The Walther P22 is a medium-framed semi-automatic pistol chambered in .22 LR.
|Sights:||Windage adjustable sights|
|Features:||Loaded chamber indicator; interchangeable front sight and barrel; magazine disconnect; firing pin safety; interchangeable frame backstrap; ambidextrous magazine release; and Picatinny rail|
I first encountered the Walther P22 at a gun show I went to during my last semester in college. It was a sight for sore eyes seeing as my friend and I had been wandering around mostly perusing surplus goods we didn’t much care for. Then there it was sitting on a table surrounded by clutter. My friend spurted out, “Is that a James Bond gun?”
At first glance I said, “Yes.” But then, as we got closer, I corrected myself, “Nah.”
We asked the man selling it and he shrugged his shoulders and said, “Sure.”
“Walther” was printed in large bubble letters on the front of the slide.
With multiple flat sides and more switches and features, it looked like an evolved version of the Walther PPK. Honestly, I thought it looked kind of tacky, but nonetheless I took it out of its case and yanked the slide back. To my surprise it slid with ease; no rattle and it locked as if it had a sturdy construction with snug tolerances.
“That there’s a P22,” the salesman said, “Yours for 350 bucks – she’s damn near brand new too.”
I released the slide and handed it over to my friend. He gripped it and twisted his hand, so he could have a better look at it. He nodded his head, “A .22 pistol would be fun—“ Then he raised it near his cheek, “But $350 sounds steep.”
“You know, brand new she’s worth $500, but I like the cut of your jib. I sell ‘er for 300 even. How ‘bout that?”
Being at the gun show with few options I liked, it was hard to pass up the deal, so I said to my friend, “I’ll cover half.”
He nodded his head and turned towards the salesman, “You got yourself a deal.”
We paid him cash and went home with what we thought was a cool buy, but, brother, we were in for a surprise...
A Rather Crude Design: Wait Till You Know What You’re Doing
Back at the apartment we took the P22 apart and it all just sort of fell apart. It reminded me of bringing home furniture from Ikea. After seeing the pieces seemingly reject each other, it was hard to consider the design remotely graceful. None of the components looked as if they should fit together.
The spring is long and rotund, and the guide rod is so petite, they’re hard to keep together. To make matters worse, the rod doesn’t secure between the slide and the barrel, and you’ll feel a lot of resistance when you’re trying to reassemble it. Also, instead of it locking together with a pin, there’s a rather sticky slide lock on the frame that feels unbalanced when you try to pull it up or down. It took about 90 minutes to put it back together that first time.
Since then I’ve reassembled it countless time and sometimes, even though I have everything in the right place, it might not be correctly assembled. I think the problem usually is that the spring bunches up.
But I look at it now and think to myself maybe that crude design is the genius behind the P22. To me, the key problem with the design is the long spring. On the other hand, an oversized spring maybe tough to compress and keep compressed while reassembling, but it won’t wear out as fast while in use. A durable spring means it’ll work consistently over time. In fact, the only occurrence of it jamming is when I neglect to clean it over long periods of time and several shooting sessions, which is often (I’m not exaggerating what a pain in the ass it is to put back together).
A Fine Plinking Gun
The P22 has limited capabilities mostly because it’s a .22. I’ve heard of farmers and outdoorsman carrying a .22 to ward of coyotes and such, but it’s usually a .22 Magnum like the PMR-30. I don’t know of many people who’d suggest the P22 for anything other than practice or killing cans. And because of its limited use and inexpensive price (the clerk lied to us about it being $500), you should be able to forgive it for not having nail-driving accuracy. You can hit what you want at 25 feet, but anything passed that it hasn't been consistent.
An Even Finer Training Pistol
If you’re teaching someone to shoot or to use a more complicated weapons system the P22 is perfect. The P22 has a ton of features on it believe it or not: adjustable sights, double/single action trigger, ambidextrous magazine release, interchangeable backstraps, manual safety and a Picatinny rail. I don’t know about you, but for me that’s a lot for not that much money. All those features are also on, yes that’s right, the Heckler and Koch USP Compact (minus the interchangeable backstraps).
I compare it to the HK USP Compact for several reasons. The first, I am very familiar with the HK USP Compact and they’re similar in size. Second, it has a long grip, so, excluding the trigger finger, three fingers can easily wrap around it.
And lastly, in my review of the HK USP Compact I said I was unaccustomed to using its magazine release because it is a lever and not a button, and a Guns.com fan in his review suggested using a Walther to train for using something like the HK (thank you sir, good advice).
There’s one more feature that I think is particularly nifty especially for beginner shooters – a magazine disconnect. The hammer won’t strike the firing pin if the magazine isn’t inserted and locked in. I tend to dry fire a lot while I practice my form (my mall-ninja secret) and I noticed this little anomaly when I pulled the trigger without a magazine in. This features forces the shooter to have their ducks in a row, so to speak (with the gun that is, not the form).
In The End…
As much as I complain about reassembling the damn thing, it’s difficult for me to dislike a .22. We were right. It was a good buy and still a fun little gun because ammo is so cheap, and it’s even better for training because it has so many features. I’d say if one is available, take it.