One good Walther pistol review deserves another. Likewise, one good .22 Long Rifle (LR) review deserves another.
As our readers may have noticed, I’ve been on a bit of a .22 LR handgun kick as of late (no pun intended, of course, as the .22 LR’s “kick,” i.e., recoil, is dang near non-existent). What’s more, since I was already reviewing another Walther product, the centerfire PPS 9mm striker-fired semiautomatic pistol, I figured I’d might as well kill the proverbial two stones with one bird and try out one of the company’s rimfires as well.
And as luck would have it, the rental range I was haunting this past Halloween night just so happened to have both such options available. So then, without further ado, let’s talk about the Walther P22 .22 LR autopistol.
Walther P22 History and Specifications
Germany’s Carl Walther GmbH Sportwaffen — headquartered in the city of Ulm, with its U.S. subsidiary, Walther Arms Inc., located in Fort Smith, Arkansas – is no stranger to rimfire semiauto pistols, as they make a .22 LR chambering of their legendary traditional double-action (TDA) PPK (the .32 ACP version of which, of course, is the gun that James Bond made famous. My 19FortyFive colleague Richard Douglas reviewed the .22 PPK back in November 2021 and spoke highly of it; I myself got to shoot a magazine’s worth through a sound suppressed specimen a few months back thanks to one of my fellow Silver Eagle Group (SEG) members.
As for the P22, which debuted in 2002, although at first glance it may look like a striker-fired pistol, it is in fact a TDA pistol, albeit with a 21st century look that clearly distinguishes it cosmetically from the 1931 vintage PPK. The manufacturer’s official info page proudly calls it “The Original Tactical Rimfire,” and elaborates as follows:
“Walther once again took the industry by storm with the introduction of the first polymer frame semi-auto rimfire pistol, the P22. The consistent reliability, timeless style, features, and outright affordability pushed this series to become the absolute standard. Best-in-class ergonomics, supported by interchangeable backstraps, establishes the P22 as one of the most comfortable handguns available today. Plus, an ambidextrous magazine release and slide safety make this pistol perfect for both right and left-handed shooters…Premium features such as windage adjustable rear sight, captured recoil spring, double-action/single-action trigger, and threaded barrel help to solidify this pistol as a leader in its class. The extremely reliable P22 is ready for anything from varmint control to recreational shooting. A rare feature for a rimfire, the P22 is covered by the Walther Legendary Lifetime Limited Warranty.”
Specifications include a barrel length of 3.42 inches, an overall length of 6.5 inches, a height of 4.5 inches, a width of 1.1 inches, and an empty weight of 16.0 ounces. Standard magazine capacity is 10 rounds.
Personal Shooting Impressions
The rental range nearest to me which had both the PPS and P22 available was the Machine Gun Nest in Frederick, Maryland, In addition to being an excellent facility and gun shop, Machine Gun Nest has a super-cool, friendly staff, and as the name implies, they indeed do have a good variety of full-auto weapons for customers try out (which I plan to partake of in the near future).
For this live-fire eval, I purchased 50 rounds of Norma TAC-22 40-grain lead round nose (LRN)” and a USPA/IPSC Practice Paper Target. I divvied the accuracy test in 25 rounds of head shots at 7 yards followed by 25 yards of torso shots at 25 yards, fired from my preferred Classic Weaver Stance.
Ergonomics were nice enough, as was the ease of manipulating the mag release and slide stop/slide release. Like many TDA autopistols, the P22 has a slide-mounted safety; however, unlike most of those slide-mounted safety-bearing guns, the one on the P22 does not act as a decocker when applied thus requiring the shooter to pull the trigger to lower the hammer. The only other TDA pistol I’m aware of with that sort of safety/decocking setup is the Spanish-made Star Model 30 9mm, which was produced from 1984 -1994 and briefly served as the standard-issue sidearm of the Spanish Armed Forces.
The trigger pulled a bit stiff in double-action (DA) mode, but still much better than that of the PPK, whilst the single-action (SA) trigger was reasonably crisp.
But as for the manufacturer’s claims about this gun being “extremely reliable?” Um, yeah, about that…the bleepin’ gun repeatedly failed to fire in DA mode, and for good measure – or more appropriately for bad measure – racking the slide would not eject the dud round, so I repeatedly had to call upon the Range Safety Officer (RSO) to clear out the chamber with a brass rod! At least the gun had 100% ignition on SA mode.
As to accuracy? Decent shot groups at both distances, but pulled low-center. At 7 yards, eight of the rounds struck low in the C-zone of the head, with seventeen taking the A-zone box. At 25 yards, five rounds dropped low into the C-zone, four dropped even lower into the D-zone, and sixteen hits in the A-zone.
Bottom line: Although my experience with Walther products has been positive for the most part – heck, I own a PPK .32 ACP and a P1 9mm – I will not be buying a Walther P22 anytime soon. When I do finally get around to making my first .22 LR handgun purchase (yeah, I know, what’s taking me so long, right?) I’m going to stick with either a Beretta M9 and/or a Ruger Mk IV.
Want Your Own?
True Gun Value states that “A WALTHER P22 pistol is currently worth an average price of $244.56 new and $239.80 used . The 12 month average price is $255.00 new and $239.72 used.”
Christian D. Orr is a Senior Defense Editor for 19FortyFive. He has 34 years of shooting experience, starting at the tender age of 14. His marksmanship accomplishments include: the Air Force Small Arms Ribbon w/one device (for M16A2 rifle and M9 pistol); Pistol Expert Ratings from U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP), Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) Criminal Investigator Training Program (CITP); multiple medals and trophies via the Glock Sport Shooting Foundation (GSSF) and the Nevada Police & Fires Games (NPAF). Chris has been an NRA Certified Basic Pistol Instructor since 2011.