Walther, originally located in Zella-Mehlis, Germany, was founded in 1886– back when Kaiser Willy was on the throne. After spending the first quarter-century of their existence crafting highly accurate schuetzen competition rifles, Fritz Walther returned to the company from an apprenticeship at DWM, home of the Luger pistol, and, seeing the industry was rapidly moving to produce then-novel semi-auto pistols, urged the older Walther to move in that direction as well. This led to a flurry of new patents for small, blowback-action semi-autos handguns with fixed barrels.
This effort led to the logically-named Model 1 in 1908, a striker-fired 6+1-shot .25ACP that had its recoil spring coiled around the 2.1-inch barrel. Competing against guns like the Pieper Bayard, Colt Vest Pocket, and Browning/FN Model 1906, the diminutive Walther Model 1 was often described in Central Europe as a “taschen pistole” or pocket pistol. It proved successful enough that the gun was produced in a variety of upgraded variants that ended with the Walther Model 9, which was a staple of the company almost up until the Zella-Mehlis factory was occupied by the Allies in 1945.
With the country divided into communist East and free West Germany and Walther’s old factory left behind the “Iron Curtain” in the former, the company relocated to the latter, setting up a new factory in Ulm in 1950. Many of the company’s former iconic handguns like the PP/PPK and P-38 were soon back in production in France– made there under license by Manurhin– as Walther was initially restricted by the Allies to making just air guns in Germany itself. Once the limits were removed, Walther went back into production with an updated version of the pre-1945 Model 9 that used the same hammer-fired action as the very similar Model 8.
The new gun, chambered in either .22LR or .25ACP, was a 12-ounce micro-compact with a 2.6-inch barrel and a concealed hammer, externally very similar to the Models 1 through 9 that preceded it. In an ode to its size, just 5.9-inches long overall and 5.1-inches high, it was marketed as the TP, for Taschen Pistole, when introduced in 1961.
In Walther fashion, the company soon introduced a competing design, the Taschen Pistole Hahn (Pocket Pistol, Hammer) or TPH, which was more advanced as it was essentially a downsized Walther PPK chambered in .22LR and .25ACP. However, as a result of import restrictions on handguns that came in 1968, requiring pistols to meet a “sporting use” test, both the TP and TPH ran into problems when it came to being marketed in the U.S. and by 1971 the earlier gun was out of production.
In the end, with a production that only ran a decade at best, Walther TPs were made in small numbers with Stefan Klein at the Unblinking Eye estimating that only about 11,250 .25ACP variants left the factory.
Still, it is an interesting piece of firearms history that was a “throwback” even when it was new, and had ties both to Walther’s first entry into the handgun market and its rebirth after WWII.