Walther P22: German-made subcompact semiautomatic

By , June 22, 2009 7:16 pm
Walther P22 (black, 3.4 barrel)

Walther P22 (black, 3.4" barrel)

The Walther P22 is a semiautomatic pistol manufactured in Germany by Carl Walther GmbH Sportwaffen. Distribution in the United States is by Walther America, a joint venture with the Smith & Wesson Company.

There are two separate models of this handgun. The standard Walther P22 (pictured to the right) has a 3.4″ (87mm) barrel, while the Walther P22 Target has a 5.0″ (127mm) barrel with a barrel mounted weight compensator that matches the profile of the slide. The barrels are easily interchangeable between the two models, and packages that included both barrels were in the past offered directly from Walther. These combination packages are no longer available directly from the manufacturer, but to make up for this, some dealers do sell a discounted package with both barrels.

Walther P22 (3.4 inch barrel, Nickel)

Walther P22 (nickel, 3.4" barrel)

Color options from the factory are numerous. The P22 Black is the standard model with a black frame and black (blued) slide. The P22 Nickel has the same black frame with a nickel-finished (silver) slide. The P22 Military has an olive drab frame combined with the standard black slide. The P22 Anthracite/Brushed Chrome mates an anthracite (dark grey marbled with a lighter grey) frame with a brushed chrome finish on the slide.

The Walther P22′s exterior design very closely resembles the Walther PK380, a .380 ACP caliber compact pistol, but is somewhat smaller. Magazine capacity is 10 rounds and is a single-stack design. There is a slide mounted, thumb operated, ambidextrous safety and an external hammer. The magazine release is of a different design than most semiautomatic pistols sold in the United States. Instead of a magazine release button placed on the grip, the P22 has an ambidextrous magazine release lever located at the rear of the trigger guard. Many other Walther semiautomatic pistols (like the aforementioned PK380 and the P99) have a similarly-designed magazine release.

Walther P22 (military, 3.4 barrel)

Walther P22 (military, 3.4" barrel)

Walther has modified the magazine for the P22 as the original design was somewhat prone to feed failures. The first revision modified the feed ears and added a 3/8″ slot, allowing the rounds to stagger as they approach the top of the magazine. The second revision lengthened the stagger slot to 1″ to further improve cartridge feeding reliability. The third (and current as of 2009) revision has a tall spring retaining nub and is made of slightly thicker steel.

The P22 has a conventional double-action/single-action (DA/SA) trigger, meaning that the first shot may be fired with the hammer uncocked — the double-action trigger will first cock the hammer. The trigger pull in the double-action mode is approximately 12 lbs., and in the single-action mode is approximately 5 lbs.

This handgun is equipped with a magazine disconnect and will not fire unless a magazine is properly seated into the weapon.

Pistolsmith’s review of the Walther P22

Walther P22 review from Associated Content

Christian Gun Owner’s Walther P22 review

SpentBrass.com review of the Walther P22

Video review of the Walther P22 by nutnfancy at YouTube:

32 Responses to “Walther P22: German-made subcompact semiautomatic”

  1. Sara says:

    Pretty good post. I just stumbled upon your site and wanted to say
    that I’ve really enjoyed reading your blog posts. Any way
    I’ll be subscribing to your blog and I hope you post again soon!

  2. justin says:

    Hi Sara,

    As you can see, this page (as well as the rest of the site) is under construction. But over the next couple of weeks I’ll be added loads of information and reviews about .22 LR handguns as well as .22 LR conversion kits for larger-caliber handguns.

    I hope you enjoy what you see in the coming weeks!

  3. Dharma says:

    I like what you are doing here. The poor .22 is so often dismissed as a “pea shooter” and that is just wrong. I recently returned to shooting and am doing pistols for the first time in a VERY long time. A few months ago I bought a P22 for a practice gun and to help a friend get used to shooting before putting her on my Glock 19. She fell in love with the P22 so I gave it to her for christmas. Of course I didn’t know that Walther was coming out with the PK380 at the time so am now kicking myself. As a result of picking up the PK380 I now find myself in need of another P22 for practice as the controls are nearly identical and the P22 is only 10% smaller. Also I picked up a Neos a month or so ago and find it to be an outstanding gun. Going to be zeroing in the red dot I put on it this weekend. I’m also looking at getting a conversion kit for the G19 in Feb. and will be more than happy to provide a review if you need it.

    That rambled a bit, didn’t it?

  4. billy wheeler says:

    good info in one spot on this gun. i actually viewed the video first on youtube months ago. i bought one and i really like it. it was the only gun i picked up and immediately felt connected to. very easy to shoot accurately…. right out of the box. i bought mine (3.5″ barrel) with the laser. very happy with were my money went.

  5. justin says:

    Thanks for the support, Billy Wheeler. I’m glad you are enjoying your new Walther P22.

    • King Cool says:

      I’m looking to purchase a .22 lr semi-automatic. Where can I buy this Walther P22? I own a six shot pistol with a nine inch barrel since I was a young boy.

  6. Dharma says:

    Some feedback on the P-22. I’ve had mine for a little over 6 months with about 800 rounds through it and have also used 3 different configurations:
    5 inch barrel with factory faux suppressor/counterweight
    3.4 inch barrel with factory laser
    3.4 inch barrel without factory laser.
    Lets start with the infamy of the hollow point feed problem. It’s not just hollow points. A fully loaded mag is going to be cranky about feeding the first few rounds no matter what. This gun has the latest magazines and the rails were well greased and no matter what the first couple of rounds from a full mag would not feed well. Now that over a brick of ammo has been fired this is no longer an issue. It needs a breakin period and nothing else (other that proper cleaning and lubing.) It is a flat out fun and (once broken in) reliable shooter.
    That being said I found out something interesting on my last trip to the range. I had purchased the 3.4 inch barrel kit (the gun was new in the 5 inch version) and installed it (quick and easy, gotta love that feature) and took it to the reange. My experience was so counter-intuitive it isn’t even funny. The 3.4 inch barrel improves performance dramatically over the 5 inch. The balance of the gun makes it a natural pointer. It feels better in the hand (meaning excellent like the PK380) and for some reason the sight picture is better. That is possibly a result of the size of the sight components but I can’t say that for sure.

    End result? “My” P22 ended up being a xmas present to a friend though for review purposes I still call it mine. Looks like I’m going to get a new P22 at the gun show in Sept. for my own (in the 3.4 inch version.) It won’t replace my NEOS for tack driving and I’m not likely to use it as a defense gun like my PK380 or my Taurus PT911 but for affordable range practice with the ergonomics of a larger calber the only thing better is the HK Mosquoto (a gun I need to add to the collection.)

  7. B says:

    I have owned my p22 for 7 years. I bought it new. Never had a problem, UNTIL one day I was checking the guns in my safe and noticed a CRACK in the slide at the front that went from the bottom to the hole for the front sight. Had I not noticed this it could have cracked through the other side and flown off into my face. Do an internet search and you will find this is not the only time this has happened. Please always check your slide so this doesn’t happen to you. As of yet they have not told me why the slides crack, but it sounds like a manufacturer defect. Maybe because the zinc slide is too thin at that point. For mine it is certainly not from abuse or high power rounds. The crack is hard to see sometimes so look carefully. Pass the word to anyone who owns one. No one should lose an eye because of a defect.

  8. millvillan says:

    a great pistol for the money. Will shoot circles around the
    Sig mosquito. I use all diferent kind of ammo in with no problems at all. I give it five stars

  9. BR says:

    Can the P22 be used for competition? If not, what other .22 can be? And please dont everyone say ruger cause I dont like the feel of the ruger MK II/III.

  10. derek says:

    BR: There are competition style 22′s that are used in….competitions. Best to look and see what competitions accept as allowable weapons. If you are looking to seriously compete the best one would be custom-built for your grip, sight preferences etc.

  11. jimbo says:

    Love this site. I’m a big .22 fan, some of us aren’t training to kill you know. I am looking into a new pistol for my collection and I like this Walther. I will surely be checking back.

    • Kirby gates says:

      Kirby gates says:
      October 9, 2013 at 7:32 pm
      I bought my p22 6 years ago never had any problems tell October 5th 2013 when shooting it the slide broke sending it back in to my face knocking me out I thought it was a good gun tell then I will not ever shoot it again even with a new slide

  12. Bryan says:

    i wish i didnt have to be the combat boots in a room full of tuxedoes–however I HATE my P22…it is unreliable no matter the ammunition, the magazines are horribly made and cost way too much and the pistol is horrendous to reassemble

    I LOVE rimfires; I will probably trade for a Colt 1911-22 and be washed of it

    I tried to love this handgun but being the owner of a Glock G22 i cannot lust over a pistol that doesnt go ‘Bang’ every time the trigger is pulled!

    Safe Shooting and Excellent BLOG!

  13. Eddie says:

    I have to agree with Bryan. This gun is simply BAD. Tons and tons of FTE/Feed/Cycle/etc issues. I always told myself it was a break in period. Bought new, expensive-costing-yet-cheaply-made mags, didn’t change. I kept her very well lubed. Sadly, the break in period just never seemed to end. Never ejected the first shot using 4 types of .22LR rounds. I took my sister shooting for her first time and she wanted to shoot this gun so bad. We sat down, cleaned it up, lubed the hell out of it. After just under 300 rounds with nearly 1/4 of ALL ROUNDS having some sort of failure, we decided that was enough. Traded the gun.

    From everything I’ve read, other people have the same issues I did. This gun is NOT cheap, nor does it appear cheaply made. If this gun actually went bang every time I pulled the trigger, this would have been one of my all time favorites. Sadly, I will never buy another Walther P22.

    • hsabin says:

      The problem with your gun may be the manufacture of it. Return to the manufacturer and request that they shoot it and find out what’s wrong with it. I had a Ruger 22 that did the same thing and I even sent it back to Ruger who cleaned it and said nothing was wrong with it – yet it fouled up after 100 rounds. I think it depends on the gun -

  14. John says:

    Im afraid I have to strongly disagree with Bryan and Eddie. Ive owned my Walther for years now and have put thousands and thousands of rounds through her with few FTF/Cycle. That was also when the pistol was brand new and took hundreds of rounds to break in. Now she comes out of the cabinet at least once a week to plink with. It eats every kind of ammo ive used and keeps good groups at 25 yards. I own several .22 pistols including Ruger, Browning, and a Colt woodsman. All of which are great, however when it comes to plinking or target shooting I tend to pick up my p22. But I guess just like any firearm you have your good ones and your poor ones.

  15. christopher freeman says:

    i love this gun best gun besides my bersa n i own russian sks’s n all types of firearms this gun saved my butt after a dog attacked me at night on my ranch will buy more for sure

  16. the_goon says:

    Can a 14 year old boy use this gun at a firing range

  17. left handed erby says:

    first of all wow what an awesome site. (thanks) here is my problem. i am a lefty so is there anybody out there that may have any suggestions on a particular model? (2 lefty 2 righty shooters in the family) secondly i need some opinion on buying my first pistol and thoughts on caliber. start with .22 or suggest another caliber?

  18. seph_04 says:

    erby try to purchase tanfoglio force 22 pocket… nice one…

  19. mike says:

    here’s one with a suppressor on it. http://www.jpg10.com/890-walther-22lr.html

  20. Carl says:

    Yesterday was my first experience with this pistol. I love the star wars look, love the way if fit my hand, and the way it went on target without any effort. When I took it to the range and fired it, had two out of 10 misfires. That ended the love affair with it. A weapon that will not fire reliably is dangerous.

    After some research, it appears the problem is defective design. Apparently, the slide hangs up on the hammer while cycling which causes the weapon to jam/not feed properly.

    One you tube video stated that by filing 1/16″ of metal off the hammer face, and polishing the slide rails the weapon functioned flawlesslessly. That is a major design flaw, that apparenly S&W / Walther is or wasnt aware of. If however they were aware of it, then that would mean that both companies marketed products they knew were defective.

  21. Justin says:

    I have owned a P22 for a little over a year. It is a fun gun to shoot when it feels like working. Highly unreliable. Recently the slide broke in two and hit my GF who was shooting it in the face. Enough to scare both of us but do no harm. This gun is junk. I had a new slide put on by S&W only to have it now not fire at least one round every magazine. Will be trading this for something else.

  22. Phillip says:

    I too made the mistake of buying the Walther P22 with the extended barrel. It goes down in the books as the worst gun I have ever bought & or shot. Buying this gun was a complete waste of money & time. Maybe I got a lemon, but it was so in accurate we couldn’t get it zeroed in on a bench rest b/c there wasn’t enough adjustment to bring it in, it was ridicules. So I sold it & bought the 22 conversion kit for my Kimber, oh big surprise it is very accurate. I should have done that to begin with.

  23. Nicole says:

    Hi I’m a new shooter and was trying to find a reliable gun. I’ve shot a 380, 9mm and a 22. Out of the three I was more comfortable with the 22, but was hoping for some feedback on my choice before I 100% commit to buy. Thank you! I’m a new mom of a 3 month old and was wondering if this would be good for safety.

    • A .22 LR pistol is not a good choice for self-defense or home defense. The .22 LR round is a rimfire cartridge, and because of its design the ammo is not nearly as reliable as centerfire rounds like the .380 ACP and 9mm you shot. It also is a very weak cartridge that is often ineffective for defense.

      A 9mm is an excellent choice for defense. As a new shooter, you of course are much more comfortable with the .22 LR and its extremely low recoil. But you will get used to a 9mm very quickly.

      My suggestion (if you can afford it) would be to buy a 9mm pistol and a .22 LR pistol. The .22 LR is a great training platform, as you can shoot 5-10 rounds of .22 LR for the same price as a single round of 9mm. Training with the .22 LR pistol will help you learn proper sight picture, trigger pull, and stance, which are all skills that will help you improve your marksmanship with any other pistol.

      When I go to the range to practice, I typically fire 200-300 rounds through my Ruger .22 LR pistol and 50-100 rounds through my SIG Sauer and S&W 9mm pistols. Before I purchased the .22, I was only able to shoot 100-150 rounds through my 9mm pistols, so my progress was slow. Even though I fire fewer rounds through my defensive (9mm) pistols, I am shooting almost 3 times as many rounds each session. My skills improved very rapidly once I did this.

      If you can only afford 1 gun, you should get a 9mm. Be sure to try to shoot several different 9mm pistols — everyone is different, and you want to be sure to buy a gun that fits your hands properly.

      • hsabin says:

        Sorry to disagree with you Justin – a mom with a .22 who can put ten rounds into a perp is a much better choice than a 45 which she can’t handle. I always recommend a 22 especially for a new shooter. The recoil is next to nil – she can put rounds into a face and torso and keep shooting until the perp stops walking. OF course, I also recommend a shotgun – that is the BEST gun for home defense for many reasons. I am also a woman instructor and shooter.

  24. Steve Daniel says:

    The Walther is a poorly made 22 hand gun I own one and It shoots okay but the cheap zinc slide disolved part way just soaking in some gun cleaner. Wish I had bought the Ruger with the nice aluminum slide. But honestly I rarely shoot the P22 now that I am the proud owner of a Ruger SR1911 I’d just rather shoot the big stuff cost more but its a lot more accuate.

  25. Joe says:

    As a new owner of the p22, what do you do when you have a FTF, and how do you extract the shells when you have a FTE. Reading some of these blogs is not giving me a good feeling about buying the p22.

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