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Old August 29, 2011, 03:40 PM   #1
MK688
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German P38 Question

Hey Guys!

Interesting story and I was hoping you guys could possibly help me out with the value of a P38 I was recently given.

My elderly neighbor lost her husband recently and she is in failing health.

She approached me about having a gun that she would like to give me. She stated that since I was a State Trooper, she would be happy for me to have it.

She gave me the gun, but I have little knowledge of it's value. She told me that her father gave her the gun appx 25 years ago. She advised that he brought it back from Germany when he returned from WWII. Other than this information, I have no other details about the gun.

She had the pistol in a sack, wrapped in an oily rag. The gun has one magazine and looks to be in excellent condition. I also had an old, black holster that appears to have been modified a bit.

The gun looks to have all matching numbers: The left side of the slide shows P 38 , ac 42, and 8279h. The left side frame has 8279h and a small symbol with the number 359 under it. The barrel has the number 8279 with an h under the numbers. The right side of the slide has two more of the unidentifiable symbols with the number 359 under the symbols.

The gun has one magazine with no identifiable marks.

Any thoughts, experience, value of the gun, etc, would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks
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Old August 29, 2011, 03:44 PM   #2
mapsjanhere
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You have a P-38 made by Walther (AC) in 1942 with the correct WaA stamp for the period and location (359). The later is the military acceptance mark.
Value around $500, maybe more if really in top condition.
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Old August 29, 2011, 07:53 PM   #3
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If my recall is intact this was the first double action auto. DA on the first triger pull. Durable, dependable, a pleasure to shoot. She must think highly of you. Get an extra mag.
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Old August 30, 2011, 07:51 AM   #4
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Quote:
If my recall is intact this was the first double action auto.
Close - I think the Walther PP came before the P-38.
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Old August 30, 2011, 09:33 AM   #5
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Close - I think the Walther PP came before the P-38.
The PP debuted in 1929. The P38 was however the first DA service cal standard military issue sidearm.

I had a really long post typed up, and I lost it because I accidentally navigated to another page

Here are the important points:

Your gun is a Walther made P38 as others have said. The Eagle 359 is synonymous with Walther. The other 2 WWII contractors are Mauser and Spreewerke.

Anyways, the gun sounds good. The last matching piece, piece 4 of 4 is the locking block (sans mag, which is only earlier P38s than yours). If you remove the slide and barrel, (very easy), the block will be behind the barrel. It should have the last 3 of the SN on it with the letter of the SN underneath.

The P38 historically replaced the venerable Luger P08 for Germany. The P38 then had big shoes to fill but it is designed well ergonomically, and has less moving parts than the P08. The gun was also a 9mm DA, with a manual safety, a decocker and a loaded chamber indicator. Add this together and you get a very advanced gun for its time. It was a much better gun than the Luger despite the luger being worth more and more sought after today. The P38 is my 3rd favorite sidearm from WWII and IMO 3rd best gun of WWII behind only the hi power and the 1911 / A1.

The decocker works when the gun is cocked. The decocker is actually the same switch as the safety, when the gun is cocked. There is a little hole just above the hammer which is the loaded chamber indicator. If loaded, there will be a pin sticking out of this hole.

I own a couple of these and have owned many others. I also, by getting one here and there, when low priced, have a mag collection as well.

I would say the value for yours $450 (nearly no finish but original) to $700 if super clean. Any issues with the gun such as cracked grips could affect the value. Original mags are marked "P.38" on left with eagle 359 on the spine of the mag. Yours is most likely a WWII replacement. Sometimes the markings can be faint, so look closely.

Congrats on a fine pistol. If you want to know just how historically significant the P38 was, compare it side by side to the Beretta 92.
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Old August 30, 2011, 10:04 AM   #6
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Being the gun is fairly early AC 42 (1942 manufacture) and by Walther (AC), your neighbors guns is worth more that the estimates in this thread if: all the numbers match and the gun retains most of its original finish. If there are any capture papers (unlikely) the value could go higher. P.38 pistols are rapidly appreciating in value. Mismatched, heavily worn or pitted guns are worth considerably less.
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Old August 30, 2011, 11:40 AM   #7
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Wow! What a wealth of information!

The gun looks to be in excellent condition (almost too good)! I don't know much about "grading" the condition, but it doesn't show much pitting, etc. It almost appears to me to have been re-blued at some point??? Not sure, it just looks awefully nice for a WWII pistol.

I'm assuming if it has been re-blued, that would/could significantly effect the value???
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Old August 30, 2011, 11:43 AM   #8
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Yes, rebluing would reduce the value. But from what you describe of the situation, it is possible that the gun is original. We have some pretty sharp eyed folks on here, so why not post some pictures and maybe we can help. Plus pictures will aid in evaluation - without them, it is guesswork.

Jim
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Old August 30, 2011, 11:47 AM   #9
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Okay, let me see what I can do. I'll try to figure how to post some pic real quick and see what everyone thinks!
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Old August 30, 2011, 11:54 AM   #10
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Quote:
Being the gun is fairly early AC 42 (1942 manufacture) and by Walther (AC), your neighbors guns is worth more that the estimates in this thread if: all the numbers match and the gun retains most of its original finish.
AC42s were the first of the mass produced, lower standard P38s. By lower standard, I mean that the mags were not SN'd, the finish was made duller, they didn't have the individual parts stamped, etc.

Is a AC 42 early? In my opinion, no, they're not. The first of the P38 family was actually the AP, "armee pistole" which was Walther's first submission for a DA contract pistol. It was hammerless and lacked other features of what later became the P38. After the Nazi's submitted a list of features that their new service pistol had to make, Walther submitted the HP aka "heer's pistole". This was very similiar to a P38, but not the same. It was more of a commercial gun, and lacked the decocker, IIRC. After they modified the HP, the designation was finalized as "P38" or "pistole of 1938". The first military P38s other than some of the HPs which were issued, were the 480 code guns.
This was Walther's first maker code. A few thousand of these were made when Walther changed their maker code to "AC". Then came AC 40, but they also took some original AC guns and added the 40 mark. Then was AC 41, then AC 42 up to AC 45. There was also CYQ for Spreewerke (most common P38 maker) and BYF 42, 43, 44 and SVW 45 which was Mausers second maker mark.

Depsite the AC 42 being earlier than like a AC 44, they are not worth a premium unless they are the early ones with serialed magazines and even then, it would have to have an original mag which matches the gun to be worth much more than my estimate. AC 41s and earlier usually are worth more however but the statement "AC 42s are earlier and worth more" is misleading because AC 45s are worth than AC 44s, SVW 45s are worth more than BYF 44s (usually) and the very late CYQ guns are also worth a premium. The later made guns often had shorter production runs due to wartime issues with production. They also showcase many different shortcuts such as mismatching from the factory, a gray phosphate finish, absence of markings, cheaper grip types etc. Because there were not many of these shortcut guns made, they are worth a premium but they were made late in the war.

For P38s, EARLY guns and LATE guns and generally worth the most. An AC 42, IMO, is more of a mid war production gun, IE not very early. Remember that WWII started in Europe before the US was involved, in 1939.
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Old August 30, 2011, 12:02 PM   #11
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Quote:
The gun looks to be in excellent condition (almost too good)! I don't know much about "grading" the condition, but it doesn't show much pitting, etc. It almost appears to me to have been re-blued at some point??? Not sure, it just looks awefully nice for a WWII pistol.
Many times a soldier was killed right after being issued his gun, and other times guns were captured before issue, resulting in high condition bring backs. They are worth more than worn examples, but its far from impossible.

As far as whether it was reblued: generally redone guns are imports which goes against the widow's story. Usually these imports are marked somewhere, bottom of barrel, underside of slide on edge, on frame, etc. A reblued gun, unless professionally restored will have a blacked out F and S which are supposed to be red and white. I highly doubt someone would have had this gun professionally redone since the cost of that would be the value of the gun itself. Its not a rare enough gun either with over 100k produced. Good pics should show whether or not its original. Sometimes widows get guns mixed up esp when their husband/SO passes on. I don't always buy widow's stories and one should never buy the story, just the gun. A P38 marked the way you describe, is WWII regardless of what anyone else says, for example.
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Old August 30, 2011, 12:23 PM   #12
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P38 Pics

Here are some Pics. Let me know what you think or if you need a certain pic.

Also, after closer inspection, the Magazine DOES have P38 on the lower left hand side and the 359 on the backstrap.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg IMG_9000.JPG (21.5 KB, 103 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_9003.JPG (22.0 KB, 88 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_8992.JPG (23.0 KB, 71 views)
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Old August 30, 2011, 12:24 PM   #13
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A Few more Pics

A few more pics
Attached Images
File Type: jpg IMG_8984.JPG (13.8 KB, 76 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_8989.JPG (13.0 KB, 65 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_8990.JPG (12.7 KB, 58 views)
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Old August 30, 2011, 12:26 PM   #14
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Last Pics

Last Pics
Attached Images
File Type: jpg IMG_8985.JPG (13.7 KB, 63 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_8997.JPG (18.2 KB, 51 views)
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Old August 30, 2011, 12:37 PM   #15
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Looking at the pics, all I can tell you is that the grips look original. They have a distinctive hue to them, kind of like a lighter and darker blend of brown. I cannot see the slide legends or the F and S very well. If there is any amount of white and red for the F and S, then it could be fine. I sold a P38 a while back that had only a speck of white and red, but if refinished, it could be completely gone. The gun also appears to have most of its finish left, whether original or not. The mag you describe is the right one for the gun.
That holster is not the original type.

The pics are too far away and too small. Perhaps I will uploade a few of mine so that you can see the difference.
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Old August 30, 2011, 03:48 PM   #16
MK688
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Better Pics

How are these? A little better?
Attached Images
File Type: jpg IMG_9005.jpg (242.5 KB, 80 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_9006.jpg (240.9 KB, 71 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_9008.jpg (239.9 KB, 69 views)
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Old August 30, 2011, 03:51 PM   #17
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Few More

Few more pics
Attached Images
File Type: jpg IMG_9009.jpg (241.0 KB, 59 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_9010.jpg (241.0 KB, 56 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_9011.jpg (241.7 KB, 58 views)
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Old August 30, 2011, 04:00 PM   #18
grey sky
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the holster

The holster looks to have had the flap cut down to a strap. Interesting, probably done state side. Grips can be black or brown (closer to a red-brown)
bakelite. Look for this book "Walther P-38 PISTOL" by Maj. George C. Nonte. Dating info and a good read.
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Old August 30, 2011, 04:29 PM   #19
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Nice pistol

May have been re-blued once already, or else the paint has come off the "S" and "F" (should be white and red)

I believe that the grips were similar to Bakelite, but the red/brown were actually a wood/plastic composite. Those grips look correct for a '42 AC

This forum is full of good advice etc, but if I may make a suggestion, the following site may yield even more expert advice

http://p38forum.com/

I enjoy my '44 P.38 very much. Truly historic pistol on several levels
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Old August 30, 2011, 06:08 PM   #20
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I agree on the re-blue, if you look here for an example from a similar production time frame, the color/texture just doesn't look the same, the stamps are not as sharp, and there is the missing color.
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Old August 30, 2011, 08:07 PM   #21
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No doubt at all that the gun has been polished and reblued, maybe with cold blue as it doesn't look very dark. Not only is the paint gone, but the corners are rounded and the markings blurred.

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Old August 30, 2011, 08:18 PM   #22
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No doubt at all that the gun has been polished and reblued, maybe with cold blue as it doesn't look very dark. Not only is the paint gone, but the corners are rounded and the markings blurred.
+1, and what a shame. However, its still a neat gift that she gave you. Its still a piece of history and a WWII survivor. Would make a great shooter and could make for an interesting carry gun
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Old August 31, 2011, 02:26 PM   #23
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Okay, so obviously the re-blueing hurts the value, which I was aware of.

Does the gun have any monetary value at all, or just a nice paper weight?

I realize the historical value, just curious if it's worth anything at all???
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Old August 31, 2011, 02:41 PM   #24
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The grips were bake lite a wood plastic composite.It was probably re blued re issued sometime after the war on the eastern side of the wall. If you call that a paper weight ill take it off your hands for $10.
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Old August 31, 2011, 03:54 PM   #25
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The gun should bring around $400, even reblued.
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