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Thread: Walther P38

  1. #1
    Boolit Master
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    Walther P38

    This might belong in the Gunsmithing section, I'm not sure...
    A few months back, I bought a Walther P38 9mm. The slide covers on these Walthers are known to go flying when they shouldn't, taking the rear sight and various small parts with them.
    In my research on the gun, I read somewhere (wish I could remember where) that Brownells Gunsmith Kinks has a detailed explanation on how to "pin" a slide cover in place. I have a 1969 copy of Gunsmith Kinks but I don't see that article.
    Does anyone have knowledge about "pinning" that cover in place?

    Yeah, I'm thinking this post should have gone to the Gunsmithing section.
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    Last edited by Battis; 04-19-2017 at 02:56 AM.

  2. #2
    Boolit Master Artful's Avatar
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    the only pin I am aware of was the Hex pin put in the frame of aluminum frame P-38/P-1's.

    The cover depends upon the legs getting installed correctly upon reassembly.
    I believe the fingers on that cover can lose tension or be bent by careless handling.
    Smoothly engaging the cover on reassembly is not difficult if firm thumb pressure is
    exerted downward on the cover to flatten it out of its normal curvature while you slide it rearward.
    The final step is to lift up the front to clear the abutments behind the breech face and
    gently tap it rearward the rest of the way. It will snap in place, and if you've done it right, it won't fly off.


    Mine
    Last edited by Artful; 04-19-2017 at 12:28 PM.
    je suis charlie

    It is better to live one day as a LION than a dozen days as a Sheep.

    Thomas Jefferson Quotations:
    "The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government."

  3. #3
    Boolit Master

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    I wish I could help you, but my books are packed away in preparation for a relocation this summer. Suggestion: call Brownell's and talk to one of their techs. They give free advice. I do know about the problem and have encountered it once. A friend bought a P-1 and attempted to drift adjust the rear sight. Unfortunately, and unbeknownst to him, they are not adjustable. The next time he fired it with some warmish ammo all of the parts you have mentioned flew off the gun and disappeared into the grass. He only found a couple of them, but had no trouble in re-installing the replacement parts and the problem did not happen again. I own 2 P-38s and 1 P-1 and have never experienced the problem myself.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master
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    I fired it several times with no problems (Winchester target ammo and low powered reloads), and then bingo, off went the cover. The cover appeared to be on as tight as possible - no movement in the rear sight at all. It's a "war time" frame and slide so there's no pin in the frame. I think the "pin" mentioned had something to do with somehow denting part of the slide cover to hold it in place, which I really don't want to do.
    I'll take another look at the fingers of the cover, and maybe call Brownells.

    I called Brownells and the procedure is called "ping" not pin. Apparently there's four different versions of the Gunsmith Kinks books. They suggested talking to a gunsmith.
    Last edited by Battis; 04-19-2017 at 11:19 AM.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master
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    that's PEEN.
    they are peening over some of the metal like DER suggested.
    it rolls the edge of the metal over or builds some of the contact surface up to keep the cover from flying out.
    I would dimple the top of the frame where the cover makes contact to make a tighter friction fit.
    you can't see it and you can still remove the cover.

    most of us Rossi owners did it when we changed out the sights on the lever guns from the larger sized factory sights to American sights with a smaller dovetail profile to them.
    we would peen the material at the bottom of the dovetail to raise the base up slightly and make good contact with the top of the triangle.
    then set the sights and pop the top edge of the dovetail to drive everything down into a tight friction fit.
    it's all an educated guess,,,, till the trigger is pulled.

    this opinion brought to you by mister low-tech solution..

  6. #6
    Boolit Master

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    I'm glad that you used the Brownells resource. I used to chat with a fellow there named David Kaiser about handgun problems, but I think he retired, as did I. The condition of the "legs" or "tabs" on the slide cover is the critical feature and I believe that the problem you experienced is uncommon if the cover hasn't been previously removed several times and the legs deformed. It also occurs in very worn specimens and with the use of high velocity ammo. Replacement with a new part should solve the problem, and I would avoid higher than standard velocity ammo. The gun is a proven design that was made in the millions and successfully used under all sorts of adverse field conditions. I do believe that there is a method of pinning the cover in place, pretty sure I read about it once, but never having performed the operation I can't remember the details. Of course, you always have to consider that such a modification, especially if visible, detracts from the collector value of the pistol.

    If your gun interests run toward the gunsmithing aspect you should obtain the four "Gunsmith Kinks" books. They're a great read, and full of "make do" ideas, some of which run toward the strange and unlikely, but others are real jewels.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master

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    I guess R5R and I were typing at the same time. His described technique is a good one. Loose sights can often be satisfactorily tightened by using a center punch and making dimples (which raise burrs) in the bottom of a dovetail and then re-installing the sight, or alternatively doing the same thing to the bottom of the sight. This might work on a slide cover for the P-38, but it's been years since I had the top of the slide apart on one and would need to take one of mine apart and examine it to see if it could be done in a way not visible to external examination. It's always kind of been my advice that if yours hasn't flown apart on it's own to leave it alone and problems will be unlikely.

  8. #8
    Boolit Master
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    Peen makes sense but I could have sworn I heard a G at the end - just kidding. Must be a regional accent thing.
    I replaced the slide cover because the one that was on the gun didn't completely hold the rear sight in place - there was some wiggle to the sight. The replacement cover fit tighter, but, it flew off (the original did not). I removed the cover because the gun had been bubba'd with post-war parts, and I wanted to restore it with the correct parts. I received good info on the P38 collector's forum and bought the war- time parts from LugerDoc.
    I don't plan on shooting it often, so maybe I'll put a piece of tape or whatever on the cover when I do. Sacrilegious? A little bit, but I really like shooting this gun.

  9. #9
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    I dunno about sacrilegious.
    I got a trap gun that was a special order unit and only made for one year.
    the stock now has a chunk of spandex, safety pins, a piece of closed cell foam rubber, a filed down spacer, and a not so close fit recoil pad.
    with duct tape wrapped around it all holding it together..
    it now shoots where I want it to.
    before that it was worthless to me, now?... well,,,, I shot a 25 with the top barrel and a 24 with the bottom barrel today, and another 24 switching between barrels every other shot.
    the gun didn't miss the two targets the operator did.
    before the "butcher" job I was 'lucky... literally' to shoot a 15.
    it's all an educated guess,,,, till the trigger is pulled.

    this opinion brought to you by mister low-tech solution..

  10. #10
    Boolit Master
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    I read a post where a P38 owner tack welded the cover in place, so maybe a temporary piece of black tape isn't so bad. I was completely convinced that I had the cover on correctly, but there's no accounting for the actual tension of the cover's fingers.
    Dragging a magnet on a string in the grass at the range to find some pretty small parts is a PITA (but it worked).

  11. #11
    Boolit Master Artful's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Battis View Post
    Dragging a magnet on a string in the grass at the range to find some pretty small parts is a PITA (but it worked).
    Congrats - you got your parts back!
    je suis charlie

    It is better to live one day as a LION than a dozen days as a Sheep.

    Thomas Jefferson Quotations:
    "The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government."

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BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
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