Carl Walther GmbH Sportwaffen or Walther is a German arms manufacturer. For more than 100 years, Walther made major breakthroughs in the development of pistols. Some are legendary, like the PPK and the P99 – both pistols carried by the fictional character James Bond – and the P38, the standard-issue sidearm of the German military in World War II.
Pronunciation of the name Walther
In German, w sounds like /v/ and th sounds like /t/. However, it is common for English speakers not familiar with German phonology to pronounce the w and th in the usual English manner. (As for the -er ending, both German and English have several typical variations, depending on the speaker's regional accent.) Pronounce Walther: 'Vull' as in "hull" - then 'ter' as in Walter.
The firm was founded in 1886 by Carl Walther in Zella-Mehlis, in what was then Hesse but is today Thuringia. The company originally manufactured hunting and target rifles. It was not until 1908 that, under the initiative of Fritz Walther, the oldest son of Carl Walther, they began to make pistols. Models 1 through 5 and 7 through 9 were in calibers 6.35 and 7.65. The Model 6 was Walther's first attempt at a 9mm Luger pistol. It used blowback rather than a locked breech and proved unsuccessful, with only around 1,000 made. Its rarity has made it highly sought after on the collectors market. In 1929 they began to make the popular "police pistols" or PP models. This was followed in 1931 by the first of the PPKs (Polizeipistole, Kriminalmodell). Both PP and PPK's were manufactured in .22 Long Rifle, .32 ACP (the most common caliber), .380 ACP and a very small amount in .25 ACP. The PP models were the first mass produced pistols with stamped parts, but the high quality of production made them a favorite to replace the P-08 Luger. In 1938 the German Reich awarded the contract for that replacement to Walther for the 9mm P38 with a weight of 960 g.
From 1942 until 1945, the company used slave labour at the Neuengamme concentration camp, and operated its own factory at the camp.
After World War II, Walther was reduced to just a collection of designs and patents. But Fritz Walther started anew and began manufacturing in Ulm in southern Germany. The company resumed production of the P38 (renamed as the P1) in 1957 in order to equip the new West German Army, the Bundeswehr, with sidearms. When Fritz Walther died in December 1966, his son, Karl-Heinz, took over the company, which then concentrated on the sports sector and the introduction of new technologies. In 1993 the Walther firm was acquired by Umarex of Arnsberg, who continued to manufacture under the Walther name in Ulm and Arnsberg.
Walther makes a long line of tactical knives.
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