Typically, when someone sees Walther Arms mentioned in a review, it is shortly followed by the traditional James Bond or 007 references due to a clear lack of understanding of the rich and full history of the company itself. For over 130 years, the firearms industry has recognized Walther’s renowned German engineering and top quality. This wouldn’t be as sad if it was limited to just the PPK model reviews, all-be-it, still over used. Unfortunately for astute readers tired of the “same old, same old,” writers constantly seem to underrate Walther Arms by including these references in almost every model review published.
In the reality of it all, Walther Arms is perhaps quietly the hottest firearms company in the industry lately and has set to put its lame associations by uncreative gun writers in the past. It seems like this company has been cranking out striker-fire model pistols in popular calibers every six months for over five years now, including the ever popular PPQ M2 that has become a top defensive shooter’s best kept secret. Now, Walther’s new M2 version of their popular model PPS chambered in 9mm and 40 caliber is certainly on pace to get some attention on the concealed carry market.
Making its debut at this year’s SHOT SHOW, Walther Arms allowed 1800GunsAndAmmo.com special access to the new PPS M2 series by shipping a sample chambered in 9mm prior to the industry show in Las Vegas. Since then, we have sent hundreds of rounds down range through this new little wonder gun and given it careful consideration as we thoroughly put it through the paces. This week, we take a look at the new PPS M2 and just what we found out about it during our two intense months with this pistol.
When the PPS M2 arrived at my local gun shop for pick up, I couldn’t wait to open up the plastic storage box and give it a once over. My initial impression was just how much the PPS M2 appeared to resemble a hybrid between the Glock Model 43 and the Beretta Nano which would happen be the current top two leading models within the subcompact striker-fired 9mm market. Initially the slide seemed slightly tall in comparison to its overall height of the pistol being 4.4 inches including its 6 round magazine in place. My concern was, if its 3.2 inch barrel was sitting possibly too high off the frame, it would pose the same uncomfortable bore offset related recoil as the Beretta Nano. Once out on the range during the testing phase, this wouldn’t play as big a part as I had feared.
With a width of only 1 inch, the frame felt super skinny in my hands but the overall ergonomics of the gun’s design gave me a positive and comfortable master grip. Also included with the gun was a second magazine slightly longer than the first which offered an extra round capacity giving you a 7 round option instead of 6 and providing just enough real-estate for your pinky to wrap around. In releasing its magazine, the biggest difference between the early model PPS and the M2 is the location of the mag release. Walther decided to make the pistol more US shooter friendly by moving the release from the European location of being part of the trigger guard to the standard US location on the frame just behind the base of the trigger guard.
Prior to seeing the Walther PPS M2 in person, I had only read one review of the pistol. Instead of mentioning key factors such as actually shooting the pistol, the writer had condemned the pistol for being too heavy and large for pocket carry. With now having a PPS M2 in my hand, this statement did not make any sense. I brought up the article again on my cell phone and looked for the photo the author had used to illustrate his point. In the photo, it appeared the author was wearing some sort of fashionable “skinny jeans” which I couldn’t get my wallet into much less the rest of me. I then slipped the Walther into my Wrangler jeans that are more common for real men to wear and watched the pistol disappear with very little printing without a proper holster. Total weight of the PPS M2 came in at 21.1oz giving the shooter just enough weight to balance in your hand while not being too heavy to carry concealed in any capacity. Instead of taking the Walther out of my pocket, I just finished up the transfer paperwork and drove home with my loaner pocket pistol.
As with most products reviewed for 1800GunsandAmmo.com, I loaded up the Walther PPS M2 and headed to “The Swamp” training grounds for one of what would be several trips to shoot over the next few weeks. In my bag along with my new Sport Ear hearing protection and Oakley Tombstone shooting glasses, I packed a few boxes of 115 grain full metal jacket (FMJ) ammunition provided by Winchester and 124 grain jacketed hollow point (JHP) ammunition provided by Remington. The dual focus would be on difference in accuracy and reliability using both different weight and style loads.
To start things off with 115 grain JHP ammo, I began using the 6 round magazine first. When charging the pistol, one thing you will notice is a flared forward ejection port. This actually serves as a loaded chamber indicator for those who feel the need to have one on their pistol. Rule #1 in firearm safety is to treat all guns as if they are loaded, so a simple rack of the slide usually confirms most questions for me. Regardless, it’s not a bad thing either way. The first couple of shots at 10 yards on paper seemed a bit snappy but not top heavy like I had feared it might mimic my experience with the Beretta Nano. Switching to the 7 round magazine, there seemed to be a good bit of recoil reduction by giving my pinky a chance to wrap around the extended grip. Regardless of which magazine I used throughout the first 50 rounds for fire, the accuracy seemed to be the same. I was shooting just to the left center of the bullseye. Due to how thin the pistol was in my rather meaty palms, I noticed during a quick dry firing exercise, I was pushing the pistol a bit to the left each time before the shot broke. I readjusted how I addressed the pistol and corrected the issue for the remainder of the time. I was impressed with the relatively short barrel’s performance by holding around a 1.5 inch group off hand.
When I switched to the 124 grain JHP loads, my shots stayed roughly in line with my previous shots horizontally but dropped just less than an inch as a total group. Despite the weight difference, I believe the snappier recoil generated by the hotter load may have played a large part in the drop. As with most of the guns in its category, the manufacturer achieves this size firearm by basically chambering a .380 sized firearm into a 9mm or .40. While the PPS M2 was controllable over the test period and achieved impressive accuracy for its size, I am grateful it was not shipped in a .40 caliber configuration.
I found the large, white 3 dot sights to be easy to use and very fast to acquire on target. While not intended for night use or competition, this close range pistol was well equipped with the right sights for its intended purpose. Most companies consider “minute of bad guy” at 15 – 20 yards to be completely acceptable, this little defensive pistol will offer the skilled shooter, “minute of head” shot. A key to this accuracy is more in the trigger than its comfortable ergonomics and large sights. According to Walther, the trigger weighs in at 6.1lbs; although, my trigger scale had it closer to 5.5lbs similar to the Glock I carry every day. Unlike my Glock, the trigger’s reset was noticeably shorter which allowed for less trigger movement and quicker shots.
The trigger really showed its advantage when I moved out to 20 yards to shoot steel targets for speed. With the quick follow up shots and very crisp trigger break, I could keep the shots on target at my average pistol times I achieve running a midsize pistol. Even when transitioning back to paper for fast presentation shooting on the move from low ready, the excellent trigger in the PPS M2 helped negate its snappy recoil and allowed for very respectable scoring hits.
As my time neared the end of its loan period, I finally decided to clean the PPS M2 up before sending it back to Walther. Field stripping was incredibly easy and familiar by unloading the pistol, checking to clear the chamber, and then doing it again and once more because it’s a lot easier to do than explaining to my wife how an unloaded gun shot our TV. Once it’s positively clear, dry fire on the empty chamber, pull down on the ambidextrous take down levers and pull the slide forward and off to remove the guide rod / spring assembly and barrel. Anyone who has ever taken apart any model Glock will be right at home with the Walther. With a bit of scrubbing with a toothbrush and solvent, I lightly re-oiled and reassembled the PPS M2 in less than 20 minutes having done a thorough job.
During cleaning, I took time to reflect on my times on the range over the past few weeks and gather my thoughts on the Walther PPS M2. Priced at $469 MSRP, this is on par with what to expect to be full retail on a well-made subcompact from a reputable company with as long a history as Walther has for quality and performance. Throughout all the boxes of assorted grain ammunition I ended up using through the PPS, there was not a single stoppage due to failure to fire, stove tops or double feeds regardless of anyone I allowed to assist in testing the firearm. In later tests, I even took the PPS to one of the range sessions for my wife’s chapter of The Well Armed Woman to allow them to contribute their input into the final overview of the pistol. The results ended up with a few similar comments about recoil and one lady inquiring about ordering one from their host range on the spot.
Final opinion on the Walther PPS M2 finds its way much in line with my opinion on most of the Walther products, I like it. The pistol hits 5 key points that make it a winner for me to recommend:
- Small with a respectable size chambering in 9mm
- Streamlined for snag-proof and easy concealability
- Uncomplicated / easy to deploy and shoot under stress
- Very reliable regardless of FMJ or JHP loads
- Above average accuracy for defensive distances
As with any firearm you carry on a daily basis, these points are important in choosing the right one for you. Personally, I would not hesitate to carry a Walther PPS M2 anywhere I go. Till next time, just remember, if you want straight forward reviews from people who spend quality time actually in the field and on the range testing every day, check us out at www.1800GunsAndAmmo.com!