The Walther PPK is Always Subsonic – Myth or Magic?

In this episode of TFBTV, James investigates a rumor he heard emanating from the basement where the TFB writers are kept: Is the Walther PPK barrel too kurz to go supersonic? In other words, is the Walther PPK in .22 unable to accelerate even high velocity rounds to supersonic velocities? This is of particular interest to those of us with .22 caliber suppressors – wouldn’t it be great if you could shoot any .22 ammo you wanted through the PPK and never get a supersonic pop? James investigates this myth.

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Transcript ….

[coming soon]

James Reeves

• NRA-licensed concealed weapons instructor, 2012-present
Maxim Magazine’s MAXIMum Warrior, 2011
• “Co-Director” [air quotes] of TFBTV
• Former Regional Sales Rep, Interstate Arms Corp., MA
• Champion, Key West Cinco De Mayo Taco Eating Competition
• GLOCK® Certified Pistol Operator, 2017-2022
• Lawyer
► Instagram: jjreevesii
► Twitter: @jjreeves
► Vimeo: JJReeves
► 500px: JJReeves


  • Anonymoose

    Forgot the video.

    • James Reeves

      Someone changed it to an image post, I just updated. Should be working now. Thanks, moose.

      • Anonymoose

        No, thank you!

  • TheNotoriousIUD

    Thats a nice set up, James.
    I forgot I needed a .22 PPK.

    • James Reeves

      Thanks, Notorious. It is a nice set up, and not very expensive. It’s not quite as reliable as the reciprocating bolt .22s, but it’s a lot better looking, generally reliable, and lots of fun.

      • TheNotoriousIUD

        Cool video.

      • TheNotoriousIUD

        Uh, I think you may be logged into WordPress right now. It looks like I can edit the post from my page….

      • Wes Bielinski

        What suppressor are you using? Thanks

        • James Reeves

          AWC Archangel Titanium, love it

  • QuadGMoto

    Wouldn’t it have been better to use a chrono for this test?

    • James Reeves

      Yes. And it would have been better with a RED Epic Dragon, but I don’t have one of those either.

      • TheNotoriousIUD

        You dont have $30,000 laying around?

        • iksnilol

          Damn it, this is why we needed Alex C.

          • James Reeves


          • iksnilol

            Hmmm…. can we somehow use your body to get about 30 grand from female sponsors?

            Y’know, for the sake of science… ˢʷᵉᵉᵗ, ˢʷᵉᵉᵗ ˢᵉˣʸ ˢᶜᶦᵉᶰᶜᵉ⋅

          • TheNotoriousIUD
          • James Reeves

            Yeah, and I could probably get the $30k selling unicorn horn. *Female sponsors* he says. LOL. Watch Patrick’s video today. That’s what our sponsors look like. I ain’t going down that road. Not for $30k at least.

          • iksnilol

            Hey now, don’t be like that. Patrick’s a handsome young man.

          • ostiariusalpha

            And Will’s beard is magnificent, I bet he has a spare mag stored in it.

          • James Reeves
          • ostiariusalpha

            That’s just Nature’s way of saying you should share that chin with the world.

          • DanGoodShot

            James with more hair! Ooooo.

          • Don Ward

            This looks like a still shot from one of those “late night” movies on HBO where they try to incorporate plot, dialogue and action into the script.

          • DanGoodShot

            I’m pretty sure he was referring to the sponsor. But, Yes. I agree. Patrick’s a very handsome fellow of the rings.

  • Nicholas C

    James, that would be me. I am the one who mentioned that the PPK/S barrel is too short for standard and high velocity rounds to be super sonic. Im sure there might be some exclusions. However I have run my PPK/S .22LR with my SpectreII can with varous sub sonic .22LR rounds against CCI standard velocity and Remington Golden Bullet high velocity and they sound close enough that I no longer waste sub sonic ammo in my PPK/S .22LR. I just load it up with cheap plinking ammo.

    I agree with your assessment that the PPK/S is reliable. It has eaten everything I have fed it. I have rarely had a malfunction. Compared to when I used to own a Sig Mosquito, that would malfunction at least once per magazine. I got rid of that gun real fast.

    • DanGoodShot

      There’s a good reason they named it the Mosquito and it has nothing to do with size. I’m convinced it’s because the rate of malfunctions will annoy the crap out of you like… a mosquito.

    • The_Champ

      For what it’s worth my Sig Mosquito runs reliably with the recommended CCI ammo. It did have quite a break in period though.

  • Bigbigpoopi

    P22 started this whole thing, and Ruger needs to chop theirs to 3.25 as well and sell it as a “can gun” only

  • gunsandrockets

    Now do the same test with a Walther P22

  • Oldtrader3

    I had a PPK/S Walther, the new design. It had many types of feed and eject issues, at least one per magazine. This, in addition to a die cast Zamak alloy slide (zinc, alum, mag). The pistol had a horrible trigger, poor accuracy, many jams with all different brands of ammo.
    Plus, I believe that all .22 LR auto’s with barrels shorter than 5 inches, have a muzzle velocity which is less than the speed of sound (~1160 fps), no matter which ammo you feed it or who makes the pistol?

    • QuadGMoto

      I have a Browning 1911-22 with a 3.6 inch barrel and I have a chrono. I’ll have to give that a try. Unfortunately I can’t do it until at least Sunday.

  • Mrl

    Interesting. Now thanks a lot James, I was looking to buy S&W new Victory .22, but now I’m thinking about the PPK. It will be used mainly for target shooting. I did have a PPK in .380 but sadly sold it. It cut up the webbing on my hand after a day of shooting around 120 rounds. What do you think between the two?

    • James Reeves

      Victory versus PPK? Jan with S&W has walked me through the Victory several times, but I have never shot it despite having numerous opportunities to do so. I even polled the crew via our Collective Hivemind of Firearm Genius (whatsapp) and no one had shot one. I’ll say this. Theoretically, the Victory should be a better gun. First, it uses only a reciprocating bolt, which tends to be more reliable for low-power .22. Moreover, it’s like the Victory developers took everything wrong with the Ruger and fixed it, then sold it for less. If you check the TFBTV channel and search “S&W Victory” (lol even I can’t link in comments), both Alex and I have spoken with S&W reps about it on camera.

      That said, is the Victory going to look as cool as the PPK? Not by a long shot. There’s something more fun about the reciprocating slide guns that makes them worth it.

  • Bub

    I run a can on a Ruger 22/45 with a 4.5″ barrel and typically use CCI Standard Velocity rounds with of course are subsonic. I have tried HV rounds a couple times and even with the 4.5″ barrel most will still be subsonic especially with bulk pack like Federal. There is a noticeable difference in sound when you get a supersonic round.

  • 22winmag


  • Snake-eater 1

    A litigation attorney can’t afford a $100 chrono? Apparently couldn’t afford a $1.00 ruler to measure barrel length, either. Or, look up the specs, perhaps even in the owner’s manual or online? Sorry, but this is a very slipshod and unprofessional review and opinion piece, a complete waste of 5+ minutes of my time.

    • James Reeves

      This was an informal “does it sound louder” test based upon a conversation, not a dissertation on ballistics. Relax.

      • Don Ward

        But his handle is Snake Eater Juan. You just know he is a life taker and heart breaker. WHY AREN’T YOU TAKING THIS SCHNERIOUSLY?

      • Bryan Young

        + 11

  • DanGoodShot

    Hey James, thats a pretty nice little setup. Almost as nice as your hair… mmmmm.

    • James Reeves

      LOL ty Dan

      • DanGoodShot


  • The_Champ

    It may just be a .22 but James Bond approves! That suppressor setup is sweet. I can dream that some day I’ll be allowed to own one in Canada.

  • Herschel Walker

    You don’t need a short barrel PPK to keep 22 ammo subsonic. My suppressor host is a M&P22 (pretty much the same gun as a Walther P22) and it has a standard length barrel (4.25 inch I think), and it never goes supersonic. I save my CCI Standard Velocity ammo for the rifles because a 16 inch barrel definitely will go supersonic with high velocity ammo.

  • RickOAA .

    It’s pretty well accepted that barrels of 4.5″ or less will keep high velocity bulk pack ammo subsonic under most conditions.

  • QuadGMoto

    I didn’t get to take my .22’s out to play on Sunday, but I did get to do it today. I also brought my chrono along to keep score. I tested 6 different CCI loads in three different guns: a Ruger 10/22 with a 16 inch barrel, a Browning Buckmark with a 7.25 inch barrel, and a Browning 1911-22 with a 3.6 inch barrel. The chrono was placed 10 feet from the firing line. And for those who care, the temperature was 54°.

    I fired 10 rounds from each gun. In a few cases, I fired a few extra from the 1911-22 just to finish off a box.

    According to the internet, the speed of sound is 1125 FPS. I’ve underlined velocities which exceed this velocity.

    Here are the results:

    CCI Quiet-22:
    10/22 : Avg. 698 | Min. 666 | Max. 718
    Buckmark : Avg. 667 | Min. 625 | Max. 712
    1911-22 : Avg. 603 | Min. 568 | Max. 630

    CCI Standard Velocity:
    10/22 : Avg. 1032 | Min. 964 | Max. 1056
    Buckmark : Avg. 961 | Min. 944 | Max. 991
    1911-22 : Avg. 847 | Min. 834 | Max. 866

    CCI AR Tactical:
    10/22 : Avg. 1173 | Min. 1160 | Max. 1196
    Buckmark : Avg. 1083 | Min. 1064 | Max. 1108
    1911-22 : Avg. 935 | Min. 885 | Max. 962

    CCI Mini-Mag:
    10/22 : Avg. 1291 | Min. 1254 | Max. 1328
    Buckmark : Avg. 1188 | Min. 1158 | Max. 1219
    1911-22 (15) : Avg. 1037 | Min. 986 | Max. 1076

    CCI Velocitor:
    10/22 : Avg. 1341 | Min. 1305 | Max. 1366
    Buckmark : Avg. 1190 | Min. 1128 | Max. 1251
    1911-22 (17) : Avg. 1030 | Min. 972 | Max. 1103

    CCI Stinger:
    10/22 (7*) : Avg. 1572 | Min. 1550 | Max. 1587
    Buckmark : Avg. 1328 | Min. 1290 | Max. 1391
    1911-22 (12) : Avg. 1130 | Min. 1078 | Max. 1177

    Six of the 12 rounds of CCI Stinger fired from a 3.6 inch barrel were supersonic. The other 6 were just below supersonic. So while you can’t say that a short barrel will always keep rounds below supersonic in .22LR, you have to have very high velocity ammo to sometimes exceed it.

    I don’t have a suppressor to play with like James does. It was interesting to hear the differences between the barrel lengths. That little 3.6 barrel was the loudest, with the Velocitors and Stingers producing a surprisingly satisfying blast.

    (* I was only able to fire 7 shots because a case became jammed in the chamber and could not be removed while I was at the range. Fortunately, that was the last of the planned tests.)

  • Richard Alloway

    Why no hyper velocity 22LR ammo during this test? There are several brands out now that claim 1300+ fps (likely from a rifle barrel) and at least two that I know of that claim 1435 fps. If you start with standard or “high” velocity 22LR ammo that barely makes it past the sound barrier from a 5-7″ pistol, it’s obviously not going to go supersonic from a 3-4″ barrel.