Book Review: P38 Pistol – Spreewerk Production

I initially put off getting a copy of Jan Balcar and Ron Clarin’s book on the Spreewerk P38 because, well, I assumed it was just about Spreewerk. Upon finally reading it, I discovered that it is actually a very well-rounded history of the P38 as a whole, with particular extra attention given to Spreewerk. Originally written in Czech, it includes a great deal of information about the the city of Grottau where the Spreewerk factory was located. It also includes several sections on the other manufacturing done by Spreewerk, including a section on the VG-2 rifle.

The book does a great job covering the development of the P38 in detail as well as its production. The specific variations made by Spreewerk are obviously a focal point, but reading just this book will provide a good overall understanding of the gun. For those who do not want to shell out $500+ for a set of Warren Buxton’s books, this would be my recommendation for the single best P38 book available. Krutzek’s recent work is a good companion to get details on the Walther and Mauser subtypes, but it provides much less background and context than Balcar and Clarin do.

Unfortunately, this volume is mostly out of print today, and will be more difficult to find once Checkpoint Charlie’s sells out their remaining stock. At the time of this writing, it is available there for $99.



  1. When I read the title of the video I felt the same as you, that it was an oddly specific book. But turns out it is not. And still avaiable in German (my czech is rather lacking compared to weaponsman’s) from DWJ for only 29,80€UR!

    Ordered my copy of course. Get yours while supplies last. 🙂

    To confuse matters further in 1944 there was also an ammunition factory built in the Spreewald/Błota south of Berlin in Lübben/Lubin to be exact named Spreewerke, which was then later run by the DDR and today has changed over to ammunition disposal work.

    • To my mild, but not that big surprise, this company was located in Grottau, today Hradek nad Nisou which sits at almost exact intersection of Czech, German and Polish borders. Interesting.

      As it had been told so many times, the Czech armament industry (by far not just Brno) was a serous complement to German war machinery. Many small contractors (my mother was on mandatory assignment employed by one right in Prague) who supplied such ‘mundane’ items such as holsters, rifles stocks and ammo crates.

      • “Czech armament industry”
        Interesting historical tidbit No.1: When WWII broke out most numerous combat tracked vehicle of Swedish forces was Strv m/37 tankette or light tank (depending on definitions you use) which was Czechoslovak design produced in Sweden.

        Interesting historical tidbit No.2: Despite tankette or (1930s) light tanks proved to be of little value during battles of WWII, Ethiopia in 1948 ordered new tankette/light tanks differing little from pre-war design from Czechoslovakia. It must be noted that they were supposed for policing actions rather than high intensity conflict. Interestingly these vehicles were still in service in 1980s.

        For more data see:

        • Good page, I saved it.

          Well, as you know the LT35 and LT38 sold rather well as far as in Peru. In initial stages of WWII there were perhaps the only ‘tanks’ Wehrmacht had. They had some limited success in Russia, until T34 showed up.

          Even later after, the Pz(t)38 Hetzer ‘tank chaser'(direct translation) held on strong.

      • Grottau was then mostly settled by Germans and part of the Sudetenland, that had been “brought back home into the Reich” in 1938. So it was part of Germany then. Only after WW2 when the Germans were driven out by the Czechs it was turned into a Czech city and made ethnically Czech.

  2. I just ordered a copy from Checkpoint Charlie’s and the price has gone up to $129. I’m anxious to get my hands on it after having read reviews. These resources are getting more and more scarce. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and helping me find this resource.

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