Gun Review: Walther PPK/S .22LR

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It’s likely that every review of Walther’s new PPK/S .22LR will include some Bond reference – and why shouldn’t they?  Bond made the PPK/S iconic, and according to Walther’s marketing team, the PPK/S .22 was re-introduced due to a re-kindled Bond fervor.  This is certainly in no small part due to (a) Daniel Craig’s surprising fittedness in the role and (b) the re-introduction of the PPK as Bond’s sidearm in Skyfall.  (Please ignore the fact that the Skyfall PPK had three LEDs that would have likely blinded the operator when in use).  To give you some background that likely won’t be covered in other articles on this variation of the PPK:  Ian Fleming, Bond’s creator, was issued the diminutive and hardly-lethal “Baby Browning” .25ACP when Fleming served in WWII-era Naval Intelligence.  Resultantly, Fleming’s James Bond carried the similarly non-lethal .25ACP Beretta 418 because Fleming considered that appropriate (although he confessed in print that his firearm-related knowledge was extremely limited).  Boldly, Geoffrey Boothroyd, a firearm expert and prolific writer himself, wrote Fleming to inform him that the 418 was “a lady’s gun”, and instead suggested that Bond carry the more powerful S&W Airweight revolver instead.  When Fleming insisted on an automatic, Boothroyd suggested the PPK in .32/7.65mm.  Consequently, in Dr. No, a service armorer named “Major Boothroyd” made a brief appearance to issue Bond his new PPK.  While Fleming immortalized Boothroyd out of gratitude, he and Boothroyd also inadvertently propelled the PPK to legend status.  Fifty-five years later, the Bond franchise is going strong, its fans prompting the Stateside re-introduction of the PPK/S in .22LR.

The author’s Manhurin (French) Walther PPK/S with AWC Archangel T silencer. The PPK/S in .22 was available in the states several decades ago, but it stopped being imported in recent history.

On January 1, 2013, Walther Arms, Inc. took over the distribution of Walther guns from Smith & Wesson, and even more recently, began importing the Walther PPK/S.  “Importing” in the sense that these are German-made, right in Walther’s Arnsberg, Germany plant.  Those readers with a flair for the teutonic will immediately notice the Ulm and Cologne proofmarks as well as the German date codes.  They certainly look good and proudly display their German pedigree, but what are these guns made of, and how do they shoot?

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Specifications:

The new PPK/S .22LR comes in a black or nickel-plate finish with a 3.3″ barrel and an OAL of 6.1″. It’s .98″ thin and 4.9″ tall. It is 1.5 lb. in weight, dry, which is not bad for an all-metal .22. (Consider the standard Ruger Mark III, which is well over 2 lb.).  The PPK/S has adjustable sights, and includes one 10rd magazine.  The D/A trigger pull is 17.5 lb., and the crisp single-action pull is 6.6 lb.  The integrated thumb safety acts as both a safety and decock lever for the hammer.  A copy of the owner’s manual can be found here.

The slide is made from a zinc alloy that Walther chose because it was both “durable” and “lightweight” according to my contact at Walther.  While it would be best if everything was made of steel, as many of us know, steel slides don’t lend themselves to reliability in simple blow-back .22LR pistols – the light round rarely has enough power to push the slide rearward, extract a round, cock the hammer, and strip a new round clean into battery from the top of a mag.  Thus, compromises have to be made in construction.  Fortunately, the slide seems more than sturdy enough for its intended purpose and caliber.

Also a huge plus for us suppressor owners – similar to the P22, the end of the barrel conceals internal muzzle threads that can be exposed for attachment of a thread adapter.  Simply use the included wrench to remove the thread protector, spin on your adapter with the correct pitch, and you are ready to thread on a silencer.

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The seam where the thread protector covering the muzzle threads of the barrel can be seen in this picture.

General Observations:

The appearance of the PPK/S .22 is striking – it’s a very handsome pistol right out of the box, and fit and finish are excellent.  The gun is tight without any slide play or rattles.  It looks, feels, and operates just like any other PPK you’ve ever had, down to the lack of a slide release lever (just pop the mag out while pulling the slide rearward) and – one of my favorite features – striations along the very top center of the slide that reduce glare.  It’s brilliant that Walther stayed so faithful to the original PPK design.  Takedown for field stripping is identical to any other PPK, and it even takes the same grip panels as the original PPK/S.  Rear slide serrations are clean and aggressive, and the polymer grip panels are very well defined and feel robust.  All in all, this appears to be a well-designed pistol that faithfully emulates its progenitor, justifiably banking upon the PPK/S’s decades of service, rather than attempting to reinvent the wheel.

Unlike other modern reciprocating-slide .22s, this pistol feels like an actual handgun – not just a range toy.  This is certainly related to the PPK/S .22’s near-identicality to its “big” brothers.  So it looks good, but does the PPK/S .22 shoot well?

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The PPK/S .22 is the same 1:1 scale as a regular PPK/S – this is not a shrunken-down copy like many other .22 variations of a full size gun.  The standard PPK/S is hardly large, however, so if you have big hands, you may struggle a bit with the compact chassis, although the pinky extension on the included magazine helps.  I thought the ergonomics were excellent, and that the PPK/S .22 “pointed” well.

The first thing you may notice are the narrow and non-contrasting sights.  The PPK/S .22 sights are not the best, but they are definitely functional once you track them down.  Some orange or white paint on the front sight might remedy this problem.  As stated earlier, the very top of the slide is bisected by a thoughtful striated embossment that serves to stamp out any glare that might emanate from the top of the slide otherwise.  It’s a nice touch, and faithful to the PPK design.

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We ran 200 rounds of CCI Stinger through this PPK/S, and around 100 Remington bulk pack rounds.  Once again, the Walther surprised me, performing more like a service handgun than a range toy.  There were no malfunctions to speak of other than the one I inadvertently caused.  More on that later, though.  My point is this gun ran reliably with no maintenance on our end – I received it, took it out of the box, and then straight to the range.  Accuracy was excellent for a gun this size.  Freehanded, casual shooting at 10 yards easily resulted in ten of ten rounds going into a two inch by two inch square.  The best group of the day was a five shot group, free-handed at ten yards, that ran about one inch across:

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Accuracy was no doubt helped by the excellent trigger.  There is a minimal amount of take-up slack – maybe a couple of millimeters – before a nice, crisp 6lb. break to fire the shot in single action.

As far as the one hangup I experienced, which was a slight FTF after the very first shot:  Bear in mind, the .22LR does not generate very much force, so, any impediment of the slide will be exaggerated versus a full-size or large caliber pistol.  Accordingly, “thumbs-forward” shooters should be mindful not to rest or drag their dominant thumb along the slide.  I shifted to a “support thumb up” grip which allowed me to rest my dominant thumb on the frame, and there were no more issues after that.

In all, this was a joy to shoot – light recoil, reliable, and an excellent trigger.  This is a fun plinker that is handsome, to boot.  Also, the internal threads are a tremendous windfall for those of us with silencers who may want to mount them on a .22.

Negative Observations:

While there is very little room to improve upon the PPK/S .22, my only design criticism would be the narrow, black front and rear sights.  Due to their size and the lack of contrast, quickly picking up these sights is more difficult than it should be.  Some white or orange paint would have been helpful, but this is also something the shooter can opt to do at little cost or effort.  Also, it would be nice if these came with two magazines instead of one.  Those of us with the older import PPK/S .22LRs still remember when we paid upwards of $100 for a PPK/S .22 magazine.  These PPK/S magazines seem a little easier to find at $25-$35 each, which, though palatable, is a bit on the high end.  Thus, an extra in the box would have been nice, or at least a discount voucher or rebate with the purchase of a new pistol.  These, however, are minor gripes, and relatively inconsequential in relation to the surprising finish and performance of this German import.

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Conclusion:

In conclusion, the Walther PPK/S .22LR is faithful to the PPK legacy, sharing more similarities than otherwise:  Similar manual of arms and takedown, the same size, virtually identical features down to the glare-reducing accent on the top of the slide and even the ability to interchange grips with any other PPK/S.  More importantly, the PPK/S was made in Germany and boasts the proofmarks and date codes accordingly.  The excellent fit foretold a similar performance: The PPK/S .22 was excellent at the range, with good accuracy and a best-in-class trigger.  Reliability was 100% with cheap or expensive .22LR if the shooter remains cognizant of the fact that slight contact with the slide during the recoil sequence may interfere with function.  Note that this issue is not unique to the PPK/S, but rather, it is a common drawback of all reciprocating-slide .22 pistols like the Walther P22 or Sig Mosquito.

The PPK/S .22 will certainly appeal to Bond fans as well – the Smith & Wesson-manufactured .380ACP version has mixed reports in terms of reliability, and moreover, the .380 PPK is snappy in the wrist and wallet, with .380 prices inflating in recent years.  On the other hand, while .22 has also been scarce lately, it’s still cheap and fun to shoot, plus you have the option to affix a .22 suppressor straight from the factory if you want to be really clandestine.  While the PPK/S .22 might still only see use at the range as a plinker, Major Boothroyd might agree that even the .22LR is a step up from Bond’s .25ACP for use On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.




James Reeves is a licensed and practicing concealed weapons instructor, the winner of Maxim Magazine’s MAXIMum Warrior 2011 civilian challenge, a graduate of Front Sight and Tier 1 Group, and is an Appleseed Rifleman. James previously owned and operated a gun shop in Tallahassee, FL and worked as a regional sales representative for Interstate Arms Company, a distributor, before he began practicing law, his present career. James likes traveling with his wife, boating, America, photography, guns, gear he doesn’t really need, cold beer, and a little exercise here and there (James is also GORUCK Tough). Above all, James enjoys performing product evaluations for The Firearm Blog and posting his reviews for TFB readers. Follow James on Twitter and Instagram @PelicanHandgun.


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  • Sulaco

    May have to look hard at one of these, I have been a Walther fan for decades. Still I am glad this one seems to function well, I have owned 5 PPKs and one PPK/s over the years in blued and Stainless. None of them functioned well enough that I would carry them as a backup except the SS PPK/s made in W. Germany which functions without fail. Does this have a “drop” safety built into it? The S&W made guns did have such but all of the French and German made guns were likely to discharge if dropped on the hammer or muzzle without the safety engaged….

    • James R.

      Sulaco, I have been a PPK fan myself, although I have only owned 2 Germans and 1 French. To answer your question: Section 3.6 of the manual is titled “Drop safety” and reads: “This safety feature acts when the pistol is dropped from a variety of heights and positions. It prevents inadvertent firing of a round if the trigger has not been pulled.” So, yes.

  • Sulaco

    I should mention that Washington State in a rare burst of sanity now allows civilians to own suppressors…

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

      Good the more states the better!

  • Julio

    I was fortunate to go to Arnsberg earlier this year and tour the factory where these are made. I was most impressed. All the materials and processes are carefully chosen to give each part the qualities it needs in the most efficient manner possible, and I could have watched their hand-finishers for hours. Their deftness and swiftness were simply extraordinary, as were their work ethic and dedication to the company. The containers of empty cartridges outside their test station were also a sight to behold (the quality of everything is rigorously checked). They even have a proofing facility (and a proof-house representative) on site to avoid the delays and other problems that would result from constantly sending large numbers of guns away for proof, The highlight for me, though, was shooting several of their products, including the .22 PPK reviewed here, on their underground range – as a pistol-deprived British shooter I could have happily stayed there all day!

    The present thriving state of industrial production in this part of Germany (the Ruhr) is all the more extraordinary and admirable when you consider the concerted attention it once received from the USAAF and -in Arnsberg particularly -the RAF, and its tragic consequences for the civilian population.

  • Geoff a well known Skeptic

    I have a “Walther” P-22 Military it is most annoying. Nice form factor, no safety system to speak of making it a range gun. Ammo picky and the front sight flew off and hid one day. When I called S&W support they offered me a box at the words “P-22″ hardly impressive. I am underwhelmed by the work coming out of Umarex – Walther lately, cheaply made guns at inflated German Import prices. Examples the PPX and last model of the PPQ.

    Geoff
    Whose hep modern pistol is a SWaMPy 9c

  • ducky

    Frame is zinc
    alloy as well and maybe some small parts too.

    Slides of the
    8mmk blank pistol (left one)

    http://img.allzip.org/g/29/orig/2159254.jpg

    are known to
    break at some point. As we know it from the P22…

    Why didn’t
    they simply make a PP frame as a cheap cast part (for reduced costs) and
    combining it with steel PP/PPK parts?

    The machinery
    for those is still there. No need for a completely new designed gun (differs
    from the Walther/Umarex PPK gun).

    And that cheap
    and wimpy looking trigger axle bearing?!

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

      It’s not cheap at all. Zinc isn’t as fragile as it used to be with modern manufacturing,Also addition portions of other metals strengthens it.

      • ducky

        Well it is cheap otherwise they wouldn’t use it instead of steel…
        Yes you can strenghten the material properties of the Z410 used by adding other metals and correct tempering – but it still remains zinc…
        Sorry, it IS wimpy and it does look like that and non-original. WHY did they make it that way?! Can’t see any need.
        BTW – all three manufacturers reinforced the steel P.38 frame around the trigger pin hole in 1943:
        http://media.liveauctiongroup.net/i/10387/11027373_1.jpg?v=8CE3CDC83DF2690
        top/right one reinforced (more material around the axle bearing)

  • Guest

    The “Baby Browning” link pulls up the wtong picture

    • James R.

      Hami, thank you so much. I have corrected it right away. Thank you again! (And I am surprised anyone clicks my links!)

  • Guest

    What’s the price on this?

    • James R.

      About $375-$400, street price.

  • G-Force

    Glad to hear that Walther took over distribution from S&W! I have always wanted to get a PPK but reading reviews about S&W distributed ones really turned me off.

  • Thomas Gomez

    Awesome article. Awesome photography!

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

      Those pics are wonderful aren’t they Thomas!

  • Nathaniel

    LOL .25 ACP is non-lethal now?

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

      Not last time I heard:-)

    • James R.

      I have heard if it breaks skin, you can get an infection and possibly die several weeks later if you do not treat a .25ACP wound promptly.

  • Fred Johnson

    I wonder what a steel slide from an old .22LR PPK weighs compared to the zinc alloy slide on this new .22LR PPK?

    If Walther is actually saying that the new PPK works better with a lighter slide, how come a near copy of the Walther, the Bersa/Firestorm .22LR, works so well with a steel slide?

    Sounds like marketing speak to account for a more affordable production process.

    The little Walther does look like a fun plinker to shoot no matter if it has a zinc slide or not, though.

  • David Sharpe

    This is probably a stupid question, but is the PPK/S a fixed barrel design?

    I hope it’s not, I want one of these in Canada. (This is considered “Prohibited” in Canada so in order for me to own this it would have to have a barrel change. Much easier to do it with a non-fixed barrel. And would make it cheaper than changing a fixed barrel like the Maks here)

    • James R.

      David,

      That’s not a stupid question at all.

      Unfortunately, I have bad news for you – this is a fixed barrel. You’ll just have to console yourself with all the genuine SIG 55Xs you have up there that we can’t get down here.

      • David Sharpe

        There’s a small chance it could be imported as a Restricted firearm, but it would be a LOT more expensive than if it was a simple barrel change.

        Yeah but those things are almost prohibitively expensive, I would have to work a ton of overtime to afford one of those.

        Why can’t you get them? I’m not even 100% sure they’re genuine Sig rifles, they’re called Swiss Arms “Classic” or “Commando”

    • Petercat

      Not really. You remove the slide, unscrew the barrel nut, remove the nut, barrel sleeve, and slide hold-open. Cock the hammer and the barrel will slide out. The only tools that you will need are the barrel nut wrench and a jeweler’s screwdriver to disengage the slide hold-open spring.
      Finding a longer replacement barrel will be difficult, although the longer barrel and sleeve from a P22 might fit. They look similar, though I haven’t compared them.

  • Petercat

    “and a best-in-class trigger”
    WTF? Did you try firing this thing double action? Factory rated at 17.5 pounds, mine measured 20.5. Very rough as well. My girlfriend cannot even pull the trigger DA, and she can on my .32 PPK.

    Worst DA pull I’ve ever tried, good SA pull but not best-in-class… adds up to a poor to fair trigger at best.
    Out of the box, the Bersa Thunder SA is just as good, DA is lighter (11 lbs by my scale) and smoother.
    And the magazine release is too short. I cannot release the magazine with the pad of my thumb like I can with every other gun that I own, I must use the corner of my thumbnail.
    I’m keeping it, though, as it is fun to plink with SA. If I can ever find ammo.

    and a best-in-class trigger
    and a best-in-class trigger

  • MARSTON

    .22 l. r. IS NOT BETTER THAN .25 a. c. p….JUST CHEAPER….THE .25 SHELLS HAVE NO RIMS AND FEEDING IS MORE RELIABLE WHILE CARTRIDGEIS MOREPOWERFUL…..22 HAS TDHE EDGE ASIT CAN GIVE YOU LEAD POISONING ULTIMATELY….NEITHER IS A FIGHT STOPPER IN THE USAUAL SENSE.

  • ahorvath

    The Manhurin manufactured Walther PPK/s .22 caliber did not come in stainless steel.