I’ve just come off the range with the Walther CCP. I have to say that I’m impressed. There’s a lot about this compact pistol that has me scratching my head. It is small, accurate, and runs incredibly well. At a $469/$489 (black or 2 tone) MSRP, the CCP is priced exceptionally well, and it makes use of some design features rarely used in 9mm pistols.
How does the CCP come in at such a low price point? And how is it that the CCP will out-shoot much of the more expensive competition? Beats me, but Walther’s onto something. If you are in the market for a capable 9mm for concealed carry, I’d put the CCP in your short list, for sure.
What is the CCP?
The new Walther Concealed Carry Pistol is not your average compact 9mm. To begin with, the 3.54″ barrel is fixed. The spring rides around the barrel. The spring’s tension is very light, too, thanks to a gas system below the barrel that slows down the slide. The expanding gas vents down before the bullet exists the barrel, and pushes a piston (which is hinged to the front of the slide) forward. Walther is calling this the SoftCoil system. It is a new take on an older gas-delayed blow-back design, and it allows the spring tension to be much lighter than you may expect. If you have trouble racking a typical 9mm, this one should be a breeze.
The CCP has a typical muzzle flip, though slightly less than other pistols of similar size. I’d thought the reverse pressure from the gas might help hold down the flip more, but the energy seems to effectively slow the slide. This is not something you could detect without special equipment. It isn’t as if you can feel it moving more slowly, or staying locked longer. But once you feel the slide, and how easy it is to rack, you’ll get it. Without the gas system, the spring would be no match for recoil, and the slide would slap back with way too much force.
The real benefits to the system are that it allows for the lighter slide tension and the fixed barrel. Because the barrel isn’t traveling back, or tilting up, it can stay firmly in place. I’m a big fan of fixed barrels. Many .22LR barrels are fixed, and it helps with repeat accuracy. Yet the CCP isn’t a target pistol. The benefit of repeat accuracy in a defensive pistol is obvious enough, though. If there is more benefit from a fixed barrel over a tilt barrel, I can’t say. The slide still moves, and the sights are on the slide, so they’re moving, too.
But let’s get beyond this for a moment and look at the rest of the gun. I’m enamored with the feel of the CCP, more than anything. This is one ergonomic pistol. It fits in the hand, and has curves like a 50’s movie star. The texture on the grip is aggressive. The CCP points well. The curve of the back-strap is deep, and puts your shooting hand immediately into position high on the grip. Overall, the CCP is small enough to conceal adequately without sacrificing any real estate that would makes similar hard to control and/or hard on the hand.
The CCP is striker fired. It has a reversible mag release button. There is a manual safety on the frame and a drop safety inside. Its dimensions are what you’d expect: close to 6.5″ long, a shade over an inch wide, and 22.33 oz, empty.
You may have noticed that the photos weren’t shot in bright sunlight. It was a cold grey day at the range, and raining sporadically. I live in Fort Smith, Arkansas, where Walther’s American operations are located, and I’d made special arrangements to get the CCP in for this review with the understanding that I’d have it back within a very narrow window of time. How narrow? I picked it up from my FFL at 10 this morning, drove straight to the range, ran 300+ rounds through it, and had it back to Walther after lunch. I’ve never attempted a review in such a short period of time. I’d much prefer to have a gun in for a couple of months before I begin writing about it. There are often nuances I discover only after I’ve carried a gun habitually. Sometimes, thought, you take what you can get.
With my limited test drive, I’m not going to make any pronouncements about long term reliability. My first date with the CCP was way too short. I can talk about how it shoots, though. And I’m impressed. It shoots well. The muzzle flip, as I mentioned, is manageable. The 3.5 inch barrel seems small, but you can get all four fingers on the grip, and the trigger guard is prominent–so control is easy.
Almost all of the ammo I shot was Blazer brass 115 grain ball. There were no malfunctions. I ran a few magazines of Tula steel cased 9mm, too. Not a hitch. Hornady’s Critical Defense ran well, too. There was no noticeable shift in point of aim with any of the ammo types, and ejection was clean and consistent. The only malfunction I had with the gun was one slide that didn’t lock back on an empty magazine.
I would like to talk about the trigger, though. While it breaks around six pounds, it is not going to garner much praise. The one on this CCP has a distinct hitch in its giddy-up. It stutters. If you draw the CCP and pull the trigger, you won’t notice it. It rocks back and fires, no problem. If you are trying to stage shots, the pull will be an issue. It is sufficient for its intended purpose, for sure, but there is room for improvement.
Disassembling the CCP
Did I mention it shoots great? I mean it. This gun shoots exceptionally well. And it feels great, too. Taking it apart, though, is monstrous. To begin this part of the review, I’ll go back to my limited time with the CCP. I expect this would be easier if I hadn’t tried to field strip the CCP in the field. That said, I’ve taken apart Ruger Mark III’s that were easier to get apart and together than the CCP.
There’s a catch at the back of the slide. What looks like it might be part of a hammer, or maybe the striker is actually a hook and a catch. To remove the slide, you decock the gun and push the catch up off of the hook, and then push it in until it is free. Then the slide lifts up and rocks forward. There’s a tool included with the gun. It is polymer. I couldn’t get the tool to accomplish the first step–pushing in the steel latch. Instead, I used an allen wrench. Once in, I used the tool to push the catch into the frame. Several times I lost my grip on the tool trying to lift the slide. This is why one wears eye protection. The tool, once out of my grip, went for my eye like a BB from a Daisy Red Ryder.
Once you get it apart, which is easier if you have three hands, you can clean it well. You’ll need to. Gas systems are notoriously dirty. This one is no exception. But cleaning should be easy enough. Getting the gun back together could be easier. Guiding the piston into the frame is the issue. Again, I had to brace the frame (which is angled awkwardly because of the fixed barrel) against the tension of the spring, and then use the allen wrench to poke at the piston until it lined up correctly. The end of the piston is flat, and it fits snugly, so it is cumbersome. The rest is easy. Or maybe the rest seems easy by comparison. Make sure your finger isn’t between the frame and the slide, as mine was, when the connection is made as it slaps down and can pinch up a nice blood blister.
A note on the price tag
At the end of this short review, I’ve still got a lot of questions. I want to know more about long term reliability. I’d also like to understand more about the design of the internals, especially the locking catch. The gas system seems to answer a question I’m often asked–which is “which pistol for shooters with limited hand strength?” And I’m duly impressed with the CCP’s accuracy. I wouldn’t hesitate to take a surgical shot with this pistol. It gets the job done. Yet I’m really dubious of the locking catch. It isn’t a safety measure. Even if the catch or hook were to fail, the slide would still be traveling rearward around the barrel, but I’d like to see a CCP that’s come through high round count testing and see how the hook and catch have held up.
I’m curious as to why it is a single stack. There seems to be enough room in the grip to hold a double stack mag with minimal engineering. The grip isn’t as pancake thin as most single stacks, and I respect Walther’s decision to keep the ergonomic curves of the grip. I’ve seen the CCP at two trade shows now, and at both I watched people approach the gun and take it in hand and smile. It is a knowing smile. The CCP is very concealable, and yet isn’t anorexic.
Walther has crafted a pistol that is exceptionally capable, ergonomic, and comes in with an MSRP of $469 (in the black) and $489 (stainless). This puts it on par with some of the imported competition, and below others. There are very few single stack 9s that come in below the CCP’s price point, and fewer that are worth a damn. In this market, after initial demand shakes out, the CCP settle in closer to $400. I talked to an FFL today that has the CCP for sale for $379. For $500, you can leave the shop with a gun, a holster, and a box or two of ammo. That’s not bad. For a gun that shoots this well, I’d say that was a steal–and for that price, I’m willing to live with some of the CCP’s personality quirks.