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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Then, I plugged these numbers into the handy, online ballistic calculator, ShootersCalculator.com.
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.
Specifications: Walther Magnum Pistol or WMP
Model Number: 5220300
Caliber: .22 WMR
Barrel: Steel, 4.5”
Slide Material: Aluminum
Frame Material: Polymer
Sights: Fiber Optic Front, Serrated Rear
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
Available on GunsAmerica Now