Shooting the PPS
Unfortunately, the first PPS test pistol that was supplied to me malfunctioned twice, occasionally ejected empty brass in the faces of two shooters, and consistently shot low. After putting 20 magazines through the first test pistol, I decided to send it back to the factory for inspection and possible repair. Smith & Wesson was very cooperative and immediately offered to provide another test pistol while the first PPS pistol was inspected by a factory technician.
As soon as I received the second test pistol, I cleaned and lubricated it, then I headed out to the range. I conducted the first range session with the second PPS test pistol with my buddy Jack, a police equipment sales representative from my local police supply store. During this range session, Jack and I put 150 rounds of 9mm Speer Lawman 124-grain FMJ ammunition through the second Walther test pistol.
The reputation of the PPS was redeemed when the second test pistol proved to be accurate and flawlessly reliable.
During this range session, my buddy and I had no problem hitting a nine-inch white paper plate at various CQB distances. A metal plate the size of a POST Firearms Qualification TQ19 Target was also successfully engaged while using both one- and two-handed holds on the PPS pistol at a distance of 60 feet.
I can't stress enough how easy it is to operate and accurately shoot the Walther PPS while using a strong- or weak-hand hold. Remember, if a pistol is prone to malfunction, it will probably do so when you fire it while using a weak-hand-only grip. During my range testing, the second PPS test pistol provided rock solid performance regardless of how it was shot.
While test firing this pistol, I also executed a timed combat reload to see if I had any problems using the rather unique PPS magazine release lever while operating under some stress. Even though I had no problem executing a combat reload with the PPS, I did attempt to lower the trigger guard on another subcompact pistol, when I needed to remove a magazine from a Springfield Armory XD later on during the same range session. This confirmed my fears about muscle memory and going from one system to another. Hopefully, this will never happen again once I train more with the PPS and with other pistols that use a traditional magazine release button.
As someone who is a little recoil sensitive because of arthritis in my hands, I found the Walther PPS to be an extremely comfortable pistol to operate and shoot while using a variety of FMJ and standard velocity 9mm hollow-point ammunition. *Note: Smith & Wesson advises against using + P ammunition in the PPS.
During this T&E, seven different standard velocity loads were put through the PPS, including:
147-grain Federal Flat Tip FMJ
124-grain Federal FMJ
124-grain Federal HST HP
147-grain Federal Hydra Shock HP
124-grain Speer Gold Dot HP
147-grain Winchester Ranger SXT HP
124-grain Speer Lawman FMJ
The PPS also proved to be a fun gun to use against smaller targets like tin cans. Remember, it is always a challenge to engage small targets that are placed on the ground as opposed to shooting at targets at waist or eye level.
Even though I do not like the magazine release lever, or the way the magazine floor plates are designed, I like the Walther PPS enough to consider buying one. At the very least, I am intrigued enough with the PPS to continue field testing one.
To its credit the Walther PPS is reliable, ergonomic, extremely soft shooting, accurate, and lightweight with a super thin profile. I also recommend this pistol because the PPS has a super smooth striker-fired trigger that I consider to be the best in the business next to the trigger on a Springfield Armory XD. I am also becoming a huge fan of pistols with interchangeable grips.
I also like pistols that are constructed to withstand exposure to harsh conditions, including salt water. Even though you may never swim in the ocean with your pistol like a U.S. Navy SEAL, you may end up in a Katrina-type situation and could benefit by possessing a handgun that has corrosion-resistant qualities. The Tenifer finish that is used on the PPS should do an excellent job of protecting your Walther pistol from harsh elements and corrosion.
If you have no problem carrying a pistol with a somewhat limited magazine capacity, I suggest you consider buying a Walther PPS. Clearly, the Walther PPS has certain qualities that make it a worthwhile subcompact pistol to have in your battery of personal defense weapons.
The author is a medically retired U.S. Customs Agent and former police officer who was physically disabled in the line of duty.