August 03, 2022
It’s almost impossible to review a Walther .380 pistol without at least one reference to “James Bond.” It’s the Bond character, after all, who made the Walther PPK as popular as it is throughout movie fandom.
Walther launched its newest .380 at the 2020 SHOT Show, and it was a modern departure from anything a Bond actor ever carried. Designated the CCP M2, it’s the second iteration of the CCP line, which originally debuted on Guns & Ammo’s November 2014 cover in 9mm. In 2013, when the first CCP model was in its final stages of development, I was part of a small writer group invited to tour the Walther factory in Ulm, Germany. It remains one of the cleanest manufacturing facilities I’ve ever visited. Walther’s attention to detail then, and reliance on precision machining and quality control, is still evident in the new CCP M2 .380.
A lot of recent gun buyers have never owned a gun at all — and there are a lot of new gun owners! The year 2020 threw the U.S. a few curveballs including a global pandemic, uncertainty, and widespread violent protests. That awakened a lot of Americans, and caused them concern for their personal welfare. Of the 12 million background checks conducted halfway through 2020 — which eclipsed the entire year of background checks in 2019 — roughly half of those new gun owners were first-timers. According to the FBI, there were a total of more than 39.3 million federal and state background checks by the end of 2020.
Those first-time buyers need a gun that suits them, and Walther obliged with the launch of its CCP M2 in .380 ACP. At the heart of this 19-ounce semiautomatic pistol is Walther’s Softcoil gas operating system. (Softcoil was also used in the original CCP 9mm.) Unlike the more common recoil-operated autoloader, Softcoil utilizes a gas piston to assist slide operation. A small amount of gas from a fired round travels through a small port to drive a piston under the barrel. When the pressure drops, the slide moves rearward to cycle the action.
The Softcoil system has a few distinct advantages versus the traditional recoil operation. First, the pivoting gas-piston design slows the motion of the slide, which, in turn, reduces felt recoil. Hence, the CCP is one of the softest-shooting handguns on the market. The system also abates the rearward impact on the slide, which reduces fatigue to the moving parts of the pistol. Therefore, a lighter spring was used to operate the action, which makes it easier to work the slide.
Another advantage to this system: The barrel is pinned to the gas block and remains in a fixed position — and the slide rides on the barrel instead of rails. The serial number is on the gas block, which means the lower grip is just a polymer shell. Most recoil-operated pistols have barrels that have to move to unlock the slide and then maneuver back into position to lock and fire again. The barrel must return to exactly the same position every time for a consistent point of impact. With the CCP, however, having a fixed barrel that doesn’t move suggests that it’s easier to realize the gun’s accuracy potential.
The .380 ACP-chambered CCP features a slide made of 7075 aluminum, which can be anodized black or silver, and the matte-black finish of G&A’s sample proved durable. Like the original, the .380’s slide is slightly beveled at the top, which combines the pistol’s excellent ergonomics with tactile features such as forward leaning, front and rear slide serrations. The CCP has a smooth and streamlined look.
There’s an external extractor assembly mounted at the bottom-rear of the generous ejection port. A notch at the top-rear of the ejection port serves as a loaded-chamber indicator, too. Though it’s made of aluminum, the slide has steel supports to ensure strength and long service life, but the aluminum construction ensures that it’s light. Overall, the pistol weighs 19.4 ounces, which you would hardly notice when carrying it.
Sitting atop the slide are low-cost sights, a square-notch rear with a pair of flanking white dots, and a front post with a recessed white dot. Neither the front or rear sight is dovetailed to the slide. Rather, they’re screwed into the flat-top rib of the topstrap, and the rear is user-adjustable.
The rear sight has a screw on the right side that permits windage adjustments, and the front sight is removable. Walther includes a tool for removing the front sight as well as two additional posts to make elevation adjustments. Extra sight posts are a nice touch, especially for a pistol with a retail price well under $500. The CCP M2 .380 carries an MSRP of $469, but G&A found these pistols selling closer to $400 at the time of this writing.
What’s not included, however, are interchangeable backstraps. Given how common optional backstraps are with new pistols, it might seem like an oversight. For the money, I don’t think many buyers will be put off by the lack of grip options. While the CCP M2 is suitable for anyone, it is designed with the new shooter in mind. While I was writing a book on concealed carry for beginners a few years ago, I surveyed gun owners about the features they were most concerned about. As I learned, those new shooters prioritized reliability, shootability, safety and cost. If a gun felt good when they handled it at the counter, then it was fine for them.
And the CCP M2 .380 does feel good in the hand! Walther nailed the CCP’s grip geometry. With the magazine in place, even shooters with large hands will find this pistol comfortable. The contours promote a high, secure grip on the gun for control, and the micro-texturing provides a tangible grip without biting the hand during recoil. Finger grooves are molded into the sides for more leverage, and there’s a pronounced ridge on the front portion of the grip where the middle finger rests. Many compact carry guns have brick-like handles, but not Walther’s.
The single-stack CCP M2 .380 includes two, eight-round stainless-steel magazines. There are viewing windows cut into the right side of the magazine that coincide with the cartridge case. It’s easy to determine how many rounds remain available. You’d expect that a gun designed for minimal recoil and easy slide manipulation would also be easy to load; yep, that’s certainly the case. The magazine spring is sturdy, but not too heavy, and it drops free from the grip with the modest touch of the M2 magazine release button.
That’s what “M2” in the “CCP M2” model name stands for, by the way: “Magazine Release No. 2.” Going back to the P99 of the early 2000s, Walther pistols were known for having a dual-paddle, ambidextrous magazine release lever, which were also on some PPQ models. American feedback was that they preferred a push-button magazine release, so they invented the M2 — and Walther sold more pistols. Today, Walther only offers the “M1” paddle-type magazine release lever on one Q4 TAC, one Q5 Match, two (outgoing) PPQ models, P22 and PK380 pistols.
Besides the M2 magazine release button, which is reversible, controls are standard fare; they’re easy to operate and low profile for carry. The functional slide stop is easy to access. A manual thumb safety is on the left side only, which must be pressed down to fire; in that position, a red dot indicates the status. (Another red indicator protruding from the rear of the slide is another status check that tells the user the striker is cocked.) The safety doesn’t lock the slide, so the pistol can still be worked with the safety engaged.
The Takedown Breakdown
One control missing from the CCP is a disassembly lever, and that’s because the procedure differs from most carry guns. The 2014 CCP was a fine gun, but as G&A noted then, the pivoting piston design required a somewhat complicated takedown process that required a special tool from Walther. The CCP has since been simplified. The CCP M2 .380 is faster to field strip and doesn’t require any tools.
Here’s a summary: Remove the magazine and ensure that the pistol’s chamber is empty. Once the gun is safely unloaded, pull the trigger and then move the serrated lever on the rear of the slide (beneath the cocking indicator) to the right. The rear portion of the slide jumps backwards, which allows the slide to be retracted slightly and lifted from the rear. It can then removed from the front. There’s a large coil spring that surrounds the barrel, and the piston is attached underneath the slide’s front.
On its website, Walther claims the CCP M2 .380 measures 6.41 inches long with its 3.54-inch barrel, the same as the 9mm model. The weight, which Walther lists at 19.4 ounces, was spot on when tested it against digital postal scale.
The CCP M2 .380 has a suggested retail of $469, which is less than what we’d typically expect of a German-made pistol. However, it is priced slightly higher than many popular micro compacts in .380 ACP. The Ruger 10-plus-one-round LCP II starts at $409. The six-plus-one Kahr CW380 has a $439 retail, and the smaller Springfield Armory 911 Alpha with 2.7-inch barrel and six-plus-one magazine starts at $429. The also-easy-to-rack Smith & Wesson M&P 380 Shield EZ with eight-plus-one capacity starts at $441.
After range time, the Walther stood out as being softer to shoot than nearly all of those other guns, and perhaps the same as the M&P 380 Shield EZ. While carrying each of these pistols, G&A’s staff also noted that the CCP’s slide design and grip made it much easier to conceal on the belt than many other pistols. It was too large for ankle carry as a backup gun, but the CCP M2 strikes a great balance between handling, concealability and shootability.
The Walther CCP M2 .380 is a pleasant gun to shoot. It’s a pistol that’s suitable to almost any shooter. The slide is light and required minimal racking force, and the Softcoil gas-piston system reduces slide velocity so that the recoil impulse is mild and more manageable than most modern .380s. The longer barrel length, weight and a superb grip design eliminated fatigue during long strings of testing. The .380 isn’t known as a wrist twister, but this gun is anything but.
The two included magazines are high quality and easy to load, too. The CCP’s overall fit and finish is excellent, and despite the usual bumps and bangs associated with our long-term range test, the black anodized finish showed no signs of wear or thinning at the conclusion. Today, the gun cleans up and looks just as it did when it first came out of the box.
The CCP M2’s trigger pull measured 6 pounds. The weight is most noticeable at the bench when it was time to fire for accuracy. It does have considerable travel, and while the CCP’s isn’t the smoothest trigger in its class, it is fairly predictable. The wide trigger face helps to improve trigger manipulation. Reset is rather long, and almost the full length of the rearward stroke. When shooting Failure Drills at seven to 15 yards, the added trigger weight and lengthy reset was countered by barely-there recoil that allowed me to stay on target.
Neither the trigger nor the three-dot sights on this pistol were designed for target shooting. Despite that, the CCP M2 .380 produced some impressive accuracy figures for such a carry gun. The best five-shot group measured 1.2 inches at 25 yards, and there were several other groups that ranged between 1.6 and 2.2 inches. Averages across the board were closer to 2.5 inches overall, which is certainly better than you’re likely to get from most short-barreled micro-compact .380s. Having adjustable sights is a real bonus, too, and at distances less than 10 yards, it’s easy to keep all eight shots in the A-zone of a target.
Function was generally good with very few stoppages. One issue did appear when a cartridge failed to chamber. After it happened, I disassembled the CCP M2 and gave it a thorough cleaning, which included wiping out the barrel, cleaning the feed ramp and scrubbing the piston and gas port. The issue didn’t occur again.
Also, the CCP M2 did fail to lock open on the last round. And on two other occasions, the last empty cartridge stovepiped in the chamber. I don’t know if those intermittent issues worked themselves out, but I calculated the failure rate at 3 percent of the shots fired.
Walther’s CCP M2 in .380 ACP is a solid contender for best in class in this segment. No surprise, it was well thought out, well built and very easy to operate and carry concealed. I think that most new shooters will find the CCP M2 far more accommodating than a smaller .380-caliber pocket pistol, in my opinion.
Walther’s workmanship is apparent throughout. Its controls are easy to use (though the trigger could be improved), and even though the disassembly process requires some learning, it’s not that much of a burden once you’ve done it a few times.
New shooters, the elderly and people with dexterity issues are often put off by handguns producing snappy or significant recoil, that are heavy to hold, or have hard-to-reach controls; the CCP M2 suffers from none of these issues.
The PPK has been a popular carry gun for a century, and there are plenty of Americans still packing .380s for personal protection. Ammunition companies have made .380 ACP defensive loads a viable option, too. When loaded with high-quality personal protection ammo, the CCP M2 .380 offers better performance than many of its rivals with eight rounds in each magazine. While it may not be your choice of everyday carry, the CCP M2 has its place among those who don’t want to deal with recoil, heavy guns or hard-to-rack slides. I’m a trail runner, and I’m often not unaware of how vulnerable I am when I’m exhausted, far from help and mentally preoccupied. A lightweight, compact .380 with a sweat-proof exterior finish makes for a pretty good personal defense strategy, especially compared to not having one at all.
The original CCP M2 in 9mm — which is priced about the same as the .380 — isn’t a bad carry option either for those who won’t carry anything in a smaller caliber. In my opinion, however, the CCP M2 in .380 is a better pistol than its predecessor. It’s a totally different breed of Bond gun that’s better suited for a wide range of shooters.
Walther CC P M2 .380 ACP Specifications
- Type: Striker fired, Softcoil gas-piston operated, semiautomatic
- Cartridge: .380 ACP
- Capacity: 8+1 rds.
- Barrel: 3.54 in., fixed, stainless
- Overall Length: 6.41 in.
- Height: 5.12 in
- Width: 1.15 in
- Weight: 1 lb., 3.4 oz.
- Finish: Black anodized (aluminum)
- Trigger: 6 lbs. (tested)
- Sights: Three-dot, adj.; notch rear, post front
- Price: $469
- Importer: Walther Arms, Inc., waltherarms.com, 479-242-8500
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