Waltherís New PPS 9mm Semi-Auto Pocket Gun

 

by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

August 26th, 2007

 

 

 

Click for video!

My first experience with a Walther pistol was back when I was just a kid. My Uncle Dalton showed to me a Walther P38 that he had brought home with him from Germany at the end of World War II. He had picked it up off of a German soldier who no longer had any use for it, and brought it home as a war trophy. He seldom shot the P38, but when he let us kids look at it, I was fascinated. It was made in 1944, and showed signs of hurried manufacture. There were several tool marks, and the finish wasnít the best, but the old pistol shot very well, and was one hundred percent reliable with ball ammunition, which was the only kind available to us then.

A couple of months ago, I was visiting at the Smith & Wesson factory in Springfield, Massachusetts. Along with Frank James and Leroy Thompson, I was invited up there to look over some new products that were scheduled for introduction this Summer by S&W. All of the products shown to us were interesting, but we all three perked up when they brought in the Walther PPS. Smith & Wesson is the distributor for Walther products in the USA, and they had three early samples of the PPS available for us to shoot. PPS stands for Police Pistol Slim, in the typical German way of naming weapons. It is a fitting title, as this is one of the slimmest 9mm pistols in the world. In Germany, it might be the ideal police pistol, but over here, I donít think that you will see many of them riding in police duty holsters. In fact, I donít think that you will see many of these new pistols at all, because they will in most cases be carried concealed. A pants pocket or inside-the-waistband holster is the ideal world for a pistol as slim as this Walther. In fact, the new PPS is almost exactly the same size as Waltherís own PPK/S .380 auto, but the new PPS is chambered for the 9mm Luger (9x19mm) cartridge, with the .40 S&W chambering to follow soon.  The PPS is even lighter than the PPK/S, weighing in at 21.4 ounces with an empty magazine in place. The PPS uses a plastic frame to achieve the light weight. Plastic pistol frames have been in use for a couple of decades now, and have proven themselves both durable and reliable. Loaded weight depends of course upon the ammo chosen. The PPS is just barely over one inch wide at its widest point; the slide release, and the slide itself measures only .907 inch thick. The overall height of the PPS is four and three-eighths inches, and the length is six and one-third inches.  In the pictures, you can easily see how compact it is compared to the standard of all pocket guns: the five-shot J-frame .38 Smith & Wesson revolver. The size of the PPS is also very close to that of the little Kel-Tec 9mm PF-9. They are about the same height and thickness, with the PPS being just slightly longer.

After a day of looking at the new products at the S&W factory, the next day we headed off to the range. We all wanted to try the PPS, and I was really impressed at how easy it was to shoot accurately, and immediately started hounding the Smith & Wesson marketing folks to get me a production gun for testing. A few days ago the PPS arrived, and I have been trying to wear it out ever since.

The PPS has a few unique features that are worthy of mention, and are important to anyone thinking of carrying the pistol for defensive purposes. A feature which I really like is the ambidextrous magazine release. Being left-handed, this is important to me. I also like the design of the mag release, especially on a gun which might be carried in the pocket. Instead of the traditional button magazine release, the PPS has a lever that rides below and on both sides of the trigger guard. Sometimes, button mags get pressed against the wearerís leg or another object when carried in a pocket, and the magazine gets released from its locked position. This can be downright embarrassing in a fight; pulling out your pistol and having the magazine hit the ground. With this Walther, that ainít going to happen. The magazine is easily released by a downward motion of the shooterís trigger finger. It works and works well, releasing the magazine quickly, without any unwanted magazine dumps. The PPS comes with two magazines; one that fits flush with the bottom of the grip and holds six cartridges, and another that has an extension at the bottom to accommodate the little finger, and holds one additional round.

Another unique feature of the PPS is the interchangeable backstraps. It comes with two; a small and large, to adjust to better fit the hand of the shooter. The backstrap pops off easily with the magazine removed, and it renders the pistol inoperable until the backstrap is popped back in place. Walther calls this the QuickSafe feature. Remove the backstrap and no one can fire the pistol. It is a good way to store the gun if you think little kids might get hold of it, or in jurisdictions that require a handgun to stored in an inoperable condition.

Stripping the PPS for cleaning is easy, and requires no tools. It has take-down catches on either side of the frame, much like a Glock or S&W Sigma. The PPS has long slide rails to support the slide during firing, and the trigger pull measures a smooth five pounds, two ounces. It is a striker-fired weapon, and the trigger travel  is only about one-third of an inch. It operates much like a Glock or M&P, in that the striker is pre-cocked as the slide is operated, either manually or upon firing, and the striker is fully cocked by pulling the trigger, releasing the striker and firing the weapon. There is a red indicator at the rear of the slide to show the shooter the firing condition of the pistol. The slide locks open after the magazine is emptied, and the slide release falls easily under the thumb of a right-handed shooter, or can be released with the trigger finger of a left-handed shooter. The PPS has a captive recoil spring system consisting of dual springs and a guide rod. In front of the trigger guard on the frame is an accessory rail to mount a flashlight, laser, or other device, if the owner desires such things hanging off the bottom of the pistol.  The barrel features an integral feed ramp, and the case head is well-supported by the chamber.

For testing the PPS, I gathered up every brand and type of 9mm ammo available to me. Most of it is Plus P rated ammunition made for self defense, and any of it would serve well for that purpose. I fired many rounds of each type for function testing, and a few of each over the PACT chronograph for velocity testing. The velocity readings are shown in feet-per-second (fps), with the chronograph set eight feet from the muzzle. JHP means jacketed hollowpoint. DPX is Cor-Bon ammo loaded with the Barnes all-copper hollow nose bullet. GDHP is Buffalo Bore ammo loaded with Speer Gold Dot hollowpoint bullets. Glaser is a pre-fragmented specialty bullet. FMJ is full metal jacket. HP is a pre-fragmented hollowpoint bullet. EPR is a compressed tungsten core bullet.

Ammo Bullet Weight Velocity
Extreme Shock EPR 115 1183
Cor-Bon  PowRBall 100 1435
Cor-Bon DPX  115 1155
Cor-Bon  FMJ  147 881
Cor-Bon  JHP 115 1278
Cor-Bon Glaser 80 1490
International Cartridge HP 100 1155
Buffalo Bore GDHP (24A) 115 1316
Buffalo Bore GDHP (24B)  124 1217
Buffalo Bore GDHP (24D)  115 1223

I listed the item numbers on the Buffalo Bore ammo because two different loads use the same 115 GDHP bullet, but are loaded to different pressures. All of the loads functioned perfectly in the PPS. There were no malfunctions of any kind. Every load fed, fired, and ejected perfectly, and the slide always locked open after the gun was empty.  Even with the high performance ammo tested, the little PPS was easy to handle, as can be seen in the video of me shooting the gun.

For accuracy testing, I fired the PPS offhand at seven yards and fifteen yards, and from an improvised rest at twenty-five yards. It is easy to keep this weapon on target shooting rapid fire drills. I was delighted with the accuracy of the two pistols that I fired on the S&W range, and this production gun is just as accurate. The PPS shot slightly to the right for me, but that is easily corrected by moving the rear sight to the left in its dovetail. The PPS comes supplied with good, highly visible three-dot sights. I would like to see tritium night sights offered as an option. Maybe they will do that later. If not, perhaps Trijicon or another aftermarket supplier will do so.  I can think of no other improvement for the PPS. It is a great little powerful pocket pistol. Carrying it loaded with the standard magazine and the extra mag loaded in the pocket gives fourteen rounds of Plus P 9mm firepower to its user. If attacked by some low-class thug, or even a few of them, that should resolve most social conflicts in short order.

I am glad to see the PPS on the market. It is small, relatively light, and as flat as a book. It seems to be built much better than some lightweight pocket autos on the market. It exhibits a very high quality of manufacture. The trigger pull is just about perfect for a gun of its type; much better than the heavy pull weights on the PPK and PPK/S pistols. It is a dandy little pocket gun, it is a Walther, and it is now in production. I highly recommend it.

For more information and current pricing on the PPS, go online to www.waltheramerica.com.

To order any of the ammunition shown here, go to:  www.cor-bon.com, www.extremeshockusa.net, www.internationalcartridge.com , or www.buffalobore.com.

Jeff Quinn

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Click pictures for a larger version.

 

Waltherís New PPS 9mm Semi-Auto Pocket Gun.

 

 

The Walther

 

 

 

 

Magazines shipped with the gun include a six-shot and extended seven-shot version.

 

 

 

 

Magazine release is ambidextrous and well-designed.

 

 

 

 

Take-down latch makes field stripping a snap.

 

 

 

 

Frame includes an integral accessory rail.

 

 

Sights are of a highly visible three-dot configuration.

 

 

Cocking indicator is easy to see or feel, whether decocked (top), cocked (center), or during the trigger pull process (bottom).

 

 

Slide release is easy to operate with either hand.

 

 

Two backstraps are included to allow the gun to be fit to the shooter's hand. Removing the backstrap renders the gun inoperable.

 

 

 

 

Small but rugged, the PPS is designed with robust internal parts.

 

 

Recoil spring is a captured dual-spring unit.

 

 

Barrel gives great support to the case head.

 

 

 

 

The PPS easily disappears into a pants pocket.

 

 

The PPS is similar in size to the Kel-Tec PF-9 (on top in top picture, at top in center picture, and at left in bottom picture).

 

 

The PPS also compares favorably in size to Jeff's S&W 342PD five-shot .38 snubby (on top in top picture, at top in center and bottom picture).

 

 

Jeff tested the PPS using a variety of ammunition, with no failures of any kind.

 

 

Groups fired at 7 yards offhand (top), 15 yards offhand (center), and 25 yards rested (bottom) show the PPS to be plenty accurate.