Walther’s American Pistols

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Editor’s note: Usually when I go out to the range to break in a new gun, I have one example to work with. Unless I happen to own a few guns by one company (like my requisite gun-gear reviewer’s catalog of common GLOCKs), or I’m reviewing a gun that is made by multiple companies (like AR-15s, or 1911s), I don’t have much to compare a new gun to. That’s what makes this write-up different.

When we got the new .45 ACP PPQ in for review, I took it to the range. Jon Hodoway met me there with the rest of the guns in the Walther catalog. I’d shot the PPQ M2, and owned one for a while. It continues to be one of my favorite polymer pistols. But it was educational to see the entire line-up of Walther’s guns in one place, at the same time, and be able to shoot all of them.

Buy a Walther on GunsAmerica: https://www.gunsamerica.com/walther

Read more at Walther: http://www.waltherarms.com/handguns/

The polymer framed branch of the Walther family tree.

The polymer framed branch of the Walther family tree.

Walther may well be the most iconic pistol maker outside of America. James Bond saw to that. And then there was that whole WWII thing people keep yammering on about. That could have something to do with it. But the PPK and the P-38 are both distinctly European guns. They wear skinny jeans and drink beer you can’t see through. The care about soccer and some of them even release their magazines in ways that give John Browning indigestion. Un-American.

But if that’s what you think of when you think of Walther, you need to think again. The last decade has seen a new mine of guns that are as American as the Second Amendment itself.

But first, a detour:

Walther Time Line

  • Until end of  1999 Walther is distributed by Interarms, Alexandria VA.
  • 2000- 2002 Walther USA LLC Springfield MA.
  • 2002-2012 Smith & Wesson acts as USA Distributor.
  • 2006 Umarex USA created with Adam Blalock President.
  • 2010 Umarex USA opens office in FT Smith, Ar for Air Rifles and .22 Colt Licensed Guns.
  • 2012 CARL WALTHER Announces Formation of U.S. Based Walther Arms, Inc.
  • 2013Walther Arms, Inc. begins operations in Fort Smith, Ar. Adam Blalock named President.

Meet the American Family

The Walther of today was established when Adam Blalock took the helm of the American division of the company. Prior to this, the company had always worked through an American importer to distribute their products in the States. With Blalock at the helm, Walther set out to prove that it could produce guns that were clearly made for Americans, and not just European imports.

Their first attempt to craft a gun to appeal to the American market was the Walther PPQ, a striker-fired polymer pistol in both 9mm and 40S&W. Some lessons are learned the hard way, and American discretionary spending (or the lack thereof) can be a great teacher. The first version of the PPQ was the M1, which is distinguished by the magazine release on the bottom of the trigger guard. You can guess how popular this was.

Three versions of the PPQ M2 in 9mm.

Three versions of the PPQ M2 in 9mm.

The PPQ M1 didn’t sell primarily because of the European design that allows the magazine to be released with the index finger. This ambidextrous method is an innovative idea, but most Americans are reluctant to relinquish the comfort of a thumb-release they have known their whole lives. In my opinion, this is a training hurdle that would have payoffs if jumped.

When sales slumped, the M1 was quickly modified, resulting in the M2 version. The new PPQ had a traditional thumb-release that could be changed to accommodate the left or right hand. Once the M2 hit the American market, some people began taking the German imports very seriously. And rightfully so.

Quick Response

Until recently, the manufacturing was all done in Germany, with sales and distribution handled out of Ft. Smith, Arkansas. This dynamic allowed Walther to keep its American focus sharp, leading to several line-extensions of the PPQ series. The 4” PPQ was joined by a 5” competition pistol, which incorporated lessons learned from the shooting sports: a fiber optic sight, and lighting-cuts to keep the longer slide the same weight as the original.

Responding to the popular trend of suppressed guns, Walther produced the Navy SD with a factory-installed threaded barrel. This same trend resulted in a 17-round (9mm.) magazine. The biggest feature that Walther brought to the game from the beginning was its world class trigger. The Walther trigger is a smooth, short pull of 5.6 pounds. That 5.6 feels more like 3.5. I don’t know how they make their triggers so good out of the box, every time, but their quality control is second to none. The introduction of the Walther trigger was a game-changer, and has forced every polymer gun-maker to respond.

Rimfire

Not resting on success, but rather continuing to respond to consumer demand, Walther brought out the PPQ .22 Rimfire. Contrary to what some caliber-elitists might have thought, this was not some toy made to look like its “Real Gun” counterpart, but a serious effort to bring the features that worked on the big gun down to the Rimfire.

Two takes on the PPQ .22 rimfire. Go with the threaded barrel.

Two takes on the PPQ .22 rimfire. Go with the threaded barrel.

The rimfire from the front.

The rimfire from the front.

This effort began with the 4” PPQ, and line extensions quickly followed with the 5” version and SD, sporting the threaded barrel. All of these guns took the same 12 round magazine, which allowed practice or training on the same platform and controls as the centerfire version of the pistol.

How compact do you want your Walther? They make compacts, but no sub-compacts.

How compact do you want your Walther? They make compacts, but no sub-compacts.

The Family that carries together

Throughout all this, the concealed carry crowd was not neglected, as the PPS (which I believe to be one of the best small centerfire pistols in the world) was already in production. The issue with this gun had always been the availability from the American distributor, which had a tendency to push their house brands while sitting on supplies of the PPS. That’s the nature of competition. With the agreement between Walther and the distributor expiring, the taps were finally opened up.

In my opinion, the PPS was always a good choice for concealed carry, and I still carry one as a backup gun on a regular basis. The general popularity of the PPS suffered due to the magazine release being on the trigger guard (those whacky Germans), and the availability of newer pistols from other brands that were smaller in size.

The PPS is one of the more obscure Walther pistols, but it has a loyal following.

The PPS is one of the more obscure Walther pistols, but it has a loyal following.

Silly Walther, magazines should be released with the thumb.

Silly Walther, magazines should be released with the thumb.

Walther aimed to address these issues with the CCP pistol, which features a soft coil system that allows some of the gas to be bled off to operate the cycling of the gun. The CCP is small, light and easy to conceal. With a street price of just over $400.00, it is also more than competitive with its counterparts in size, function and price.

The Big Brother

If you have any doubt about Walther’s commitment to America shooters, you should check out the latest Walther–the PPQ 45ACP. I have had one for a few weeks now, and there are no surprises when shooting it. The pistol has a great trigger, as I have come to expect from Walther, and it has operated with total reliability through every variation of ammunition I’ve fed it, maintaining a level of accuracy comparable to all others in its class.

For those accustomed to the PPQ line, the new .45 will feel familiar.

For those accustomed to the PPQ line, the new .45 will feel familiar.

The .45 is sized up accordingly.

The .45 is sized up accordingly.

The new .45 PPQ offers a very American caliber to fans of the polymer Walthers.

The new .45 PPQ offers a very American caliber to fans of the polymer Walthers.

This is a gun that the fans of Walther have been clamoring for on social media for years! I would put this gun up against any polymer pistol in 45 ACP ever made. I speak from experience, having owned most of the 45ACP guns out there: Glock, FN, S&W, Springfield, Sig Arms and H&K (In fact, I owned the first HK MK 23 SOCOM in the State I live in). You cannot go wrong by selecting the Walther PPQ 45ACP.

The Walthers have a lot of texture on the frames and slides, which makes grip and manipulation consistent.

The Walthers have a lot of texture on the frames and slides, which makes grip and manipulation consistent.

Treating you like family

One other item worthy of praise is Walther’s world class customer service department. When you call them, you speak to a live person (in the USA). I have had some of the worst customer service experiences from German gun companies, but never from Walther.

Glen runs the customer service and repair efforts by the Golden Rule, but with the addition of a sense of urgency. This means you get great service, quickly. I truly believe that all of his folks thoroughly enjoy their jobs, and that happiness shows in their efforts to please the customer. This one factor is enough, for me, to tip the scale if all other things are equal.

Lots have tried few have succeeded

What Adam and team have done has been attempted by many other companies. Most have found the learning curve of going to main stream America difficult and somewhat painful. Just ask Volkswagen. But Walther seems to have caught on. This isn’t a hard nut to crack. Americans will tell you exactly what they want, and they’ll show you exactly how much they’re willing to pay for it. The lesson for anyone else is simple. You can’t tell the Americans what they should want.

After you get past the placement of the magazine catch, there’s one clear American demand. We want diversity and options. And Walther’s got that down, too. I carry a single-action as my go-to gun for concealed carry. But the PPS is still in rotation as a back-up. Higginbotham, when he had the whole table full of guns to choose from, still went for the PPQ M2. It is all about options.

Speaking of options–when will we get our 9mm PPK? There are polymer framed 9mms that weigh half as much as the old steel-framed .380s. And there’s definitely a demand.

Read more–PPQ M2 45 ACP: https://www.gunsamerica.com/blog/walthers-first-45-the-ppq-m2-review/

Read more–The PPK: https://www.gunsamerica.com/blog/old-school-concealed-carry-two-walther-ppks/

Read more–The CCP: https://www.gunsamerica.com/blog/walther-ccp-new-gun-review/

Read more–PPQ M2 5″: https://www.gunsamerica.com/blog/the-walther-ppq-m2-5-inch-a-born-match-gun-video-review/

The stock sights on the PPS are fast.

The stock sights on the PPS are fast.

The PPQ with a green front dot.

The PPQ with a green front dot.

Centerfire versions of the threaded barrels on the PPQ. The only thing missing from these are suppressor height sights.

Centerfire versions of the threaded barrels on the PPQ. The only thing missing from these are suppressor height sights.

Two versions of the new CCP. This gun points naturally and shoot well, though some find the takedown to be tedious.

Two versions of the new CCP. This gun points naturally and shoot well, though some find the takedown to be tedious.

Their full sized pistols fit well in the hand. Their grip size remains consistent.

Their full sized pistols fit well in the hand. Their grip size remains consistent.

The rimfire with the thread protector in place.

The rimfire with the thread protector in place.

{ 18 comments… add one }
  • Crespo Marco June 3, 2017, 10:09 pm

    I have a Walter pp 765. It happens that broke the lock in the center. I live in VBrasil, how can I purchase this piece?

  • Mark October 15, 2016, 3:50 am

    Great review. How did you get those steel sights on your PPQ? I had to buy a set from a PPS to get those.

  • Pete October 30, 2015, 4:59 am

    I have no problem with the “paddle release” on my PPS, PPQ and P99 AS. In my case it allows me to share magazines between the P99 and the PPQ, one reason I chose not to get a PPQ M2. All are good guns, also own a S&W license built PPK/S, I appreciate the subtle frame modification as it saves me from hammer bite.

  • duvid October 27, 2015, 11:52 am

    *** you can’t tell the Americans what they should want.***

    oh, please. marketers persuaded us to spend $11.8 billion on bottled water in 2012 when we could have just turned on the tap.

    http://www.businessinsider.com/bottled-water-costs-2000x-more-than-tap-2013-7

  • Steve October 14, 2015, 11:35 am

    the ppq is great

  • Denny Carey October 14, 2015, 11:31 am

    I love the Walther PPQ!

  • Charles Roberts October 12, 2015, 10:12 pm

    I have a P22 and I do not like the mag release.

  • Rip October 12, 2015, 9:39 pm

    My favorite mag release by far, great for lefty’s too.

  • Fake Eduard Benés October 12, 2015, 3:00 pm

    No P99/P99c?

    I have fired a lot of P99s. The mag release takes some getting used to, but I can do a combat reload faster with it than with a Glock with a conventional mag release–using my index finger to to release the mag. It’s the only ambidextrous mag release I’ve ever used that is useful.

    IMHO, Walther pistols are of much better quality than Glock or the XPs. The best feature is the de-cocker and the double/single action. I can load a round into the chamber, then de-cock the pistol. That makes the first shot double action, which takes some getting use to. (About 250 rounds shooting only DA for me.) I usually ‘bump cock’–pull the slide back far enough to cock the striker–rather than take the first shot DA, if I have time. I really like the safety features, too. They are so much better than Glock’s. Although I think Glock’s are very good, too.)

    I use a Glock 32, long barrel, occasionally. I liked the long barrel, but the pistol is incredibly picky as to what ammo it likes. It won’t shoot reloads and it doesn’t like cheap factory loads; in both, the variation in the expanded casing size after firing produces a jam after the second round every time. This sort of kills an IPSC match. Walther will eat anything I feed it and come back asking for more.

    For concealed carry, I’d prefer the P99c in .40S&W any day, over a mini Glock. .45ACP should only be used with steel framed pistols. I’ve never liked the round in polymer pistols.

  • Jay October 12, 2015, 11:45 am

    Such a shame how this article references the Walther trigger guard magazine release as some kind of flaw. IMO the magazine release of the P99, PPQ-M1 are the best in the world. My continued singular criticism of Walther pistols is the ‘Americanization’ of their model lineup. Well, maybe two criticisms with the PPQ; the grip texture isnt quite aggressive enough. The CCP seems to have fixed that issue, so I’m surprised to find that the PPQ-45 didnt inclued this update.

    Else, still my favorite brand of pistol. The P99c and PPS have long earned their place in my carry rotation.

    • Lying Bastard December 25, 2015, 8:55 am

      If it was not designed by John Moses Browning, it is a flaw.

  • John October 12, 2015, 10:51 am

    I am a loyal PPS fan. The wacky release is one of the features that drew me to it. Most convenient!

  • John October 12, 2015, 10:50 am

    I am a loyal PPS fan. The wacky release is one of the features that drew me to it. Most convenient!

  • John October 12, 2015, 10:49 am

    I am a loyal PPS fan. The wacky release is one of the features that drew me to it. Most convenient!

  • John October 12, 2015, 10:48 am

    I am a loyal PPS fan. The wacky release is one of the features that drew me to it. Most convenient!

  • Qpro4Inc October 12, 2015, 10:42 am

    I have had a PPS for several years. I do not find the magazine release a problem; in fact it is a better solution than the thumb button as it is easier to use and allows the trigger finger to release the magazine while the left hand takes care of the the magazine change. Mine is in 9mm and it is an easy handling and exceptionally accurate pistol. A friend has one in .40 and I have fired it. It has the same characteristics but .40 is a bit much for me lately with its substantial increase in recoil due to age and arthritis. It likes almost any ammo as long as it is in spec. I reload and must take care that each round is tested in the gauge and is acceptable. I use lead and it is very accurate. Maybe the same as FMJ but a lot cheaper! It is unfortunate that the PPS has not caught on in the US as it is a superior weapon as to design, outstanding fit and finish. I do not think that the magazine release is the only sales problem. It is a lot more expensive than its competitors, e.g. the Springfield XDs (which I also have).

    Early on, I had some problems with the slide locking open after every round. A trip to the factory, twice, fixed that and I have since put upwards of 500 rounds through it with no problems caused by the weapon.

  • kim bannister October 10, 2015, 11:10 pm

    WHERE is the PPX? It is certainly deserving of inclusion……

  • Will Drider October 10, 2015, 2:06 pm

    A very informative article. Retail prices on some models are extreamly low while the remainderare very competitive. Is the “What’s in the box” standard or vary by model? Availability and pricing on mags?

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