By Dr. Tom Lewis.
Dr Tom Lewis OAM is a military historian. His latest work is The Empire Strikes South, the story of the Japanese aviators who died across the Top End in WWII.
Fleming had used such a gun during World War II when he was in Naval Intelligence, and felt it was an appropriate sidearm for a secret agent on an undercover mission. Then again, Fleming‘s role in the war was more to use his brains than be a commando type…
Boothroyd also objected to the choice of holster. Fleming had Bond use a flat chamois leather holster. Boothroyd proposed that Bond should use a revolver like the Smith & Wesson Centennial Airweight. It had no external hammer, so it would not catch on Bond's clothes. The Smith & Wesson could be kept in a Berns-Martin triple draw holster held in place with a spring clip, which would decrease Bond's draw time.
Boothroyd recommended the Walther PPK 7.65mm as being the best choice for an automatic of that size, with its ammunition available everywhere. He suggested, however, that 007 ought to have a revolver for long-range work. Fleming asked Boothroyd if he could lend his illustrator, Richard Chopping, one of his guns to be painted for the cover of From Russia with Love. Boothroyd lent Chopping a .357 Magnum revolver that had the trigger guard removed for faster firing.
To work the gun change into the plots, Fleming had Bond's Beretta getting caught in his holster at the end of From Russia with Love, an event that almost costs the secret agent his life.
In the next novel, Dr. No, a Major Boothroyd, Armourer to the Secret Service – a nice compliment from Fleming – recommends that Bond switch guns. Bond is issued a Walther PPK but is told to carry it in a Berns-Martin triple draw holster. However, the Berns-Martin holster is designed only to carry revolvers. This is an odd mistake given that Fleming had bought such a holster and had it sent to Jamaica. (It has been argued that Q-branch could have modified an excellent holster to accommodate automatics.)