July 08, 2016
By James Tarr
There is no doubt the CCP (Concealed Carry Pistol) is a Walther. Current Walther handguns have a distinct look to them, and the Walther CCP is obviously related to the PPQ. In fact, although it is a new design, as far as appearances go, think of the Walther CCP as a miniaturized PPQ.
Walther, however, did not just shrink the PPQ. Most pistols, including the PPQ, use a variation of the delayed blowback recoil system. Upon ignition, the pressure from the cartridge locks up the gun, but as soon as the pressure starts to let off, the barrel can tilt down. Even as the barrel is moving down, it is still absorbing a lot of the energy of the igniting cartridge. Once the barrel has completed its travel, the slide then begins to move freely backward under recoil.
The Walther CCP, on the other hand, uses a gas-delayed blowback system. Walther calls it the Soft-Coil recoil system, and it bleeds off gases from the igniting cartridge through a port in the underside of the barrel just in front of the chamber. Gas pushes against a piston underneath and parallel to the fixed barrel; the piston opposes the rearward motion of the slide until the gas pressure has declined.
This is not the first pistol ever made with a gas-delayed blowback system, but it’s not a common design. Walther is promoting the recoil-taming advantages of this gas system, saying it reduces muzzle rise by one-third, but to be honest, it didn’t feel noticeably softer than other 9mm handguns of the same size and weight I’ve fired.
- With the CCP, you get a great concealed carry pistol that’s easy to operate and easy to shoot.
However—and this is important—the end result of using a gas-delayed blowback recoil system is that the Walther CCP doesn’t require a recoil spring as strong as a traditional tilting-barrel system. As a result, less force is required to work the slide of the Walther CCP. If you don’t have good hand strength, this could be an important selling point. I found it took about twice as much force to work the slide of a comparably sized Ruger LC9 I had on hand.
As it is specifically designed for concealed carry, the Walther CCP exists in the Goldilocks range for carry guns: small enough to conceal yet large enough to handle full-power cartridges (in this case the 9mm). The pistol uses a single-column, eight-round stainless steel magazine that allows for a narrow frame, which feels comfortable in the hand. The grip will be long enough for most people to get their entire hand on the gun.
While the Walther CCP is easily concealed at 6.4x5.1x1.2 inches and 22.3 ounces with an empty magazine in place, it is too big and heavy for anything but a roomy cargo pocket. This is a purse or holster gun. The slide is actually narrower than the grip, and the flatness of the gun will make it easy to conceal with the right holster choice and covering garment.
Above the 3.54-inch barrel are three-dot polymer sights. I’m not a fan of polymer sights, but manufacturers keep putting them on guns because they are less expensive, and part of the impetus behind the Walther CCP was designing not just an easily concealable handgun but also an affordable one.
- As a gas-delayed blowback gun, the CCP’s barrel is fixed. Gas is bled off via a barrel port and impacts a piston that resists slide movement until pressure drops. One result of this is a slide that’s super easy to operate.
I was sent a two-tone model with a stainless steel slide, which has a suggested retail of $489. The all-black model with a Cerakoted slide is selling for a mere $469, quite inexpensive for a Walther.
The rear sight is adjustable for windage via a small recessed Torx screw on the right side. The front sight is a simple post. Walther provides two spare front sights of different heights, so you can tailor the gun to your preferred carry ammo; not every brand or bullet weight will hit to point of impact even on a gun with perfectly regulated sights. To adjust or swap out the sights, Walther provides the appropriate wrenches.
At the left rear of the frame, in a position familiar to 1911 owners, the Walther CCP has a manual safety—up for Safe, down for Fire. The safety can be engaged whether or not the striker is cocked, and the slide can be worked with the safety up.
The CCP has an internal striker safety as well. Except for the thumb safety and the rather subdued slide and magazine releases, the Walther CCP is free of any other controls or corners that might snag on clothing during a draw. The magazine release is reversible for you southpaws.
The undercut trigger guard allows the shooter to really choke up on the gun to reduce recoil, and it’s a big reason why most people won’t have fingers hanging off the end of the frame on a gun barely larger than the Ruger LC9.
- The CCP has only a few controls: slide stop, manual safety and reversible magazine release button. The trigger lever has a wide, serrated face, and the pull is light and smooth.
In fact, I had a Ruger LC9 and S&W M&P Shield on hand for comparison. There are smaller 9mms on the market, but the LC9 and Shield are the smallest ones from big-name firearms manufacturers. The CCP is larger than both of them, but it’s a mere third of an inch longer than the Shield. A Ruger LC9 wearing an extended base pad magazine (required if you want to get all your fingers on that gun) is only marginally smaller than the Walther CCP.
Going back and forth between the three guns, I came to the realization that the LC9 looks and feels like an upsized pocket gun. The S&W M&P Shield shoots nearly as soft as its full-size big brother, but it looks and feels slightly awkward and improperly proportioned. The Walther CCP feels like a downsized duty gun.
What does that mean? It means I can get my whole hand on the Walther even with the magazine removed. I can do a reload without my hand on the gun getting in the way of the magazines going in and out.
It has a trigger pull that isn’t horrendously long or heavy, which allows for fast and accurate fire beyond seven yards. It has normal proportions, and an accessory rail on the frame for mounting lights and lasers. The frame has a single finger groove, with texturing that is much more aggressive than it looks.
As I mentioned, there are two versions of the Walther CCP: one with a matte stainless slide and one with a black Cerakoted stainless slide. I was provided a sample of the former. Aesthetically, I don’t like the color combination, but I can’t deny stainless steel over polymer is pretty much the perfect combination if you’re looking for a corrosion-resistant carry gun.
- The grip is nicely undercut below the trigger guard, which should allow just about everyone to get their entire hand on the grip. The texturing is more aggressive than it appears and offers good control.
Coatings can wear off, but stainless is bone deep. The first two 1911s I carried on a daily basis were both blued steel, and in the summer they would rust up in just a few days due to sweat. I prefer all-black guns, but there is a school of thought that small carry guns should be as visible as possible so bad guys can see you have a gun in your hand (also a prime selling point for handgun lasers, as far as I’m concerned).
The slide of the Walther CCP is narrower at the top, and the sides of the slide have a curve to them. Between the slide’s matte finish and the aggressive serrations front and back, what could have been slippery is easy to grasp and work.
Because the Walther CCP has a fixed barrel, there’s no takedown lever. At first, basic disassembly for cleaning seems a bit more complicated than with most handguns, but it is simple.
First, remove the magazine and make sure the chamber is empty. In a way similar to other striker-fired pistols, you have to pull the trigger on the Walther CCP to take it apart. If this seems unsafe to you, you probably have been spending too much time around lawyers and not enough time practicing the four basic rules of gun safety.
Once the pistol is empty and the striker down, push up the silver tab at the rear of the slide, using either a screwdriver or the small cylindrical polymer tool provided. This looks like it might be the back of the striker, but it’s actually the locking catch. Then push the tool or screwdriver into the slide (it will move maybe a quarter of an inch and then stop).
- The slide is actually narrower than the frame and tapers toward the top, making it easy to conceal. Of course, the front of the frame is designed to accommodate lights and lasers.
At that point all you have to do is pull the slide far enough back for the extractor to clear the groove in the notch in the chamber, and the rear of the slide can be lifted free. It then pulls off the front of the frame/barrel. On a fixed-barrel pistol the recoil spring is usually around the barrel, and the Walther CCP is no different.
If this sounds weird or complicated or time-consuming, it is not. In practice, it is just as fast as using a frame-mounted disassembly lever, once you have the disassembly tool/screwdriver in hand. The gas piston is attached to the front of the slide, so you can’t lose it even if you try.
Reassembly is a little trickier because you have to get the piston going in at the right angle to fit in the port underneath the barrel—and then push in the catch before dropping the slide wholly onto the frame—but once I’d done it three times I was an old pro.
The Walther CCP comes with two eight-round magazines. The first time I loaded them, I found one was having a problem. The top round would nosedive instead of feed into the chamber. This happens when the magazine grips the rim of the case too hard, so when the slide pushes on the top of the round, it pivots downward instead of sliding forward along the feed lips.
It’s a rather common problem with some types of new magazines with fresh, strong springs. I unloaded and reloaded the magazine several times to capacity, then tried it in the gun—and then it (and its twin) worked flawlessly.
The Walther PPQ has one of the best trigger pulls of any striker-fired handgun on the market. The Walther CCP follows this example with a smooth, light trigger pull that stacks slightly right at the end. I liked the length and weight of the trigger pull, but I didn’t like how the break was almost imperceptible unless I was pulling the trigger slowly and carefully. This is a minor complaint and something no one will notice if they’re fighting for their lives.
The trigger itself is polymer, wide, flat and serrated and it has a medium-long reset. Walther advertises a trigger pull of 5.5 pounds for the CCP, which is exactly what mine measured.
A trip to the range brought no surprises. The production Walther CCP performed flawlessly, as had a prototype I’d fired nine months earlier at the Walther factory. (It’s always a good sign when a first-run production gun runs as well as a more or less hand-built prototype.)
Any 9mm pistol with a frame big enough to fit your entire hand, and which has aggressive texturing and a finger groove, is not going to be hard for anyone to shoot.
The company calls the Walther CCP the “ultimate concealed carry pistol.” Sorry, but in my opinion any pistol deserving the appellation “ultimate” has steel sights. However, the Walther CCP is a solid performer and is as close to a “one size fits all,” full-powered concealed-carry pistol for the majority of people as you’re likely to find.