Plinking, Varmints, and Self-Defense: Walther’s New WMP in .22 WMR Does It All

Authors Brian McCombie Gun Reviews

Introduced in 1959, the .22 Winchester Magnum Round or .22 WMR was and still remains a useful round for small game hunting, rodent control, and plinking. The round has also seen a resurgence in new offerings that include self-defense options. And while it wouldn’t be my first choice for home- and self-defense, a pistol chambered in .22 WMR could well be a threat-stopper in the hands of a capable shooter. Walther Arms has introduced a pistol that can do all of the above, the Walther WMP, a full-sized, semi-automatic featuring a polymer frame, an ambidextrous slide catch, and an accessory rail under the barrel. It also boasts an impressive 15+1 ammunition capacity.

I recently put over 250 rounds through a new WMP and came away knowing it was a fine handgun, very accurate, comfortable in hand, and a real pleasure to shoot.

Walther WMP with boxes of 22 win mag ammo.
Walther’s WMP is a fine choice for plinking, small game, and varmint hunting, and has self-defense applications, too.

Features of the Walther WMP

I was so taken with the pistol, I wanted to purchase the WMP instead of sending it back to Walther. But with our current “build it back better” economic program in place, I felt the smarter move was to hold onto my cash for our upcoming (current?) recession.

The WMP came standard with a slide cut for an optic, plus two optic adapter plates. One plate was for a Trijicon RMR. (The other adapter fits optics with the Docter footprint including the Vortex Viper.) I removed the optics-ready cover, mounted my personal RMR onto the pistol, and headed to my outdoor range.

See Also: Say Hello to the Walther Magnum Pistol, or WMP(Opens in a new browser tab)

Walther WMP with Trijicon RMR mounted
Trijicon’s RMR red dot put McCombie on target fast and with great accuracy.

Testing the WMP

I zeroed the RMR at approximately 12 yards from a rest, using Super X Small Game and Varmint round from Winchester firing a 40-grain bullet. The first shots were very low and to the left, but the RMR’s precise controls moved my shots up and onto the bullseye in under ten rounds.   

I began my accuracy test shooting from the rest at 12 yards, and then at seven yards offhand. I first used the Super X ammunition and then added two other .22 WMR loads: Punch, a self-defense option from Federal Premium launching a 45-grain jacketed hollow point; and, Remington Magnum Rimfire loaded with a 40-grain jacketed hollow point.

The WMP’s accuracy was nothing short of phenomenal.

Walther WMP with target group
At 12 yards from a rest, McCombie drilled this .40″ cluster using Winchester’s Varmint and Small Game .22 WMR ammunition.

Using a rest and at 12 yards, my absolute best five-shot groups were done with the Winchester rounds, which pegged a .40- and a .50-inch cluster.

The other two rounds shot very worthy groups too, including 1.0-inch groups from both the Punch and Remington loads.

Walther WMP and target group
Federal’s Punch self-defense .22 WMR and the WMP took care of this threat at seven yards, offhand.

At seven yards and firing offhand, five-shot groups of mine scored:

–.90 inches with the Winchester Small Game and Varmint rounds;

–.94 inches shooting the Remington Mangum Rimfire;

–1.1 inches with Federal’s Punch self-defense.

Of note, I was wearing several layers of clothing, and while the February day was sunny, the air temperature was 14 degrees, with a breeze quartering up from my right and back. I didn’t use gloves, figuring they would affect accuracy, and had to warm my hands several times with trips back to my vehicle.  

A few days later, I tackled targets at 25 yards. 

Walther WMP with coyote target
Varmint ready! The WMP and Remington Magnum Rimfire doing the job at 25 yards.

At this distance, the Punch loads made five-shot groups of 1.8-, 1.6, and 1.0 inches.  Remington .22 WMR pegged five shots at 1.0- and 1.1-inches and a six-shot group at 1.2-inches, while the Winchester .22 WMR scored a four-shot group at 1.1-inches and a five-shots at 1.5- and 2.0-inches.

I was impressed. Especially as the 25-yard shooting was done on another cold Wisconsin day, 28 degrees and a ten-mile-per-hour wind making it feel like 18 degrees.

I knew I had to try the Walther WMP at 50 yards. The pistol was up to the task, though I clearly needed more practice at this distance. But I made enough three-shot groups at 2.0-inches and slightly under with both the Remington and Winchester ammunition to know the WMP can take on a coyote at half a football field.

Walther WMP grip texture
Texturing on the WMP’s pistol grip provided a firm hold.

The pistol’s grip texture wasn’t noticeably aggressive, but it was more than adequate especially given the minimal recoil of the .22 WMR.

The WMP features the Walther Quad Release mechanism, which the company terms “the most versatile ambidextrous mag release ever created.” The statement may well be correct as the magazine can be released not only by standard ambi-release buttons on either side of the frame but also by paddle-style releases located on both sides of the trigger guard’s flat bottom.  

All four release points worked fine, though I wasn’t sure what potential problem is solved by this Quad Release system.    

Walther WMP trigger up close
The WMP features a bladed trigger safety, an ambi-button mag release (left), and a unique Ambi-paddle mag release (under trigger).

The WMP is sold with two 15-round magazines which featured loading tabs; the mags are very easy to load up. For those where legal jurisdictions are applicable, the WMP is also available with 10-round magazines.

Not interested in optics? The pistol’s standard open sights are quite functional and combine a serrate rear notch sight with a red fiber optic front post.

Walther WMP paddle mag release
When pressed down, the ambi-paddle set up releases the magazine, as does the button release (left).

The WMP sports three automatic or passive safety features. First is the Trigger Safety Blade, which requires proper finger placement on the trigger to depress the blade and allow the trigger to engage. Second, the WMP is built with a trigger disconnect; this disconnects the trigger from the firing assembly while cycling to ensure no accidental discharges happen while cycling or when the pistol is out of battery.

Walther WMP magazine
The WMP’s 15-round mags feature loading tabs on each side for quick and painless loading.

Last, the pistol sports a hammer block/drop safety, that keeps the hammer from moving forward and striking the firing pin if it was dropped.

Certainly, the WMP is very small game and varmint ready, at closer distances, and will be a lot of fun for the recreational shooter. But is it and the .22 WMR viable for self-defense? 

The fact is, plenty of people use handguns chambered in .22 LR for concealed carry and home defense. If that’s what a person is comfortable with and can shoot accurately, it’s not my place to tell him or her otherwise. And I do not have exact numbers, but I am sure the .22 LR has stopped its share of muggings, rapes, and murders.

But if I had to choose between the .22 LR and the .22 WMR for self-defense? It would most definitely be the .22 WMR with the Walther WMP topping my list of handgun platforms.

My Caldwell G2 Chronograph from Brownells, paired with the handy Caldwell app on my Apple phone, provided the basic explanation of why I’d choose the .22 WMR over the .22 LR. I shot the Federal self-defense Punch loads in both calibers, ten rounds of each, plus Winchester’s .22 LR self-defense Silvertip offering. For the .22 LR rounds, I used my Browning Buck Mark Plus Vision UFX with a 5-7/8ths-inch barrel.

Walther WMP multiple ammo
.22 LR or .22 WMR for self-defense? Ballistics say the big edge goes to the Punch in .22 WMR.

Then, I plugged these numbers into the handy, online ballistic calculator,

Not surprisingly, the heavier WMR bullets, traveling faster, generated more energy than the .22 LR counterparts. The Punch .22 WMR left the WMP’s muzzle at 1,326 feet-per-second (fps), with the initial energy rated at 176 foot-pounds (ft-lbs.). At five and ten yards the .22 WMR Punch delivered 171 ft-lbs. and 166 ft-lbs., respectively.

Meanwhile, the Punch in .22 LR with its 29-grain bullet left the barrel of my Browning Buck Mark at 1,313 fps, for 111 ft-lbs. of energy at the muzzle, 106 ft-lbs. at five yards and 101 ft-lbs. at ten yards. 

The 37-grain Winchester Silvertip .22 LR bullet launched itself at 1,117 fps for 103 ft-lbs. at the muzzle, 99 ft-lbs. at five yards and 96 ft-lbs. at ten yards.

Obviously, the .22 WMR Punch hits noticeably harder at self-defense distances than either of the two .22 LR options. 

What I found somewhat surprising was how close the Punch rounds in .22 WMR and .380 AUTO were energy-wise. Federal rated the .380 Punch at 1,000 fps at the muzzle from a 3.75-inch barrel and pushing an 85-grain bullet. Energy? 180 ft-lbs. at the muzzle, 184 at five yards, and 180 at ten yards. All of those numbers were more than the .22 WMR Punch numbers–but not by much!

I hope to field test the Walther WMP soon on small game, coyotes, and maybe even a bobcat. I’m very interested to see what this accurate pistol can do as a hunting sidearm, and hope to report on that testing at a later date.

Walther WMP takedown lever
A do-it-all rimfire, the Walther WMP chambered in .22 WMR.

Specifications: Walther Magnum Pistol or WMP

Model Number: 5220300

Caliber: .22 WMR

Capacity: 15+1

Barrel: Steel, 4.5”

Slide Material: Aluminum

Frame Material: Polymer

Sights: Fiber Optic Front, Serrated Rear

Length: 8.2”

Height: 5.66”

Width: 1.48”

Weight (w/Empty Magazine): 27.8 oz.

Optics Ready? Yes; 2 Adapter Plates Inc.

Safety: Integrated Trigger Safety

Mags Included: Two (2), 15-Round Mags

MSRP: $549.00

Walther Arms

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  • Dan December 11, 2023, 7:25 am

    Leave the bobcats be; they are shy, retiring, and rare to find.

  • Pete July 17, 2023, 10:54 pm

    S&W just came out with their version of a high-cap M&P .22 magnum pistol that has an MSRP of $649. It has a 4.35″ barrel, uses the same Tempo system found in their M&P 5.7 and takes mags that hold 30 rounds (like the PMR).

    IMO, the S&W blows both the Walther and the PMR out of the water. Having 30 rounds on tap makes it a serious self-defense weapon for people who can’t manage larger caliber guns for one reason or another.

  • ED ALLEN April 11, 2023, 11:01 pm

    I got the Walther WMP for my wife so that she could get back into shooting after a 4-year hiatus due to having carpal tunnel surgery on both wrists. the 9mm Sig P229 is just a bit too much for her wrist at this time.

    At this point, we’ve put 250 rounds of Armscor 22 WMR though it and it has only had 1 failure. That was a single round that did not go bang (it was the round itself). I would say that is pretty good so far.

    The magazine release on the trigger guard actually works very well for my wife. She can swipe her trigger finger down to release the magazine while getting the next magazine ready to be inserted. Otherwise, she would have to break her grip to access the mag release button on the side of the frame.

    She loves the design of the magazines because of the tabs that let you pull the follower down. However, it does bring up the question. Why make the grip on the frame as large as it is? Walther could have used a smaller grip or frame size, like they did with the PDP-F, which would make this gun much more appealing to people with smaller hands. The size of the magazine is definitely overkill when you consider the size of the round and the fact that the magazine is a single stack, not a double stack.
    As for accuracy, I have seen the same thing. Very nice groups.

    If you are worried about the size of the grips on the Walther, you might look at the Rock Island XTM22. The grips are 1911 size and the overall design is a modified 1911 style with a fixed barrel. I have one with 350 rounds through it and it is also very accurate and reliable. In fact, I was shooting it today and had my first failure with it. One of the rounds squibbed on me and part of the casing separated from the rest of the round. When I ran a cleaning rod down the barrel, the bullet was still in the barrel about 1/2 inch from the chamber. I pushed it out and was able to continue shooting with no other failures.

    I saw the previous post from Jim about the KelTec PMR30. Yes, you have a 30-round magazine and it shoots like the dickens. However, I have also noticed that sparks fly back in my face with I am shooting it. You have to really work to get rounds 20 thru 30 in the magazine and you really do need to follow the instructions on loading the magazine. Insert 5 rounds, tap the magazine, insert 5 more rounds, tap the magazine….

    It is a fun gun to shoot, but it, so far, is the least reliable of the 3 22 WMR hand guns that I have. I can expect anywhere from 2 – 5 rounds that do not extract or fail to go into battery. And, having 4 magazines, it is not due to any particular mag.

  • Joel Corrente April 10, 2023, 10:49 pm

    I had one, It was a piece of garbage. I will give Walther credit for doing the right thing and buying it back from me. The gun is gigantic for what it is. The guide rod is cheap plastic and the overall fit of the gun is terrible, the slide would actually hang on the hammer out of battery. There was so much friction between the slide and hammer that the slide started galling on the hammer channel after only 150 rounds. I had continuous failures to feed with multiple types of ammo, and even had a Kaboom with CCI Gold Dot which blew the magazine out of the gun but fortunately didn’t injure me.

    When I sent the gun back the technician that looked at it literally sent me a video of them firing it with only ONE type of ammo and said there was nothing wrong with the gun, completely ignoring the fact that CCI Gold Dot is one of the recommended ammo and wouldn’t feed, and he neglected to test that ammo. When I pointed this out he stated ” we can’t make it run on every ammo” !! Terrible customer service, I’ll admit they did make it right and buy the gun back, but I’d never buy one again. When I mentioned the Kaboom he stated “thats just the nature of 22 WMR” and tried to give me a history lesson on other firearm failures and kabooms with 22 WMR. SMH

  • Paul Dunn April 10, 2023, 5:43 pm

    Does the WMP have a Threaded Barrel option? If not is one planned and when??

  • Dennis Miller April 10, 2023, 2:05 pm

    I handled the walther wmp at a local gun store and found the grip awkward for small handed folks. Is there anything in the future for a modified grip for smaller handed people?

  • Michael DiNardo April 10, 2023, 10:21 am

    I’ll tell you lads even though I hand load for dozens of different cartridges if I had to have only one it would be the 22 magnum. Back in the mid 80’s a buddy and I took 173 coyotes with a bolt action marlin 22 magnum called in at night over the course of the winter.

  • Perry April 10, 2023, 8:32 am

    For many years I traveled around the USA building large structures. Often I would spend 6 mos. or more in one place not my home. A major concern was being able to get home if things “Went South”. In my emergency kit I carried a Rossi 22WMR pump action carbine, a Taurus 22WMR revolver and a S&W 66 2 1/2″ 357 (my everyday carry). These were not offensive firearms they were defensive arms. In a Backpack I could carry 500 rounds of ammo and weapons. Since no magazines were required this was the ultimate weight consideration if I had to walk 2000 miles home. To those who said “the 22WMR is not an adequate round for defense” I would reply “walk down there 50 paces and let me shoot you”. No one ever took me up on the challenge. My Kit evolved to contain a Kel Tec PMR and RMR as the world and situations changed. The 22wmr is an underappreciated round! Hooray for Walther for producing a 22WMR.

  • jim April 10, 2023, 8:29 am

    i have a kal tech 22 magnum it holds 30 rounds and love it i was looking at the Walter it is much smaller and have to wounder how it would fit in my hand . i will have go to my gun store and see how it feals

  • Charles April 10, 2023, 4:57 am

    When I start to read an article, and the author makes such a ridiculous mistake as defining the 22 WMR as 22 Winchester Magnum ROUND, instead of the correct terminology 22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire, I just think, “Another kid showed up on the scene, found a gun and thinks he is an expert”, and not even read the rest of that trash

    • David Boerboom April 10, 2023, 6:43 am

      I think that’s a little harsh, considering you have no idea who this guy is, what his background is, etc; that could have simply been typo.
      If you’re so all-knowing, why would you read a review from another man anyway? If you’re so awesome, why would you need to hear what someone else said about a particular pistol; instead of blazing your own trail.

      • Fal Phil April 10, 2023, 12:18 pm

        Maybe it’s harsh. But a lot of these GunsAmerica article have blatant errors. They should really hire an editor to check for mistakes like this.

        And not everyone likes or has the time to write a review. We read other peoples’ reviews to learn. If the information is faulty, it has two effects: it causes the author’s credibility to suffer, and it imparts incorrect knowledge, which, in some cases could be dangerous.

        I like the GunsAmerica Digest. When it shows up in my email queue, it is usually the first thing that I read. But, like Charles, I am often annoyed by some of the mistakes. I hope that the GA moderator is reading this comment thread and approaches management about proofing and editing.

    • Pete July 17, 2023, 10:46 pm

      Could have been worse. He could have called it a WRF instead of a WMR.

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