model P99 was developed and was yet another step to bringing Walther into the next millennium. Solid wins at the Atlanta Olympics garnered gold medals and more solidity in their standing as a premiere firearms developer and producer.

Walther brand firearms are available in the US through a joint effort of distribution by Walther and Smith & Wesson of Springfield, Massachusetts.