||The Walther P 38 was developed to replace the P 08 Luger. The P 08 was a superb weapon but was expensive to produce and complex in operation and maintenance. In 1933, the German army identified the need for a new replacement pistol. From 1933 to 1938, a long development program created the successful P 38 design. This design struck a fine balance. The outcome, a weapon rich in capabilities yet inexpensive to produce and well suited for mass production. Walther received the contract to manufacture the P 38 in 1938.
From the onset, the P 38 proved an exceptional service pistol. The weapon was robust, accurate and well balanced. Field stripping and maintenance was simple and rapid. Many safety features included a hammer safety and an indicator that a round was ‘chamber loaded.’ The cartridge was the proven and widely available Parabellum 9-mm. Despite this success and mass production, the P 08 was never fully replaced by the P38. More than any other combatant nation, the Germans favored the handgun. The pistol was no status symbol or specialized weapon for the few. It was an essential cog in the German war machine from the rear echelon to the front lines. Demand outstripped supply.
The P 38 pistol was well liked by the German army and a prized war trophy.