Joe and I both really enjoyed Walther’s PPQ M2 5″ in 9mm. Actually, Joe is still enjoying it since he couldn’t bring himself to return the loaner and decided, instead, to purchase it. Considering how good that gun was, it was clear I had to get my hands on Walther’s .22 LR version of the PPQ. This isn’t a smaller scale, pot metal, cheapo plinker like so many .22 pistols out there — it’s the full-size PPQ you know and love, made by Walther, with the same controls and slide length options as its centerfire brother and with a pretty darn good trigger in its own right. This time I’m calling “dibs,” and just plunked down some sawbucks of my own to add this bad boy to the stable . . .
Just Like The Centerfire Version:
This review is going to be a bit shorter than normal, as I’m going to refer y’all back to Joe’s write-up on the 9mm version and/or my video review of it. If it isn’t already apparent, this is due to how faithfully the PPQ .22 mimics the “real” PPQ. You’ll find that basically everything about the ergonomics, controls, accuracy, reliability, quality, etc has carried over. Trigger, too, although it’s just slightly different… and this review will basically concentrate on the .22’s differences.
No zinc alloy here. The PPQ M2 .22’s slide is hard anodized, CNC machined aluminum. For long-term durability a steel breech block, containing the firing pin mechanism, extractor, breech face, etc is pinned into the slide. Another nice touch, although not unique to this pistol, is a steel pin inserted into the back of the slide lock notch. I smiled when I saw that, as it will prevent the steel slide stop from wearing away at and rounding out the notch.
The frame is the same polymer that you get on the big boy toys, and it has steel inserts for the slide rails, barrel block, and basically all of the moving parts. The rail at front is of standard Picatinny format.
One of those moving parts is an internal hammer, which is a big divergence from the striker-fired centerfire models. Keeping it internal maintains the same external appearance of the pistol. It’s possible that a .22 LR doesn’t punch the slide backwards with enough authority to reliably cock a striker with a spring stiff enough to ignite a .22 LR (vicious cycle, that), whereas a hammer can have enough leverage on it to work, but that’s just a guess as to why Walther made this change for the .22. At any rate, they managed to do it with a minimal change to trigger quality and feel. We’ll get into that later, but suffice it to say that if you didn’t field strip the gun you would never guess that such a big difference existed between the centerfire and rimfire models.
Some other functional similarities did carry over from Walther’s other .22 LR pistols (P22, primarily), such as a fixed, threaded barrel that’s clamped into the barrel block by a sleeve and a nut on the end. In this case I chose to test out the PPQ .22 Tactical version, which comes from Walther with a 1/2×28 thread adapter. However, it’s my understanding that the standard 4″ slide version and the 5″ slide version use the same type of barrel so you could add a thread adapter to either of those models as well. Primarily this is intended for mounting a suppressor, but if you’re bored you can also mount any AR-15 or other 1/2×28 muzzle device:
A P22 thread adapter does work on the PPQ, so that opens up options for aftermarket versions. I actually liked the look of the P22 adapter I had on hand much better than the included one, which was larger and spaced farther from the muzzle, so I’ve been running it instead and it appears in most of the photos here. I suppose that means if I were starting over and choosing one of the three available models, I’d go with the normal 4″ or 5″ and supply my own thread adapter. If this Tactical version came with tall suppressor sights I’d feel differently, but it doesn’t so I don’t.
At a pretty consistent 4.25 lbs, the trigger requires just a bit less force than the 9mm PPQ we tested, which came in at 4.75 lbs. It has a hair more creep and a very slightly longer reset — and the reset is softer in noise level and feel… it’s “light” — but overall I’d say that the differences aren’t easy to feel when shooting and that if you’re familiar with one you’ll feel right at home on the other. One of the reasons I love my CZ Kadet Adapter .22 LR upper conversion for my SP-01 is that it allows me to shoot .22 LR with the same grip, controls, and trigger as my go-to pistol, and the PPQ .22 can also provide this kind of experience for centerfire PPQ owners.
On the plus side when compared to a .22 conversion slide, the PPQ route is a complete pistol so it isn’t just a paperweight when it isn’t installed on your frame (which then, of course, turns your centerfire upper into a paperweight). Despite being a complete gun, with a street price of like $310 to $340 the PPQ .22 is actually less expensive than many conversion kits. On the negative side, the aluminum slide means the pistol is quite a bit lighter in weight than the centerfire ones, and being a firearm means it can’t simply ship to your door like a conversion kit can.
The PPQ .22 does not have swappable backstraps like the centerfire models do. I found this a little disappointing since it could affect that person who’s seriously using this as a less-expensive-to-shoot practice tool for their centerfire PPQ. That guy (or gal) aside, it’s really not a concern. The grip shape and dimensions will work really well for a huge range of hand sizes, and it’s every bit as comfortable and awesome as the “real” PPQ. Exact same texture, same size and feel as — just guestimating here — approximately the M backstrap of the centerfire (unfortunately I don’t have a PPQ to try and measure to be sure here, but Walther states the grip circumference as 5.3″).
Just like we said in the 9mm’s review, it feels freaking awesome in the hand.
Also, thanks to the .22 LR magazine being so slim but the PPQ .22’s grip being the normal width, the pistol benefits from a sweet magwell.
In the box you will find one magazine. It’s your standard .22 pistol fare, complete with open sides and thumb stud on the follower to enable easier loading. However, the normal PPQ .22 mag is a 12-rounder, which does set it apart from the very much industry standard 10-round capacity. 10-round mags are available. Additional magazines run about $24. Walther says that, despite some similarities, the PPQ .22 uses its own magazines and they aren’t compatible with those of other models.
The front sight is polymer and the rear is polymer and steel. White dot in the front and black rear, which is my preference. The rear is adjustable for both windage and elevation. As mentioned before, it would be sweet if the Tactical version shipped with taller sights to clear a suppressor, but they’re the same sights as on the standard 4″ model. The 5″ target model comes with a fiber optic front sight.
I should mention that the sights are taller than most .22- or rimfire-specific suppressors on the market. Everything was aces with the Element 2 that I won’t be able to pick up for a few more months, and as you can see in the video it also ran flawlessly with it and was nice and quiet to boot. Until that Element 2 is released from jail, however, I’m using a 9mm can w/ fixed mount adapter (my Liberty Mystic) for all of my suppressed .22 LR shooting needs. That isn’t an uncommon thing for folks to do and it’ll probably obscure your sight picture a bit here.
Identical to its centerfire siblings. The PPQ .22 is a PPQ M2 .22, which means a thumb button magazine release rather than the original PPQ’s trigger guard paddles. The button is not ambidextrous but can be swapped quite quickly from one side to the other for right- or left-handed use.
The same gripe I had about the extended slide catch lever carries over, as you would expect. Again, it’s back far enough that I tend to touch it with my strong hand thumb, which prevents it from moving up and locking the slide back on empty. It is really easy to manipulate since it’s right back where your thumb can easily reach, but the necessity of manipulating it is reduced quite a bit by it not functioning due to being right where your thumb can easily reach. Of course, Joe Grine didn’t have this issue at all and it all comes down to how you grip a pistol. Additionally, the importance of a slide that reliably locks back on empty is a matter of personal opinion for the intended use case of the pistol in question. Might be a problem for somebody wanting to use the centerfire PPQ defensively or in competition, but not very likely to matter at all on the .22 plinker.
Pretty dang good. This target is from 15 yards with the butt of the pistol rested on the shooting bench at my local indoor range. Average 5-shot group size is 1.77 inches.
On The Range:
So, yes, the groups above show that PPQ M2 .22 is pretty accurate. That is, mechanically accurate plus however much I was screwing up sight alignment that day. What a target like that doesn’t say is how easy a gun is to shoot accurately when you’re out on the range.
The answer to that is “ridiculously easy.” I can’t miss with the darn thing. My buddy who joined me on the range one day actually hit the target quite a bit with it, which is quite the anomaly. The very workable sights, excellent trigger, and extremely low muzzle flip — something you expect from a .22 that’s made even better by the great ergos here — allow me to take advantage of solid mechanical accuracy and shoot as fast as I can move my finger while staying right on target. Hit, hit, hit, hit… it’s borderline silly. I can only imagine that the 5″ version with its longer sight radius and fiber optic front (something I’m used to from my competition gun) would be even better — not that it would matter under like 30 yards, where I feel like I’m basically incapable of missing with the PPQ .22.
Manipulating the firearm is very easy and folks with minimal hand strength would have no issues. The slide is incredibly easy to rack when the hammer is cocked, which is basically all of the time unless you dry fire it or encounter a dud round. With the hammer down there’s more resistance to cycling the slide, but it’s still quite a bit less than on your typical centerfire pistol. The mag release is easy to find and easy to press, and mags drop free. The reach to the trigger is comfortable and the trigger pull is light enough to be easy and controllable but heavy enough that it isn’t hazardous for less experienced shooters. Solid pistol for teaching first-timers (pending your opinion on manual safeties).
Suppressed or not, this pistol has been incredibly reliable. I’ve managed to run about 8 brands of ammo through it, from high velocity premium stuff to cheap, dirty bulk stuff, some with waxed lead bullets and some with jacketed round nose and jacketed hollow points, and the PPQ has cycled it all. Not a single failure of any sort since taking it out of the box when it was brand new.
It’s now pretty darn dirty, having shot about 400 suppressed rounds through it and another 50 or so unsuppressed and the factory oil and grease doing a good job of attracting carbon and other crud. I haven’t cleaned or lubed it, though, and it’s still running like a champ. I think I’ll just keep shooting it until it finally has a [non-ammo-related] stoppage and will update the review here if/when that happens.
Obviously the 12-round mags are approximately 20% more fun than your typical 10-round mags, and this helps to make the PPQ M2 .22 LR insanely fun to shoot overall. With its stellar accuracy and reliability, amazing ergos, and with how quiet and easy it is to shoot suppressed, the fun factor is way high here and that is why the only thing going home to Walther in this case is a check.
Specifications: Walther PPQ M2 .22
Caliber: .22 LR
Barrel Length: Available in 4″, 4″ + thread adapter, or 5″ with long slide.
Overall Length: 7.1″, 7.7″, or 8.1″, respective to above barrel options.
Weight w/ Empty Magazine: 19 oz, 19.1 oz, or 20 oz, respective to barrel options.
MSRP: $429 for 4″, $449 for Tactical, and $469 for 5″. Street price starts at about $310.
Ratings (Out of Five Stars):
Ratings are relative to ‘the average’ .22 LR pistol on the market.
Accuracy: * * * * *
Rested groups are definitely solid but nothing exemplary. However, the real-life fun on the range shootable accuracy of this thing, which is more important to you or you’d be getting Walther’s GSP instead, is amazing.
Ergonomics: * * * *
There aren’t many pistols that feel better in the hand than the PPQ. The .22 LR version loses a star, however, for dropping the swappable backstraps of the centerfire models and for the slide catch lever that I’m not entirely compatible with.
Reliability: * * * * *
.22 pistols are known for being finicky. Ammo-sensitive. Dirtiness-sensitive. So far that’s 100% not the case here. Plus, the build quality inspires a higher level of confidence than the zinc alloy, farmed-out-to-a-BB-gun-factory norm. At least, norm in the sense of what’s popular these days, and certainly among .22 pistols that look like centerfire pistols and where the entire slide reciprocates (rather than an internal bolt or small cut-out portion of the slide, which I’ve historically found to function more reliably).
Customization: * *
A thread adapter certainly opens up a near-endless list of doodads you can affix to the business end of the PPQ .22. This pistol will fit in holsters made for the centerfire PPQs. However, there still isn’t much in the way of aftermarket support for things like sights.
Overall: * * * * *
I’m not going to name names but I don’t, haven’t, and won’t own basically any of the .22 LR pistols on the market that look like centerfire guns and function whereby the entire slide reciprocates. I had more or less discounted this entire segment of the market. Again, I just bought this PPQ M2 .22.