380 Shootout

| March 6, 2009 | 5 Comments



Firearm tested
.380acp Walther PPK
.380acp Sig Sauer P232

Ammo used
140 rounds – 90gr Winchester WB FMJ
50 round – 85gr Winchester Silvertips

I recently picked up a LNIB Sig P232. I have always been a huge fan of the Walther PPK so I had never seen much use for this gun. I just thought it was a little bit too large for a .380acp pistol and that it was just a PPK wanna-be…but I got a good deal on it, so I said what the heck. That statement alone should alert you to the pro-PPK bias that exists where I am concerned. So read the rest of this report knowing that it was written by a die-hard PPK fan. 🙂

I decided the best way to test this new-to-me gun was to place it in a head-to-head battle with my beloved Walther PPK.


What needs be said about the PPK that has not been said before. It is hands down one of the most beautiful guns ever made and has earned it’s reputation as a true classic.

The PPK is a simple DA/SA blow-back pistol with a slide mounted decocker/safety and it’s small size makes it a very easy to conceal firearm.

The Sig P232 is actually quite a beautiful gun also. It is very similar in design to the PPK but is a bit more fluid looking.

The P232 is also a DA/SA blow-back style pistol, but on the P232 the decocker is frame mounted and it has no manual safety. The p232 is also a bit larger than the PPK. The difference amounts to about .5″ in height and length.

It would really be hard to decide which gun is actually the better looking gun. I personally prefer the PPK, but your opinion may differ. I do believe the smaller size of the PPK gives it a design advantage right up front…and I prefer it over the P232 as far as looks go…but it is not by much of a margin.




Both the P232 and the PPK have very similar features. They are both DA/SA with manual decockers and are both blow-back designs. The P232 does lack the manual safety, but I have honestly never engaged the safety on my PPK anyway. I just consider it a decocker. I do think I prefer the decocker on the P232. The decocker on the P232 releases the hammer much less violently than the PPK. It allows you to lower the hammer pretty slowly by depressing it and allowing it to slowly raise. Sigs have the best decockers in the game, IMHO.. The decocker on the PPK seems to slam the hammer down pretty hard. In fact, as I was writing this review I learned the PPK has been recalled for issues with it’s firing pin block. I cannot help but think the decocker being so forceful has something to do with this issue.

Both guns have simple red three dot sights and both have exposed hammers which can be manually engaged for SA shooting.

Both guns also have wrap around grips which help considerably with reducing felt recoil. There is no metal backstrap beating into the palm of your hand on either gun.

I will have to give the advantage to the P232 when it comes to mechanical tear down. The frame mounted lever is easier to use than the method PPK employs…which is to pull down on the trigger guard. The P232 seems to come apart a little bit more easily.

I have to turn back around and give the advantage to the PPK regarding the magazine release. The PPK has the standard “push button” style mag release located behind the trigger guard on the grip frame. The P232 has the European style mag latch on the bottom of the mag well. I am not crazy about that feature on the P232.

As far as features go, I would call it a draw. It all depends on what you want and what aspects of their designs are more important to you as an individual. I prefer the PPK.


The PPK’s are very nicely put together. They are very solid and tolerances are tight and even. You just can’t beat them. The P232 does not beat the PPK in this area, but it does seem to equal it. Both gun are extremely well put together. they are great examples of how a gun should look and feel.

I would have to call this category as a tie.


Both of these little guns really shine when it comes to performance. Both guns fired off every round with no malfunctions of any type. I did not have to clear a single failure to feed or failure to eject and all the rounds went bang.

Both guns were also very accurate. I was getting almost identical groups from both guns at 10 years, 15 yards, and 20 yards. Both guns also proved capable of hitting the 6″ steel spinners at 25-30 yards with ease…despite their simple sights. Both guns felt good in my hand and both guns seemed to point very naturally for me. I would never be able to choose between the two if accuracy was the only considered factor. They are too dead even.

As far as comfort is concerned, each time I would start to think one felt better in my hand than the other I would reverse my decision the next round with the other gun. The P232 did have an advantage of a longer grip frame, which made it a little more comfortable to hold onto. The extended mag on the PPK did even this out some, but the fuller grip of the P232 is very comfortable. I think anyone with larger hands would prefer the P232 over the PPK.


It would be hard to find too many flaws with either of these guns. They are both well thought out and time proven designs. I have no problem calling them both beautiful examples of fine craftsmanship. They are very elegant and sophisticated looking pieces of machinery.

I am not crazy about the decocker on the PPK or the mag release on the P232. If you want to consider those issues “flaws” I will not argue with you.


As I have stated before. I believe the PPK is a gun every collector should have in their safe. It is also a gun that anyone that carries should take a good look at when search for their CCW. It is small/easily concealed, solid, well made, reliable, accurate, and capable. It also has both a decocker and a safety for the more timid. Then add on top of that the fact that it is a true classic and one of the best looking guns ever and you have a real winner.

The P232 does not possess the sense of history that the PPK does, but it seems to equal it in almost every other way….except in the over-all size department. It is a well made, reliable, accurate, and polished looking firearm that would be a welcome addition to any collection…be it in the safe, at the range, or in your holster.

It was very nice shooting a gun I love as much as the PPK today. I always remember why I love it so much every time I take it out shooting. It was even nicer finding that I just might have another beautiful .380acp pistol with which to share my affection.

In the end, deciding between these two guns would simply be a matter of personal preference. They are so evenly matched in design, quality, and performance that the little differences are what would make or break the over-all deal. Do you want the slightly smaller and lighter one? Do you want the standard or european mag release? Do you want the easier to tear down? Do you want the larger grip frame? Do you want or not want a manual safety? These would be the questions that make your decision for you.

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5 Comments on "380 Shootout"

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  1. james (sam) vivian says:

    IMHO I agree 100% w/ YHO. Great comparison of two very similar .380’s in form & function. Agree that the PPK has achieved a deserved status as a true classic and the P232 provides a viable option or alternative. Nice to read a very well-balanced and objective comparison to inform a decision when you can only afford to acquire one-at-a-time.

  2. Ted says:

    Where did you get the wood grips for the P232?

  3. Bob says:

    Great side by side comparison. I too found both pistols to be accurate, reliable shooters. I ultimately went with the PPK/s and havn’t regreted my decision. I must echo Teds’ question and ask , ” where did you get those wood grips.

  4. David says:

    The grips on the P232 came from gunbroker.com

  5. matt says:

    grips for ppk?

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