Monday, April 4, 2016

Walther PPK/S 22LR - A New Twist For an Iconic Handgun

One of the more interesting trends I've observed across the firearms industry is the proliferation of .22LR firearms modeled after some of the most iconic firearms of modern times.  Walther Arms is an industry leader in this area producing licensed 22LR versions of classic Colt, Heckler & Koch, and even UZI firearms.  Walther even clones their own iconic PPK design with a .22LR PPK/S.

The Walther PPK/S 22LR is a very close replication of its 380 Auto predecessor. Walther closely maintains the size and weight of the original PPK while introducing a few changes on the original design.  For all but the most devout PPK enthusiast, the PPK/S 22LR would appear to be an exactly copy of the 380 Auto PPK.

True to the original PPK design, the trigger system in the PPK/S 22 is a double action / single action trigger.  The first shot can be fired in double action where pulling the trigger both cocks and releases the hammer, or the hammer can be manually cocked and the trigger operated in single action mode.  Unfortunately, the double action trigger pull exceeds 17 pounds.  The single action trigger pull is slightly more than 6 pounds.  The double action trigger pull is about 4 pounds heavier than the PPK 380 Auto.  I can only assume the additional trigger pull weight is due to a heavier hammer spring needed to reliably ignite rimfire cartridges, or possibly to slow down the slide velocity as the handgun cycles.  I didn't use the double action trigger pull very much during the review video below.  It will take an additional investment of practice time before I can shoot consistently accurate double action first shots.

The fit and finish of the pistol is very good.  Only a very thin patch of finish missing at the top edge
of  the ejection port disqualified the pistol from an excellent rating.   The frame and slide material is listed by Walther as Zinc Diecast. This is a departure from the 380 PPK which has a steel frame and slide.  The black plastic grips fit well and provide a good gripping surface without being overly aggressive on your hands.

Walther uses a drift adjustable rear sight and a pinned plastic front sight atop the glare reducing wave cut top  rail.  The front and rear sights are entirely black, but do provide a clear sight picture.  Taller and shorter front sights are included with the PPK/S so the shooter can fine tune the point of impact by swapping out the front sight for the taller or shorter sight.  The sights worked very well for me, but I will probably slide the rear sight a smidgen to the right to compensate for my tendency to shoot left with this specific PPK/S.  The medium height front sight seems to be working well for me so no change is necessary.

The PPK design is unique in its use of an articulated trigger guard to lock the slide to the frame.  Pulling down on the trigger guard allows the slide to retract fully and be lifted from the rear of the frame.  With the trigger guard in its normal locked location, the upper most portion of the trigger guard functions as both a recoil lug and buffer.  In the picture to the left you can see the top of the trigger guard has a small cylindrical polymer recoil buffer installed.  I believe this buffer absorbs the shock when the slide contacts the recoil lug and hopefully eliminates slide and frame battering.  Several thousand more rounds will be needed to verify if the system works to protect the diecast zinc frame and slide from cracking.

The slide mounted safety lever is easily manipulated with the thumb of a right-handed shooter.  The safety also acts as a decocking lever.  Activating the safety lowers the hammer if it's cocked.  Cocked and locked carry is not an option with this pistol.  The magazine release is located high on the frame, but was easy operated after training myself to reach up higher than normal to activate it.  The PPK/S design uses an internal slide lock that is activated by the magazine follower.  Removing the magazine allows the operator to close the slide.  Closing the slide with the safety activated also returns the hammer to the lowered position.

The PPK/S 22 barrel is steel from breech face to muzzle.  The barrel is fixed to the frame and should not be removed for normal cleaning and maintenance.  The tiny feed ramp has been highly polished to aid in feeding rounds from the stainless steel magazines.  In another departure from the PPK 380, the barrel is threaded to accommodate a variety of muzzle attached devices if the owner chooses to do so.  A thread protector is factory installed on the pistol. Walther provides a correctly sized wrench to remove the thread protector from the barrel.

On the range, the PPK/S 22LR was a joy to shoot.  I experienced zero malfunctions with feeding, firing, and extraction across several hundred rounds of slow and fast fire.  I tried limited quantities of many different bullet weights and velocities, but ended up using Remington 36 grain HP Golden Bullet bulk pack ammunition for most of my range time because this PPK/S ran so well with that specific load.  Recoil and muzzle rise were very tame which facilitated fast and accurate shooting with just a minimum time investment in practicing with the handgun.

Shooting from a bench and rested position, I tested the PPK/S with several loads for 10 yard accuracy and velocity measured 10 feet from the muzzle.  The pistol showed a preference for match grade standard velocity ammunition which delivered the smallest groups.  High velocity and bulk pack ammunition opened the groups up a bit, but the pistol delivered groups ranging from .72 to 2.14 inches with the seven tested loads. Over half the groups were less than 1.5 inches.  Velocity was what I expected it would be with the 3.3 inch barrel.

The video below summarizes my range experiences.

Direct Link to Video On YouTube

I found the PPK/S to be a really fun gun to shoot. I thoroughly enjoyed the time I spent with it on the range.  Sure I would like it better if the double action trigger pull wasn't 17.5 pounds and the frame and slide were aluminum or steel, but I'm willing to roll the dice with Walther and their Legendary Limited Lifetime Warranty.  If it breaks, Walther has my back.

One more thing to consider before I wrap up the review.  Tipping the scales at 24.4 ounces fully loaded, the PPK/S 22LR makes a handy travel companion.  While significantly larger, I would consider the PPK/S as an alternative to the Beretta Bobcat or similar sized semi-autos chambered for 22LR.


  1. Terrific review, Bruce - many thanks. I've been wondering about these Walther/Umarex zinc guns for some time, and this answers every question I had . . . and some that hadn't occurred to me yet! Your reviews are the gold standard - again, many thanks.

  2. I bought my PPK/s .22 about 6 months ago to teach my wife to shoot. Together we put around 1k rounds & the only issue we had was with weak ammo.. This pistol functioned 100% flawlessly with Remington Thunderbolt .22 that we used. The dbl action trigger is terribly heavy however in single action its a joy. the only thing I wish it had was target sights or at least some white dots on the sights as they are hard to pick up against dark colored targets. other than that, it's a good, reliable fun plinker