I’ve written before about how the Ruger “Standard” is a great choice for novice and expert shooters alike. The .22 LR ammo has very low recoil, little noise and almost no muzzle flash. It’s also highly accurate so shooters of all experience levels can benefit from practicing with it.
That’s why it’s pretty much the gold standard for .22 caliber handguns. It seems everyone has one, or something very similar.
I was therefore interested to try the Walther P22 Target model. This is a variant of their P22 concealed carry pistol. While .22 LR may seem laughably underpowered for self-defense purposes, it is better than nothing. As I’ve written before, caliber and hitting power are far less important than accuracy. That terrifying .44 Magnum is nothing but a noise-maker if you can’t hit the target. (Actually it’s worse, because if you miss the target by definition you’re going to hit something else that you didn’t intend.)
The P22 Target has a slightly longer barrel than the base model with a weight attached. This gives a feel quite similar to the bull-barrel .22s. The weight helps dampen the recoil and improve stability. Even with it, this is still a very lightweight gun.
Ergonomically it is superb. I love the way Walther grips feel. I prefer a smaller grip and Walther’s are easy to grasp and comfortable in the palm.
In terms of ease of use, I’d have to say the Walther beats my tried-and-true Ruger Mark III. The front weight adds a little complexity to breaking it down for cleaning, but compared to the Mark III (which actually requires a hammer to disassemble!), it’s a breeze. The magazine is very similar, with a little thumb button to help load it and while the rounds appear jumbled when you load them in, they feed just fine.
One of the fiddly things about the Mark III is how you cock it by pulling back the slide – which is really not much more than a bolt assembly. Having an actual slide to rack is nice. One point to be aware of is that this pistol does not come with a decocker, so if you need to return it to safe, you have a pull the trigger and manually lower the hammer.
The Walther’s performance is superb. I haven’t done a side-by-side comparison but I’m pretty sure it will come out on top simply because the grips are so much more comfortable.
That's some serious praise, but this is an outstanding piece of machinery. I really enjoy my Mark III and it was a shock for me to find myself contemplating an upgrade.
I'm not sure how it will hold up over the long haul (though Walther has a pretty solid reputation), but so far I'm very impressed.