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Old February 23, 2009, 10:45 PM   #1
Playboypenguin
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Range report: Walther PPK vs. Sig P232

Firearm tested
.380acp Walther PPK
.380acp Sig Sauer P232


Ammo used
140 rounds - 90gr Winchester WB FMJ
50 round - 85gr Winchester Silvertips




I recently picked up a LNIB Sig P232. I have always been a huge fan of the Walther PPK so I had never seen much use for this gun. I just thought it was a little bit too large for a .380acp pistol and that it was just a PPK wanna-be...but I got a good deal on it, so I said what the heck. That statement alone should alert you to the pro-PPK bias that exists where I am concerned. So read the rest of this report knowing that it was written by a die-hard PPK fan.

I decided the best way to test this new-to-me gun was to place it in a head-to-head battle with my beloved Walther PPK.

FORM:

What needs be said about the PPK that has not been said before. It is hands down one of the most beautiful guns ever made and has earned it's reputation as a true classic.

The PPK is a simple DA/SA blow-back pistol with a slide mounted decocker/safety and it's small size makes it a very easy to conceal firearm.

The Sig P232 is actually quite a beautiful gun also. It is very similar in design to the PPK but is a bit more fluid looking.

The P232 is also a DA/SA blow-back style pistol, but on the P232 the decocker is frame mounted and it has no manual safety. The p232 is also a bit larger than the PPK. The difference amounts to about .5" in height and length.

It would really be hard to decide which gun is actually the better looking gun. I personally prefer the PPK, but your opinion may differ. I do believe the smaller size of the PPK gives it a design advantage right up front...and I prefer it over the P232 as far as looks go...but it is not by much of a margin.

Some of the specs on the guns are as follows...

PPK
Overall length: 6.1"
Overall height: 3.8"
Overall width: .98"
Overall weight: 22.3 ounces
Mag capacity: 6 rounds
Barrel length: 3.35"
Trigger weight: SA=6lbs./DA=13lbs.



P232
Overall length: 6.6"
Overall height: 4.7"
Overall width: 1.3"
Overall weight: 23.6 ounces
Mag capacity: 7 rounds
Barrel length: 3.6"
Trigger weight: SA=4.5ibs./DA=10lbs.



FEATURES:

Both the P232 and the PPK have very similar features. They are both DA/SA with manual decockers and are both blow-back designs. The P232 does lack the manual safety, but I have honestly never engaged the safety on my PPK anyway. I just consider it a decocker. I do think I prefer the decocker on the P232. The decocker on the P232 releases the hammer much less violently than the PPK. It allows you to lower the hammer pretty slowly by depressing it and allowing it to slowly raise. Sigs have the best decockers in the game, IMHO. The decocker on the PPK seems to slam the hammer down pretty hard. In fact, as I was writing this review I learned the PPK has been recalled for issues with it's firing pin block. I cannot help but think the decocker being so forceful has something to do with this issue.

Both guns have simple red three dot sights and both have exposed hammers which can be manually engaged for SA shooting.

Both guns also have wrap around grips which help considerably with reducing felt recoil. There is no metal backstrap beating into the palm of your hand on either gun.

I will have to give the advantage to the P232 when it comes to mechanical tear down. The frame mounted lever is easier to use than the method PPK employs...which is to pull down on the trigger guard. The P232 seems to come apart a little bit more easily.

I have to turn back around and give the advantage to the PPK regarding the magazine release. The PPK has the standard "push button" style mag release located behind the trigger guard on the grip frame. The P232 has the European style mag latch on the bottom of the mag well. I am not crazy about that feature on the P232.

As far as features go, I would call it a draw. It all depends on what you want and what aspects of their designs are more important to you as an individual. I prefer the PPK.

FIT:

The PPK's are very nicely put together. They are very solid and tolerances are tight and even. You just can't beat them. The P232 does not beat the PPK in this area, but it does seem to equal it. Both gun are extremely well put together. they are great examples of how a gun should look and feel.

I would have to call this category as a tie.

FUNCTION:

Both of these little guns really shine when it comes to performance. Both guns fired off every round with no malfunctions of any type. I did not have to clear a single failure to feed or failure to eject and all the rounds went bang.

Both guns were also very accurate. I was getting almost identical groups from both guns at 10 years, 15 yards, and 20 yards. Both guns also proved capable of hitting the 6" steel spinners at 25-30 yards with ease...despite their simple sights. Both guns felt good in my hand and both guns seemed to point very naturally for me. I would never be able to choose between the two if accuracy was the only considered factor. They are too dead even.

Both guns also have very similar triggers. The DA on both is a bit heavy and stiff, but pretty smooth and manageable. The SA on both guns is very light and crisp. The P232 is reported to be lighter in both DA and SA modes than the PPK, but I did not really notice that much difference. There was a difference, but I do not think it is as large as the factories report.

The hammer on the P232 is a bit "bouncy" for my tastes. It has a lot of rebound to it and can feel a bit spongy in both DA and SA modes. It does not affect the way it shoots, but it does take a bit of getting used to at first. The hammer on the PPK seems more solid.

As far as comfort is concerned, each time I would start to think one felt better in my hand than the other I would reverse my decision the next round with the other gun. The P232 did have an advantage of a longer grip frame, which made it a little more comfortable to hold onto. The extended mag on the PPK did even this out some, but the fuller grip of the P232 is very comfortable. I think anyone with larger hands would prefer the P232 over the PPK.

FLAWS:

It would be hard to find too many flaws with either of these guns. They are both well thought out and time proven designs. I have no problem calling them both beautiful examples of fine craftsmanship. They are very elegant and sophisticated looking pieces of machinery.

I am not crazy about the decocker on the PPK or the mag release on the P232. If you want to consider those issues "flaws" I will not argue with you.

FINAL IMPRESSION:

As I have stated before. I believe the PPK is a gun every collector should have in their safe. It is also a gun that anyone that carries should take a good look at when search for their CCW. It is small/easily concealed, solid, well made, reliable, accurate, and capable. It also has both a decocker and a safety for the more timid. Then add on top of that the fact that it is a true classic and one of the best looking guns ever and you have a real winner.

The P232 does not possess the sense of history that the PPK does, but it seems to equal it in almost every other way...except in the over-all size department. It is a well made, reliable, accurate, and polished looking firearm that would be a welcome addition to any collection...be it in the safe, at the range, or in your holster.

It was very nice shooting a gun I love as much as the PPK today. I always remember why I love it so much every time I take it out shooting. It was even nicer finding that I just might have another beautiful .380acp pistol with which to share my affection.

In the end, deciding between these two guns would simply be a matter of personal preference. They are so evenly matched in design, quality, and performance that the little differences are what would make or break the over-all deal. Do you want the slightly smaller and lighter one? Do you want the standard or european mag release? Do you want the easier to tear down? Do you want the larger grip frame? Do you want or not want a manual safety? These would be the questions that make your decision for you.

Last edited by Playboypenguin; February 24, 2009 at 03:30 AM.
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Old February 24, 2009, 02:48 AM   #2
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Well Geez, its about time!

A great write up PBP. If I was making a choice based on your report, I'd probably go with the PPK. What kind of ammo were you shooting?
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Old February 24, 2009, 02:55 AM   #3
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Good report. I'm more of a PPK guy myself.
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Old February 24, 2009, 03:23 AM   #4
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Quote:
What kind of ammo were you shooting?
Duh...

Ammo used
140 rounds - 90gr Winchester WB FMJ
50 round - 85gr Winchester Silvertips

One thing I will add...the more I look at the P232, the more I like the looks of it. It has a simpler, more elegant look than the PPK. That is about 90% due to the simpler roll marks on the P232 compared to the laser etching on the Walther...which is a bit over done.
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Old February 24, 2009, 07:25 AM   #5
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Nice report. Both are definitely world class firearms. A couple things to point out.

Some pistols in the PPK line-up have suffered from unintended mag drop, a problem the Sig doesn't have. Personally, I've come to appreciate the heel release and have it on several of my better pistols; the HK P7, Seecamp, Walther TPH, Makarov and Sigs.

One feature available on the Sig are night sights, which to my knowedge are not available on the PPK. Not a big deal to many, but some folks really like them on a CCW.

I'm more of a Sig guy, mainly because of the weight difference between the alloy Sig and the all steel Walther. That combined with the extra capacity of the magazine tipped the balance, in IMHO, in favor of the Sig.

If you really, positively, absolutely must have a safety, then you can get one on the Sig. Yes, that's a safety, along with a lanyard loop on a Sig P230.
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Old February 24, 2009, 07:44 AM   #6
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Good thread! Appreciate the insight from both PBP and PSP.

One thing not mentioned in this comparison of the two is price. I've always appreciated the construction of the Sig (minus the mag release) but, lacking the mystique and history of the PPK, it's been hard for me to justify the price of a stainless 232 for what amounts to essentially being a clone of the Walther. At the price of a new Sig, I would rather walk away with a Beretta 85 or a Colt Government and allow the more affordable Walther to grace my safe as well.
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Old February 24, 2009, 07:57 AM   #7
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First, excellent range report.

While I understand your points, I beg to differ. I don't see much history for the Walther, other then Bond/Fleming.

Yes, it's a nice looking gun, that really should only be used with solids. .380 penetration with hollow points fits pretty firmly in the may get you killed category.

I don't see loaded weights, but, I suspect that loaded it's up in the 26-28 oz range. When you start looking at it's loaded weight, and the anemic cartridge, you have to look at all the guns that are far more powerful, far better to shoot.

Doesn't it weigh about the same loaded as your .40 Kahr?

I bought one back when they were all steel. It weighed about 30 oz, and, was about the same weight as my Detonics CombatMaster Mark VI. The Detonics was far more accurate, and, it was sending 200 grains of flying ashtray down range at a little over 1200 fps.

Heck, even the PM9 is lighter, much more powerful, and, probably more accurate.

Last edited by Socrates; February 24, 2009 at 10:50 AM.
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Old February 24, 2009, 07:57 AM   #8
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If you had an older PPk you would be comparing hammer bite to not getting bitten, too.
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Old February 24, 2009, 09:14 AM   #9
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I dislike the PPK and really like the P232. Just a personal thing. I think the PPK has been overhyped by the Bond thing. Its an OK gun, but the slide bite, and position of the safety are two things I just can't get over.
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Old February 24, 2009, 09:48 AM   #10
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When I first saw a P232 at a gun show, I really liked it. Its lines reminded me of a Mauser HSc. I bought a P232, but was a little disappointed with reliability, so I added several Makarovs and P-64s to my collection for reliability. Between the P232 & the PPK, I'd lean toward the Sig.
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Old February 24, 2009, 10:07 AM   #11
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If I'm going to have a C&R gun, I'd want it to be a C&R gun.

The blowback design is NOT a great design, it does not absorb recoil well, and, it's ammo finicky.

600 bucks is a LOT for a blowback designed gun.

Last edited by Socrates; February 24, 2009 at 10:50 AM.
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Old February 24, 2009, 10:36 AM   #12
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Quote:
While I understand your points, I beg to differ. I don't see much history for the Walther, other then Bond/Fleming.


1931(ppk) vs 1977(p232)...
Ian Fleming didn't release his first Bond book until 1952. The PPK was used by numerous Police and Covert agencies long before Mr. Fleming wrote it into fiction lore.

Do me a favor and run a Google like so: "Walther PPK History" and "Sig P232 History".

Nice report. Very "fair and balanced" considering your bent towards the PPK. I'm a Walther guy myself and my cc is a PPK/S. It was a very informative and well written review. Thank you.
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Old February 24, 2009, 10:54 AM   #13
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I did. The gun with real history is the P-38. I wonder what Walthers actual production was?

Anyway, the history guns are the ones that are banned by the 68 gun act from import. Stupid law.

I'm not a big Sig P 232 fan, either. Big gun, small caliber, why? Way better options now.

I do remember my Walther, one of the older ones, had a HORRIBLE trigger, and was just not that accurate.
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Old February 24, 2009, 12:11 PM   #14
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I have a Interarms PPK/S, which I like. It shots accurately, reliably and as many have said is a beautiful pistol, but I have wanted for a long time to add a PPK to my collection. I still kick myself for passing on a blued, German made PPK I looked at at a gun show, offered as a private sale, for only $300. What was I thinking?

Someone mentioned the relative prices of some of these pistols. That is a valid point to be raised. If one is patient, allows for the purchase of well cared for used guns, and is reasonably picky, there are some excellent prices on both the Sigs and Walthers, (not even counting the many clones of the Walther available). There are literally car loads of these on the market usually. The length if time they've both been produced has lead to a huge stock.

I'm a big fan of this genre of pistol and one of reasons is probably the excellent value for the dollar one can get, whether in Walther, Sig, Beretta, or the many other brands. I love these guns for what they are...not what they aren't. I have a feeling that in a hundred years there will be similar forum discussions on these same pistols, classics then as they are now.

One aspect not mentioned concerning the Walther, that I have witnessed several times, is the "Babe Magnet" effect. Women like the Walther...they want to touch it. Men do too, but it's a different reaction in women. It's like having a cute dog in the park...only more lethal.
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Old February 24, 2009, 12:18 PM   #15
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My issue with the PPK is slide bite. It is a rare day that shoot one without drawing blood.


I keep looking at a P7 over either a 232 or PPK
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Old February 24, 2009, 12:30 PM   #16
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Quote:
I keep looking at a P7 over either a 232 or PPK

Great choice. I'd rather have a P7 than either of them and actually I do have two P7's.

I do have a Walther PP in 7.65MM that I inherited from my Dad. Its the worst pistol I own out of about 35 pieces. Its inaccurate, sometimes chokes on FMJ which is the only ammo it can shoot and the ergos are terrible. It certainly does NOT have a "delivery like a brick through a plate glass window."
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Old February 24, 2009, 12:41 PM   #17
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I know people with both these guns and have shot them at the range. I simply cannot justify the cost of the SIG even though it is a very nice gun.. History aside, I am of the old school so I favor the PPK/S actually. I have had numerous .380 pistols, including a Manhurin Wather PPK; I hated the DA trigger pull on the PPK and it never wanted to feed hollowpoint ammo. The best of these were a Beretta Model 70S and and Astra Constable. Both were extremely reliable weapons with the "Favorite" nod going to the Astra. The Astra was a PPK clone and was extremely well made and accurate. These days I consider the .380 a "fun" gun and don't really look upon it as a SD gun. For "fun" shooting the .380 is tops, although ammo is pretty pricey. I picked up my Bersa Thunder last night and am going to the range with it this Friday (27th). I am anxious to see if it is indeed the gun many say it is or a neat looking little paperweight. Anyway, if it is found to be a reliable little gun, I plan to carry this during my hunts in the Imperial Valley of Southern California. Carrying a .45 auto or 9MM is just too uncomfortable after a couple of hours hiking after quail or bunnies. The Bersa in a Galco "Stinger" holster may be just the ticket though.
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Old February 24, 2009, 02:29 PM   #18
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To address a couple of issues that some people have brought up....

Price: I bought the Sig "LNIB"...the cost difference between it and the PPK, which I bought new, was only $5.

Slide bite: If the new S&W PPK's are biting your hand, lose some weight you giant tub. You must have obese hands to be bitten by a gun with a rear tang the size of this one.

Hollow point ammo: Both of my guns have never had any issue with hollow point ammo. The tests I have done myself make me very confident with the capabilities of the .380 round if you choose a good one.

Night sights: I am not a fan of night sights and neither of my guns have them...nor will they. You can get night sights for the PPK as well as for the P232. They usually run between $100-$150. You will need a gunsmith to install the front sight unless you are a machining guru.

History: The PPK is part of european and american lore. The Bond connection alone has given the gun icon status. The P232 enjoys no such distinction.

P7: Now this just shows how different opinions can be...I would not own one of those ugly and convoluted guns to save my life.
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Old February 24, 2009, 04:34 PM   #19
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Impeccable timing, Playboy. I was researching diffs between these two guns when I came across your post. Excellent job as always. Thanks for the contribution...
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Old February 24, 2009, 05:37 PM   #20
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I walked in to my favorite gun store today, and wouldn't ya know it....I walked out with a beautiful German-made Walther PPK circa 1976 to ad to my Walther collection. It's practically NIB with all original paper work including factory target, warranty card, and owner's manual, all printed in German. I am grinning from ear to ear. He also had a new p232 on the shelf for considerably less $$, but I just couldn't pass this beauty up!
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Old February 24, 2009, 05:41 PM   #21
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Quote:
If the new S&W PPK's are biting your hand, lose some weight you giant tub. You must have obese hands to be bitten by a gun with a rear tang the size of this one.
I'm just a tad over 6 ft tall and 170 lbs, so obviously not obese. However, I've never shot a "New S&W PPK" and never will. Its not hammer bite that gets people its slide bite.
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Old February 24, 2009, 07:22 PM   #22
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Quote:
I'm just a tad over 6 ft tall and 170 lbs, so obviously not obese. However, I've never shot a "New S&W PPK" and never will. Its not hammer bite that gets people its slide bite.
Yes, you have obviously never shot one. The rear tang prevents slide bit.
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Old December 24, 2009, 03:25 PM   #23
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S&W Walther PPK etching

I love my S&W PPK...... I took it completely apart, deburred it, knocked down the sharp edges, put it back together, it's great, beautiful gun.....
The etching or engraving that says S&W, you can feel, like it turned up a tiny burr when it was etched...... I would like to sand that off...... but I don't want to mess up the beautiful stainless finish...... any ideas?
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Old December 24, 2009, 04:12 PM   #24
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I'll take the Interarms over the S&W anyday
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Old December 24, 2009, 11:51 PM   #25
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Great writeup. I love the Walther PPK, and most definitely hope to have one in my collection (stainless with wood grips, just like yours). But I am also a huge Sig Sauer fan. The Sig Sauer P232 is a great interpretation of the classic and timeless styling of the Walther PPK. There are a lot of PPK knockoffs out there, but the Sig P232 is one of the few guns that have significantly copied the PPK's design -- but also significantly altered it -- that "works".

If I had to choose just one, I think I would go with the PPK because of its history, and its timeless design that will always look good and will never "go out of style".
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