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The so-called “tactical rimfire” pistol—the Walther P22—is a semi-automatic .22LR caliber with a 10-round mag capacity, ambidextrous safeties, and a DA/SA trigger action, which makes it a great plinking choice.
In this Walther P22 pistol review, we’ll cover features and specifications, pros & cons, show you our buyer’s guide, where to find the best price, how to disassemble, and list some alternatives to the Walther P22.
Let’s start with the first conception and main idea behind this highly affordable rimfire handgun.
The Walther P22 and the Manufacturer’s Idea
First introduced in 2002, this polymer piece enjoyed immediate success on the market, even though there were recurring malfunctions and problems with its internal parts.
Despite the problems with the slide breaking, people just seemed to like the P22, and there were lots of suitable aftermarket parts for it.
The pistol was supposed to be a rimfire version of the Walther P99 9mm handgun, an otherwise very popular centerfire handgun.
The main idea was to make a lightweight .22LR caliber pistol that’s comfortable enough to be a practice handgun.
The P99-like design gave amateur handgun enthusiasts a chance to build muscle memory, just like a standard concealed carry 9mm handgun would, with similar ergonomics.
It quickly became popular among rookies and veterans alike, and it’s a great piece for the shooting ranges that anyone could get used to. Plus, .22LR ammo is cheap and you can always find it in stock.
If you’re interested to see more .22LR caliber pistols, check out our 2021 list here.
I wouldn’t recommend the Walther P22 for self-defense, but it’s a great target shooting gun with a solid trigger pull.
Let’s check out what the Walther P22 offers.
Walther P22 Overview & Specifications
The Walther P22 Specifications
- Catalog model: Walther P22 rimfire, semi-automatic pistol
- Caliber: .22LR
- Magazine capacity: 10 +1 rounds
- Material, finish, and construction: Polymer frame, black polymer finish, ambidextrous magazine release and slide safety, threaded barrel, threaded adaptor for suppressor mounting
- Trigger action: DA/SA (double-action/single-action) trigger
- Grips: Black polymer with interchangeable backstrap
- Sights: Windage adjustable rear sight, low-profile 3-dot
- Overall length: 6.5-inch
- Barrel length: 3.42-inch
- Height: 4.5-inch
- Width: 1.1-inch
- Weight: 16 ounces
- California compliant: Yes
- Warranty: Walther limited lifetime warranty
What Are The Features Of The Walther P22?
The Walther P22 semi-automatic rimfire pistol is widely regarded as an excellent beginner pistol by policemen and law enforcement agencies.
Walther has successfully adapted their Performance Design concept from tactical centerfire pistols into a standard plinker.
As a tactical pistol, it has great accuracy and solid reliability, but it’s not as reliable as other self-defense handguns.
What’s great about this handgun is that Walther offers a Walther Legendary Lifetime Warranty which makes it a no-brainer for those of you who are looking for a decent first-time handgun purchase.
The frame and followers are made of polymer, and the slide is a zinc alloy. The Walther P22 magazine is stainless steel, while the barrel, recoil spring guide, ejector, and extractor are steel components, perfectly stamped and fitted.
Typical for a German design, the hooked front on the trigger guard provides you with extra space for your offhand index finger which improves your stability and accuracy.
Some modern gun enthusiasts might give you the stink eye, but what do they know?
Ergonomics and Grips
The P22 is definitely one of the most comfortable plinkers you can find on the market.
The small-sized grip is perfect if you have smaller hands, and the non-slip surface will make sure your handling is steady.
That said, while it may be ideal for small or medium-sized hands, the carefully designed, sculpted, and stippled grip adds better handling and control. The grips aren’t too serrated to cause discomfort, and are perfect for sweaty hands, especially during this sweltering heat.
The bottom line is that if your palms are around 3 to 4 inches in diameter, you should be able to wrap your fingers and palm around the pistol, and it’d feel just right.
This handgun is popular for its wide variety of aftermarket sights, lights, and optics; all thanks to the much sought-after Picatinny accessory rail.
It has a regular Picatinny rail with a standard military rail interface: an undercut strip in a hexagonal cross-section with T-letter groves, carefully designed so that most accessories you can find on the market fit, lock, and slide perfectly in their position. That’s German engineering for you—they think about everything.
There are all kinds of accessories and accuracy customization options that you can mount on the platform. It’s always better than iron sights, in my opinion.
We’ll check them out in the aftermarket buyer’s guide below, but let’s cover all our bases first.
The removable backstrap is one of the most popular features that really sells the P22.
This is a great feature that’s often attributed to law enforcement service guns. It’s located right at the center, halfway between your forefinger and your thumb.
It allows the grip to be customized and suited for any hand size, as the interchangeable backstrap offers a perfect fit with the crease of the finger resting lightly on the trigger.
When shooting, the recoil goes directly into the center balance of your palm and transfers along the length of your arm, which greatly reduces pain and recoil feel.
This is great if you want to spend long hours at the firing range. Your palms and finger bones will thank you.
The removable backstrap comes with every purchase.
Ask anybody who has ever fired a shot of .22LR and they’ll tell you that there’s barely any recoil from plinkers that would be an accuracy problem at all.
Even when you’re shooting high-velocity bullets, the recoil of the P22 is a light massage, so expect easy and precise follow-up shots. Besides, subsequent shots are easy with the light trigger pull, all thanks to the single action.
This—along with the excellent price—is probably what makes the Walther P22 a great pistol for people who have never held a handgun before.
If you’re looking for .22 caliber revolvers, check out our guide here.
The 3.4-inch threaded barrel weighs just over a pound and works great with a suppressor. The suppressor reduces noise and muzzle flash, so this is a recommended aftermarket option.
If you’re looking for a longer barrel that could fit your custom holster, then go for the extended 5-inch barrel. The shorter version is supposed to be a more lightweight option.
The 5-inch barrel model has slightly increased accuracy but adds some weight. Luckily, the weight compensator can ease things up a bit for the threaded barrel adaptor.
Keep in mind that you’re able to receive them both in your purchase, so ask your gun vendor about this.
The sights are a polymer ramp front sight with white dots, and the rear sight is windage adjustable with two white dots; there’s plenty of light between them. However, you can also find lots of aftermarket options for tritium or optic models that offer better target acquisition and tracking.
The three dots have a similar size and they are pretty much low-profile, with a snag-free design, so you won’t have to worry about clothing and holster problems.
Shooting the Walther P22
The P22 is definitely not for show-offs who are looking for +10 rounders.
Though the fun is limited only to a 10-round mag limit, it’s still a viable plinker that’s great for aiming and shooting.
It’s a straightforward gun that’s suited for shooting ranges, as well as the outdoors in the countryside. This is especially true if you bought a suppressor to lower the noise in open areas.
The affordable price on this pistol opens up a window of aftermarket opportunities, and you should definitely look into those suppressor options if you’re looking to shoot some bottles, cans, pots, and pans.
There are a lot of P22 gun owners who have complained about how their pistol can be very picky, especially when it comes to 36 grain Federals, subsonic ammo, and the CCI mini mag.
Apparently, it’s an issue for most .22LRs—it’s a recurring problem—and a lot of plinkers tend to jam and stove-pipe the rounds.
I also suggest you use copper-jacketed rounds to avoid any feed ramp problems. They’re slightly better than other lead projectiles.
Remember to keep your gun clean at all times to avoid jams and cycling issues.
The magazine release isn’t in the way of your fingers, so you won’t have to worry about any unintentional mag drops.
It’s located at the bottom rear of the trigger guard, it’s easy enough to reach, and it’s ambidextrous, so it’s perfect for both left and right-handed owners.
The mag is made of metal, but it’s thin, so don’t expect it to take a heavy beating. You can find extra magazines on the market that are worth every penny, so that would solve the problem.
The magazine injector, though, can be slightly problematic. It’s too rigid and it requires a heavy click to engage, so the sliding spring makes things easier when loading and reloading.
Eventually, the magazine lock and internal pieces soften up after continued use.
External Slide Stop
The Walther P22 has a revolutionary new external slide stop that locks back after emptying the magazine.
Not to be confused with a slide release, the slide makes sure the pistol cycles with efficiency and no issues.
Sometimes the slide fails to load new rounds, so it’s not advised to use the slide stop to release the slide because it could damage the internal parts. Just rack the slide back, so you won’t waste time or damage your gun.
It might take some time to get used to the mechanism.
Safety and Chamber Viewport
Turning the safety on blocks the hammer. This position allows you to manually pull it so that the hammer drops, and this is for extra safety and avoiding any accidental discharges.
Simply put, it’s a similar trigger system to the Taurus G2C.
When you press the trigger, the handgun is cocked before the striker is released, and the safeties are engaged with the trigger in the forward position.
The chamber viewport is a loaded-chamber indicator that tells you if there’s a round in the chamber. Some states require them, and it’s a great safety feature if you’re a newbie gun owner.
The chamber viewport is located behind the ejection port.
The Walther P22 has a DA/SA trigger mechanism, meaning it operates in both double-action and single-action trigger mode.
To quote the late Col. Jeff Cooper, he believed that the DA/SA trigger system is “an ingenious solution to a problem that does not exist.”
While some who prefer a consistent trigger pull may agree, I believe that learning and mastering a DA/SA handgun is an absolute requirement, especially when you have models that are quickly becoming popular on the market. It’s what makes a handgun safe and secure to use because you know, accidents happen.
The single-action trigger pull is 4 pounds, while the double-action is 11 pounds, which is a similar trigger pull and trigger system like the Ruger SR22, another great plinking handgun.
Check out our review of the Ruger SR22 here.
The trigger pull may be intimidating, but it doesn’t take much practice.
Additionally, it also has a manual safety on the slide, as well as a magazine disconnect safety, preventing any accidental trigger pulls, and as of late, the new P22 model has a safety de-cocking feature that ensures you drop the hammer with the manual safety.
Overall, the first trigger pull might be heavy for some, but it’s pretty lightweight and consistent when in single-action mode and it doesn’t feel gritty at all.
Differences Between the P22 and the PPQ, and P22 QD
Let’s clear some things up.
The Walther P22 QD, in contrast to the P22, has a more tactical design and comes with a captured recoil spring and decocking lever which lowers the cocked hammer when you put it in safe mode.
Other than that, it’s pretty much the same pistol size.
The Walther PPQ is available both in 9mm and .22LR calibers, it has a 12-round magazine capacity, the rear sight is adjustable, and it’s slightly heavier than the P22.
How to Disassemble a Walther P22
Before you do anything, point the gun in a safe direction, turn on the safety, and make sure the pistol isn’t loaded before you field strip it for cleaning. You can check out our buyer’s guide for the best gun cleaning kits you can find on the market today.
- Pull down the take-down lever – Walther take-down levers are notoriously difficult to pull down. I suggest you pry down both sides at the same time with your thumbs, or just try a flat head screwdriver and pry the sides one by one until both sides are disengaged.
- Retract the slide – Retract the slide and pull it back until it locks into position. Try not to hurt your fingers.
- Remove the slide assembly – Pull the slide back until you can feel it won’t go back anymore. Then, pull it upward until it moves from the top of the receiver, and then carefully move it forward. Mind the recoil spring.
- Check and note the field stripped parts – By now, you’ll have the slide, magazine, recoil spring, recoil spring rod, and receiver on your table. Grab a CLP or a lubricant and brush away.
- Reinsert the spring rod and recoil spring assembly – Place the spring rod along with the recoil rod into the recoil spring and carefully position the recoil spring assembly into the hole of the receiver.
If you want to reassemble the handgun, here’s a more detailed video.
The Pros & Cons of the Walther P22
- Ambidextrous safety
- Ergonomic for medium hands
- Customizable fit back straps
- 10-round magazine
- Multiple accessory options
- Good suppressor host
- Perfect for beginners
- Comes with only one mag in the box
- Not suitable for self-defense
- Doesn’t work well with low-velocity, low-pressure ammo
- Slide is known to be fragile
What Do the Others Have to Say About the Walther P22
Aftermarket Options for the Walther P22
Here are some interesting aftermarket parts for the Walther P22 pistol.
If you’re looking for a full buyer’s guide for the best Walther P22 aftermarket accessories, check out our guide here.
You can also check out the P22 Bible for more info on internal parts, trigger bars, recoil spring, and other stuff you might have issues with.
Before you consider anything else, check out the Tandemkross Compensator if you’re having trouble with the already minimal muzzle rise, or Galloway Precision steel guide rod assembly parts. These are one of the most sought-after internal parts and they’re popular for a reason.
One of the most popular extended magazine or mag extension options are the Walther Arms Colt 1911 that’s chambered in .22, or the Tandemkross Wingman extended magazine base pad if you’re content with the +5 round increase.
You should know that polymer and steel magazines are the most durable and most affordable, so look out.
If you’re looking for sights, there are a handful of very cool aftermarket options. I recommend you upgrade the front with TruGlo tritium or a red laser sight for that extra accuracy.
Keep in mind that if you’re operating in the day, green laser sights are your friend.
For night shooting, always go for red laser sights. The red laser doesn’t function well in daylight.
Alternatives to the Walther P22
Here are some similar and interesting alternatives to the Walther P22.
The Smith & Wesson M&P22 Compact Pistol is a 10-round plinker with a 3.6-inch barrel, and although it’s slightly bigger, it has that S&W reliability.
So, if you’re a fan of S&W you should check this one out. It has impeccable attention to detail, great ergonomics, and offers stable and reliable shooting at the ranges.
The Walther PPQ we mentioned before is a definite improvement of the P22. This version comes with two magazines and a case.
It’s an ergonomically advanced .22 rimfire with the same features, only it has a 12-round capacity, which greatly increases the fun factor. The rear sight is adjustable, it has front and rear slide serrations, and it’s slightly heavier than the P22.
Another excellent alternative is the Ruger SR22 plinker.
It’s a lightweight 10+1 rounder with interchangeable rubberized polymer grips, ambidextrous thumb safety, and a decocking lever. It’s great for both left and right-handed folk, and it’s also a nice little varmint firearm.
In contrast to the Walther P22, it’s surprisingly easy to strip down, and it comes with two 10-round magazines.
The Walther P22 is one of the best budget-friendly plinking handguns you can find on the market today, if not the best operation-wise.
It’s a solid entry-level pistol for those of you who have never fired a handgun before. With its minimal recoil, convenient magazine release, ergonomic grip, and removable back straps will be favored by both veterans and rookie gun owners.
This 22.LR Walther pistol is definitely not a self-defense handgun because many owners report that even though failure is minimal, it still doesn’t have enough stopping power for a CCW.
The trigger pull and overall system might be tricky for some, but it doesn’t require much practice. Besides, it’s a practice handgun, isn’t it?
It might not be as reliable as a Smith & Wesson Shield, but I’ll be damned if it isn’t fun to shoot.