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Thread: German Police Pistols

  1. #1
    Boolit Master
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    German Police Pistols

    I recently started a thread on the "Wonder Nine" era and received a great response from members of this forum.

    I find the history of the Wonder Nines to be extremely interesting but I'm somewhat ambivalent to most of the actual guns. I admire some of the engineering, I admire some of the actual guns but for the most part I'm drawn to the history more than the actual hardware.

    However, that thread got me thinking about a group of similar guns that I DO admire, the WEST German Police Pistols of the late 1970's.

    In 1974 the West German government recognized that a new pistol was needed. Terrorism was a factor in that decision. In 1975 specifications were released. 4 companies responded and trials began. By 1976 refinements had been made and Mauser withdraw their entry.

    In 1976 the P5 [Walther], P6 [SIG P225] & P7 [H&K PSP or P7M8] were accepted by the Federal Republic of Germany (The former West German government before unification) to be the official police pistols of West Germany. Each West German state was free to chose which pistol of the 3 that they wanted.

    It took some time for those pistols to make it into service but they became the pistols of the various West German police agencies and were used throughout the 1980's and 1990's. After many years of service those pistols were withdrawn and they began to appear in the U.S. used gun market. I managed to acquire examples of the P6 & P7. Whenever I found a P5 for sale, poverty conspired against me. That model continues to elude me and they only seem to be going up in price. Oh well, it's good to have a quest I suppose.

    There's a strong connection between the West German Police pistols and the "Wonder Nine" pistols. There's also some obvious influence. However, where the high capacity magazine was a part of the "Wonder Nine" definition, the West German police pistols of the 1980's all had single stack magazines.

    I welcome comments on this topic.

  2. #2
    Boolit Master

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    I can't add much--I was there in the early '60s and they used the P-1 in Bavaria.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master
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    The P1 was the basis for the P5 but they changed the safety and shortened the barrel/slide. The P5 was probably the most conventional of the three designs adopted.

    I always wanted a P5 compact (shorter frame and had a 1911 style mag release) but those are exceedingly rare. Walther only made about 3000 of them.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master
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    Bought a Sig P6 years ago when they first hit the market. Also got holsters by AKAH as well as the single mag pouches. Aim surplus did sell the Sig single stack magazines but ran out a long time ago. The P6 out shoots my Beretta 92FS and has become my favored 9mm pistol. About the only wear on mine was caused by the AKAH holster being as that the holster basically held the entire pistol when holstered. Still probably the best money I ever spent on a 9mm pistol. Haven't seen one for sale in quite awhile. Frank

  5. #5
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    I love my P6--I wanted one for a long time, ever since 1990 when a Friend of mine on the Pasadena PD let me shoot his. But at the time, I was still an acolyte at the alter of Jeff Cooper and I bought a P 220 instead. I wore that for several years. The P7 did nothing for me--the squeeze-cocker thing was alien and they were darned expensive. But I would like a P-5.
    Last edited by rintinglen; 07-13-2017 at 12:18 PM.
    _________________________________________________It's not that I can't spell: it is that I can't type.

  6. #6
    Boolit Master
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    I still want a squeeze cocker myself, functionality be damned, those are some of the coolest guns ever made!

  7. #7
    Boolit Master
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    At one time I had a P7M8, the American version of the P7. In a moment of mental weakness I traded it. Later, when West German surplus pistols became available here, I purchased a P7. The only difference is the location of the magazine release. The P7 has the release in the traditional European heel location, and the P7M8 has a thumb button similar to the M1911. I have come to prefer the P7 release.

    Despite my distrust of the 9mmP cartridge, the P7 is my primary carry gun. It resides in a Ken Null IWB pancake, and is the most comfortable carry rig I can imagine. The gun is kept clear of carbon buildup, and is perfectly reliable. The safety of the system is unsurpassed, and I'm hard pressed to imagine a safer system. This one won't get away from me!

    Take care, Tom

  8. #8
    Boolit Master
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    All three were/are great guns. The requirements for those pistols were fairly stringent:

    Caliber--9mm or .38/.357 -minimum of 350 meters/second (about 1148fps) There was a muzzle energy requirement but I can't find it in my books.

    Magazine/cylinder capacity--minimum of six rounds

    WEIGHT: maximum 1 kilogram (about 35.25 oz.), fully loaded

    DIMENSIONS: maximum of 180x130x34mm

    TRIGGER: double action (DA) for first shot; trigger weight--DA maximum of 5.5 kg (about 12 lbs), SA minimum of 2.0 kg

    RELIABILITY: barrel, receiver, mainspring and recoil spring must last for 10,000 rounds, firing pin and extractor for 5,000 rounds; the weapon must operate reliably after being recovered from sand or dirt

    SAFETY: no external safety, no magazine safety; internal safety must prevent a discharge from impact of any kind; firing the gun may only be possible with the slide (or cylinder) locked, and the trigger pulled back; carrying the gun safely must be possible with a round in the chamber, and with the hammer down; decocking the hammer must be possible without touching the trigger

    ACCURACY: five shots unsupported at 25 meters must group within a circle of 16cm diameter

    TECHNICAL REQUIREMENTS: semi-auto or revolver--revolver gap smaller than 0.15mm; all types--simple field stripping for cleaning, and easy replacement of all parts.

    For the time, mid 1970's, those were tough standards to meet.
    The P7 makes the weight limit with only about 50 grams to spare and it is the only 1 of the 3 that uses a steel frame.
    The safety requirements resulted in some unique solutions. (decockers on two pistols and the squeeze cocker mechanism on the P7)

    The specifications all but eliminated a revolver, which appears to have been their intent.

  9. #9
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tatume View Post
    At one time I had a P7M8, the American version of the P7. In a moment of mental weakness I traded it. Later, when West German surplus pistols became available here, I purchased a P7. The only difference is the location of the magazine release. The P7 has the release in the traditional European heel location, and the P7M8 has a thumb button similar to the M1911. I have come to prefer the P7 release.

    Despite my distrust of the 9mmP cartridge, the P7 is my primary carry gun. It resides in a Ken Null IWB pancake, and is the most comfortable carry rig I can imagine. The gun is kept clear of carbon buildup, and is perfectly reliable. The safety of the system is unsurpassed, and I'm hard pressed to imagine a safer system. This one won't get away from me!

    Take care, Tom
    I have the P7M8 and did have a PSP, they are incredible pistols. Small, accurate, reliable.

    I owned a P7M13 for a while and never liked it as much. The double column magazine ruined the trim feel of the gun for me. The mags for the P7M13 were about $60 each at the time !

  10. #10
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    German Police Pistols

    I had both a P1 and a P7 for a short while. Both were traded of for something else, although both were accurate and reliable.

    While on a visit to Germany in the early 80s, I spoke with a few Bavairan Polizisten and they rather liked their new 9mm pistols. They really liked the G3 rifles on loan to them from the Bundeswehr, but that's another thread.

    Each Bundesstaat or Federal State, could choose their own handgun and thus you saw different handguns when in the various Laender (states).
    Keep your powder dry,

    Scharf

  11. #11
    Boolit Master

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    Love the P7 and don't mind the heel mag release. The only down side is they are not too friendly with cast boolits , and parts are hard to find. The piston is good for about 10,000 rds. Oh another down side is if you take a class and fire many rounds quickly, (50+) they heat up quite a bit. This doesent matter in the real world or at the range practicing casually, but in a training class it may.
    FWIW
    John

  12. #12
    Boolit Master
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    johniv - I cannot dispute any of that. Multiple rounds in a short period of time from a P7 will heat the gun up (especially above the trigger). As you point out, not a big deal in real life but makes extended rapid fire uncomfortable.

    As for the heel magazine release - A lot of folks consider that a PLUS for a CCW. Because it is nearly impossible to accidentally release the mag - the operator can be assured that the 1 mag in the gun will be there and fully seated. Let's face it - I'd rather have one mag with 8 rounds always fully seated and present, than the ability to change mags quickly.
    VERY, VERY, VERY few gunfights require more than the capacity of the gun.
    As for compatibility with cast bullets, I can get beyond that with a gun intended for that particular role. I like cast bullets but I'm not wedded to them.

    I have a friend that shoots and routinely carries a PSP, that pistol may be good for more than 10,000 rounds, just saying.
    Last edited by Petrol & Powder; 07-14-2017 at 07:37 PM.

  13. #13
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    The pistol is good for MANY more than that. What wears is the PISTON, that locks the pistol closed after firing. ( yeah it locks AFTER firing). The piston should be replaced after about that many rounds. The cylinder it runs in does not wear out. Don't scrub the piston with anything more abrasive than a cleaning patch (NO steel wool please) . If carbon builds up in the grooves on the piston, leave it alone, it doesent hurt anything.

  14. #14
    Boolit Master FergusonTO35's Avatar
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    A P6 was my first bottom feeder. Great pistol, came with factory case, two mags, and test target for a whopping $279.95 about 10 years ago. More accurate than I could hold, even with cheapo combloc ammo. As a bonus, Promags worked perfectly in it. My best friend really took a liking to it so I sold it to him for what I had in it. Sadly the P6 got swiped in a burglary, he replaced it with a P320.
    Currently casting and loading: .32 Auto, .380 Auto, .38 Special, 9X19, .357 Magnum, .257 Roberts, .30 WCF, .45-70 Gov't.

  15. #15
    Boolit Master Outpost75's Avatar
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    I had one of the first HK-PSPs inported into the US, which later became the P7M8.

    Weak point of the pistol is that gas port erodes faster on side closest to breech, so that with heavy use you get a raised step which shaves jacket material from bullet if using gilding metal jacketed, vs. gilding metal- clad steel. This results in copper fragments resembling coffee grounds being deposited in gas cylinder and being impacted by slide travel until you get short recoil and malfunctions. After strenuous complaints HK offered a reamer tool to remove impacted copper shavings from gas cylinder. I got to where I would nolonger trust gun and sent back to Germany for rebuild. Sold it as soon as it got back, traddd it for SIG P225 and never looked back. HK customer service not the best even if you have a badge. Would never trust my life to an HK. Like SIG, have two.
    The ENEMY is listening.
    HE wants to know what YOU know.
    Keep it to yourself.

  16. #16
    Boolit Master
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    HK customer service not the best even if you have a badge. Would never trust my life to an HK. Like SIG, have two.
    Good days, bad days, it's hard to judge a company on a small sample of experiences. I used to have a Sig. Sent it back three times and the gunsmith couldn't fix it. Never owned another Sig.

  17. #17
    A police officer from West Germany rode with me in the early '90's, he said they were carrying the Walter P99. He said nothing equipped them for what they faced when the wall came down.

  18. #18
    Boolit Master
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    The SIG P6 (AKA P225) is one of those guns that just seems to work with anything. Mine will function with just about anything that will chamber. I had a P228 (Virginia State Police trade in) that was a great gun but I actually like the single stack 225 better. The difference in grips between the 225 & 228 are remarkably close despite the double stack mag of the 228.

    The P7 (the PSP pre P7M8) is a fascinating design but probably more complex that it should be. I know a guy that carries a PSP and has shot thousands of rounds through it (maybe tens of thousands). He did have it rebuilt by an H&K armorer at some point but I don't know that entailed. He prefers the heel release for the magazine. That gun has held up to a great deal of use.

  19. #19
    Boolit Master
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    The P7 & PSP are not really "pre P7M8." The P7M8 is a derivative for the American market. The fact that it chronologically follows the P7 not withstanding, the P7 continued in production for the rest of the world.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tatume View Post
    The P7 & PSP are not really "pre P7M8." The P7M8 is a derivative for the American market. The fact that it chronologically follows the P7 not withstanding, the P7 continued in production for the rest of the world.
    True, I meant the P7M8 followed in the American market. In fact, I think the P7M8 was specifically made for trials by the New Jersey State Police but I'm not certain that's true. The NJSP did adopt the P7M8 and later, the P7M13.

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

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
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check