October 15, 2013

Walther P22 No. WAP22003 22 LR, $379 (2012)

We tested two 22 LR handguns in an April 2012 showdown of plinking pistols. They were the Walther P22 Model WAP22003 22 LR, $379; and the Ruger SR22PB Model 03600, $399. Here’s an excerpt of that report.

In a February 2006 test of four handguns, our Idaho staff called the Walther P22 22 LR No. WAP22003, $301, an “Our Pick.” The test team said, “We liked this little .22 pistol immensely. It was completely reliable in our limited shooting, and shot very well, with many five-shot groups going around an inch at 15 yards. The impact could be fine-tuned as necessary by changing the front sight. The windage was slick and handy, we found, and adjusted with relative ease.… We think anyone in need of a fine little .22 pistol that works every time and doesn’t bust the bank need look no farther than the short-barrel P22. We thought it was an ideal fun gun, one we’d take in the backpack and not even know it’s there.” Then, in the May 2010 issue, we wrote, “Our Team Said: The unanimous decision was that the P22 was the top performer in our tests.…” This is a difficult trick to manage for any handgun, because differing ammo selections, test conditions, individual pistol variations, and matchups can magnify the flaws found in any product, making it hard to get a top grade again and again.

But when a gun does that well over time, it can serve as a benchmark against which to test newer products, which in this case is the Ruger SR22PB Model 03600, $399. Like the Walther P22 WAP22003, now $379, Ruger’s SR22 is full of angles and bumps and slots, but not so many serrations. The top of its anodized slide was smooth and semi-gloss, instead of the Walther’s dead-flat black with longitudinal serrations. What would have impressed us mightily is if Ruger (or Walther) had attempted to copy the original Walther PPK for the 22LR, and brought it off nicely at a good sale price. No one makes that gun today, so far as we know. (If Ruger or Walther decided to do it, we suspect a great many fans of James Bond would buy the guns just for the fact that they look like the famous PPK. And if this hypothetical gun were far more accurate than either of these two test guns, we’d beat a path to the maker’s door and buy one for ourselves.) But that veers off our current topic, which is pitting the two similar 22 autoloading pistols head to head.

We acquired a new Ruger and borrowed a locally owned, new-condition P22 for this test. We tested with five types of ammunition. These were CCI Green Tag Competition, Eley’s Match EPS, CCI Mini Mag solids, Winchester Power Point HP, and Federal Classic High-Velocity. How does the new Ruger stack up against the Walther P22? Let’s take a look feature by feature of the winning gun:

Walther P22 Model WAP22003 22 LR, $379

Walther also has a version with a longer barrel, and one with an integral laser sight for $479. The Walther P22 is full of tactile surprises. The gun is covered with serrations, angled metal and plastic, notches, grooves, and on the grip, pebble-graining. It’s a delight to the eye, very busy yet business-like in its look.

Gun Tests April 2012

We liked just about everything about the P22 except for its accuracy. We wanted more, though what it provided is probably enough for most shooters. The gun ran well with a variety of ammo, but as its manual noted, it didn’t cycle reliably with light match ammo.

The controls are simple and straightforward. There’s the trigger, with a useable DA and pleasant SA pull. There’s the ambidextrous safety, and though it operates in a reverse direction from that of many popular guns, it’s intuitive after a few seconds. Align it with the barrel and you’re ready to shoot. Move it down to the safe position and the hammer moves back a touch if it’s down, but doesn’t drop if it’s cocked. The safety blocks the hammer from striking the firing pin, and also locks the firing pin so the gun can’t discharge. If the hammer is cocked, putting the safety on leaves it cocked. You can lower the hammer by grasping it firmly with thumb and index finger on its sides, and pressing the trigger. Or if you’re lazy, just press the trigger with the gun pointed in a safe direction. We don’t recommend that method. Although the gun can be carried cocked and locked, it’s not a convenient safety for that purpose.

Another control is the slide lock, which holds the slide rearward after the last shot. Next is the ambidextrous magazine release, which is a latch device at the bottom rear of the trigger guard that you press downward to release the magazine. One reader wrote that he had trouble keeping the magazine in the gun whilst wearing gloves, or with a shooter who had fat fingers. We submit that handguns ought never to be fired with gloves. While one of us was in Alaska running a trap line, the handgun was kept warm in a shoulder holster. That trapper always removed his gloves to shoot, even at 40 degrees below zero. As for the mag dropping out of the Walther, we could not get it to come out accidentally no matter how thick a glove we wore, nor by pressing down hard on the release with our trigger finger inserted. We suspect that reader either had dirt fouling the latch or a faulty latch on his Walther. We generally used a finger on each side of the mag release to get the mag out of the gun.

Two magazines came with our test gun, one with a flat bottom and one with a PPK-like extension. However, the latest information is that only one magazine comes with the gun. Each held ten rounds. One more control on the P22 is the takedown latch near the front of the trigger guard, which requires you to first clear the gun, then press downward on this saddle-like latch until it drops out of the way. Then pull the slide to the rear, lift it, and ease it forward off the barrel. This is similar to the takedown for the PPK, but the recoil spring is not around the barrel here, it’s on a small rod that falls out when you remove the slide. That’s the weak point of this design, because you need a “tool” in the form of a slave rod to capture the spring before you can reassemble the gun. It may be possible to do so without that tool, but we could not do it. That’s where Ruger has an advantage, which we’ll look at in a moment.

There’s also a rail under the muzzle for a light, sort of a Picatinny rail, with one notch. A variety of lights can be put on there, but we fail to see the need for a light on a 22 handgun. A laser sight there might make some sense for those with compromised vision.

Gun Tests April 2012

This is what you see when you line up the P22’s sights. There’s a lot of gap in the rear, so there’s a lot of light on both sides of the front blade. That makes it fast to use, though for some it’s less precise than the narrower Ruger rear sight. The sights are plastic. Three sights came with the gun, numbered 2, 3, and 4. The gun shot a touch low for us, so we elected to change the front sight. We chose number 2. Removing the original sight was easy by poking it out with a screwdriver.

Walther makes it easy to install a silencer-threaded barrel where those are legal. Or you can change the barrel for a longer one, at extra cost for the extra parts. The sights are plastic, the front bearing a numeral 3, and the rear having a windage adjustment. The gun shot a touch low for us, so we elected to change the front sight. Three sights came with the gun, numbered 2, 3, and 4. We chose number 2. Removing the original sight was easy by poking it out with a screwdriver from the inside, with the gun being disassembled. Getting the new sight in was tricky. We finally put it in location and rapped it with a stick, and in it went. Then our shots were where we wanted them on the 15-yard target. Windage was easy to correct with the screw-adjustable rear sight. The sight picture was excellent, and had three white dots. If we were picky, we’d have the rear notch a tad narrower, but as it was it was fast to use.

Besides, the three front-sight inserts, there was also a flat insert for the back of the grip, and we chose to change it out. A slight press with hand pressure on a proper-size punch got out the rear grip’s retaining pin, and we easily installed the flatter housing. There was also a key in the package to lock the gun, the slide-spring installation rod, and a wrench to remove the barrel.

With the gun apart, we found excellent workmanship inside. The slide is aluminum alloy, as is the barrel-retention block and the slide rails inside the frame. Everything looked good, we took our pix, and it was time to reassemble the P22. We found that inserting the slave rod through the hole in the front of the slide was the easiest. Then with the recoil spring and rod in place in the frame, we fit the forward part of the recoil spring around the slave rod, inserted the barrel in its hole, and the gun went together easily. We suspect Walther could modify this setup to match that use by Ruger, to eliminate the need for the slave rod.

On the range we had no problems with the gun except with the Federal Classic ammo. This gave repeated failures to cycle the slide far enough to pick up the next round. The same thing happened with the Ruger. We had an occasional failure to fire, caused by some of our test ammo being quite old. It also had failed to fire in the past in other good guns. The simple fix was to cycle the hammer again with the DA trigger on the P22. Again the same thing happened with the Ruger. Bad ammo is bad ammo.

We wanted more accuracy than we got. With our No. 2 front sight, the gun shot just above the point of aim at 15 yards, which is what we wanted. The final choice of front sight would depend on the final selection of the very best ammo for the gun. We thought the single-action trigger was excellent on the P22. The double-action pull was good enough that we could hold the gun on target easily until the gun fired, but we did not attempt to make groups DA.

Our Team Said: We really enjoyed the P22 Walther, wanting only more accuracy from it. The feel, function, looks, balance, and light weight were ideal for fun shooting. The good triggers, both the smooth 9.3-pound DA and clean 4.3-pound SA, made that a joy. Does it have enough accuracy? Maybe, depending on your use for the gun.


Comments (23)

I have shot one of these Walthers, but never owned one. My experience is limited to having shown a Basic Handgun student of mine how to manage and shoot hers. My impression at the time was that it was a nifty little pistol. We were using B27 targets at fairly close range....perhaps 5-10 yards....so I wasn't really paying attention to the gun's accuracy so much as I was paying attention to my students ability to keep the rounds near the center of the target.

My own choice for a .22 is a Ruger 22/45 in the "Hunter" variation (currently only offered for Mk IIIs and no longer available 22/45s) with a 4.5" barrel, which has very good accuracy and functions very reliably. My only complaint about the Ruger design (and I believe it is the same for the Mk III as well) is the HUGE pain in the ass it is to put it all back together after field stripping. I truly do not understand why Ruger chose a design that comes apart so easily, and so unyieldingly resists reassembly. The end result is that I almost never take the pistol apart anymore. I clean what I can get to, degrease with a spray solvent, and then re-lube whatever I can reach.

Some day, that pistol will seize up, and I'll be able to justify the cost of buying one designed with human owners in mind. Otherwise, I love that thing.

Posted by: whamprod | July 24, 2014 12:26 PM    Report this comment

Yeah, Cecil, it DID give me pause to discover that Dvor.com is based in Chicago, but since they ARE in the business of dealing with firearms accessories, etc, I'd guess it's not stretching my vow of boycotting Illinois too far.

Posted by: canovack | October 20, 2013 3:24 PM    Report this comment

Yes Sir. Their shipping costs are VERY reasonable. In the BTW department, if you ever buy something and return it, you get an in house credit, not a refund. Pretty good folks to deal with though. I have had occasion to talk to them on the phone and even though they are from Chicago, they are pretty nice people.

Posted by: Cecil B | October 20, 2013 12:36 PM    Report this comment

You are correct, Tower gunner. Ruger, a few years back and with great fanfare, announced the M77 rifle in 7.62x39, probably in response to the quantity of ammo that was becoming available for AK and SKS rifles, along with their Mini-30. I also recall CZ putting one on the market, and it's likely that there are some others out there as well. I know from personal experience with my Rossi Wizard .223 single shot, that Rossi makes a 7.62x39 barrel for that as well.

Nothing turned up at yesterday's gun show, but then part of the joy of attending gun shows is the search for something that's a little more difficult to find, than just finding it in great numbers.....

By-the-way, Cecil.....I finally purchased something from Dvor.com. They had a sale going on Barska Biometric Safes that regularly sell for around $650.....for $238.99. I was very pleased to find that they charge a flat rate of $9.99 for shipping, so the whole thing cost me $248.98. It arrived yesterday via FedEx, and it is really a neat little four-gun safe that is programmed to open upon recognition of your finger print. It's small enough that it takes up very little space, next to one of my big safes, and it gets some of my pieces out from behind bedroom doors, etc.

Posted by: canovack | October 20, 2013 11:13 AM    Report this comment

Canovak, I seem to remember either Savage or CZ making a boltgun in 7.62 ComBloc a while back, maybe also Ruger in their M77 series, I'm sure there've been others as well over the years.

Posted by: Tower gunner | October 19, 2013 11:31 PM    Report this comment

Thanks for the holster info Colonel. Besides politics, I think we DO have similar tastes in firearms. So, when the revolution starts, we should start our own platoon. LOL

Posted by: Cecil B | October 18, 2013 10:49 PM    Report this comment

Charles S, your experience with the new PPK/S .22 mirrors mine. I purchased mine a couple of months ago to replace a PP .22LR that I purchased back in the 1960s. It is nice to have a little Walther pistol back in my collection.

Posted by: canovack | October 18, 2013 4:58 PM    Report this comment

Well, Tower gunner, can you obtain a different rear sight that might fill the bill? I've had considerable success finding parts at MidwayUSA.com and NatchezSS.com.

As some may be aware, I have been on a quest to find manual action rifles to match up to the semi-auto pieces I have in military calibers. I've been looking for them, because I figure that if semi-autos ever become so politically incorrect that we don't want to show them off, I can still shoot their manual action counterparts without too much concern. Caliber 7.62x51/.308 hasn't been a problem, since I have a Savage M99 and a Ruger Gunsight Scout to match up with my DPMS LR308 and Springfield SOCOM16. Back when Mossberg announced the MVP series in 5.56x45/.223 I got pretty interested in it as a complement to my SIG 556 and my S&W M&P15, but I could never find the Patrol Model that has a fiber optic front sight and a buckhorn rear sight. All the MVPs I found had slick barrels, and I wanted the capability to use metallic sights as well as a scope. Well.....Surprise, Surprise! Today, when I went to Academy to pick up my ration of .22LR of two boxes at $2.19/box, they had just the piece I had been searching for, so I snapped it up for $549.99. Now, as I go to the gun show at the Travis County Expo Center tomorrow, I'll only need to search for a manual action 7.62x39 to compliment my AK47, SKS, and Ruger Mini 30.

Posted by: canovack | October 18, 2013 3:36 PM    Report this comment

canovack, Fobus also makes a paddle holster for the P22. I've settled on CCI MiniMag HP or RN as the ammo of choice since I had bought a large quantity somewhat before the 'ammo drought' started. Two inch groups @ 7 yds works for me..it's a plinker/fun gun! Haven't shot the Sig but handled it-balance wasn't for me. Both of our P22's have roughly 1500 rds thru them and no problems so far. Finding a good ammo and PMCS seems to work well. Do wish the notch in the rear sight blade was a bit narrower but you can't have everything.

Posted by: Tower gunner | October 18, 2013 2:15 PM    Report this comment

Cecil, we appear to have very similar tastes when it comes to firearms. I, too, have a SIG Sauer Mosquito, and like you, I really like its feel in the hand. I have only put .22LR HV stuff through mine, and it does fine. I have heard that some owners had problems with durability, but so far mine is OK. If you're so inclined, Fobus also makes a kydex holster for it that even has a decorative SIG Sauer Mosquito logo on it.

Posted by: canovack | October 18, 2013 10:52 AM    Report this comment

Several years ago bought a P22. Out of the box, bullets tumbled. Sent to S&W replaced the barrel. Very finicky on ammo. Once you find the right ammo fun to shoot. However, after three years of plinking it slam fired. S&W told me they wouldn't fix it for free(unlike Glock and some other manufactures). Not worth paying to fix so I have an expensive paperweight.

Posted by: glocker | October 18, 2013 12:16 AM    Report this comment

I had a p22 that would not get through a magazine of any kind of ammo. Got rid of it as part of a trade for a s&w 317 kit gun which has been great.

Posted by: olafhardtB | October 17, 2013 11:13 PM    Report this comment

I also have a SIG Mosquito. I like it better than the P22. Grip is better. Won't eject the sub-sonic, 720 ft/sec ammo though.

Posted by: Cecil B | October 17, 2013 7:42 PM    Report this comment

I've had a P22 for approx. 5 yrs now and while it's not as accurate as my Smith M41 or Ruger Govt' Hvy Barrel, so what? It's a good little carry gun around the property or a last minute run to town for that ingredient 'we just HAVE to have for supper. It eats anything from sub-sonic match ammo to high velocity stuff-accuracy varies with ammo of course. My wife wanted a SR22, soooo plunked down the $$, brought it home and found out it was a jam-a-matic no matter what ammo used. Back to the dealer who pulled another from stock & it too did the same regardless of ammo or magazines used. Traded it for a P22 & wife is happy, she can use any ammo I have and hers is more accurate than mine! Doing the paperwork now for a suppressor.

Posted by: Tower gunner | October 17, 2013 6:43 PM    Report this comment

Had a P22 for five years and, contrary to the reviewers, found it to be more than a little finicky about the ammo I used. True, it fit the hand well and was reasonably accurate, but not reliable enough for me to want to depend on it or keep it. Sold it and now I have an SR22 and it eats everything I feed it, is just as accurate as the Walther ever was and is easier to use. For me the SR is a much better choice for a 22LR.

Posted by: jadehummer | October 17, 2013 5:30 PM    Report this comment

Some interesting encounters with this little pistol.....Perhaps I will rethink my first comment, above, about purchasing one at some time in the future. I also must agree with vlasfarg when he praises the little Bersa Thunder 22. I have had one for several years, and it just shot and shot and shot and shoots and shoots and shoots. It also has a take-down lever that is very much like the "Big Guns", unlike the dropping trigger guard of the Walther PP and PPK series. It should be interesting to see if the PPK/S I mentioned holds up as well.....

Posted by: canovack | October 17, 2013 4:49 PM    Report this comment

I owned a Walter P22 until the slide split.
We were shooting Remington Golden .22 on the second magazine on the fifth shot the slide split across the center from the of firing pin to the ejector back two inches a piece of medal was split hanging on by the upper part of the rail about ¾ of an inch holding the broken medal piece.
This was the 1st gen of the P22 and I have owned the gun since 2006 when it was new. I had just cleaned the pistol the night before
We did send it back to Walters and they did repair the gun with no problems. This may have been one of a kind or just one of those things, just a friendly warning.

Posted by: Silver Dollar | October 17, 2013 4:14 PM    Report this comment

I purchased aWalter P22 with the ideas to have a good snake gun to carry, WRONG. Mine is a piece of junk. will not fire anything but CCI Stingers with some issue there also. Gave it to my son. Purchased a Ruger SR22 and it shots "anything" long-rifle ammo that I have
put in it. Unless the the newer Walthers have fixed their issues I have a hard time believing this article. These testers seem to like the looks of the Walther and have decide this gun can do all most nothing wrong......

Posted by: lfb3 | October 17, 2013 3:24 PM    Report this comment

Well I bought my P22 about 4 years ago and shot about 5000 rounds through it. It is not a bad gun, but there is better for less money out there.
The P22 is now my goto gun to educate new shooters (I date much). It is cute, fits in smaller hands, does take any ammo at this point of its life with not much issue and it is fun to shoot. But based on what I read on the web, and it is realistic, I do not expect it to live past 20K fired rounds, which is nothing for a 22lr. I feed it with standard velocity ammo only now to get it to last longer. It is not very accurate (the same with any ammo, so it is the gun,with its large 2 spaces between the 3 dots) and it broke a slide-stop spring that can easily be replaced probably for free but I do not even bother as it only prevent the gun to be shot upside-down.
On the other hand, I have a Bersa Thunder 22 that looks like the JB Walther PPK, built like a tank (so a little bit heavier but not much) because it is a trainer for the Bersa 380, shoots everything as well, more accurate and that will last long, way easier to re-assemble (no tool needed, unlike the P22). This is definitely a better choice if you can find one.
Stay safe - V.

Posted by: vlasfarg | October 17, 2013 1:38 PM    Report this comment

I have been very happy with my P22s. I have had them about 7 years but don't use them much. They are fun at the range but would not use any rim fire for CC.

Posted by: BSTOCK | October 17, 2013 12:34 PM    Report this comment

Well, Cecil, sometimes some pretty good things might take a bit of getting used to. Awhile back, I managed to acquire a Heckler & Koch P7M8. As you may know, it is rather unique, since the striker is always at rest, until the firer firmly grasps the grip, thus depressing a lever that cocks the single action firing mechanism. It makes for a very safe carry piece, but one DOES have to remember to squeeze the grip before trying to fire it. The P7M8 also has that little lever at the rear of the trigger guard for release of the magazine, so the whole gun takes some getting used to, but it is a very smoothly operating piece that is very easily concealed in a pancake holster.

Posted by: canovack | October 17, 2013 12:27 PM    Report this comment

I have a P22. Nice little gun. Only thing I do NOT like is the trigger guard method of releasing the mag. It is sort of a pain in the ass and is a very different method. I use thumb and index finger to pull it down but would prefer a button to push. But then, I am an old dog.

Posted by: Cecil B | October 17, 2013 12:10 PM    Report this comment

While I do not presently own a Walther P22, it is a pistol that I would eventually like to add to my collection. I have owned Walther firearms since the late 1960s, my first one having been a Walther Model PP in .22LR. It was a super little plinking piece, and I carried it in many locales. As is the story for many of us, I no longer have that little PP, but not because I traded it off for something else.....I left it with my ex-wife when we parted company back in 1981. I have been able to console myself with the purchase of a very nice P38 a few years back, but I always regretted giving that PP away. Recently, I had the joyous experience of seeing one of the new Walther PPK/S pistols in .22LR and nickel plate at a local gun show, and since it was attractively priced at $385.00, I didn't hesitate to purchase it. It is every bit as nice as that old PP, so at long last I, once again, have one of James Bond's neat little pistols.....

Posted by: canovack | October 16, 2013 11:11 AM    Report this comment

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