Well and truly so. Over the past six years, I’ve grown up in an industry I wish to call home for the rest of my life. I’ve met people who have impacted me more than words can ever clearly express. Relationships have formed that surpass the word friendship.
Folks like Stu Clark have shaped me.
Stu: My Very own Q
Stu Clark is the most accomplished and kindhearted gunsmith I’ve ever met in my life. You know those people who are always tinkering, those folks that just know what makes something tick just by being in its presence?
That’s Stu with a firearm.
I’m not exaggerating. I have witnessed innumerable mechanical miracles performed before my eyes as he rapidly diagnosed and fixed client’s firearms. I watched, handed tools, and listened to every detail espoused. So much can be learned by just being the presence of a master of a craft. Being able to spend six years in close proximity, watching one work, and asking questions can be the best immersive education ever. Not only that, but it builds immeasurable passion for what you’re witnessing. Thanks to Stu, I fell even deeper into this world.
Q and 007: A Frontier Justice Story
Let me back up a bit. So Stu’s office, a humble area in our grand store, was connected to our Range Check-In counter. In high school, when I started in the industry, I often worked the counter on weeknights, just filling in the last few hours of the day. Those evenings, when range traffic was especially slow, I would work with Stu to learn the basics of the handgun and rifle platforms we had in our rental fleet. You see, when I got hired, just after we opened, there were no procedures for when to clean our rental fleet. Stu and I quickly worked to fix that, to make sure our guns were in tip top shape.
The benefit to me of course, was that I began forming a close bond with him as I worked in his office, using the large solvent tank and discovering how to manipulate and clean different models. From there, it was a natural progression to me asking questions about what he was working on, why something wasn’t working, and how I could help. Not that the man really ever needed a spare hand—I swear, watching him work, holding down springs, tapping in pins and preventing things from flying—you’d think he had extra hands.
So, whether I was cleaning guns, watching/helping Stu, or listening to him explain the nuances of obscure firearms to clients, I realized very quickly that I had stumbled into Q’s workshop. Over the years we continued to work and banter together. Seeing Stu and helping him were a couple of the many highlights of coming back from school on holiday breaks to work.
I always teased him about being my very own Q, and he always teased me with the fact that James Bond was off and about saving the world with just a .32 Auto. Honestly, you should’ve seen his face when I showed him the Beretta 418, and told him about Bond’s original pistol. At the thought of Bond carrying a micro .25 Auto, he lost it entirely, and laughed himself silly.
In any case, all of this brings me to the topic of today, how thankful I am to have my very own Quartermaster. Because after all, who else is there to help troubleshoot and issue equipment?
The New Walther
Stu is no longer with the company that I call home. That’s not to say we don’t still talk, in fact, we all miss him dearly and work to keep in touch. Five years of constant conversation and friendship don’t just go away after all. Unfortunately, this means that I don’t get to see the magic at work anymore and hear his laugh far less than I wish to admit.
However, the other day, while out and about on a walk with Emma, I got a text completely out of the blue from Mr. Clark.
“I got something for you.”
Just that. Those words.
A minute later—this image came through the digital veil.
My jaw slammed into the floor. A Walther PP. In stainless steel—no—in chrome. Someone had put a lot of time into it clearly. A little shaky, and absurdly excited, I followed up on his message, asking about the gun’s story, and saying that I’d love to shoot it with him soon. Then, two more magical words, “It’s yours.”
Now I was already on Cloud 9 just from seeing the images, but after reading those words, I was on the Moonraker Space Station popping open a bottle of champagne with Jaws in celebration.
Apparently, while finagling a trade, Stu saw this Walther sitting out on a bench, and convinced the individual to throw it in, because in his words, “that’s Caleb.” Extra haggling was done to get this Walther into my hands. Again guys, I’m blessed to have such amazing and thoughtful people in my life.
The Walther PP: My PPK’s Long Nosed Brother
Looking at the PP and PPK side by side, you can immediately see the similarities and differences. The PP, or Polizeipistole, is the full sized version of the PPK. The barrel is 3.9” vs the PPK’s 3.3” barrel length. Additionally, the frame itself is longer, adding an additional round to the magazine. A PP chambered in 7,65mm has a 8+1 capacity instead of the PPK’s 7+1. The frame is also complete in the back, covering the hammer bar and spring assembly, a task left to the wrap around grips on the PPK. Overall, it’s the larger brother, with the same iconic Walther lines we all know and love.
However, one thing I did note quickly was that the firearm had been chrome finished, and that the edges had been “melted” on the slide especially. Basically, this means that all of the sharp edges on the pistol have been removed. One tragedy of this process and the chroming seems to have been the complete removal of the original factory roll marks, including the Walther banner from the slide.
Luckily, I have a 1942 Walther PPK on hand, and thanks to the efforts of Ray of the Bond Armory, we have dated this PP as a 1944 model. This means that the majority of the text (aside from the Modell PPK portion!) can be copied directly onto the slide by a professional to get the gun back to its proper shape. What is a Walther without that stunning banner?
The pistol’s issues are more than skin deep however. Stu noted quickly that the gun was currently a single shot, and not in any running condition. Honestly, that only made me more excited. After putting the final touches on my Project PPK (blog posts on this one coming soon!) I am eager to try my hand at licensed troubleshooting and repairs once again. Plus, the opportunity to work on a project with Stu again is hardly one I would pass up. No. Ladies and gents, we’ve got another Project Walther, this one, directly issued by Q Branch.
When Stu and I met up to say hello and for him to pass along the Walther, he mentioned that he had been tinkering with it, and has yet to find any evidence of it having any of the problems the previous owner had vaguely referenced. It is currently without a magazine, so until I get one, we are stuck guessing what, if anything is wrong. Stu also was generous enough to provide me with 100 rounds of .32 Auto to help the trial process along.
The Bond Connection
One thing I adore about this gun is the fact that it was used in one poster of the Bond canon. Just one.
1989’s Licence to Kill shows Timothy Dalton posing with a stunning Walther PP in stainless steel, with the tagline, “His bad side is a dangerous place to be.” We never see the Walther PP in the film itself—Bond of course preferring his blued PPK and his signature reading sniper rifle, but that makes it all the cooler. It’s just a small subtle nod to Bond, and to a film that is wildly underrated. I do enjoy Dalton’s Bond, The Living Daylights more so than LTK, but I really find myself watching his outings more and more lately, gaining a deeper appreciation each time. To have a connection to his era, something I’ve been lacking until now, is too cool.
Of course, we see a Walther PP in one film as well. In Dr. No, Sean Connery’s 007 is issued a Walther PPK, but is given a Walther PP in its place. The PP in the film was blued in finish, was chambered in .380 Auto, and had aftermarket Pachmayr grips installed. This PP configuration is definitely on the wishlist.
Back to Work 007, Much to be Done
It sounds like this Walther has some things for me to work on other than aesthetics anyway. I’ll be sure to document its journey here and on Instagram! Can’t wait to shoot the two 7,65mm Walthers side by side someday.
I just want to end this by thanking Stu once again for his kindness and friendship. Nobody does it better.