Why Walther And S&W Parted Ways

Apparently Walther was not making a lot of money for S&W. My good friend Richard at Guns Holsters & Gear reports

Debney said that Walther is a “…shrinking piece of business,” and that the Walther line has “…lower gross margin[s].” In other words, fewer guns are selling, and those that do generate smaller profits than other products in the Smith & Wesson stable.

Debney said that 2010 was the financial peak in their relationship with Walther. That year, revenues on the guns totaled $44 million. By 2012, revenue had dropped $12 million to only $32 million.

S&W had no motivation to market Walther guns. Why sell a PPK and share the profit with Walther when you can sell a S&W Bodyguard and keep all the profit?

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • Bob Z Moose

    Are PPKs still selling?! Love the styling and nostalga factor, but when you can get any number of plastic 380’s at 1/2 the price, why would you opt for a PPK?

    • Tony

      Bond, James Bond

    • Burst

      The action is smoother and cleaner feeling, the safety nigh idiot-proof.

      Oldschool guns like the PPK, don’t just serve a purpose, they make you enjoy shooting.

    • kurgen99

      Single action.

    • schizuki

      The styling and nostalgia factor.

  • Tony

    I’ve always wanted a blued PPK without S&W logos.

    • Woodroez

      I have no real beef with S&W, but getting a PPK/S that just says WALTHER definitely has it’s own appeal.

    • Curzen

      Given the PPK has been and will continue to be manufactured by S&W with none having been made in Germany in years and Hungarian ones not being imported – buy a used one.

      • Evan

        This is true, but it may well be absent the S&W roll mark, as the M&P22, made by Walther, does not sport the WALTHER banner on the slide.

  • The pistol on the illustration is NOT a Smith and Wesson made gun. It is a PPK/E, which was made in Hungary by FÉG.

    It is originally a FÉG APK7,65 pistol, just check the thumbrest grips!

    • 6677

      Well that didnt really need pointing out seeming as it says
      Model: PPK/E Cal: .32ACP
      on the slide

      • Bloon

        Seems a little odd to have a completely unrelated image in the article, no?

      • 6677

        “Why sell a PPK and share the profit with Walther”
        Yeah might have made more sense to show a S&W built PPK but a PPK is a PPK still

  • Evan

    The news about Walther breaking off and forming it’s own US entity excited me. The Walther/S&W relationship had seemed a little one-sided to me.
    For example, the Walther US website was outdated and poorly maintained until a few months ago.

    I totally understand though. I like Walther firearms, but as of late they definitely have had a second-rate presence in the US.
    I can’t remember the last time I saw some actual print advertising for Walther.
    Walther’s takeover by Umarex a few years back also didn’t help the standing of one of my favorite brands much either.

    I totally understand from S&W’s point of view though; why undercut your sales by doing the work for your competitor?

  • ColonelColt

    I really can’t say I’m surprised. I love some of Walther’s products but the PPK line is not one of them. If it hadn’t been for the James Bond films that pistol design would have died out quite a long time ago. While the PPK is a nice feeling gun and all, it’s fairly complicated inside compared to a modern pistol, takes more machine time to make, on the large side for its caliber, and in side by side shooting with other similarly sized guns doesn’t do any better. I’d rather have a Makarov.

    • W

      The PPK was popular before james bond, being in service with the Waffen SS, Gestapo, and other elements of the Nazi regime military and being lauded for being reliable (in a era where autoloaders were less than ideally reliable) and very concealable. It was definitely state of the art for its era.

      • Cymond

        Yes, it “was definitely state of the art for its era” but that era was close to 70 years ago. That seems “quite a long time ago” to me. If not for the James Bond notoriety, the PPK wouldn’t have survived into the new millenium as a serious weapon.

        Yeah, it’s elegant but quite large & heavy. Someone gave my mother a PPK/S (.380) a few years ago, but she struggles to work the slide. The recoil spring is exceptionally heavy. It’s a blowback design, so a heavy recoil spring is necessary to keep the action closed until the pressure drops off.

  • Jeff

    There would be no reason for Smith to continue the relationship, now that they have the Shield, which is VERY similar to the PPS, and the Bodyguard series puts them firmly in the smaller carry gun market.
    Walther has the PPQ, replacing the P99 series, which essentially duplicates the Smith M&P guns in the lineup, so it was time for a split.

  • Robert

    I feel its a good thing for Walther to break off and do their own thing. I handled a PPQ the other day and was blown away, that gun is a tremendous build quality and the trigger is amazing. With a design like that they deserve to live or die on the strength of their own name here in the US.

    • W

      I believe the PPQ is one of the most underrated handguns out there. I have nothing bad to say about them!

  • huey148

    I always thought that was a weird partnership anyway…as for the price of a PPK…go buy a Bersa

    • W

      as far as the Walther PPK’s superiority in quality, trigger pull, and reliability, I wouldnt take a Bersa if it was given to me. The extra money is well spent.

  • MrMaigo

    Walther, you know what I want? A full size PPK, double stack in 9mm. You can call it the PPK/American, cause it’s bigger. It’s already not a small gun, no one will really notice you made it 15% larger to put more, betterer bullets in it.

    • derpmaster

      Except that won’t work, because the PPK is a straight blowback design, which can’t withstand the power of a 9mm. You need a locking mechanism for high pressure cartridges to allow for the barrel pressure to drop before extraction.

      Walther used to make a really nice double stack 9mm called the P88, which was extremely finely made, but never sold well due to being extremely expensive.

      • Ted Eng

        Isn’t the H&K VP-70 straight blow-back in 9mm?

      • RicPritch

        If you watch any of the new Bond films, the Ppk 007 uses is a 9mm…

  • Derek

    I have a stainless S&W PPK. I was looking for something small. I’ve followed all of the newer ones that have come out from various manufacturers, most all of them with built in laser sights, but one thing I don’t like is that almost all of them seem to be double action only??

    • Cymond

      I can’t speak to all designs, but the Kel-Tecs and Rugers are not true double-action-only designs. The hammer is held at a half-cock until the trigger retracts it and fires it. The triger pull is long but much lighter than a true double-action.

      A single action would require a manual safety which adds cost, complexity, and a little weight. Also, many people are uncomfortable carrying a light-trigger pull in Condition 1. If you really want single-action, then look at the Sig P238. Colt is supposedly reintroducing the Mustang eventually. I’m not aware of any single/double action designs in the modern pocket pistol market.

  • Jerry Sussman

    Every time I set out to buy a Walther PPK .380, I was talked out of it. The design was too old, the double action trigger weight was too great, the S&W quality standards weren’t as good as a “real” German-made Walther, the snap was fierce, and it would bite your hand if you weren’t careful.

    So the first time, I bought a CZ 83 instead of an S&W Walther PPK the second time, I bought a Beretta 84 instead of an S&W Walther PPK; and the third time, I bought a Bersa Thunder instead of an S&W Walther PPK.

    Undaunted, I again set out to buy an S&W Walther PPK .380. This time, I ignored the critics. I bought one. Engraved. My thoughts:

    I wonder how many of the folks who criticize the S&W Walther PPK .380 ever fired one? It is by far the best of the lot. Flawless. As accurate from 7 yards as my S&W M-15 Combat Masterpiecer with a 4″ barrel. The single action trigger is as smooth as silk. The snap is no greater than any other .380 I’ve fired, and the bite is no worse. In short, one of the finest firearms that I’ve ever owned.

    Compare the .380 with the Bersa? Spare me. The Bersa appeared made from pot-metal, showing years of ware after about 500 rounds. But I guess it’s fine if you don’t mind a keyed on-off switch, a magazine safety, a decoker/safety, a rear sight that departed for points unknown, and a spring that pops off if the grips are not carefully removed. The Beretta? Compare the nickle plated version with the standard issue and you will find that the slide stop shaft is a few millimeters shorter; nothing like having your slide stop walk out of the gun every time you shoot it. A trip to the Beretta warranty center accomplished nothing.

    The CZ proved to be a close competitor, but it too finishes beyond the Walther PPK: no decocker, not quite as classic a design, a tad less accurate, and grip screws that refuse to stay tight (cured by O-rings, by the way). Ah, but S&W has its own stable of .380s which, with their modern designs are infinitely better. Yeah, really. Ever compare firing a double action only pistol with a pistol that could fire single action? What would be considered normal for a DAO would be considered a first-shot flier on an S&W Walther PPK .380 fired in single action.

    • kurgen99

      Well, I’m happy to hear that you rate the S&W PPK higher than four other .380s that I continually hear are “better,” and I couldn’t agree more with the preference for single action. That’s precisely one of the main reasons I prefer autos over revolvers.

      • gunslinger

        I would like to reinforce the pro Smith and Wesson comment above.I own two of them a PPK and a PPKS in stainless. Both of these weapons shoot flawlessly are in .380 cal. And are very easy to shoot well.Smith and wesson had some problems with early production models but they more than made up for it in later marks. Both of mine are finished beautifully and Wesson has taken a bad rap on these pistols and I’m sorry that they won’t be making them after April of 2013.Some of us just like a classy pistol that’s not made out of plastic and these pistols fill that bill in spades.

    • J-

      I agree whole heartedly!!! I went through the Bersa, Sig P230, and some other nameless ComBloc 380 before going with my S&W PPK. What a world of difference, what a great gun the PPK is. You are dead on about the accuracy, I can print 2″ groups at 25 yds using Federal 95 grain FMJ. I liked the first one so much, when a trade presended itself I ended up getting a second one.

      What I really want is a PPK in .32 ACP, but they are hard to find. The PPKs in .32 is more common, but the exposed metal backstrap feels funny.

      What I really wish is that S&W (or maybe Walther on it’s own) would bring back the PPK/L with the aluminum frame, maybe even a modernized version with an aluminum frame and better sights.

    • W

      Absolutely. Your assertions are the main reason why I have kept my PPK for two decades and have enjoyed shooting it. Many consider the 380 too anemic for concealed carry, though with cor-bon JHP, it will get the job done.

  • Phil

    I hope this doesn’t limit the availability of Walther firearms in the US. I just bought my second Walther today, a PPS 9mm. I can’t wait to test fire it tomorrow morning.

    About 8 years ago I got a great deal on a PP .32 ACP. What a fantastic firearm. It’s classy and fun to shoot. I really fell in love with the design and someday I hope to buy some more PP and PPKs. It’s so cool that the design has survived so long.

  • abprosper

    The PPK is an old design but it has cache which is worth something.

    In .32 (the actual caliber Bond used) is a pretty good gun as well. Compact, decently reliable and easy to shoot. Not a bad set of traits. Easily suppressed as well where allowed, very handy for a spy

    I’d prefer a snubby myself, the Colt Agent or the Detective Special which IIRC Boothroyd recommended at one point in one of the books.

    The 7.65 PPK may have a delivery like a brick through a plate glass window (and it has a lot of power for a tiny low recoil and noise cartridge) but its outdone by the .38 special and the shootability is about equal YMMV of course.

    However I can’t blame S&W for their decision, its just as they say bidness

  • man that sucks. the PPS is a giant win. imo. i freaking love it. i’d get a PPQ but i don’t like that it doesn’t have a decocker like a my p99. incidently, a giant inspiration to all of the polymer guns to come afterwards.

  • justin

    what i dont understand is if they parted ways why is Walther still advertised on the S&W site?

  • Bob M

    The Walther PPK is still a very relevant pistol for concealed carry and back up duty. Those that say that the PPK is out of date, what do you think about the 1911? The 1911 is even older, has more parts (ie more complicated) and there are numerous modern .45 acp designs that are cheaper by far. Yet the 1911 retains a loyalty that is resurgent. Good guns are good guns, and the PPK is a great gun.

  • dekzan

    Everyone trying to be polite and historically aware, but the truth is only one. S&W PPKs are a FIASCO with a ridiculirizing damn recall and that slide with rough finish looks horrible.

  • Butch

    Where can I find a grip screw for my Walter ppk/s?

  • AR_Libertarian

    S&W Bodyguard is butt-ugly. Maybe cheaper, and to Smith represents better profit margin, but I have no desire to own one.