Book Review – The P38 Pistol by Alexander Krutzek

Get your copy here!

If you have been looking for a comprehensive reference work on the P38 pistol but balked at paying $400 for the out-of-print three volumes by Warren Buxton, the solution is here. Newly available in English is “The P.38 Pistol” by Alexander Krutzek, with Dietrich Jonke and Orvel Reichert. Based in part on a massive 43,000-gun database compiled by Mr. Reichert, this book is an excellent and well organized reference for the P38 collector.

Spanning the life of the P38 from pre-production trials guns and the commercial HP series through to the French and Soviet post-war production (although not the P1), it includes major sections on each of the manufacturers (Walther, Mauser, and Spreewerke). The major variations – all 27 of them – are broken down and identified, along with as many as half a dozen subvariations for each one. This comprehensively covers both the mechanical changes made over the course of production at all three factories as well as major subcontractors and changes to markings. Unlike some information-heavy reference books, this work by Krutzek is also quite well organized, and easy to navigate when trying to identify and actual P38 specimen of unknown type.

Beyond the classification of the different pistol variations, the book also includes detailed descriptions and photographs of each individual part and its changes through the war. There are also substantial sections on magazines and holsters, plus shorter sections on manuals, cleaning kits, training materials, and other ancillary subjects, for a total of just over 600 pages. If there is a weakness to the book, it is that it does not do much to put the P38 in context (although competing production of the P08 and P38 is discussed in several places). The book sets out to be a technical collector’s reference work, and fulfills that goal very well. It will absolutely remain a standby reference in my library, and I would consider it an essential resource for anyone with an interest in collecting! At the time of this writing, the price is $99.95.



  1. During WWII, my uncle was with a unit that occupied a factory that made P-38 pistols. They started selling them as souvenirs (Taken off of a Nazi officer!). When they ran out of pistols, they started assembling more from parts they found in the factory. Some of those didn’t work very well. They did make quite a bit of money from them, though.

  2. My uncle’s name was George McCue, and he was an Army Air Corps corporal. He was trained in the use of poison gas, just in case the German’s used it. He was not in a front line unit, but did end up trapped in the Battle of the Bulge. No idea which P-38 factory he ended up at.

  3. The trouble with this pistol is : it will always be recognizable as the tool of the Nazi SS executioner in every war movie or documentary ever made . I hate the very sight of the pistol. It is the paramount axe of the executioner of the 20th Century. It bears the stink of EVIL. Even Hitler used one to kill himself.

          • Thanks for the link. I looked up Genera Walter. What a bastard; I am glad the Ukrainians got him in March of ’47. That was 10 months before I was born, but I read”Homage to Catalonia” and although I don’t recall any mention of ‘General Walter” , there WAS a bald Communist Russian General who fits his description and Orwell’s fears about the whole group of Russian Military/Political faction supposedly helping the Republican side .This guy was drunk most of the time and incompetent as a commander. Wikipedia says Stalin tipped off the Ukrainian Partizans that the General would be traveling without an escort the day they ambushed him.

    • Put a sock in it! French occupation soldiers bought P38 pistols after the war. To add insult to injury they apparently demanded hand-written apology letters from Walther be shipped with the guns.

      • Wow, that fixes everything! They should send letters to the families of all the Jews that were executed with these pistols too. I’m sure that would clear the board.

    • “It bears the stink of EVIL.”
      Automatic pistol is machine, examining is as good or evil is not good idea. You might ask about intention of its designer and it would be truth it was made to kill… but that might said about virtually any automatic pistol.

      “Even Hitler used one to kill himself”
      I do not prove or deny, he used that particular pattern of automatic pistol – I let others with more knowledge about “high-ranking people of NSDAP” to make that, but assuming that it was that way, that would make “stink of EVIL” or “stink of GOOD”?

      • Stink of Good would have to be that Arm of St. Francis that is flying around Canada lately. He loved the birds and fed them always…(But his arm is from the 15th century…)

  4. My uncle, Chet Bareisa was a tanker under Patton. He brought home a Luftwaffe pilot’s dagger, Nazi ring, 8mm Mauser model 98, and some cannon rounds. I unpacked his 1911 .45 from the cosmoline, cleaned & oiled it, brought it to a history class “show-n-tell” in high school, and gave it back to him shootable. As a biker, I have always refused to wear a German style helmet, and shun iron crosses and swastikas. My hypocrisy does allow for appreciation of vintage weapons (and their escalating value) however evil the user’s ideology was.

    • “swastika”
      Hakenkreuz is good example of contaminated symbol, before creation of NSDAP this symbol was not associated with negative traits. It was used just as logo by some firm for example Swastika Laundry in 1910s Dublin and Allmänna Svenska Elektriska Aktiebolaget:

      • Swastika is an ancient Indo-European symbol of luck. A bit like the cloverleaf. In India it is still commonly used in decorations, reliefs on temple walls etc. Unfortunately it is now permanently tainted by Nazism in the Western cultural sphere, there is no denying that, and shouldn’t be used by anyone who doesn’t wish to be associated with Nazism.

        • The “Swastika” was also a symbol of good luck by the American Indian tribes. Don’t blame the Swastika, blame the evil in some men’s hearts.

      • Swastika Drug Co.: “Hitler be damned, this is our sign since 1922” [].

    • Amazing how times change … In 1978-9 a student brought his grandfather’s old P-14 to school to give to me as a gift. You brought in your uncle’s 1911 and no one in either event batted an eye about it. Today those students would be targets of the SWAT team inside 5 minutes.

  5. I don’t say there is anything inherently Evil about these pistols . It is JUST the association in our consciousness of the shape and outline of these Walther pistols . I know there is no evil in the design either . My brother had a toy copy of one as a kid. I had a toy Luger. As I grew older and saw all the films of the death camps and the SS boys doing their thing, I learned to associate the profile of the Walther 9mm with Evil. I am not Jewish, but I have seen my friends on the line shooting these guns and I won’t own one . They are WAY overpriced anyway….

  6. Whether intended to or not, certain industrial products, or their trademarks, now have permanent symbolic associations. Apple will mean “different computer,” the Model A Ford pickup truck will mean “Okie.” Weapons to boot. The Colt SAA will always mean “Cowboy.” The AK47 will always mean Soviet or Soviet-influenced; the M1 Garand will mean “US saves the free world” and the M16 will mean “US in Vietnam.” The Webley and Lee-Enfield will always mean “British Empire” pro or con.

    The P08, P38, MP38-40, the swastika, and the coal-scuttle helmet will always mean “Nazi,” and therefore Bad Guys. Hitler, trained as an artist and familiar with semiotics, deliberately made many choices on the basis of “image” and maybe this permeated to weapons procurement (yeah, even if the Luger was pre WW-I). Can anyone name a cinema or movie action hero armed with a P08 or P38 (The Man from UNCLE doesn’t count, they altered those)?

    Modern Nazis adopt the symbols of their forebears, which is why modern Germany has banned the swastika. They’re not going back. I think Mr. Potter has basically the right point here, in contrast to Karl over at InRange. Certain weapons will pick up political symbolic baggage whether intended or not; the more efficient killing machines of Nazi Germany eased their intended political ends of European domination, international theft, and mass slaughter. That the Allied militaries (and space programs) eventually profited from Nazi “progress” is only due to the good fortunes of war. It can never be said enough that whatever positive abstract qualities the German forces and factories owned, they were used for unspeakable evil.

  7. I think you are all nuts. I used to think like you. Then I realized a tool is a tool is a tool. It’s not the tool, it’s the intent of the one wielding it. I am Jewish, and I say:

    They tried to kill us.
    We won – let’s eat!
    The victor always takes the spoils of war.

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