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Walther P22 Review: Test and Evaluation
September 25, 2004

This firearm has had mixed reviews since its introduction in 2003, but all errors seem to have been corrected in the new pistols and magazines.

It is 75% (true scale) of the size of the Walther P99 (9mm) and has several features which are different. For example the P22 is SA/DA (single action/double action).

The pistol can be bought with a 3.4" barrel (like mine) or a 5" barrel model with a ported barrel assembly. Seriously, who needs a ported .22LR pistol? The only advantage with the 5" barrel is a slightly longer sight plane for target shooting. This is a plinker, though, not a match pistol.

When first introduced, the P22 was a bit finicky about ammunition, which was caused by early magazines which were flawed in design. Be sure when you purchase one of these to see that the magazines are marked with their serial numbers with an "A" after the number sequence. These are the modified mags.

I bought a brick of Federal Champion Target 40-grain, two boxes of CCI Stingers, two boxes of CCI Velocitor 40-grain hollow points, a brick of Remington Yellow Jacket 33-grain (truncated cone), a brick of Remington Cyclone 36-grain hollowpoints, and a brick of Remington Thunderbolt 40-grain round nose. I already had a plentiful supply of of Remington Subsonic 38-grain hollow points (everyone should).

The pistol comes with two 10-round magazines. They have a spring-loaded thumb plunger on the side to help load the diminutive cartridges. An interesting note is that the cartridges that are loaded about 3 or 4 below the top one start to stack like in a double-stack full magazine, albeit haphazardly. They look like they are loaded improperly, and tend to just mash in together in a volume thicker than their width. Very different than the straight fashion in Browning Buckmark or Ruger MK mags. It looks like they are going to cause a problem, but they amazingly don't.

I loaded two mags with the Federal Champ Target fodder and used those to say hello to this new pistol. Pretty crisp report from the little barrel, which was expected. I burned through 100 rounds with these Fed rounds and had no failures.

I switched to the Rem Cyclones and started to check the factory sights. The rounds were impacting at 25 yards about three inches low and four inches right. I adjusted the rear target sight with the rim of a .22 cartridge, but I had no elevation adjustment. I wondered why the factory box came with various front sight posts, some little, some tall. There was my answer. I got the windage on, and compensated for the tad low shots at 25 yards. At normal .22 plinker ranges of 50 feet or less, it became moot.

But this little sucker started flipping cans, spent 12-gauge shells, bugs, and anything else I could find to hit. And not even one failure to feed.

I switched to CCI Stingers, and the little thing was hot. Same point of impact as everything else, just a little bit more recoil. But we are still talking small caliber, and it was nothing.

The Remington Yellow Jackets performed the best in controlled shot groups, about 2 inches at 25 yards, standing offhand.

I ended up putting 1200 rounds through it, without any cleaning, and never once did it ever fail to feed, eject, burp, hiccup, puke or fart. I consider any pistol with less than 2000 rounds through it a "juvenile," but this toddler is already driving a Harley. I only have one other pistol in my stable (Beretta 92FS) that has never burped during a break-in session such as this.

Whatever those engineers over in Germany did to make this an out-of-the-box wunderkind, they did it right. All my fears about early production models sailed right out the door from the Carl Walther Factory with these new models, and I am impressed.

Things I didn't like
This great little pistol has a flaw with the sights. The front sights are simple plastic inserts of varying heights to accommodate different ammo and their points of impact. Being plastic, they are vulnerable to popping out when holstering roughly. I lost one, and have no idea when or where it left the front slide, so it was lost and gone. The rear sight is a little too fragile for my taste, especially for a pistol that I am rough with. If the chips are down, you can still aim this little wonder where you want it to hit at close range and it will generally hit where you point, but the sights should be more rock solid for expected abuse in a pistol like this.

P.S.: Retail price was only $240, now about $375. Add $20 for a Fobus Tactical Paddle Holster, or $80 if you want a leather model from Galco.

Buy more magazines, and get them from S&W and/or Walther. If you bend feed lips on a mag, it is useless. My rule of thumb is having a minimum of 10 magazines for any given weapon. It may sound excessive, but it is not.

Don't use this as a concealed carry defensive weapon. Carry something bigger in a caliber that starts with a 4 and hopefully ends in a 5. If this pistol is all you have, try firing it up the nose of the perp, as I heard from an unnamed source that doing so is the best way to deliver a .22LR round into a bad guy.