Walther's WMP is one of the few serious handguns on the market chambered in 22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire (also refered to 22Mag). It's an interest caliber choice that honestly I didn't take too seriously before.
Previously 22 Magnum was expensive and hard to find. I asked myself why one would chose 22 Magnum over a more powerful, but less expensive cartridge like 9mm. That changed when I purchased ammunition recently for the Walther WMP. As you'll see in the links below we found 22 Magnum available for less than 9mm, and plenty of it. It's now a viable cartridge for those wanting something softer-recoiling than 9mm, but more effective than 22lr. Depending on the load some 22WMR boasts 9mm-like energy on the packaging. (We'll get to this in the range video).
What is it? An "inbetween" hammer-fired and optics-ready pistol sized somewhere between compact and full size, chambered in 22WMR with a 15+1 capacity that makes it more practical. I find the WMP to also be "inbetween" the older PPQ designs and the current PDP designs from Walther. I say this because although the general shape is "PPQ", the texturing is more aggressive than the older PPQs. The hammer-fired aspect also reminds one of the CPX and Creed Walther models. Frame shape is reminiscent of the PPQs and features four ways to release the magazine; two buttons and two paddles on each side of the frame. If you're not familiar with the paddle magazine release they're a favorite of most who have tried them. I'm a fan because I can release the magazine without shifting my grip. Hechler and Koch also have paddle magazine releases, but Walther's are longer and thus more practical in my opinion.
For a closer look at these attributes and more see the tabletop video below.
Who's it For? This is a valid question. I could see the WMP as a handy pistol to have for outdoor activities on a ranch or farm. I can also see it as a defense alternative for those sensitive to recoil, or who struggle with racking the slide of a 9mm pistol. Thanks to the broad slide and relatively soft recoil spring working the WMP is easier than most compact 9mm pistols.
CALIBER: .22WMR SLIDE MATERIAL: Aluminum FRAME MATERIAL: Polymer OVERALL LENGTH: 8.2" SLIDE LENGTH: 8.2" WIDTH: 1.48" HEIGHT: 5.66" BARREL LENGTH: 5.66" SIGHTS: Fiber optic front, serrated rear WEIGHT WITH EMPTY MAGAZINE: 27.8oz MAGAZINE CAPACITY: 15 MAGS INCLUDED: 2 SAFETIES: 3-Auto OPTICS READY: Yes TRIGGER PULL: 4.5lbs MSRP: $549
For the range experience I of course used our standardized format including:
Cold Shots: Truly our first rounds through the gun.
Full Mag +1: Oddly not all firearms function well this way. It's a function of the ammunition chosen and magazine design.
What's For Dinner™: A test to see what ammunition the gun will eat. Does the gun feed the round from slide lock, will it cycle and feed another round of the same type, does the slide lock to the rear on empty, and is there any notable point of impact change with different loads. It's immportant to know that Walther has done the leg work in finding which loads work well and which don't in the WMP. Walther's list can be found here.
For this gun we used the following ammunition:
Priced and linked where found at the time this article was written
30gr Hornady V-Max (not recommended by Walther) $15.19 / 50 at Sportsman's Guide
30gr CCI V-Max (not recommended by Walther) $29.99 / 50 at Palmetto State Armory
30gr Winchester Varmint HV $20.99 / 50 at Palmetto State Armory
40gr Fiocchi JSP $14.72 / 50 at Sportsman's Guide
40gr CCI Maxi-Mag Target TMJ $15.19 /50 at Sportsman's Guide
40gr CCI Maxi-Mag Varmint JHP $13.29 / 50 at Sportsman's Guide
40gr Speer Gold Dot GDHP $17.25 / 50 at Target Sports USA
40gr Federal FMJ $14.72 / 50 at Sportsman's Guide
40gr Winchester Super-X FMJ $16.49 / 50 at Sportsman's Guide
Sights & Trigger Control: on a 6" spinner target at a distance of 12 yards. We got this from Titan Great Outdoors and use it to gauge how learnable the trigger is and usable the sights are for forced, timed, precise shots.
Practical Accuracy: Five shots from a distance of seven yards at a one inch target. This isn't so much about printing a tight group as it is a culmination of our shooting experience and time for us to collect thoughts prior to making a conclusion.
Muzzle Energy?: I was curious what 22 Magnum would do from a pistol barrel and so chronographed the accuracy portion to calculate muzzle energy.
After Shots: Final impressions and reflections from the range session.
I had a lot of fun shooting the Walther WMP. It has noise and flash like 9mm, but recoils about like a .22lr. You can see the shooting experience in the range video below.
Should the Walther WMP Exist? That's what came to mind when I first learned of this pistol. After spending some range time my confusions were put to rest. This isn't some oddball gun made by one of those companies that tries to capture nitches, this is a Walther. It feels and is purposely designed and built. The quad release is a feature I wish we saw more of, and aggressive grip texture spaced just right to grip, but not rip skin. Initial struggles with the slide release subsided with use. Accuracy for me was acceptable, I'd likely do better with a red dot mounted, but we test guns as they come.
The Walther WMP is a practical pistol, and holsters for it do exist. Muzzle energy was around half that of 9mm, but recoil is less than half that of 9mm. With ammunition found as low as $0.26 per round, this makes for a less-expensive, softer-shooting alternative to .380ACP and adds some versatility as a varmint dispatcher and the comfort of a larger-sized pistol.
I can see the Walther WMP as a ranch-hand/outdoorsman pistol, trainer for newer shooters (feels more like a "real" pistol than a .22lr), option for those sensitive to recoil, or just an overall fun gun. What appears at first as a niche gun, is actually quite versatile.