This rare artifact is a second developmental stage Walther Model AP (Armee-Pistole) prototype pistol, designated by the serial number “045” and believed to have been manufactured between 1932 and 1934. What sets this particular pistol apart is its unique provenance, linking it to an American soldier, Sergeant Lester M. Hicks, who acquired it during World War II. Sgt. Hicks, later promoted to Sergeant Major, captured the pistol off a German paratrooper in the European Theater and later traded it to his comrade Sergeant Arden A. Adams, also a Sergeant Major, within the 704th Tank Destroyer Battalion, 4th Armored Division. This pistol, with its concealed hammer and intentionally machined-off marks, became a distinctive weapon carried by Sgt. Hicks during combat as seen in his photograph.
Accompanying the pistol are World War II photographs and extensive correspondence between noted author Warren Buxton and Arden A. Adams, shedding light on its history. This specific Model AP pistol is exceptional for being the only surviving specimen with such a unique history, having been carried in combat by both a German and American soldier, adding to its historical value. Sergeant Hicks traded the pistol to Sgt. Adams in exchange for a camera, and the pistol remained in Adams’ possession until he sold it in 1995. Fewer than 20 of these early Walther prototypes are estimated to exist today, making this a highly sought-after collector’s item.
The Walther Model AP prototype series was part of Walther’s efforts to develop a suitable semi-automatic pistol for military sales to the German Army. This variant is distinguished by its “concealed hammer” design and lacks provisions for a shoulder stock. These early engineering models showcased innovative features, many of which were later incorporated into standard Walther HP and P.38 production pistols. This specific example displays the standard swinging locking block, twin recoil springs, a 5-inch barrel, and distinctive machined cuts where original markings and matching serial numbers would have been, perhaps removed by the Walther factory to disassociate from potential safety concerns. The matching serial number “45” is found in various parts of the pistol, and it comes with two modern professionally made magazines marked “045-89” and “045-90”.
Incorporating details from Warren Buxton’s book “The P.38 Pistol, Volume One” and James L. Rankin’s book “Walther, Volume III, 1908-1980,” this Walther Model AP prototype pistol is not just a war trophy but a crucial piece in the evolution of the Walther P.38 design. Its provenance is traced through the collections of Sergeant Major Lester M. Hicks, Sergeant Major Arden A. Adams, Richard Ellis, Warren Buxton, and comes with a rife of supporting documentation.
Extraordinary Walther AP (Armee-Pistole), German prototype military test pistol, #45, extensively documented.
Exceptional, with nearly 95% of its original high polish salt blue, seamlessly blending into a gray patina where the original markings were professionally removed. Grips with sharp checkering, white oil discoloration, and handling marks as one would expect from a pistol that has seen light service. Mirror bore. Perfect manual mechanics. An unparalleled opportunity to acquire an early Walther prototype, the direct predecessor of the ubiquitous P38, this exact pistol having been acquired in the field by an American GI, and accompanied by extensive historical documentation. Easily a centerpiece for any advanced Walther collection and a remarkable historical piece by any metric.