Book Reviews: April 1999

By Stephen Stuart

Military Handguns Of France 1858-1958
By Eugene Medlin And Jean Huon
Published by Excaliber Publications
PO Box 36, Latham, NY 12110-0036
ISBN# 1-880677-02-4
Price $ 22.95 plus $ 4.50 s&h
Reviewed by Stephen Stuart

One of the first pistols I was ever given as a teenager (before it became politically incorrect to give anyone under twenty-one a firearm) was an old French Model 1892 Revolver in 8mm Lebel. The pistol always held a special emotional significance for me since it was a gift from my father. Besides not being able to find ammo for it as a youngster, I wasn’t able to find a whole lot of hard data on the firearm either.

This has since been changed with the publication of, Military Firearms Of France 1858-1958. This book not only covers my Model 1892 Lebel in wondrous detail. It
also covers all the pistols made and used by France between these years (1858-1958). The first pistol mentioned in the text is the Lefaucheux, a pin fire pistol that was used on both sides of the United States Civil War. After the Model 1892, other pistols are covered including ones adopted by France during both World Wars (Ruby, Colt, Walther, Mauser HSc, and the French Model 1935 just to briefly mention a few). The last chapter in the book covers the French Model 1950 semi-automatic handgun 9mm (which has since been replaced by the Beretta 92).

If you are interested in French firearms or would like to find out about that Walter P-38 with French markings, this is a good place to start. I highly recommend this book for all the firearms enthusiasts out there, domestic and foreign.

The P-38 Automatic Pistol, The First Fifty Years
By Gene Gangarosa Jr.
Published by: Stoeger Publishing
55 Ruta Court,
South Hackensack, NJ 07606
ISBN# 0-88317-170-8
Price 16.95 plus 4.50 s&h
Reviewed by Stephen Stuart

Of all the firearms in my collection, the P-38 models are my most beloved pieces. I was first introduced to these handguns by relatives early in life, along with the countless World War II movies showing German officers clutching P-08 Lugers or the Walther P-38s. It is from these types of histories (oral, literature, and movies) that the Walther inspired pistol has taken on a mystique in our society.

Mr. Gangarosa Jr. is a well known writer in the popular gun press such as Gun, Gun World, and Combat Handguns to name just a few. He is also the author of Modern Beretta Firearms. Mr. Gangarosa’a book takes the reader from the early development of the early Walther series pistols (the Walther Model 1) though Walther’s first double action handgun design, the Walther Model PP (Polizei Pistol or Police Pistol). When the German military decided it needed a new 9mm handgun to replace the more expensive P-08 Luger. It was Walther’s 1938 model MP that was selected by the Heerswaffenamt to officially replace the Luger handgun, the new pistol was then designated the P-38. The P-38 would be the first 9mm double action pistol, it’s design would later influence the “wonder nine’s” of today.

The text (with the help of photographs) goes into great depth discussing the early model P-38s; the Model HP (Heeres Pistol), and subsequent non-Walther produced pistols during the war years, Mauser and Spreewerke models, are covered. Included in this account are the different proof codes, slide markings, and serial number ranges. The author even includes French produced P-38s, sometimes referred to as the “Gray Ghosts” that were produced after the war. Modern P-38 pistols are given coverage, the P-1, P-4, and P-38K. Finally, there is a section that deals with current produced pistols from Walther, like the Walther TPH in .22 long rifle.

For the collector’s of P-38 pistols or other German military arms, this is a must addition in one’s library. It covers the entire P-39 history form the beginning to today. The book is full of black and white photos, along with line drawings high—lighting important features, such as markings and operation. The only thing I can honestly complain about, is I wish the book had a chapter dealing with all the different holsters that have been issued with the Walther pistol. In particular, the German produced holsters during the war years. With this personal bias aside, for under twenty bucks, this 272 page book is worth every penny.

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V2N7 (April 1999)
and was posted online on June 10, 2016


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