I have purchased Walther PPS about a year ago and now it is my primary concealed carry handgun. I carry it almost every day, I have shot at least five thousands rounds through it. In this article I have summarized my experience and impression from this gun.

Walther PPS

 

Specification

Walther PPS is a slim, single stack, polymer frame pistol with a striker fire trigger action. It comes in two varieties – for 9mm and .40. This review covers the 9mm version. The most eminent features are very slim profile and unusual ambidextrous magazine release.

Below is the main technical characteristic (Glock 19 is added for reference)

Walther PPSGlock 19
Barrel length3.2"4.02"
Overall length6.3"7.36"
Height4.4"5.04"
Width0.91"1.18"
Sight radius5.4"6.02"
FramePolymerPolymer
Safety devicesTrigger, Internal safety, QuickSafe (tm)Trigger, Internal safety
Weight (empty)19.4oz21.16oz
Capacity6,7,8 + 115 + 1
Trigger actionStriker FireStriker Fire
Trigger pull6.1lb5.5lb
PressureStandard, +PStandard, +P, +P+

The User Manual is available for download from Steves Pages.

The gun is sold with a case, an additional back-strap, and three magazines – one for six rounds (without pinky support), one for seven rounds (standard), and one for eight (extended).

What comes in the box

 

Special features

The gun comes loaded with special features.

The one that catches attention the most is a special ambidextrous magazine release lever. To release a magazine you need to pull the lower part of the trigger guard down. It can be pushed down from either side. I found that the quickest and most comfortable way to release a mag for me is to use my trigger finger.

Walther PPS with open magazine release

I personally think this release is a bad idea. While ambidextrousness is important, there are several problems with it:

  • It requires getting used to and adds confusion. If this is the only gun you own and plan to own it is not a problem. But people usually own multiple guns and switching between them can be a problem. I, personally, also own a Glock 19 which I use for IDPA matches. When I train fast reloads with my Glock, my muscles remember one position of the release button. When I switch to Walther, I lose the advantage of the muscle memory and need to retrain. Taking in account that Walther is my main concealed carry used for self-defense, it can be a serious problem under stress.
  • The release button is too close to the trigger. Stress or negligence can cause the index finger to slide back instead of down and produce a shot when least expected. I usually carry with a round in the chamber. Every day when I put the gun to a safe I remove the round from the chamber, as an additional precaution in case my child cracks the safe code. Every day I need to pay careful attention when removing the magazine from the gun.
  • It is impossible to replace or load a magazine with the gun in a holster. It is not a requirement for self-defense, but definitely comes handy when you want to get the gun fully loaded with a round in the chamber. It is safer to insert the magazine, rack the slide, holster, then remove the magazine, top it off and reinsert while it is holstered. You do not need to mingle the loaded gun in your hands or holster is multiple times while topping off the magazine.

Replaceable back-strap is a common feature in modern polymer guns nowadays, but Walther has implemented it in much better way, comparing to Glock, for example. All you need to do to replace it is just remove the magazine. No special tools needed. It allows you to go to the range and shoot with different back straps, flipping them on the fly and choosing which one works the best for your hands.

Walther PPS replaceable back-straps

The removable back-strap has another advantage – it serves as an additional security lock. A fully loaded gun with a round in the chamber will not fire if the back-strap is removed.

Cocked hammer indicator on the back of the guns shows when the hammer is cocked and the gun is ready to shoot.

The rail under the barrel allows installation of a flashlight or a laser pointer.

The gun can have a full hand grip, with 7- and 8-round magazine, as well as a shortened grip with 6-round magazine (for improved concealability).

Walther PPS with 6- and 8-round magazines

 

Ergonomics

BErgonomics is a strong side of this gun. Carefully designed, with interchangeable back-straps, and flatten controls in right places it is definitely one of the most comfortable guns I ever shot. It sits naturally in the hand, nicely balanced. The overall impression of the gun is it is very well made and thought through.

I gave it a B due to two annoyances I personally faced with:

  • The weird magazine release takes time to get used to.
  • The rifling on the back of the grip is slightly too sharp. While not noticeable for a short shooting session it irritates the skin after several hundred rounds. As with any smaller gun the recoil is harder, and the rifling does start to be noticeable, especially during those long training classes.

Accuracy

AThe accuracy of this gun is amazing. With the 3.2” barrel it provides same results as my 4” Glock 19. I have used it for many IDPA matches. When I had to go through a pre-qualification exam for the NRA Firearm Instructor class, I chose Walther PPS over my Glock since I was more confident in its accuracy.

 

Ease of maintenance

A

The field stripping is very similar to Glock with couple a tweaks. It does not require the trigger to be pulled manually, which Glock was criticized for multiple times. Instead the back-strap has to be removed. This action de-cocks the hammer and locks the gun, thus reducing the danger of a negligent discharge.

The clean and lube procedure is the same as for the most polymer guns. The absence of external hammer makes it less likely to accumulate debris and fluff when carried concealed.

Walther PPS Field Stripped

 

Concealability

AThe intent behind the creation of this gun was to fill the gap between compact and pocket size guns. It is smaller and much slimmer than compact guns like Glock 19 or M&P Compact, but it is too big and too heavy to carry it in a pocket.

Walther PPS vs. Glock 19

Due to its slim profile and short magazine it can be easily concealed under a shirt when carrying in IWB holster.  I was able to carry it during hot summer day under a t-shirt without anybody noticing.

Carrying in a pocket is probably not realistic, unless you have cargo pants with large pockets. 19oz of weight and the overall size take this gun out of the pocket carry class.

 

Reliability

A

I have this gun for over a year. I had more than 5,000 rounds through it. I have shot matches with it, dropping magazines into dust, picking them up, loading and shooting again. I shot classes with more than 1200 rounds in two days. I did not clean it for months. And in all this time I had only two malfunctions ever. I attribute those malfunctions to bad ammo since, being cheap, I buy reloads at our local gun show.

So my verdict is – this gun is as reliable as it can get.

It’s not the case for magazines, though. They do not take much abuse. Couple of days of dropping them on the concrete floor of the range usually causes small breakages and they start opening up and spraying rounds around. And they are not cheap to replace, the best deal I found online was $49 for the 7- rounder. In this one year I had to send two magazines to the manufacturer to be replaced.

It can be a problem if you plan to compete. Practical shooting sports such as IDPA or USPSA require dropping magazines on the ground where they hit the concrete floor or rocks. It is not a problem if you use this gun for self-defense. After I replaced the magazines I never abused them again and never had a single issue.

 

Cost effectiveness

B

While not a cheap gun, it is not a collectible item that people give an arm and a leg for. I would put it in the middle of price range for its class, slightly on the expensive side. I got mine from lowpriceguns.com for $590.

 

Accessories

E

The gun is not a mainstream firearm, and the after-marked has not jumped the wagon. As a result the choice of sights, holsters, and other accessories is quite narrow. Most of the accessories, except holsters come from the manufacturer. Major holster makers have versions of their most popular holsters adapted for it, but small pop-and-mom shops usually do not bother.

 

Conclusion

Walther PPS is a great choice for concealed carry, designed to fill the gap between standard compact size and pocket guns. Due its low capacity it is not the best choice for replacing a standard issued firearm or competing.

 

Street Self-Defense Five stars Concealeable, Reliable
Home protection Four stars Small capacity, but good safety features
Range fun Four stars Small capacity, but accurate
Competition Three stars Small capacity, snappy recoil for long training
Hunting One star Really?
Replacement for issued handgun Three stars Small capacity
Back-up gun Four stars Concealable, but too large for pocket carry

Have a safe day.

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4 comments
GregWgnr
GregWgnr

I couldn't love this gun more.  I have had it for 2 years or so, fired many rounds, not a problem.  


Then I just recently took it to the range again.  I was practicing some moving and dropped the flush magazine on the ground.  It broke.  Called Walther.  It took two months till they had the part in stock which is fine, then they said "that will be $9."  For one we are talking a fairly new gun, not a 30 year old gun, for two if only the second time it ever dropped on the ground it broke, not saying a lot for the magazine ruggedness.  Kind of killed my feeling of the gun and company.  I may be switching the the M&P shield.  S&W has stood behind their weapons in my past experiences.

rwrightv335
rwrightv335

I bought a Walther PPS new in January 2013. I only came with two magazines - short and extended. I have taken it to the range two times and used the extended magazine. I never added the extra round in the chamber so I used only a full magazine. When firing the gun, in both cases, after I chambered a round and fired, the second had a hard jam. The round was wedged near the top of the magazine but still in the mag. I had difficulty clearing the jam each time. Neither the gun nor the mag have been dropped or appear to have been damaged in any way. Any ideas?

Doug Dowler
Doug Dowler

I have the same gun, it is small and low profile. Great Gun.

davidkiz
davidkiz moderator

@rwrightv335 There are three potential problems: 

1) defective magazine. try to shoot with another mag. If this is the case, contact the manufacturer, they are usually very good in replacing defective parts.

2) the ammo is too weak. Try getting another ammo, make sure it is not reloads.

3) limp wrist - a problem caused by the shooter not holding the gun strong enough. It causes the gun to bounce too much during the recoil, so too much of the recoil energy is spent on the movement, not enough to bring the slide all the way back. Try to hold it more rigit, limit the movement of your wrist during the recoil.

4) If none of the above helped - there might be a problem with the gun. Contact the manufacturer.