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Walther P22 Review [Hands-On]: Perfect Rimfire Trainer

Want a great .22LR pistol that is not only fun, but can also double as an effective training pistol? We hands-on review the Walther P22 with tons of rounds.

.22LR is not only great for plinking, but a great introductory round for new shooters. 

Walther P22 and ammo
Walther P22 and a can of ammo, good times!

I originally bought the Walther P22 to teach my wife to shoot, and after thousands of rounds, and plenty of new shooters…I can say that it is a near perfect training pistol.

It has tons of features found on more expensive guns and with relatively affordable .22LR ammo, the P22 can be a no-brainer buy. Read on to see if it fits your purpose!

349
at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Walther P22
$349 at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing

Table of Contents

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Features and Specs

Key Specs

  • Caliber: .22LR
  • Capacity: 10+1 rounds
  • Barrel Length: 3.42 in
  • Overal Length: 6.3 in
  • Width: 1.1 in
  • Height: 4.5 in
  • Weight: 17 oz
  • Frame: Polymer
  • Grips: Textured polymer
Walther P22
Walther P22

Key Features

  • Interchangeable backstraps
  • Windage adjustable rear sight
  • Captured recoil spring
  • Double action/single action trigger
  • Threaded barrel
  • Ambidextrous mag release and slide safety
  • Has 2, 10 round mags
  • Safety: manual external, fire pin block, mag disconnect
  • MSRP: $339

More information can be found at Walther.

Pros & Cons

+Great training tool for higher caliber pistols
+Can be easily threaded for a suppressor
+Super light recoil
+Comfortable grips
+Ambidextrous controls

-Cheap feeling sights
-Gets dirty easily but that’s .22LR

Background

The Walther P22 was one of the original semi-auto .22LR handguns and has been satisfying shooters since 2002.

The latest generation is now called the P22 Q and comes in a bunch of colors and variants.

Walther P22 Q Variants
Walther P22 Q Variants

We love how there’s now threaded versions and also versions that come with a laser.

Fit & Feel

The P22 is a solid handgun that has the fit, finish, and features of a much more expensive gun. A lighter polymer frame is the perfect match for the softer shooting .22LR caliber. 

Walther P22 Side
Walther P22 Side

Barrel

Like most .22LR caliber handguns, the P22 has a fixed barrel design so takedown is a bit different than most full-sized guns, but the additional steps are straight forward.

A nice feature of this barrel nut is that an adapter is all that’s required to convert your barrel to a threaded barrel version if you live in a state that allows silencers. 

49
at Optics Planet

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Walther P22 Threaded Barrel Kit
$49 at Optics Planet

Prices accurate at time of writing

Even though it is fixed barrel, cleaning the barrel is easy as it removes quickly with the supplied wrench, or if you choose, you can simply clean it while it remains attached to the frame.

Need some inspiration for a .22LR can? Check out our Best Rimfire Suppressors article.

Best .22 Suppressors
Best .22 Suppressors

Slide and Frame

While this is a budget-priced gun, it does come with some features not normally found on lower priced guns.

A serrated slide for better grip makes the slide more easier to work, even with sweaty or wet hands. Even the hammer has serrations for added grip!

A loaded chamber window isn’t what most would consider critical, but it is a nice feature that doesn’t get in the way and gives you a simple way of seeing what condition your firearm is in.

Under the slide, you’ll find an accessory rail to mount lasers and lights on making for some nice options.

Walther P22 Slide and Under Rail
Walther P22 with the serrated slide and under barrel rail

The magazine release and safety levers are ambidextrous but the slide stop is still built for right-handed shooters. 

I’m also not a huge fan of the safety lever on the actual slide, but it is engineered well, and easily accessed by my thumb without having to change my grip.

It also has a very positive feel so you know when you’ve placed the P22 in fire or safe mode.

Grip

Make no mistake about it, this gun is small, and therefore, the grip is also thin and small.

Finger grooves line the grip which is a nice texture; not too rough on contact but provides good grip.

Walther P22 Grip

Out of the box comes an additional back-strap to better fit larger/smaller hands.

Most of the time, a very thin profile gun means an uncomfortable grip, but there are two things working in the P22’s favor

First, the P22 comes with ergonomic panels, and second, .22LR is a such a low recoil round that the thinner grip doesn’t create the hand fatigue a larger caliber might.

I find the grip is similar to the HK grip on the P30 or VP9 and it is straight up comfy. For my medium sized hands, I love how snug the gun feels.

HK VP9
HK VP9 Grip

What’s even better is that my wife, who has small hands, loves the feel of the grip and overall gun.

Trigger

The action is a DA/SA with a manual safety. You have the mechanical safety on the slide, but the P22 also includes a magazine disconnect safety which prevents the trigger from being pulled unless there is a magazine in the gun.

Newer P22s also have a safety de-cocking feature that allows you to safely drop the hammer using the manual safety.

The DA/SA action is predictable but some may find the 11lb DA pull undesirable, but most of the time you are shooting it in the light 4lb SA stage.

Sights

For me, the only thing that feels “cheap” on the gun is the fact that it comes with what dot polymer sights. While this is good enough for range use, they are no one’s favorite sighting system.

How Does It SHoot?

I have never had an issue shooting different ammo types in the P22, but I have seen that a lot of P22 users claim that their handgun is picky on ammo.

Most agree that higher powered rounds don’t have issues.

Federal ammo is the ammo I consistently run through my 22lr guns and I have always had great success.

25
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Federal Bulk Pack .22LR
$25 at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Yes, there have been some rounds that stove-pipe or FTE, but I think that is to be expected in any 22lr gun.

I feed by P22 a steady diet of 36 grain Federal, 40 grain Federal Target, and 40 grain CCI

7
at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

CCI Standard Velocity
$7 at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing

Sub-sonic ammo will definitely be unpredictable as it the right might not have enough power to cycle the slide.

Keeping the gun clean is definitely important in keeping jams to a minimum. I try to clean my P22 frequently, especially the feed ramp and slide rails.

Walther P22 and Magazine

The P22 magazines are metal but pretty thin. Don’t expect these to stand up to too much abuse – thankfully, extra mags won’t break the bank.

Accuracy

My view of .22LR ammo changed after I took my first Appleseed rifle marksmanship clinic. While this doesn’t have anything to do with the P22, it does have everything to do with the round it shoots.

I showed up to the Appleseed clinic with my stock Ruger 10/22 (with a trigger upgrade) and bulk Federal ball ammo (not match, not high velocity). 1” Targets were set back 25 yards and was told to put 5 rounds inside the target with iron sights.

After balking and then realizing they were serious, I definitely cried some internal tears. But by the end of the clinic, not only was I able to do this (shooting prone), but I left with complete confidence in the accuracy of the .22LR round. 

Lucky Gunner Appleseed
If you’re interested in learning more about Appleseed, Lucky Gunner has a great overview of it!

With the P22, it is accurate enough to make shooting enjoyable. We are not taking it to target competitions, but making my steel silhouettes ring is easy and a ton of fun.

I would estimate it at 2MOA if you’re doing your thing.

My wife, who doesn’t shoot nearly as much as I do, is able to comfortably put shots on target. This is due to several factors, which include grip comfort, the light weight of the gun, and the lack of recoil and sound.

Recoil

Anyone who has shot .22LR knows that the recoil is minimum.

Even in higher velocity rounds, it is still extremely manageable, making follow-up shots easy and accurate, especially since subsequent shots are single action with the lighter trigger pull. 

What Sets It Apart?

For a while the P22 was the go-to semi-auto .22LR pistol out there. Now you have some competition with the Glock 44, Taurus TX-22, and the Sig Sauer P322.

Glock 44 .22LR
Glock 44 .22LR

Though the TX-22 and Sig Sauer hold more rounds, the P22 can still hold its own based on ergonomics and reliability.

Takedown for cleaning, since you’ll be doing a lot of it, is easy with this tutorial:

By The Numbers

Ergonomics 4/5

The P22 is extremely comfortable, offering some customization of the rear grip panel. With a thin gun width, it is very comfortable to hold with both hands. All of the functions of the handgun (safety, magazine release, slide stop, trigger) are easy to manipulate and many are ambi.

Accuracy 4/5

For having a fun day at the range, it does it perfectly. There is a target barrel that can be purchased which is a longer 5” barrel, but the shorter 3.42” barrel is plenty accurate for plinking. 

Reliability 4/5

.22LR handguns get dirty, and it is true that these P22s need to be kept clean (like any other .22LR handgun). If you allow it to get dirty, you may begin to experience issues. I am notorious for not cleaning my guns often and I do notice it with my P22, mostly because of how dirty .22LR ammo is. 

Looks 5/5

For a .22LR, I think the P22 looks the best. Besides the fact that it is a small gun, it looks impressive. You can get the P22 in a variety of colors/configurations.

 
Walther P22 Side
A nice looking gun to my eye.

I love the military color scheme on my P22! The serrations on the slide with the Walther marking looks sharp with the grip stippling an attractive functional and beautiful addition as well. 

Upgrades: 4/5 

There isn’t a huge selection of upgrade parts but there is a decent amount, most of them made or sold by most retailers. Having an accessory rail means that you can fit lights and lasers (or knives) on the end of the handgun 

Price/Value 5/5

The price is hard to beat! A fraction the cost of larger caliber handguns, the P22 is affordable, allowing you to invest your money into ammo and accessories. For the features it has, I believe it to be one of the best values on the market. 

Overall 4/5

I love the P22! There is something special about this lightweight, feature-packed gun. My friends love to shoot it and many have made their own P22 purchase after shooting mine.

It is so much fun to shoot and is great to teach friends how to shoot. Walther hit a home run with this gun and jammed something amazing into a perfect little pistol. 

Upgrades

You’ve got a rail up front so you can always add a light…our favorite go-to is the TLR-1 HL series.

And like we mentioned above…if you want to suppress the P22 all you need is an adapter kit.

49
at Optics Planet

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Walther P22 Threaded Barrel Kit
$49 at Optics Planet

Prices accurate at time of writing

And you can always do with extra mags with all the lead you’ll be slinging downrange.

Verdict

This Walther P22 is just plain fun. How else can you send thousands of rounds down range without worrying about ammo cost?

The best part is not having to compromise comfort or features for that cheap and fun range experience.

349
at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Walther P22
$349 at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing

I can say from experience that the P22 is pure gold with plenty of features, accuracy, and comfort! 

How do you like your P22? Got another go-to 22LR plinker pistol that you love? Let us know in the comments! If you’re ready for a rifle to go with your pistol, take a look at the Best .22LR Pistols!

Ruger Buckmark with Banish 22
Ruger Buckmark with Banish 22

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23 Leave a Reply

  • Commenter Avatar
    Col. Faulkner

    I bought a brand new P22 a few months ago. We've put a good few thousands rounds through it. Hates bulk pack ammo of any manufacturer. The only reliable rounds we've used have been the CCI mini mags. The pistol needs a very high powered round with the correct burninig rate of powder. 87mm barrel is short for slower rate burning powders. It also has to be consistent which is often not the case with many brands of 22 ammo. Bulk pack and lower powered ammo that jams like crazy on the P22 goes through my S&W41 (7.5" barrel) and a 22lr conversion kit for the P1/38's, factory Walther. To say the least I'm extremely disappointed with the alarming propensity to jam. The P22 is extremely sensitive to ammo, much more so than any other 22 pistol I've had. I've already recommended highly against people buying it, especially beginners. I've been shooting guns for 47 years and formerly a licensed gunsmith. Good luck and health to all.

    February 3, 2022 1:48 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Nate S.

    Be aware of the slide cracking issue. Mine cracked and blew up in the hands of my friend's son unfortunately. He got a face full of what he described as hot sand. Thankfully he had eye protection on and is a trooper. Gun was done. Walther, to their credit sent me a new slide and all I paid for was shipping to them. If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results, then I am sane because I am selling it instead of believing the new slide is different. If you Google p22 slide crack you will see. Other than the catastrophic failures, the gun is good when it works. Needs to be cleaned every time and I found the faster rounds with round noses feed and cycle best.

    September 11, 2021 5:10 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Keith P.

    Bought a P22 (California version) and I have not been impressed at all. Reliability is abysmal, the worst of any gun that I own. Literally can't fire two consecutive shots, fails to eject or or fails to feed every single shot. Might be better with CCI Mini-Mags, but they're impossible to find here in California. There's a lengthy online pdf document called the P22 Bible that details many reliability issues and fixes, but so far none of them has helped mine function reliably. Also, the California version has the barrel nut glued in place so you can't attach the adapter or switch to the longer target barrel. Do yourself a big favor and get the Ruger SR22 or Ruger Mark pistol instead, which feed any kind of ammo reliably and don't cost much more.

    July 19, 2021 8:45 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Curtis

      Feels like you might need to call in the warranty on this one. I've never heard of them being quite that bad.

      July 28, 2021 3:45 pm
      • Commenter Avatar
        Keith P.

        So in the past few weeks I tested every kind of 22 ammo I could find, and found that it functions reliably with only 5 loads: CCI MiniMags and Velocitors, Federal Champion, Fiocchi Performance, and Winchester Super-X. Using these loads, I have no complaints - it's fun, reasonably accurate, and handles very well. The problem is, these loads are difficult to find (especially here in California) and also probably more expensive than bulk 22 ammo. It will also feed Aguila Super Extra about 90-95% of the time. I don't think it's unreasonable to expect that any 22 should be able to cycle standard velocity, bulk ammo, low weight hyper velocity ammo, or just about any other 22LR ammo that you buy at the store. We're not talking about fine differences in performance, but the basic ability to cycle a semi-auto action here.

        August 4, 2021 12:18 pm
        • Commenter Avatar
          Keith P.

          So there are actually (at least) two kinds of Winchester Super-X in 22 LR. It definitely feeds (or technically, ejects) more reliably with the 40 grain bullet than the 36 grain bullet. I actually had no malfunctions in 50 rounds of test firing, but had several with the 36-grain bullets.

          I just made a trip to LAX Ammo in Orange County (best ammo selection in Southern California) to pick up CCI Mini-Mags, and the guy there said that the high-velocity version of the Winchester M-22 ammo is also good in the P22. Sort of annoying that Winchester distributes different versions of its ammo with the same exact name. They were out of stock, but I may try that next time - it's a lot less expensive than CCI MiniMags.

          Bottom line is this is a very finicky gun, but if you can find the ammo it likes, it's a lot of fun as a plinker.

          August 16, 2021 3:19 pm
          • Commenter Avatar
            Blue

            I also have the p22 (california version) and i was told not to use cheap ammo on it, only high velocity rounds. Anything else will jam and give you issues.

            November 30, 2021 11:44 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Randall brown

    I absolutely love the gun I typically can shoot a hundred rounds CCI Mini mag have no issues pretty damn accurate for short barrel gun I'm impressed rapid fire blast with it mine's one of the early models I'm definitely thinking about picking up another picking up a couple more got a couple grandson close in on 21

    February 16, 2021 4:45 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Tony C

    I have had P22s for may years. I have the standard model as well as the target model.
    I have had little to no problems at all.
    I have used many different types of ammo from cheap to expensive and they all work.
    They have been great fun at the range and a nice sidearm during hunting season.
    My other plinker is a Ruger Mk1 heavy barrel (I'm an old guy). Can't go wrong with the Ruger either.

    September 12, 2020 8:01 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    James A Smock

    Mine loves the Remington golden bullet round nose and Winchester wildcat 40 gr dynapoint. Doesn't like Winchester 36 gr hollow points. Going to try the Browning 36 grain hyper velocity. I have been told that the p22 loves these.

    August 27, 2020 8:30 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Dustin

    I bought the p22 after shooting 10 rounds through the gun I started having issues with it jamming and not wanting to eject the cartridge along with the misfire overall I love how the gun feels and how it shoots when I doesn't want to be finicky so if there's a way to fix it the problems I would 100% love this gun

    April 4, 2020 6:26 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Randall brown

      CCI Mini Mags typically with Federal automatch I usually oil the first bullet still have a few failures CCI Mini mag never lets me down

      February 16, 2021 4:50 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Pete

    I purchased a Walther P22 when they first came out. I also bought an ACC Pilot suppressor and the US Goverment black leather holster specifically made for this pistol. This pistol has never jammed no matter what type of ammo I put through it. I use Winchester sub sonic ammo for suppression. It works great! I also bought an extra factory magazine. I like having three at least with any pistol. I highly recommend purchasing both a suppressor and the above holster. It even has a place for the suppressor. A great .22 pistol!

    July 11, 2019 6:38 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    JDT

    The grip is what I love, it feels like it was made to fit my hand. I always liked OD green and bought it long ago when there were not many colored guns out and thought it was awesome looking. It's the lowest costing gun I own, but one of my favorite. I find the sound is very loud, being use to 22lr rifles, I shot it a few times without ears on when I first bought it and never made that mistake again.

    July 10, 2019 8:06 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Jim Sanders

    Great article!! I don't have a P22, but I have a Ruger SR22 and LOVE IT!! I've had it for quite some time and have put many thousands of rounds through it with no issues whatsoever. Would really like to try out the Walther. Who knows, maybe I'd end up with one of those, too! Oh, by the way, as Robin Marchmonte said earlier, the word "SILENCER" should be stricken from every firearm owner's vocabulary, and replaced with "SUPPRESSOR"...just sayin'...

    July 10, 2019 7:13 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Laszlo

    Thanks for the great site guys, it basically started my gun education. Great job.
    This P22 seems like a great first gun, I was just wondering if anybody had the chance to test the CZ P-09 Kadet. At least based on paper specs I was inclined to choose the CZ but due to the price and being hammer operated this P22 might become the first.
    Now it’s only a matter of fighting through the European rules and regulations and sometime in the future I might become a gun owner.
    Thanks

    July 10, 2019 12:35 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Chuck

    Welcome to the Walther fan club. I own to P22's, a PPQ, a PPS and a PPK/S (this was my CC weapon for 20+ years). I have very large hands (I wear a 2XL glove), even with this issue, the P 22 is a joy to shoot. Accuracy with the shorter version wasn't what I was accustomed too with my High Standard Model B, but a quick check on Google, and my dealer ordered me in the Target Kit. This kit includes the longer barrel and extension that attaches easily. While to only extends the barrel length a little less than 2 inches, the increased sight radius makes an ok gun into a gun I can group under a 1 1/2" group at 50 feet. Shooting from a rest tightens that even more with some groups measuring <1".
    When I purchased a 2nd P22 a year or two later, I went with the target version to begin with.
    Walther even has an adaptor to use the underbarrel piccatinny rail to mount a Red Dot or small Holo Sight for fast aquisition. Even the target model is under $400.
    In the field as an anti-Rattlesnake gun, it does the job quite effectively.
    Don't know if you've tried one, but Walther's PPQ is hands down a better gun than a comparable Glock, Springfield or S&W. The trigger out of the box is indescribable. Such a short reset that double taps are a breeze.

    July 9, 2019 11:52 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      J Gibbons

      Haven't shot a PPQ, but I love my PPS M2. Compared it to Springfield, S&W and Glock. It's the best single stack on the market. I've shot my brother's P22 quite a bit. Love it as well. May be my next gun buy.

      July 12, 2019 5:21 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Robin Marchmonte

    First thing I read was the word (silencer) bad choice of words, my go to 22 that I use for conceal carry is the walther PPK/s very reliable

    July 9, 2019 9:09 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Robert Haldi

    I have one of the earlier p22’s which I bought nearly 11 years ago and have thousands of rounds through it. Keep it clean and buy ammo it likes and there are no problems. I shot Winchester white box which currently get At $19.95/for 555 rounds and usually burn up at least 100 -200 every time I go to the range. Great gun.

    July 9, 2019 7:50 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Nathan Green

    Another vote for the ruger sr22. Mine has no problems feeding any ammo. I have run everything through it from spendy to the cheapest ammo there is, no problem. I looked at the p22 and mosquito but I think I purchased the right gun.

    July 9, 2019 5:50 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      PriklyPete

      I have owned a Sig Mosquito for many years and just the other day used it on a woodchuck who was threatening my Brittany. I stand by my Sig and have never had a problem with any round.

      July 9, 2019 7:51 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Scott

    I debated about getting the P22 a few years ago but ended up with the Ruger SR22. I kept reading that the P22 was finicky about ammo. I've put thousands of rounds through the SR22 and never had a problem.

    July 9, 2019 4:20 pm
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