Walther P22

Walther P22

Infobox Weapon
name=Walther P22

caption=Walther P22
type=Semi-automatic pistol
manufacturer=Carl Walther GmbH
variants=P22 Target
weight=g to oz| 430|abbr=on|precision=1|wiki=yes (P22) g to oz| 525|abbr=on|precision=1|wiki=yes (P22 Target)
length=mm to in| 159|abbr=on|precision=1|wiki=yes
part_length=mm to in| 87|abbr=on|precision=1|wiki=yes (P22) mm to in| 127|abbr=on|precision=1|wiki=yes (P22 Target)
cartridge=.22 LR
feed=10-round detachable box magazine
sights=Adjustable open sights

The P22 is a semi-automatic pistol manufactured by Carl Walther GmbH Sportwaffen.


The Walther P22, a .22 LR caliber handgun, features relatively mild recoil when fired, making it well suited for introducing and training newcomers to handguns without introducing any fear from recoil. The P22 is regarded by many firearms enthusiasts as being a modestly priced "plinker" suitable for handgun training, recreational, and other general rimfire use. There are a wide range of accessories, including fiber-optic sights, a laser sight that attaches to a rail under the dust guard area in front of the trigger guard, and a frame-mounted scope attachment.

Design details

On the exterior, it resembles the Walther P99, but it is somewhat smaller (75% of the P99's size) and its action chambers the rimfire .22 LR cartridge. The most noticeable exterior difference is the P22's slide mounted, thumb operated, ambidextrous safety and its external hammer. The P22 features a cast polymer grip-frame. Its slide and serial numbered frame receiver inserts are made from MIM (Metal Injection Molding) cast zinc alloy, its barrel consists of a rifled steel insert within a steel barrel sleeve, and its internal lockwork and fire-control parts are a combination of MIM cast steel and steel stampings.

The P22 can be purchased with a 3.4-inch short barrel (pictured to the right), or with a 5-inch barrel which includes a barrel mounted weight compensator matching the profile of the slide. The P22 was originally designed such that the two different length barrel assemblies could be easily interchanged, and "combo" packages including both barrels were offered for sale.

The P22 is offered in many different color variations of its polymer lower receiver. Black, Olive Drab, Grey, and Carbon Fiber are options. There is now a new lower receiver finish that looks like Damascus steel. The slide assembly will either have a blue-black applied finish, or it will be finished with a nickel/stainless look. Along with the new finish for the lower receiver, the slide also has a new finish option of brushed stainless.

The production year is located on the receiver and is visible through the ejection port when the slide is closed. The year is indicated with a two letter code where A=0, B=1, C=2 and so on to J=9. In the image you can see the receiver is labeled with AH indicating a production year of '07.

There are three revisions of the Walther P22 magazine as the original design was prone to feed failures. Walther corrected the issue by modifying the feed ears and adding a short 3/8" slot which allows rounds to stagger as they approach the top of the magazine. The second version of the magazine is designated with an 'A' after the part number. Later versions of the 'A' magazine have an elongated 1" stager slot which further improves the magazine's performance. Finally Walther has released a 'B' version which is made of thicker steel, has a tall spring retaining nub and retains the 1" stager slot.


The P22 may be fired double action at 9lbs. for the first shot from a hammer-down condition, and operates as a single action at 4.4lbs. on all successive shots. The hammer can only be de-cocked by pulling the trigger, as this particular handgun does not have a "decocking" lever.

The P22 operates on the blowback method of semi-automatic operation. Under this approach, the pressure generated by a firing cartridge is contained by a combination of the inertial weight of the slide assembly and the force of the recoil spring. There is no "locking" mechanism. The strength of the recoil spring and the weight of the slide are such that the rearward force of the firing cartridge will not open the action until the projectile has left the barrel and the pressures have dropped to safe levels.

As with many semi-automatic pistols, the P22 is equipped with a magazine disconnect that prevents the trigger from operating on the sear mechanism unless a magazine is actually inserted and locked into the weapon. The magazine disconnect on a P22 works by utilizing a strong spring to apply downward force against the trigger bar, such force being sufficient to overcome the action of the relatively weaker trigger spring which interacts with upward force on the same bar. When a magazine is not locked into the weapon, the downward force of the stronger magazine disconnect spring causes the trigger bar to pass beneath the internal lockwork of the weapon when the trigger is pressed. Once a magazine is fully inserted, however, an actuator surface on the front of the magazine pushes against the magazine safety. This overcomes the magazine safety's strong spring, and thereby serves to allow the trigger bar to spring upward under the force of the less powerful trigger spring. When this occurs, the trigger bar is in a position where it engages the lockwork when the trigger is actuated. An added side effect of the interplay between the strong magazine disconnect spring and the magazine itself is that the magazine will "spring" out of the grip of the weapon very vigorously when released.

Due to the construction of the Walther P22 special considerations are necessary for cleaning and maintenance. The polymer lower receiver and the slide finish require the use of a synthetic safe cleaning product to prevent damage and discoloration. It is also necessary to use a dry lubricant such as RemOil with Teflon as oils will collect debris and wear away the zinc action. To further protect the slide it is recommended by the community to treat the high wear areas with a moly such as KG Armorkote KG-7.

As with any rimfire firearm it will be necessary to test many different brands and types of ammunition to in order to find what works best in each individual firearm. There are however some items which are fairly consistent across all updated (2006 and newer) versions of the Walther P22.

Walther recommends the use of high velocity 22 Long Rifle cartridge and reportedly tests with CCI Mini Mag round nose coated lead. This seems to be the most preferred ammunition within the user community. There are several brands of bulk ammunition which enjoy a good reputation with the P22 such as Federal Bulk, Winchester Xpert, and Remington Golden to name just a few. Remington Thunderbolts should be avoided in a P22 as they quickly cause excessive fouling.

These are only guidelines and recommendations. Each individual firearm and user will have their own preferences so it will be necessary to spend some time testing.

The P22's slide mounted safety, when engaged, performs two functions. First, it serves as a "hammer block" by rotating a portion of the metal surface of the safety into a position that interferes with the hammer's contact with the firing pin. Second, it acts as a "firing pin lock" by rotating a portion of the safety into a notch on the underside of the firing pin, thereby inhibiting forward movement. The P22 safety does not prevent sear or trigger movement, and (as noted), it does not provide a hammer drop function. If the hammer is cocked when a P22 has been placed on "safe," the hammer will continue to remain cocked and will only fall if the trigger is pressed. If the safety is on, the hammer will strike the safety instead of the firing pin and, therefore, fail to fire. Good safety practices generally counsel against relying on mechanical safeties and such a method of decocking should only be used when the firearm is unloaded and pointed in a safe direction. The P22 utilizes an additional, passive, safety mechanism to protect against accidental discharges in the event the weapon is dropped. When the action is closed, a small metal button on the underside of the breech block is actuated by an arm surface extending from the sear. In this state (whether or not the hammer is cocked), the firing pin is mechanically blocked and cannot move forward to strike a cartridge rim. When the trigger is pressed, the sear moves downward in such a way as to move from its interaction with the firing pin safety, which in turn springs downward under the force of a captive spring within the breech block. This disengages the firing pin safety, allowing the firing pin to move and the weapon to fire.

The firing pin on a P22 is "inertial." That means when fully depressed by the weapon's hammer in its "down" or at-rest position, the firing pin does not actually reach the cartridge rim. It can only fire the cartridge by way of inertial energy after it has been hit vigorously by the full force of a cocked hammer. For this reason, it is not abnormally dangerous to have the hammer down on a P22 with the safety off (as was the case historically with most single action revolvers and some semi-automatic pistols). A strike to the hammer in such a situation will not fire the P22. Even so, the operating manual for the P22 cautions users to diligently apply the manual safety except when ready to fire the gun. This aspect of the firing pin also adds safety to the manual method of decocking that is required to be used with this firearm, though, as mentioned, it is wise to keep the firearm unloaded and pointed in a safe direction when decocking.

Due to the inertial firing pin, the P22 should not be dry fired extensively during aiming practice. Doing so not only risks deformation of the chamber face, but the repeated forward action of the firing pin into and beyond the space normally occupied by the rimfire casing will eventually distort the firing pin spring. If this happens, the firing pin will no longer return vigorously to its default at-rest position at the extreme of its possible rearward travel within the breech block. This could result in less or none of the firing pin's rear surface protruding beyond the rear of the breech block for impact by the hammer.


The P22 is distributed and supported in the United States by Walther America, a subsidiary of the Smith and Wesson Company.


Due to California's ban on Assault weapons, the Walther P22 was not available for sale in the state for some time. The gun was initially approved for sale only to be delisted after the California Department of Justice realized the pistol had a barrel that was threaded (threaded barrels on semi-automatic pistols in California are a characteristic which makes them illegal under the state's ban on assault weapons). P22's that were sold in that state had to either be removed from the state or returned to the manufacturer for a modification ensuring that the original barrel extension purchased with the gun is permanently installed and cannot be removed without ruining the barrel assembly, or the handgun, or both. Currently there is a version available that is California legal. [Citation | publisher= State of California | title = Roster of Handguns Certified for Sale, California Dept of Justice | date =May 2, 2006 | year =2006 | url = http://certguns.doj.ca.gov/ | accessdate = 2007-08-26 ]

In some countries, like Australia, Canada, Finland and the Netherlands, the original 3.4 inch short barrel causes the P22 to be classified as a concealable firearm, making the 5 inch target barrel the only available option for normal recreational shooters.


External links

* [http://www.waltheramerica.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/CategoryDisplay?catalogId=13152&storeId=10002&categoryId=43804&langId=-1&parent_category_rn=43326&top_category=43326&training= Walther Firearms P22] at Walther America
* [http://www.carl-walther.info/dev2/index.php?company=walther&lang=EN&content=products&hid=2&uid=2 P22 Semi-Automatic Pistols] at Carl Walther Sportwaffen GmbH
*http://www.freespeech.com/1917-1911M_P22_bible.pdf P22 Bible, disassembly, cleaning, and tuning the Walther P22

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