Walther is one of those European gun companies that gets it. Historically, many overseas firms have taken a “my way or the highway” approach to the American market—introducing guns with features Europeans prefer rather than catering to shooters in this country.
Case in point: When Walther’s excellent PPQ made its U.S. debut, shooters here shrugged it off—largely because it featured a paddle magazine release on the trigger guard instead of the button behind the guard we’re all used to. But Walther wised up, and it didn’t take too long for the company to introduce the PPQ M2 for the American market with, you guessed it, a button release.
With the new Concealed Carry Pistol, or CCP, the new M2 version doesn’t have quite such a major change, but it does address one of the big complaints on the original CCP: It was hard to disassemble. At a recent media event, Walther’s director of product development, Bret Vorhees, got a chuckle from the audience when he said you basically had to “hold your tongue just right” to field-strip it.
The original CCP required a tool—either the provided one or a small screwdriver—for takedown. The new CCP M2 does not. Unload the gun by removing the magazine, cycling the slide and double-checking that the chamber is empty. Point the muzzle in a safe direction and pull the trigger to drop the striker.
There’s a small, serrated locking block at the rear of the frame. Push it in and slide it to the right. This frees the locking block and the striker cover. Draw the slide back just a touch, to the point the extractor is free, then pull up on rear of the slide to remove it from the pistol. Voilà.
With that accomplished, you’ll see right away this isn’t your typical semiauto. For starters, the barrel is fixed. And you’ll see a “thingy” affixed to the front of the slide via a pin. This is the gun’s piston, part of a delayed-blowback system Walther invented called SoftCoil. A port underneath the barrel bleeds ignition gases from the cartridge’s firing and pushes on this piston. (And a quick reassembly note: The only slightly complicated part on reassembly is ensuring the piston goes back into its hole so the slide can be swung back onto the gun. Once you’ve done it a time or two it’s easy.)
Because it’s bleeding off some of the ignition gas and using a piston, the SoftCoil system results in a softer-shooting pistol than a similar-size semiauto with a tilt-barrel design. And since the piston fights against the gases and slows the slide during the firing sequence, the recoil spring doesn’t have to be as heavy, which makes the CCP M2 much easier to rack—an important factor in an age where many of the people turning to guns for self-defense lack the grip strength or have health conditions or poor technique that prevents them from operating a slide properly.
This is not a problem with the CCP M2. I thought it was probably the easiest racking slide I’ve seen on a striker-fired gun, and my wife—who often struggles with slide manipulation—was able to work the slide with ease as well.
The other big selling point of the Walther CCP M2 is its ergonomics. We throw this term around a lot, sometimes misleadingly, because what feels good to one person won’t feel that way to another. Me, I absolutely love Walthers. I loved the P99 and original PPQ (and I’m one who actually liked the paddle release). And just a few months ago I bought a PPQ M2, a gun I’d shot a lot on this season of Handguns & Defensive Weapons.
Why do I love them? They fit me really well. I have medium-size hands, and not only does the size and configuration of the grip feel good to me, but also I can get all of my fingers on the CCP M2. That’s thanks in part to the slight finger-hook extension on the gun’s eight-round single-stack magazine, but even without the magazine installed my pinky gets nearly full purchase. The latter is significant because it helps control the gun and also means my pinky won’t be as likely to pin the magazine in place during a reload.
Further, I can hit the mag release button without twisting the gun in my hand, which I can’t do with many guns. The oblong, smooth button is reversible—not ambidextrous as some of the Walther literature indicates.
The CCP M2 features a thumb safety, which I figured I wouldn’t like. I don’t see the need for a manual safety on a carry gun with a long trigger pull, and truth be told, I have a hard time operating most carry-gun safeties because they’re small or stiff or both. Not so with the CCP’s. It “snicks” on and off with enough authority you’re not going to move it to Safe or Fire unless you intend to, but its location, shape and tension make it easy to work without any contortions. I like it.
The only control on the CCP M2 I don’t care for is the slide-lock lever. It protrudes just enough that, with my thumbs-forward hold, it rubs on my thumb to the point it’s uncomfortable during lengthy firing sessions. And on a number of occasions it prevented the gun from locking back on an empty mag because my thumb was pressing too hard on the lever.
The gun has a relatively long trigger pull. To me it’s long enough and heavy enough that you can carry the gun with the safety off—with the usual caveats about keeping your finger off the trigger until ready to fire and never carry the gun in a manner in which objects can get wedged inside the trigger guard (use a holster, in other words).
The trigger has a short take-up, then a fairly heavy pull with some grit until the striker releases after about 3/8 inch total travel, followed by some overtravel. Average pull weight was just under 5.5 pounds, which is Walther’s factory spec. Is it a great trigger? No. Is it a decent one? Yes, and I didn’t have any problems getting hits during drills.
The trigger guard is nicely done, with a relief cut toward the front to allow easy trigger access with gloves on. I tried it with several pairs, and only my super-bulky waterfowling gloves presented even the slightest problem.
The front of the guard is squared off, with serrations and a slight protrusion at the bottom. Those who like to wrap an index finger around the front of a trigger guard will love this. The front of the polymer frame sports a roomy three-slot accessory rail for lights and lasers.
The forward cocking serrations have the Walther logo tastefully machined into them without sacrificing usability. The left side is engraved “CCP.” The rear cocking serrations aren’t overly aggressive, but they don’t need to be because the slide retraction force is so low.
There’s a small notch in the slide behind the ejection port to serve as a visual loaded-chamber indicator—but you’re going to have to be in really good light to be able to see a cartridge in there. At the back is another new feature for the M2: a red cocking indicator. It shows up great when the striker is cocked, and to an extent you can feel it with your thumb as well.
The three-dot sights are polymer, and I really like the relationship between the 0.15-inch front blade and 0.175-inch rear notch. I found the setup incredibly quick to acquire—with a nice height and the perfect amount of light on either side of the front blade.
With its 3.5-inch barrel (well, 3.54 inches, but c’mon) and 22.3-ounce weight you’d expect this gun to be a handful to shoot. It’s not, thanks to the SoftCoil system and also the grip. The grip’s “stippling,” which I can only describe as little curlicues, provides great traction, and there are three oblong raised pads that essentially continue the shallow finger grooves on the frontstrap. These keep the gun firmly in your grasp, and the frame is undercut at the trigger guard to permit the highest possible grip on the gun to help tame muzzle rise.
I ran several drills and also did a lot of plate-rack work, and the gun acquitted itself well in all regards. Muzzle jump was minimal for a gun of this size, and with the great grip and excellent sights, follow-up shots and target transitions were fast and sure.
The only time I felt like I was shooting a subcompact was with Black Hills’s EXP (extra power) load. This isn’t officially a +P load, but look at those velocities. It was pretty snappy in the Walther.
Accuracy was good, as you would expect from a fixed-barrel gun, where there are no issues with the barrel returning to the exact same position after each shot.
As far as reliability goes, there were only two hitches. One was the aforementioned tendency for my thumb to ride the slide-lock lever to the point the slide wouldn’t lock back on an empty mag. The other was a single failure to go into battery with Super Vel’s Hush Puppy 147-grain load. Walther’s Vorhees did say the gun runs best with normal-pressure ammo and not as well with low-recoil ammo, and I would say the Hush Puppy falls into the latter category.
Vorhees also recommends cleaning the gun every 1,000 rounds. Remember, you’re dealing with a piston system, and unlike some other designs, cleanliness counts here. The owner’s manual calls out the chamber area in particular as an area you should focus on, and Walther marketing manager Cody Osborn said he also pays attention to the piston itself and thinks running the supplied brush through the piston hole is a good idea as well. Oh, and speaking of cleanliness, the CCP M2’s barrel has polygonal rifling, so don’t plan on shooting a lot of non-jacketed lead bullets through it.
Because there’s a gas port, you might discover the gun gets a little hot under the chamber area. Vorhees said it can get “uncomfortably hot” after 200 to 300 continuous rounds, but it’s highly unlikely anyone is going to subject a carry gun to this many shots in a single session. During drills, I shot over 100 rounds more or less continuously, and I never found it too hot to touch.
The CCP M2 isn’t as small as, say, the SIG P365 or the 9mm version of Smith & Wesson’s Shield, but it certainly lives up to its Concealed Carry Pistol moniker. I carried it around in a Crossbreed belt slide, and it rides well and hides well.
If you’ve already peeked at the spec box, you saw the suggested retail on this gun is $469, and you can expect to find it for not much over $400. I would call that a competitive price, and it’s worth noting the CCP M2 comes with a lifetime, transferable warranty. Walther says it has a 48-hour turnaround on warranty work, so with two-day shipping each way, if something were to go wrong with the gun, you’d have it back in six days total.
Frankly, I don’t expect you will have to worry about that. And while I freely admit my fondness for Walther pistols, it doesn’t mean I can’t separate the wheat from the chaff here. I think this is one of those Goldilocks guns: plenty small enough to carry while being pleasant to shoot and easy to shoot well. Add in the low slide-racking force and this is a pistol that will appeal to lots of shooters, whether they carry or want an easy-to-operate, small 9mm for home defense.
WALTHER CCP M2
TYPE: striker-fired centerfire w/SoftCoil piston system
CALIBER: 9mm Luger
BARREL: 3.5 in.
OAL/HEIGHT/WIDTH: 6.4/5.1/1.2 in.
WEIGHT: 22.3 oz.
CONSTRUCTION: black carbon steel slide, black polymer frame (as tested)
SIGHTS: 3-dot polymer
SAFETIES: thumb, firing pin
MANUFACTURER: Walther, Waltherarms.com