Smith & Wesson has recalled every Walther PPK and PPK/S
manufactured since 2002 because some
have a problem.
"We have not had any instances of injuries. But a couple of pistols came back for repair in which we saw a problem," said Paul J. Pluff, a spokesman for the gunmaker.
"A certain percentage of the guns (manufactured in a specific range of serial numbers) have the potential to do that. So we're making the effort to go out and find all the pistols with those serial numbers," he said.
That "certain percentage" might be large and it might be small. He's not saying.
The problem relates to the timing of the mechanism that blocks the hammer to prevent it from coming into contact with the cartridge when the pistol is not being used, Pluff said. The timing may be off on some models in the affected range of serial numbers so that even though the trigger is not being employed, if the hammer were to be pulled back more than half way, the hammer block would pull away enough to reveal the chambered cartridge to the hammer. If the hammer should be released suddenly, the cartridge might fire, he said.
That explanation is hopelessly screwed up; obviously the reporter had no idea what he was talking about.
I own a Walther, and while I am not
a gunsmith, and not
a firearms expert, and not
a product safety expert, and not
a lawyer, I think I have an idea what the problem might be. It's a matter of timing.
Refer to the photos of my Walther PPK at right. The Walther's decocking lever (L) rotates a cylindrical hammer block up around the firing pin (P) before allowing the hammer (H) to fall. If the hammer block gets far enough into place before the hammer is released it will fall harmlessly onto the block. If it doesn't rotate far enough before the hammer falls — a little matter of timing — you have a problem.
In the second, third, and fourth photos, you can see the hammer block rotating into position. The hammer drops when the block is somewhere beyond the position shown in the fourth photo. If the hammer were to drop when the block was advanced only as far as the second photo, you might
have a problem. I don't know. It doesn't happen with my Walther.
In the last photo, you can see the decocking lever almost fully depressed, and the hammer still has not dropped. Another fraction of a degree and it will.
I'm going to take it to the range Sunday and burn through a box of fifty, decocking between each shot, always, of course, with the gun pointed safely down range. If it fails even once, I'll ship it off to Smith & Wesson. I may ship it off anyway, just to maintain its resale value. But I won't be in any hurry to do it.
Update: I did, and it didn't. Fifty-five rounds, to be exact, decocking between each one; decocking never caused the pistol to fire.