The current trend among handgun manufacturers is to produce subcompact pistols that are chambered in a substantial caliber and have magazine compatibility with larger, high-capacity pistols of the same make and caliber.
Walther's new Police Pistol Slim (PPS) bucks that trend. It's a subcompact chambered in a substantial caliber, but it won't take magazines from other Walther pistols, and it is by no means a small version of the company's P99 duty gun. Available in 9mm and .40 S&W, the PPS offers six-, seven-, and eight-round single column magazines.
There are good reasons for wanting as much ammo as possible in a concealed carry or backup gun, so the PPS may not be for everybody. But you have to ask yourself, how much ammo is enough? Let's face it, having immediate access to lots of bullets is not as important as delivering excellent shot placement and using the right tactics for the occasion.
My attitude has always been: If I could routinely go into harm's way armed with nothing more powerful than a five- or six-shot .38 caliber revolver back in the old days, I can certainly go anywhere armed with a subcompact 9mm or .40 caliber pistol with a single column magazine. After all, a six-, seven-, or eight-shot subcompact 9mm or .40 S&W caliber pistol is considerably more powerful than the average five- or six-shot .38 Special revolver. This is the main reason why I transitioned from a five-shot .38 caliber Smith & Wesson revolver to a 9mm Kahr Arms pistol with a short polymer grip and a standard 3.5-inch barrel as my favorite ankle holster gun.
As a subcompact, the Walther PPS is designed to serve as a backup gun or off-duty gun. The PPS is also ideal for undercover work.
However, it should be noted that even though the PPS is incredibly slim and has a short 3.2-inch barrel, this pistol is similar in overall length and height to a Smith & Wesson M&P Compact, which has a 3.5-inch barrel. This is further confirmation that looks can be deceiving.
The PPS Pistol is made in Germany and is distributed in the United States by Smith & Wesson. It has a 3.2-inch carbon steel barrel and utilizes a single-action style, striker-fired, six-pound double-action-only trigger system.
The 9mm Walther PPS has an overall length of 6.3 inches, is 4.4 inches high, and weighs 19.4 ounces unloaded. The PPS chambered in .40 S&W weighs 20.8 ounces unloaded. Both have a Picatinny accessory rail, two interchangeable back straps, and three-dot fixed sights. The interchangeable back straps are also part of the Quick Safe System that prevents the PPS from firing once the back strap is removed from the pistol.
I was really impressed with the 9mm model of the PPS. Its captive dual recoil spring and excellent ergonomics combine to make an extremely soft shooting pistol. In fact, it's the softest shooting subcompact pistol that I have ever tested.
The PPS also benefits from Walther's attention to detail and quality finishing. For example, the slide, barrel, trigger bar, and takedown lever on the PPS are treated with Tenifer, which provides corrosion protection for the internal and external components of this pistol. According to the folks at Smith & Wesson, Tenifer is a nitrocarburizing process that provides excellent protection against corrosion.
Another great feature on the PPS is the loaded chamber indicator on top of the slide. There is also a cocking indicator on the rear of the slide facing the operator. When this pistol is cocked, a red button protrudes ever so slightly through a small hole in the rear of the slide to notify the operator that the PPS is ready to fire.
The PPS is also very easy to disassemble and reassemble. In fact, it is not even necessary to pull the trigger in order to remove the slide from the frame.
A rather unique magazine release lever is incorporated into the design of the PPS trigger guard. This long, curved lever can be pressed using your thumb or index/trigger finger. Unfortunately, it is necessary to reposition your hand to engage the magazine release lever, which is built into the bottom of the trigger guard.
One concern that I have regarding the PPS involves the use of such a unique magazine release lever. I say this because human beings are creatures of habit. As a result, we develop muscle memory when we practice or train to perform certain functions certain ways. I'll talk about this more in relation to shooting the PPS and switching to other pistols at the range.
I also have a problem with the extra plastic that protrudes from the rear of the PPS's six-, seven-, and eight-round magazine floor plates. As far as I can determine, all the extra plastic does is cover the opening on the bottom of the two interchangeable back straps once they are snapped onto the rear of the polymer grip. In my opinion, Walther should produce traditional single-column magazines for the PPS that are very easy to carry and use.
The PPS is a very flat pistol with rounded edges and stippling in all the right places on the polymer frame. (The width of the PPS frame and slide is 1.04 inches.) One feature that you will notice right away is the deep grooves that are cut into the rear portion of the slide. These press check-style grooves are the best in the business and are cut deep enough to make it incredibly easy to manually operate the PPS slide. This includes when you manually release the slide during a combat reloading drill. The slide release is also protected to some extent by a small ledge that is built into the polymer frame.
Walther produces three different magazines with different size floor plates for the PPS. The six-round 9mm PPS magazine has a flat floor plate and provides the best concealment. The seven- and eight-round 9mm PPS magazines are designed to add an extra round or two of ammunition and improve ergonomics by providing a place for your pinky to rest while gripping the pistol in your shooting hand.