September 19, 2022
While there will always be shooters who adhere to the idea of “bigger is better,” some have specific needs while others have considered that multiple shots in a gunfight will likely be necessary. If a fast follow-up shot is required, then some of us may have to rely on mechanical means to manage recoil rather than our physical means. Col. Jeff Cooper was quoted as saying of the .22, “… if it is properly placed, it may render good service.”
This is just a partial quote of a longer column. His point was that accuracy and speed always have a place in a gunfight. Multiple good hits with a 45-grain .22-caliber bullet moving at more than 1,000 feet per second (fps) will likely solve whatever defensive problem you’re facing. Don’t misunderstand me here, I’m not saying that .22 WMR round is better than or even equal to a premium defensive load in a larger caliber. I’m simply suggesting that in many cases, it is probably adequate.
As of late, many manufacturers have been producing excellent subcompact pistols in easy-to-shoot calibers. Walther released its CCP M2 in .380 ACP and 9mm ($430), for example. With a growing number of concealed carry users, and the increased number of new license applications due to the Supreme Court ruling in NYSRPA v. Bruen (2022), it makes sense. With the launch of the new WMP, Walther may be cornering this market. The WMP is a full-size pistol, which makes sense for a lot of situations, especially when a new shooter is training. Large-frame pistols offer better leverage to manipulate controls, more surface area to grip and larger magazines to reload with (and less often). In the case of aligning sights, the benefit is a longer sight radius. All of these help with fundamental skill development. If you want to watch a new shooter fail, give them a small gun with a large bullet.
The Walther WMP is large, even by service pistol dimensions. At 8.2-inches long, 5.7-inches tall, and 1 1/2-inches wide, the WMP fills an average adult hand. The aluminum slide houses a 41/2-inch stainless-steel barrel that wears a well-executed crown. Walther engineers took advantage of its 8-inch slide length by equipping it with a nice set of metallic sights. They feature a red fiber-optic at the front and a drift-adjustable blacked-out rear notch of different heights. Shooters can tune these sights for a particular load. Considering the wide range of .22 WMR velocities, this was a sound decision. Bonus: The WMR also features a well-thought-out optic mounting system. It accepts most common dot sights.
The large-frame features Walther’s familiar “cross-directional texturing” along with the familiar Walther grip angle and palm swells. If you like the frames on the Walther PDP series, you’re going to like the WMP. Controls are completely ambidextrous with a generous slide-lock lever within reach on each side. I call it a “slide-lock” lever, because it’s so stiff that using it as a slide release often results in a longer reload time than simply sling-shotting the slide into battery. It might wear in eventually, but at this point in my evaluation, I’m comfortable using as a lock only. The magazine release system is unique in that it consists of an ambidextrous magazine-release button on either side and an ambidextrous magazine-release paddle, which is integrated on each side of the triggerguard. This should make all our Germanophile readers very happy. All the buttons and paddles work as intended, however, with no sticking or spring stacking. There is a generous accessory rail on the dustcover, too. Even though the rail is polymer, I didn’t have a problem with mounting any of my Streamlight or Surefire lights.
The WMP operates using an internal hammer-fired action, but the hammer can be staged during the press. This allows for a light and consistent trigger pull. It’s advertised as a 41/2-pound trigger, but Guns & Ammo’s sample was better. I measured a 4-pound, 3-ounce pull weight. The trigger features the ubiquitous safety blade in the middle of the shoe’s curved face, which moves about three-eighths of an inch before some stacking is felt and hammer tension increases. There’s little overtravel, and reset is on the long side. This is not surprising for a hammer-fired pistol. It’s a very nice trigger and Walther indicates that we can dry-fire the WMP, unlike many of its rimfire competitors.
Shooting the WMP Is Fun.
Because of its size, there is an expectation that the WMP shoots like a service pistol, but it shoots just like a loud .22! Recoil was negligible; the front sight barely moves when you’re on target. Walther recommends only high-quality, high-velocity rounds, so I made a call to friends at CCI and Federal. In fact, I talked Federal into sending me some of the new .22 WMR Punch. This is Federal’s newest Punch offering, and it carries a 45-grain projectile that moves at 1,000 FPS from a 2-inch barrel. (That’s 1,800 fps from a rifle barrel.) From the WMP’s 4 1/2-incher, Punch produced an average velocity of 1,173 fps. Every five-shot group measured less than 2 inches from 25 yards with an average of 1.7 inches overall. If I were going to take the Walther out and about, it would be loaded with Federal Punch.
Modern Walther pistols have a well-deserved reputation for accuracy; the WMP simply continues that assumption. For me, some vintage Federal 40-grain rounds averaged just less than 21/2 inches, while CCI’s 46-grain segmented hollow points matched the performance of the Punch with sub-2-inch groups.
The fun seems to go on given that Walther includes two 15-round magazines. The mags have an integral load-assist tab on each side, which is useful. Simply pull down on the tabs to move the follower down and make room for the rimmed cartridges. Rimmed cartridges are notoriously finicky when loaded into magazines, so being able to align them correctly makes for a more pleasant experience.
Even though the WMP will probably find favor as a training pistol and a small-caliber defensive option, I couldn’t help but think of what a fantastic little woods gun it is. For most of the 20th century, many companies sold .22 LR versions of popular guns for use in the outdoors. (And we can’t forget the conversion kits!) The Colt Woodsman and the Smith & Wesson Model 34 Kit Gun were often thrown into bags and tackle boxes to accompany families on outdoor adventures. Walther even offered its legendary PPK/s in .22 LR, which I recently discovered is still sold by Walther ($349). However, in my mind, the Walther WMP fits the role of a modern “kit gun” perfectly.
During an interview, Walther said that they are looking at offering a threaded barrel version in future iterations. A WMP outfitted with a quality red-dot optic would make an awesome suppressor host. Besides defense purposes, this setup would be ideal for putting small game in the pot or predator control.
The WMP might not be the best all-around gun for every situation, but it’s a very good gun for many of them.
Walther WMR Specifications
- Type: Double action, hammer fired
- Cartridge: .22 WMR
- Capacity: 15+1 rds.
- Barrel: 4.5 in.
- Overall Length: 8.2 in.
- Width: 1.5 in.
- Height: 5.7 in.
- Weight: 1 lb., 12 oz.
- Finish: Black anodized (aluminum)
- Grip: Textured (polymer)
- Sights: Fixed, red fiber optic (front); drift adj. notch (rear)
- Trigger: 4 lbs., 3 oz. (tested)
- MSRP: $549
- Importer: Walther Arms, 479-242-8500, waltherarms.com
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