The Walther Model 3
by Ed Buffaloe
The Walther Model 3 is usually said to have appeared in 1910, though there has been some doubt cast as to whether it really appeared that early. 1912 may be more likely. Marschall and Kersten both indicate that production lasted through 1913. The earliest Model 3 I have managed to find photographs of bears the crown over N proof mark that came into use early in 1912. Please write to me if you can document a Model 3 with the earlier ‘crown over crown over U’ proof.*
The Model 3 is a relatively simple fixed barrel, hammer fired, unlocked breech automatic pistol based on the Model 2, though the Model 3 is a mirror image of the Model 2, with the connector and ejection port on the left instead of the right, making it quite unusual in that it ejects the empty cartridge to the left. The external connector runs under the left grip, and is tensioned upward by the long arm of a coil spring mounted on the hammer pin. The connector has a lobe on top that serves as a disconnector when the slide is out of battery. There is an external extractor on the left side of the slide, and a fixed ejector on the right side of the frame. The safety lever behind the hammer blocks the hammer only when it is cocked thus also serving as a cocking indicator. The gun is safe to carry with a round in the chamber.
The recoil spring is concentric, with a bushing at each end. The rear bushing covers the rear of the spring in the area of the ejection port, preventing any buildup of dirt in the spring. Instead of a gnurled muzzle nut with a bayonette lug like the Model 2, the Model 3 has a short bushing that forms the front barrel shroud, with a slot on the underside. A spring-loaded horizontal latch fits into the slot to hold the bushing in place. There is a groove on top of the gun for sighting, and a small front sight attached to the front bushing.
A few rare examples were made with a barrel that extends out the front of the gun an extra 3/4 of an inch or so. One of these is illustrated in Manfred Kersten’s book Walther: A German Legend.
The magazine release pushes to the rear, like the Model 2. The magazine in the example I examined is in the white and unmarked. It has a flat follower and has 5 holes drilled in either side for viewing cartridges. Other magazines I have seen in photographs are blued.
The finish on the Model 3 is rust blue. The best-preserved early Model 3 I have seen has a fire-blue finish on the pins, connector bar, extractor, safety lever, and grip screws. Several authors note that the finish and general quality of manufacture of the Model 3 was markedly better than that on earlier models.
Most Model 3 pistols have 13 vertical triangular-cut slide serrations at the rear, but toward the end of production the rear- most serration was eliminated, leaving 12. These are usually referred to as the first and second variant, though the number of serrations is their only difference. The grip plates are made of checkered hard rubber with the CW (Carl Walther) monogram in an oval at the top. Most Model 3 pistols bear the following slide inscription on the left side in all capital serif letters:
Later, this same inscription was moved higher on the slide and the Walther banner was stamped beneath it. The left side is normally blank.
At least one example bears a two-line inscription, as follows:
This is similar to the inscription for a Model 1, and this example appears to have had “6,35” overstamped with “7,65”.
Some guns were clearly intended for export, and are stamped “MADE IN GERMANY” on the left side of the slide beneath the slide inscription.
Some Model 3 pistols are marked in both upper and lower case serif characters on the left side of the slide:
Messerfabrik VULKAN G.m.b.H. SOLINGEN, Germany
and on the right side:
Guns so marked have checkered hard rubber grip plates that are marked only “Caliber 7,65” in an oval at the top. The exact origin of these pistols is not known. They may have been made by Walther or by the Vulkan Knife Factory under license. James L. Rankin believes that Walther sold their leftover parts to the Vulkan company when they were about to launch the Model 4. Manfred Kersten believes it more probable that they were made for the export market, but if this is so then why were some Model 3 pistols stamped “MADE IN GERMANY”? I think Rankin’s theory is more likely, but there does not appear to be any way to tell at this time. The only photograph of a Vulkan pistol I have been able to locate is in Rankin’s book Walther Volume III: 1908-1980; it bears serial number 25214 and has 12 slide serrations. It is not marked “Made in Germany”, as it would have to have been if it were intended for export.
According to Dieter H. Marschall, in his book Walther Pistols, serial numbers range between 11000 and 35000, but most authorities seem to agree that only approximately 3,500 Model 3 Walthers were ever made. The author would be grateful to anyone willing to share serial number information about their Walther Model 3 pistol.*
The Walther Model 3 was quite small for a 7.65mm Browning (.32 ACP) pistol. There was one other 32 of the era that was slightly smaller than the Walther--the Pieper Bayard, which appeared in 1908--the Pieper did not fit the hand as well as the Walther, and carried one less round in the magazine. A number of small Spanish 32’s were made in later years, mostly after the war, though few if any were as well made as the Walther. The modern pistol that is closest in size to the Model 3 is the Kel-Tec P-32, though the Kel-Tec is much thinner and less than half the weight of the Walther.
Do not pull the trigger with the gun disassembled, as it could damage the lockwork.
* Write to Ed Buffaloe at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please share photographs and information about the Walther Model 3.