The Walther P38 is a 9 mm semi-automatic pistol that was developed by Walther arms as the service pistol of the Wehrmacht at the beginning of World War II. It was intended to replace the costly Luger P08, the production of which was scheduled to end in 1942.
One of the first semi-automatic pistols, the Luger was designed to use a toggle-lock action, which uses a jointed arm to lock, as opposed to the slide actions of almost every other semi-automatic pistol. After a round is fired, the barrel and toggle assembly (both locked together at this point) travel rearward due to recoil. After moving roughly 0.5 in (13 mm) rearward, the toggle strikes a cam built into the frame, causing the knee joint to hinge and the toggle and breech assembly to unlock. At this point the barrel impacts the frame and stops its rearward movement, but the toggle assembly continues moving (bending the knee joint) due to momentum, extracting the spent casing from the chamber and ejecting it. The toggle and breech assembly subsequently travel forward under spring tension and the next round from the magazine is loaded into the chamber. The entire sequence occurs in a fraction of a second. This mechanism works well for higher-pressure cartridges, but cartridges loaded to a lower pressure can cause the pistol to malfunction because they do not generate enough recoil to work the action fully. This results in either the breech block not clearing the top cartridge of the magazine, or becoming jammed open on the cartridge's base.
In World War I, as submachine guns were found to be effective in trench warfare, experiments with converting various types of pistols to machine pistols (Reihenfeuerpistolen, literally "row-fire pistols" or "consecutive fire pistols") were conducted. Among those the Luger pistol (German Army designation Pistole 08) was examined; however, unlike the Mauser C96, which was later manufactured in a selective-fire version (Schnellfeuer) or Reihenfeuerpistolen, the Luger proved to have an excessive rate of fire in full-automatic mode.
The Luger pistol was manufactured to exacting standards and had a long service life. William "Bill" Ruger praised the Luger's 145° (55° for Americans) grip angle and duplicated it in his .22 LR pistol.
In Project Reality, the Walther P38 appears as the standard sidearm for the Wehrmacht in the Project Reality: Normandy minimod.
- The Walter P38 reused the animations for the MP-443, found in vBF2