A Nurse with a Gun

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

The Walther P22

Every now and then, I get email asking me why I never recommend the Walther P22 pistol. Indeed, I see that my friend Peter Click to enlargehas given it his recommendation in a recent blog article. The little Walther has many fans. They love the German pea shooter for it's size, and it's mimicry of the larger Walther P99.

For the record, I don't particularly care for the Walther P99 either. The P99 is not a bad pistol, I suppose it has it's niche with the transformer grip crowd as well as the James Bond fanatics who want the latest movie gun, but it never really stuck me as being anything special. It is a sufficiently accurate, and durable enough polymer 9mm pistol. That is all. The P22, however, is another story.

The Walther P22 is cursed with a zinc pot metal slide. The pistol had been on the market for approximately six months when the first reports of slide failures began to appear on internet forums. Click to enlargeMany opinions on the internet should be taken with a healthy dose of skepticism, but when corroborating photography accompanies the reports, and time and again, the slides are shown exhibiting failures in the same areas, it behoves the reader to take notice and pay attention.

The 22 cartridge is not a round that is reloaded. These failures can not be blamed on poorly loaded home brew ammunition. If a 22 round could be overcharged, it is still difficult to imagine an overcharged 22 round that could do this type of damage. Even if the shooters were firing round after round of Stinger ammunition, this type of failure should not have happened with the regularity that it occurred in the Walther P22.

Even if a potential purchaser wanted to ignore the forward slide failures, blaming them on the use of hyper velocity Extreme Shok killa gorilla ammo, Click to enlargeit is hard to deny that the subsequent cracks that appeared with frequency at the slide stop notch might be indicative of something else. That something else just might be a pot metal slide that would make a Lorcin look like a forged steel wonder gun.

Because of the regularity of these slide failures, and the potential for injury that could result from a chunk of metal leaving the frame of the gun under recoil and slamming directly into the shooter's face, I can not recommend the Walther P22 for anyone. Instead, I recommend the Ruger 22 line of pistols, or a Browning Buckmark. Either has a long track record of durability, reliability, accuracy, and a ready market for resale if the owner so chooses.

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29 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ruger:
- Accurate
- Reliable
- Parts readily available
- Upgrades readily available
- Made of real metal

Browning:
- Accurate
- Reliable
- Parts readily available
- Upgrades readily available
- Made of real metal

P22:
- Looks cool

7:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I look at this gun and think badly of it. It was the gun used in the VA Tech shooting. I cannot look at it and think otherwise.

8:12 PM  
Anonymous OrangeNeckInNY said...

I just ordered a Kimber .22LR conversion kit for my 1911. Can't wait to play with that.

9:07 PM  
Anonymous Kristopher said...

Don't forget the High Standard ... available cheap used.

Still running and running ... barrels are easy to replace.

9:16 PM  
Anonymous Wally said...

Much appreciated.

I liked the looks of the P22 and was considering one for a duff-around pistol.

I'll stick with the ruger MkIIs in the safe. They are pretty boring tho, always doing exactly what you ask :-)

9:18 PM  
Blogger Nate said...

I'd like to throw in my recommendation, the Beretta Neos. Rugged, accurate enough, choice of barrel lengths and screw a red dot down on top of it with no modifications. I've looked at those P22s and always thought they looked tacky even before I saw those pictures you posted tonight.

10:32 PM  
Blogger David said...

The P22 is just a cheap, not-too-accurate plinker.

However, I am looking at the SP22. Anyone have experience with those?

1:03 AM  
Blogger CounterClckWise said...

The problem I have with both the Ruger Mk II and the Buckmark is not the quality of the pistols -- they are absolutely great guns. But they're not as good to train with for me because I don't carry a Luger as my sidearm.

I've been shooting with a Sig Sauer Mosquito that I bought this spring. It's pretty similiar in grip and style to the plastic thingy I carry on my hip, and it as accurate and reliable as my Buckmark (so far, at least). The Mosquito might be a better alternative for someone who was looking at the Walther P22.

1:50 AM  
Blogger Old NFO said...

MK I, II or III, or if you can afford it, a Colt Woodsman...

3:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I look at this gun and think badly of it. It was the gun used in the VA Tech shooting. I cannot look at it and think otherwise.

It wasn't the gun, it was the criminal.

5:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll second the Hi-Standard, but with one caveat - you can't find magazines for it, anywhere.

Instead, go with the modern, updated Hi-Standard: the Beretta NEOS pistol. It may look like a space gun, but it's the same old Hi-Standard. My wife has one, we both shoot it a lot. We haven't cleaned it since it first came out of the box, and it's had over 10,000 rounds of Federal bulk .22 through it. Yes, ten thousand rounds, with no cleaning. I put a drop of oil on the slide around 1000 rounds, but nothing since. And there have been no malfunctions, and no signs of wear that we can find. Lots of dirt, but no malfunctions. We are very impressed.

9:18 AM  
Blogger Weetabix said...

*sigh*

Let's just say, hypothetically, that you recently bought one of these for your wife to shoot at the range because she's very recoil sensitive, but you want her shooting a gun that functions like a bigger gun so you can try to move her up in caliber later.

What would you do now?

Shoot it, but keep a close eye on the slide?

Make sure the warranty card got sent in?

Sell it and replace it with a ???

Has Walther done anything to address these issues?

9:34 AM  
Anonymous perpster said...

I haven't tried one yet, but Advantage Arms make a conversion kit for Glocks. Cost a bit over $100 or so. They are hard to find even though in production, so maybe that's a good indication of quality and satisfaction. If EDC is a Glock might be a good training aid.

10:20 AM  
Blogger Weetabix said...

P.S. Also, she has small hands.

11:41 AM  
Anonymous tjm said...

I have had a chance and come very close to buying one many times. I am now glad it never worked out. I had not heard of the trouble and just took the Walther name to mean a little something. After having to get rid of a new ppk/s because the folks at Walther (Smith and Wesson) could not fix it, I should have known better. Good article and good info. I will go for the Browning or Ruger next time one crosses my path. And the first pic seems to have a Glock clip next to it. That is odd… thanks again Xavier.

12:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The other .22 (Taurus 94) the fellow who's blog you have linked to reccomends is also a somewhat notorious junk gun. I have read many reports of constant misfiring, cylinder binding, and horrendous trigger pulls. The reports are far too consistant and numerous to write off as disgruntled internet propogandists.

1:39 PM  
Blogger Xavier said...

Weetabix, they were replacing the slides of the ones sent in broken, but I'm not sure if they were using a better slide.

Sorry I couldn't be of more help.

2:41 PM  
Blogger trajectory said...

Has Walther ever heard of FEA (finite element analysis), cycle testing, or quality control? Somebody needs a 2x4 applied to the side of the head to get his attention.

7:54 PM  
Anonymous 2yellowdogs said...

Thanks for the great post, Xavier. Wish I'd read it 2+ years ago. I've owned one since October of '06 with zero problems and zero misfeeds. I'd guess I've put at least a couple of thousand rounds through it.

But this sure makes me think. I'll certainly keep a close eye on it.

9:22 AM  
Blogger Tam said...

CCA has had two slide failures on rental P22s. We went through three between 12/04 and 6/07 alone.

9:39 AM  
Blogger Matt G said...

Frankly, I thought that it was going to be one of your Ugly Gun posts.

2:09 PM  
Blogger Chaz said...

The Walther P99 is a fine pistol in 9mm. The grip frame is much more comfortable and ergonomic than the Glock or any other polymer pistol, the trigger gives the shooter a very precise single action release and the various controls - decocker, mag release, etc. - are well placed. I think it's a better gun than you grant it. However, in .40 caliber that's another story, and I broke the one that I owned twice, at which point I retired it. (mm okay, .40 too much for that little gun. Too bad, I liked mine a lot and carried it a couple of years, shot it a TON and liked the way that it shot.
As for the P22 - I've never been impressed with it much at all. Now with this business about the broken slides I can forget it altogether. Thanks!

8:10 PM  
OpenID mechredd said...

I purchased a p22 when they first came out. I have shot over 5000 rounds of stinger ammo through it. Cracks have yet to appear.

1:44 PM  
Anonymous Kildlawyrs said...

I have to wonder if Walther may have started using diffferent materials in its slide. I bought my P 22 about two years ago, and it has performed absolutely flawlessly. I also love the fact that it fits my hand perfectly. This was a big selling point for me, as it is with any gun. It has to feel good, and the P 22 certainly does that.

3:18 AM  
Blogger tudza said...

According to the folks I emailed at S&W ( I believe they distribute these in the US? ), there have been no changes made in the slide design. Surprisingly, they also said they do not keep track of slide failures.

A gun seller I ran into last month had not heard of this slide material issue oddly enough, but said the trigger mechanism was known to be crap. Hadn't heard that. He also claimed the P380 was known to be worse.

None of this makes we want to put down even $300 on this thing.

5:09 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

I bought mine about 3 years ago and consider it junk. It has yet to go through one full clip of ammo without at least one jam or stove pipe (I have tried every kind of high velocity ammo so...).

The slide on mine is worn horribly because the trigger bar ears had huge burs on them and the safety gets jammed either on or off so you have to fiddle with it.

I am also extremely unhappy with the customer support. I have sent it in twice only to receive it back with a single spent casing and a note saying that they have test fired it without an issue... OF COURSE there is no issue if you only fire one round!

I have been so disappointed in this that I will not buy another Walther or Smith and Wesson out of principle.

12:50 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

I bought mine about 3 years ago and consider it junk. It has yet to go through one full clip of ammo without at least one jam or stove pipe (I have tried every kind of high velocity ammo so...).

The slide on mine is worn horribly because the trigger bar ears had huge burs on them and the safety gets jammed either on or off so you have to fiddle with it.

I am also extremely unhappy with the customer support. I have sent it in twice only to receive it back with a single spent casing and a note saying that they have test fired it without an issue... OF COURSE there is no issue if you only fire one round!

I have been so disappointed in this that I will not buy another Walther or Smith and Wesson out of principle.

12:50 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

I bought mine about 3 years ago and consider it junk. It has yet to go through one full clip of ammo without at least one jam or stove pipe (I have tried every kind of high velocity ammo so...).

The slide on mine is worn horribly because the trigger bar ears had huge burs on them and the safety gets jammed either on or off so you have to fiddle with it.

I am also extremely unhappy with the customer support. I have sent it in twice only to receive it back with a single spent casing and a note saying that they have test fired it without an issue... OF COURSE there is no issue if you only fire one round!

I have been so disappointed in this that I will not buy another Walther or Smith and Wesson out of principle.

12:51 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

I bought mine about 3 years ago and consider it junk. It has yet to go through one full clip of ammo without at least one jam or stove pipe (I have tried every kind of high velocity ammo so...).

The slide on mine is worn horribly because the trigger bar ears had huge burs on them and the safety gets jammed either on or off so you have to fiddle with it.

I am also extremely unhappy with the customer support. I have sent it in twice only to receive it back with a single spent casing and a note saying that they have test fired it without an issue... OF COURSE there is no issue if you only fire one round!

I have been so disappointed in this that I will not buy another Walther or Smith and Wesson out of principle.

12:52 PM  

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