Another semi-automatic pistol that I keep readily available for home defense is a 1967 vintage Walther PPK chambered in .380 ACP. Why do I keep a PPK for home defense? Mostly out of habit, once upon a time I only owned a couple of handguns and this PPK was one of them. Not all PPKs are equal. This particular one has a decent double action trigger. I once owned a 1966 PPK in .32 ACP but the double action trigger pull was the worst I have ever experienced, so I sold it at my first chance to turn a profit.
Suppose that I did not own this PPK; some might ask if I would I run out to purchase a Walther PPK over all other handguns available for home defense or concealed carry. No, I probably would not, but I certainly would not fault anyone who did choose one; the PPK is a fine little pistol.
Older PPKs may be unreliable when fed hollow-point ammo. Mine does well with the Federal Classic 380BP hollow-point, which can be hard to find. I believe I have enough 380BP in the ammo locker to outlast my remaining heartbeats. If I use up my supply of 380BP before I kick the bucket I most likely will just sell this pistol or retire it to the gun-safe. There are plenty of other effective .380 ACP hollow-point loads on the market, but my old PPK doesn’t like any of them. If I absolutely HAD to get my PPK to work reliably with other brands of hollow-points, I would save up some money and have Cylinder & Slide do a tune-up.
Under license from Walther, Smith & Wesson currently make a modernized version of the PPK in the USA. I have never fired an S&W PPK so I cannot say how it compares to an older, European made PPK. Click here for a 2005 Charles E. Petty article on the old and new PPKs.
There are a few arguable advantages the .380 PPK may have over a .38 J Frame revolver. Some consider the PPK easier to conceal; the PPK is a flat, very thin pistol, while the revolvers are thicker because of the cylinder. The .380 PPK holds seven rounds of ammo (six in the magazine plus one in the chamber) while the .38 J Frames hold five rounds. I actually find it easier to conceal a J Frame in a pocket holster than I do a PPK. Since there is no manual safety to deal with on a J Frame revolver, I find bringing it into service (for me) is faster and more intuitive than a PPK. My ability to shoot accurately is the same for both the PPK and the J Frame; I find the recoil of both manageable, you may not. Click here for a Stephan A. Camp article comparing the .380 ACP with the .38 Special.
Click here for some good Walther PP and PPK photos, and disassembly instructions.