RIA: Walther Model 6 (Video)

Wather introduced its first pistol in 1908, creatively named the Model 1. With the outbreak of World War One, the company was offering the Model 4 pistol for military use. This was a .32 ACP simple blowback action, and it proved quite popular and successful. However, the German military was primarily interested in 9x19mm handguns for front line service.

In an attempt to serve that market as well, Walther developed the Model 6, a scaled-up version of the Model 4 chambered for 9×19. The Model 6 remained a simple blowback pistol, with a heavier slide and mainspring to accommodate the much greater muzzle energy of the 9×19 cartridge. It entered production in 1915, but only a little more than a thousand examples were manufactured by 1917, when production ceased. While the gun did work well enough, the 9×19 cartridge is not really well suited for a blowback system, and the military much preferred locked-breech siderarms. The Model 6 was not formally adopted, although many of the guns made were purchased privately and did see use in the war.


  1. “scaled-up version of the Model 4 chambered for 9×19. The Model 6 remained a simple blowback pistol, with a heavier slide and mainspring to accommodate the much greater muzzle energy of the 9×19 cartridge.”
    Model 6 also differs from Model 4 by direction of ejecting spent cases (4 – to left, 6 – to right). I don’t know why such modification was done.
    Data for Walther Model 6 from http://historypistols.ru/blog/pistolety-pod-unitarnyj-patron-avtomaticheskie/pistolet-valter-model-6-walther-model-6/
    length (overall/barrel): 215 mm / 123,5 mm
    height: 136 mm
    width: 24 mm
    mass: 964 g
    notice that top of slide is knurled to avoid reflections

    “entered production in 1915, but only a little more than a thousand examples were manufactured by 1917”
    link above states it was produced in 1915-1916

  2. And when you are aware of Walther Model 4 and Model 6 you might ask: how Model 5 looks? Answer (photos):
    (notice the photo described as:
    Поверхность планки может быть с рифлением, которое предотвращает блики,
    which mean: Top of “plank” might be knurled to avoid reflections

  3. At least in terms of appearances it doesn’t look as robust (heavy) as the Astra Model 600, nore does the spring appear as powerful. Is this true? I had a 600 and while heavy it was a totally reliable gun and shot pretty well also.

  4. So, the Walther MP was not the first time Walther tried to make a simple blowback 9mm Parabellum pistol. They both look great, but the slide mass is probably somewhat marginal on both. Firing WW2 German SMG ammunition with either would probably be quite “interesting”.

    I wonder how badly the pistol failed in the German Army tests. There was a shortage of pistols and especially ones capable of shooting 9mm Parabellum, so the testing results really must have been quite poor. Perhaps the felt recoil was simply too much for the army?

    • “I wonder how badly the pistol failed in the German Army tests. There was a shortage of pistols and especially ones capable of shooting 9mm Parabellum, so the testing results really must have been quite poor. Perhaps the felt recoil was simply too much for the army?”
      At same time Walther produces .32 automatic pistols. Does German Army use such automatic pistols? If yes it might be decided that it would be better to Walther to produce .32 automatic pistols.

      • “Perhaps the felt recoil was simply too much for the army?”

        I wonder how much recoil would have been considered excessive in that time and place? I’m thinking of US police forces — decades ago the .357 magnum revolver was considered the “gold standard” — yet today those very same police agencies consider that amount of recoil to be grossly excessive. It’s something I always try to keep in mind, that our current way of thinking (whether right or wrong) might be drastically different from the mentality of an earlier era.

        Since this was in an era when soldiers were trained to shoot pistols one-handed only (and presumably forbidden to use a two-handed grip) then their tolerance for recoil would probably be substantially less than a two-handed grip would have accomodated. However, a .45 Colt revolver would have had similar (if not higher) felt recoil, so this blowback-gun’s (extra) recoil might not have been considered high for its time. I really don’t know.

        • We indeed have children who think that .45 pistols kick, just because someone told them so. A .357 standard load in a service revolver has just enough recoil to become uncomfortable at the end of the day in my experience and it is still my preference . Then there was the big rush to .40, which kicked just as much. Now they are going back to 9mm in droves, including my department. I had been perversely proud we still issued revolvers. Oh, well.

          • “We indeed have children who think that .45 pistols kick, just because someone told them so.”
            It alway also depend – weapon mass counts and muzzle brake efficiency counts and grip panel shape counts and how high is barrel axis counts.

    • Sorry,
      there never was any German SMG ammunition in WW1 or WW2.
      There was the ordinary Pistolenpatrone 08 (8g lead core).
      Due to lack of lead, an iron core version 08 mE (mit Eisenkern was introduced) Becaus bullet weight was only 6.4 g, muzzle velocity was somewhat higher, but muzzle enrgy about the same.
      Last the bullet was made entirely of sintered iron (08 SE). Again no more powerful load. On the contrary, there were functional problems due to lack of recoil impulse of the very light bullets.

      Steel cased ammunition was indeed labeled “SMG only” or “not for use in P 08”, but not because of a hotter load. The P 08 pistol had a step in the chamber (invented by Luger himself) which resulted in stuck steel cases.

      • So that’s where the sometimes quoted high muzzle velocity numbers for the MP40 come from! It appears I have fallen victim to incomplete and incorrectly interpreted data about the “SMG only” markings.

      • Альбом конструкций патронов стрелкового оружия states that both normal 9×19 and substitute 9×19 have muzzle velocity 390 m/s when fired from MP 40.
        First has heavier bullet than second (8,0+/-0,1 g vs 6,42+/-0,13g)
        First also have smaller powder charge, but this is small difference (0,36+/-0,025g vs 0,40+/-0,25g – difference is 0,04g)

        • Strange. With a 20% lighter bullet and same, let alone higher, powder charge one would expect to see a larger increase in muzzle velocity. While the lighter bullet will lose velocity faster, the difference at muzzle still seems quite negligible.

          • Daweo,
            you always make excellent contributions, but in this case my copy of Albom Patronow does not give muzzle velocity of 9 mm PP08 and its “surrogate” 08 mE. Is your data from a different source? Due to the identical bullet length, I doubt it was possible to give 08 mE a signoficantly larger propellant charge than the normal 0.36 g. German sources say 0.38 g and it was the same propellant type. Only the sintered iron 08 SE required a new propellant.
            The Red Army did indeed do measurements of both from MP40 and the results are reported in the excellent volumes by “Patronschik”

            alas I do not have the exact figures available now, but 08 mE from an MP40 was in the 420-430 m/s range, compared to 390 m/s as reported correctly by Daweo for the ordinary PP 08.

          • JPeelen: 420-430 m/s is what I remember seeing elsewhere for the MP40 and what I incorrectly believed to be for the 8 gram bullet.

            Incidentally, it appears that the standard German 9mm Parabellum load was almost as “hot” as the Finnish SMG loading, which attained 400 m/s from the 314mm barrel of the Suomi M31. The prototype M42 Suomi reduced the barrel length to 260mm, which apparently did not reduce muzzle velocity by much. The Finnish pistol load was subsonic from a 120mm barrel, and nearly identical to 9mm Glisenti, but with a normal 9mm Parabellum round nose FMJ bullet.

          • “Only the sintered iron 08 SE required a new propellant.”
            Apparently data are for this (it is only named as “substitute bullet” without designation – 08 mE or 08 SE). Also that 390m/s is for distance of 10m not at muzzle (which i initially overlook).
            It is also stated that “substitute bullet” has 3,4 g heavy core which is made of: iron with C-0,07%, Mn-0,32%, P-0,03%, Si-0,05% and has hardness (Vickers): 151 when case is from iron with C-0,18%, Mn-0,45%, P-0,029%, S-0,020%, Si-0,14%.

            “Albom Patronow”
            I use Меньщиков Н.Г. Альбом конструкций патронов стрелкового оружия (от 6,5 до 37 мм), Москва, 1946

          • @JPeelen:
            Справочник по патронам, ручным и специальным гранатам иностранных армий (1946) has example of label found on box containing Pistolenpatronen 08 mE:

            4 160 Pistolenpatronen 08 mE
            1943 ak 41 gefertigt am 12-1-1944
            Nz. Stb. P.n/A (0,8·0,8)mog 1943/2
            Patrh.-(Stahl)+lack 1943 ak 26
            Gesch.-1943 ak 42 kern-1943 hrk 148
            Zdh: 08-1943 ak 37
            Für pistole 08 beschränkt geligent
            (Vereinzelte Hülsenklemmer)

            For us 2 last lines are most interesting, which mean:
            For pistol 08 ill-suited
            (sporadically give problem with case ejection)

          • So firing 08 mE was possible but not recommend
            (in my previous post, 2 last lines should be without italic)

  5. As an obviously substandard design drawn up and produced in the latter part of the Great War, I wonder if this gun could possibly be considered as an “almost last ditch” weapon?

    At 2:35 in the video:

    “the less expensive side to the market has a number of blowback 9mms. But they never work all that well. This really is the ragged edge of realistic capacity for a blowback action in a pistol.”

    If 9x19mm is the “ragged edge” for a direct-blowback pistol, then I’ve got to wonder what words would describe the Hi-Point pistol in .40 S&W or 10mm?

    • “what words would describe the Hi-Point pistol in .40 S&W or 10mm”
      Technically it is possible to make pure blow-back automatic pistol in almost any handgun cartridge, question is: are you desperate enough to use it?
      For example during siege of Leningrad Балтиец automatic pistol was crafted:
      blow-back design firing 7.62×25 Tokarev cartridge, only 14 examples were produced

      • Also a matter of how heavy you want to make the slide. It is after all an inertia delayed blowback. It would also help if you made it an open bolt. The forward velocity of the slide/bolt would reduce the need for some of the mass.

        • Open-slide pistol? That’s a terrible idea. If I recall, open-slide pistols are simply “striker-fired” because of a fixed firing pin on the slide. This means that the trigger simply lets the slide slam forward. Has anyone wanted to carry an open-slide pistol loaded and ready to shoot, if having a pratfall will cause him to lose more than just his holster and pants?

          • The Polish PM-63 is an example. It’s not ideal, but it works, especially if you’re trying to make the cheapest design possible. With the appropriate safety mechanisms built in, it’s no more dangerous than carrying a conventional handgun with the hammer or striker cocked.

          • The PM-63 is not really a pistol in my opinion, but a PDW intended to be used primarily in full auto mode.

    • I don’t think Hi-Point makes a 10mm Auto handgun. They do make one in .45 ACP, and it’s even +P rated. Weight is only 35 oz. thanks to the polymer frame. In general the use of polymers has enabled them to make straight blowback guns that are not overly heavy but still have pretty heavy slides. No doubt the use of polymers was inspired by the VP70.

      • They don’t make a 10mm, but a number of people have converted the .40 one by reaming the barrel and taking the spacer out of the mag or using a .45 mag. I’ve always wanted to see a .460 Rowland conversion of a Hi Point though.

  6. “The Ragged Edge” refers to pistols of acceptable size and weight.

    Blowback operation is possible for far larger rounds than 9mm

    blowback operation is also extremely reliable in SMGs chambered for 9mmp and larger.

    In order to achieve acceptable size and weight for a pistol, the recoiling parts end up very light and hence very fast moving.

    SMGs, rifles etc can afford heavier and hence slower moving recoiling parts.

    remember that it is the mass of the recoiling part which controls keeping the case in the chamber until pressures have dropped low enough for it not to burst as it extracts itself

    the role of the springs (and any gas piston) is to decelerate and to return those recoiling parts to battery

    because of the short distances available to bring that light and very fast recoiling slide to a halt, recoil springs must be very strong, and that results in the slide slamming forward very rapidly too.

    that leaves little time for the top round in the magazine to rise into a suitable position to feed, and the round gets fed with brutal acceleration.

    such a fast cycling system is not tolerant of slight imperfections in magazine springs, feed lips or feed ramps and bullet profiles.

    • Open bolt SMG’s with fixed firing pins also technically set off the round before the bolt has completely finished moving forward. That helps hold the bolt shut too without the need for added mass.

      • You are right and it may be specifically noted by maker, or implicitly admitted – which is often the case. This solution is hard sell however with pistol.

        There had been a trend (and still may be surviving) with SMGs just to contrary, e.i. breech stationary and cartridge initiated with hammer or striker. That was the case with Uzi Gal’s second, follow-up design which interestingly never took off ground. Uzi’s motivation was to increase first shot hit probability.

        Of course, HK ran the tide extremely well with their own approach, but lately they are re-dressing the issue with plain blowback – close bolt version, much like Uzi did once.

        • The select fire Uzi Pro that IWI currently has fires from a closed bolt just like their semi auto one. Like you said, they probably did that to make it more accurate when firing single shots, like the MP5 and UMP. I don’t know how actively they’re marketing that select fire Uzi Pro though in the US. The sales rep did tell me that they have demonstrated it to numerous foreign militaries.

        • There were also open bolt SMGs like the Star Z62 and Z70, which used a moving firing pin, along with inertia locks to pervent the bolt from going back if the gun was dropped butt first.

          With respect to open bolt SMGs operating with advanced primer ignition, the ammount of movement is so small and tolerances loose enough that the bolts are designed with sufficeint mass to contain firing if the bolt had come to an actual halt.

          • It would probably be more accurate to call the operating system of open bolt SMGs with standard pistol cartridges “quasi-API” in contrast with the “true API” used in Becker/Oerlikon autocannons, which requires rebated rim cartridges.

          • I suppose this quasi phenomenon non proved has slightly greater chance with open bolt separate firing pin, like mp40, than the one fixed, like sten. Bcos you have a degree of slidable play with that arrangement, but very small amount. We would all benefit from good hi speed camera experiment performed, million of fps, it exists but friggin guy shots bullets in apples and such, such a waste of good equipment

    • From what I recall, the minimum mass of free recoiling breech/ slide for 9mm Para is at around 0.35kg (you can do your own computation based on free recoil). Anything else spells either disaster or host of unpleasantries such as with showcased Walter model. If overall mass of pistol should remain at around 0.8kg, this is certainly a challenge. There has to be no doubt about this since it was proven many times.

      However, there is perhaps a possibility in slowing down breech/slide even with such low mass. I recall in past there were discussed many such ideas here one of which was internally grooved chamber. Another one might be some sort of delay lever/wedge which would add temporary resistance. Are you or anyone else aware of such solution?

      • There’s also the addition of a mechanical device to “hold back” the slide or bolt briefly at the rearmost position, to reduce cyclic rate in full-auto weapons like the Astra Model F Mauser “Broomhandle” clone in 9 x 23mm Bergmann/Largo, or the various iterations of the “Skorpion” machine pistol in 7.65 Browning, 9 x 18 Makarov, 9 x 19mm, etc.

        Something similar could be applied to the bolt/slide of a heavy-caliber blowback to retard breech opening, in effect making it a retarded blowback.

        Some people argue that a roller-locking system as on the Vz52 7.62 x 25mm pistol or the H&K P9 series is in fact such a retarded blowback, and not a true “locked” breech at all.

        Another possibility is an “accelerator” lever system, as used on the Lahti or original Auto-Mag pistols. In this case it would be “turned around” to act as a “DE-celerator”, slowing breech opening and reducing bolt/slide velocity rather than increasing it.

        It has also been argued that the “Blish lock” in the original M1921/28 Thompson SMG is just such a “decelerator”, rather than a true “locking system”. It must be said that while the one-off Thompson SAW in .30-06 needed a serious buffer added plus cartridge lubrication, the standard Thompson M1921/28 action handled the .30 Carbine round perfectly calmly with no noticeable strain.

        The latter was rejected simply because it was heavier and more expensive to make than the gas-operated M1 Carbine itself.

        I always though the great “missed opportunity” from the beginning was chambering the Thompson for .45 ACP instead of .351 WSL. In the latter chambering, it would have had substantially more punch and probably a greater effective range; almost a forerunner of the later “assault rifles”.



        • “I always though the great “missed opportunity” from the beginning was chambering the Thompson for .45 ACP instead of .351 WSL. In the latter chambering, it would have had substantially more punch and probably a greater effective range; almost a forerunner of the later “assault rifles”.”

          But would an open-bolt, blowback rifle/SMG like the Thompson gain much if any effective range by firing high-velocity rifle ammo like .351 WSL? Or would it actually be counter-productive?

          Keeping in mind that a gun’s effective range depends not only on the bullet’s dynamics, but also the shooter’s ability to actually hold the gun on target ……

          I’m just speculating here (having never fired an automatic or open-bolt gun) but I’d think that on full-auto, it’s effective range would actually be less due to the much higher recoil upsetting it’s aim, while on semi-auto, the open-bolt blowback design with its longer travel,stiffer springs and heavier bolt slamming forward when fired would ostensibly make precision shots even more difficult (at least when shoulder-fired) with the “hotter” rifle ammo and required heavier bolt.

          So for an open-bolt, shoulder/hip-fired SMG/rifle like the Thompson, pistol ammo may have indeed been the best choice, even when considering range. (again, pure conjecture without any real-world experience)

          • “much higher recoil”
            As Newton’s physics states: momentum1=momentum2 which for firearms mean momentum of weapon = momentum of bullet, so if we assume fixed shape of weapon, lack of muzzle brake, fixed mass and fixed RateOfFire then recoil is simply proportional to momentum of bullet.
            M1 Thompson muzzle velocity: 935 fps, bullet 230 gr gives momentum 215050
            .351 Winchester has muzzle velocity: 1870 fps with bullet 180 gr BUT this is from 20″ barrel, when M1 Thompson has 10.5″, to (roughly) estimate velocity we can use rule of thumb saying each 1″ of barrel gives 50fps thus because we have 9.5″ shorter barrel it will give -475fps i.e. 1870fps-475fps = 1395fps thus momentum will be 251100, it is more but only by around 17%

            Also .351 Winchester with its higher pressure might be more effective in area of muzzle brake usage

            Most notably .351 Winchester has flatter trajectory, which mean that range finding is less crucial than for .45 Auto and thus it is easier to hit target at distance (assuming that there is no available data from range-finder)

          • Remember, the original M1921/28 Thompson, as well as the M1 Thompson produced from 1941 to mid-1943, fired from a closed bolt with a spring-loaded, hammer-driven internal firing pin.

            Only the very last model, the M1A1 Thompson made from late 1943 to the end of WW2, was a “typical” fixed-firing-pin, open-bolt, advanced primer ignition “slamfire” SMG.

            The majority of non-wartime Thompsons’ firing cycles were like that of a self-loading rifle, starting with the bolt closed and “locked” (with the Blish lock) or “unlocked” (in the straight-blowback M1).

            Essentially, the Thompson firing cycle was that of a typical rifle-caliber weapon like the BAR, rather than a more conventional submachine gun. The cycle has been described as a rapid sequence of semi-auto firing cycles, a trait it shares with such more modern weapons as the German MKb/StG “assault rifles”, the Russian/etc. AK series, and the H&K MP-5 family.

            So a “deceleration” type system should work reasonably well in such a setup. Among other things, it would work with the bolt to create the same sort of “lag” in rearward bolt movement cased by the inertia of the forward-moving bolt in an open-bolt API cycle.

            Its notable that the late “slamfire” M1A1 Thompson had roughly the same rate of fire as the M1921/28 and M1; all fired at about 700 R/M on average.

            This pretty much confirms that the Blish lock in the M1921/28, its absence in the straight-blowback, closed-bolt M1, and the slamfire, open-bolt M1A1, all were accomplishing roughly the same result by three different “approaches to the problem”.



          • On the other hand, the controllability of .45 ACP at full auto wasn’t that great to begin with, which is why the lighter M3 Grease Gun was designed with only 450 rpm rate of fire¹. Lower rate of fire is not without its drawbacks for SMGs, because it reduces the likelihood of getting multiple hits at longer ranges when standard short burst technique is used. Then again, a more powerful and flat shooting cartridge would make semi-auto fire a more viable option, approaching modern Western use of assault rifles.

            ¹ Even Italian hot 9mm 123 grain SMG ammo at 1400 fps has a significantly lower momentum than .45 ACP and 7.62×25 Tokarev 85 grain bullet at 1600 fps again much lower.

          • “with only 450 rpm rate of fire”
            Also if we consider .351 Winchester version of Thompson sub-machine gun how high (or low) would be RateOfFire – higher, equal or lower than .45 version?
            Can it be reduced to prevent bigger recoil in full-auto mode?

        • Thanks for you addition to discussion on subject, Eon. You always have something of use and to consider; this is obviously based on broad review you command.

      • “internally grooved chamber”
        See PMM automatic pistol (Pistol, Makarov, Modernized):
        early examples has chamber grove which allow use of improved (higher-pressure) cartridge also called PMM (5.54g @ 420m/s instead of 6.0g @ 315m/s), but finally it was abandoned because it can be loaded in PM (original Makarov automatic pistol) not designed for firing it.

        • This is surely slick solution. But yes, regular shot probably would not eject. Duplicity of shots spells problem for military use.

  7. This pistol should be one of the earliest , if not the first, attempt to use a common powerfull round in pure blowback format in Browning type ” barrel nestled within the slide” form. Rifled section of barrel seems approximately 110 milimeters and with an addition 10/9 ; case head/ bullet radius multiply, momentum equation gives some slide weight approaching 400 grams which seems present within this sample. At that ages, this is a new concept in service pistols and all the needs to get a balanced work in this rather unknown concept should be guides for future developments. Another attempt in PP form shows that the eventual rejection of this pistol by reletated government should not be certain but open for possible measures at further findings which seems extended to the VP 70 but with a negative result caused its bad trigger function. For the first time, pistol seems having sufficient slide mass and slide backward travel for timed loading but having lack of shooting comforts at long lasting usage. If it had a impact absorber similar to the VP70’s, it would be the government service pistol for a long time. IMHO.

  8. Seriously!

    What is the deal with this type of gun?

    Is it bad or even dangerous?

    Or does it work just fine?

    (9mm blowback).

    It seems to be a nice quality German made piece so how bad can it actually be?

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