July 16, 2013
By Bart Skelton
It's no secret that Walther firearms have been around for a long time, and the quality of Walther products has always been unsurpassed. The Walther family actually started doing business manufacturing hunting rifles, but later took an interest in semiautomatic pistols, thanks to Carl Walther's son, Fritz. Along about 1908, Walther released its first auto pistol, the Model 1. The company continued to improve on its pistol designs over the years, and many of the firm's guns became favorites of German soldiers, particularly officers, during World War I.
In the late 1920s Walther introduced its famous PP model, which became highly popular with police and military units throughout Europe. A shorter model of the PP, the PPK, was later released. In my opinion, the PP and PPK are some of the finest auto pistols ever made. Virtually everyone with any inkling of knowledge about firearms recognizes the Walther PP and PPK, especially since it was one of the official concealed-carry guns of the fictional James Bond.
I have a long history with Walther pistols. I began shooting my dad's .22-caliber PP many years ago. Upon making it through the New Mexico State Police academy, I got my own Walther, a PPK/S in .380 to carry as a backup gun. I've always been drawn to Walther pistols for a number of reasons, not the least of which is their fine fit and finish, their reliability, and their superior accuracy.
A few years back Walther began experimenting with the production of a new generation of auto pistols. The company introduced polymer handguns designed for concealed carry, personal defense, and military/law enforcement use. With the production of the PPQ, a striker-fired pistol made in 9mm and .40 S&W, Walther proved it was concerned with ergonomics along with all of the other fine attributes of Walther firearms.
The PPQ was immediately successful, but the company didn't sit still on it. For 2013, Walther has made internal improvements to the PPQ and now refers to the pistol as the PPQ M2. The PPQ features a high-capacity magazine (15 rounds in 9mm), yet the gun feels good in the hand. Obviously, the complaint with many high-capacity auto pistols is that the grip is shaped like a 2x4. Not the Walther's. Not only that, but the PPQ also features a very nice, crisp trigger pull, something that always catches my attention.
Now, Walther Arms has come out with another version of a high-capacity auto pistol. With the success of the PPQ, Walther decided to manufacture essentually the same pistol, yet make it more affordable. Enter the PPX.
The PPX Up Close
I recently got my hands on a PPX in 9mm, and upon opening the box, I immediately had mixed emotions about the pistol as it certainly didn't bear the sleek, handsome lines of the PP or PPK models. My estimation quickly improved when I took the pistol in my hand — and even more when I dry-fired the gun. I was immediately impressed with the trigger pull. Walther indicates that the trigger pull measures 6.5 pounds on the PPX pistols, but it sure feels lighter than that to me. I checked the trigger pull weight with an RCBS trigger pull scale, and it was 6.5 pounds, albeit a very terse 6.5 pounds. Unlike the PPQ, which is a striker-fired pistol, the PPX is hammer fired, which has direct impact on the trigger pull.
One of the noticeable things about the PPX is the grip features a sizeable hump in the backstrap. I found that in grasping the pistol, the hump fits nicely into the palm of the strong hand, making the gun feel very comfortable and secure. The grip surface bears a stipple pattern that Walther refers to as a cross directional grip surface. The pattern does make the pistol quite easy to grip.
Walther is offering the PPX in either black or stainless finishes; my test gun was the all-black version. The coating is Tenifer, which is highly resistant to corrosion and cuts down on glare. Tenifer is a chemical bath nitriding process that is extremely durable, and Walther coats the slide and the barrel with it.
The PPX has a number of safety features. Since it's not a striker-fired pistol, it doesn't have the Glock-style trigger safety. It does have two drop safeties and a firing pin block and is perfectly safe to carry. It also features a loaded chamber viewport, a small hole in the top rear of the barrel in the ejection port. If a round is in the chamber, the brass can be seen through the viewport.
The PPX's slide stop is slightly extended and is easy to handle. I find that the slide stops on many semiautomatic pistols can be stiff, making it difficult to drop the slide using only the thumb. This is certainly not the case with the PPX. The slide on my sample dropped easily without any strain.
The pistol's magazine release is the push-button style and is reversible. It is also slightly extended and is easy to operate. The front of the trigger guard is serrated for those shooters who grip the pistol using the weak-hand index finger on the trigger guard. And the pistol is fitted with a mil-std Picatinny rail for mounting a flashlight or a laser sight.
The PPX comes standard with three-dot sights, one of the features I don't like. I know many shooters will argue that the three-dot system is excellent for combat shooting, and that most handguns fitted with combat sights are used for short-distance defense. I don't necessarily disagree with that philosophy. My problem with three-dot sights is the fact that it is possible to confuse the front sight dot with one of the rear sight dots causing a shot to miss one direction or the other — and miss big. This is especially so if one is in a stressful situation. I don't have a problem with a dot on the front sight only or a dot on the front and a different pattern on the rear. Also, it's difficult to test the accuracy of a handgun from a benchrest using the three-dot system as the white dots make it difficult to easily discern the edges of the front and rear sights, particularly with aging eyes like mine.
The trigger guard is squared off and grooved. The trigger is serrated and offers a smooth, consistent pull.
The PPX mates a Tenifer-finished steel slide and barrel to a polymer frame. The slide features fore and aft serrations.
The frame has an integral accessory rail for lights and lasers.
The PPX uses a hammer-fired mechanism, and the base of the polymer grip incorporates a lanyard loop.
The PPX performed well at the shooting range. As usual, I started the Walther PPX review shooting offhand at a steel plate at 15 yards to get the feel of it. Not surprisingly, I found the PPX to be very comfortable to shoot. The unique shape of the grip and the stippling pattern made the gun very easy to handle. Shooting rapid fire was a cinch, and I was able to recover after each shot without a problem. I did find the magazines pretty tough to load, especially the last five rounds or so. I'm hoping the mags will get easier to handle with use.
After firing several magazines of 9mm through the gun, I broke out my sandbag rest and headed to the bench. I had three different brands of factory 9mm on hand for the test. I set up the target at 25 yards, but the wind was up that day and gusting over 30 miles per hour. I started off with Winchester Ranger 147-grain Bonded JHP, and my first group wasn't that impressive, so I adjusted my sandbag rest, cleared my eyes, and tried again. The second three-shot group was good, measuring 2.88 inches. I then tried some Speer 124-grain Gold Dot HP ammo, which printed 3.88 inches. Finally, I shot American Eagle 115-grain FMJ, which the Walther didn't like at all. My best group with it was 4.75 inches.
The PPX will make a great all-around handgun for just about any shooter. As a law enforcement duty gun, this new Walther would have no trouble fitting the bill. Most law enforcement agencies now look for a handgun that is reliable, durable, and easy to use. The ergonomics of the PPX are such that the vast majority of officers, male or female, will find it comfortable to carry and easy to handle.
I believe female shooters will find the Walther appealing for the reasons I've outlined, and while the PPX might be a little bulky for concealed carry, it's a good choice for home defense in either the 9mm or .40 S&W. Walther is offering the PPX with a threaded barrel for modern suppressors, too, which I would like to try out.
Combining all of the nice features of the PPX with its price — it lists for $449 to $499, depending on finish and configuration — it's a real value.