BMW. Porsche. Bosch. Blaupunkt. These are all great German brands that have brought ingenious engineering designs to market that have shaped the future of their respective industries. After manufacturing firearms for more than a century, Walther has earned a place among these industry greats with famous designs like the P38 and the PP/PPK series of guns. Walther Arms continues to push handgun design forward with one of the company’s latest offerings, the Walther PPX.
The Walther PPX is a full-size, duty-style pistol. Its design makes it perfect for both uniformed law enforcement duties and home defense. It’s large enough to be easily shot and manipulated, but still lightweight and handy.
RELATED: Gun Review – Walther PPQ M2 9mm
Weight is minimized through the use of a polymer frame. As a former cop who carried both all-metal and polymer-framed handguns on patrol, I can attest to the fact that plastic guns are much easier on the body to carry. In addition to the lighter weight, they tend to require less maintenance. I can’t count the number of times I had to replace the grip screws on another manufacturer’s pistol due to seemingly unstoppable corrosion.
Walther PPX slides are available in both a matte stainless finish and a black Tenifer finish. The pistol I tested had a matte stainless-finished slide, which gave the gun an attractive two-tone look. The PPX has a meaty slide, giving the shooter a lot of real estate to use when manipulating it during loading or malfunction drills. Slide serrations on the rear of the slide are deep and offer a lot of purchase when grabbing the slide. There are also shallow serrations on the front of the slide.
The PPX is available in both 9mm and .40 S&W. Both versions share the same external dimensions and come with a 4-inch barrel. The 9mm version can be had with a threaded, 4.6-inch-long barrel for the attachment of a sound suppressor. Walther’s .40 S&W PPX models ship with two 14-round magazines, while the 9mm PPX handguns come with two 16-round magazines.
Unlike other polymer Walther guns, the PPX is a hammer-fired pistol with a consistent trigger pull from shot to shot. The hammer is visible from the exterior, but it does not protrude from the rear of the gun when carried. During the trigger pull, the hammer does come back and extend beyond the rear of the slide slightly. Because of the Walther PPX’s design, it seems highly unlikely that any foreign material would interfere with the hammer movement.
The PPX has three-dot sights, which are typical on many handguns. The front edge of the rear sight is ramped, rather than squared off. Some shooters prefer a ramped front edge to reduce the chances it might snag on clothing during a draw. My preference is having a hard edge on the front of the rear sight. This allows me to use the sight to operate the slide with only one hand in a situation where my second hand is injured or otherwise unavailable. Without that hard edge, the shooter would have to use the ejection port to manipulate the slide. While it will work, using the ejection port can be more difficult than using the rear sight.
The magazine release is a push-button style typical of American pistols. Walther pistols are frequently equipped with an ambidextrous paddle mag release that is mounted along the bottom of the triggerguard. While not ambidextrous, the PPX magazine-release button is reversible for left-handed shooters.
No external safeties are on the PPX, but the gun does have internal safeties that help prevent accidental discharge if the gun is dropped. Other than the magazine release, there are only two external controls: a slide stop lever and a takedown lever. The slide stop lever is not ambidextrous, and is not reversible. It can only be released from the left side of the gun.
A Picatinny-style accessory rail is integrated with the polymer frame. Adding a light or laser is straightforward and easy to do. I added a Streamlight TLR-2 G to the PPX and found the mount was rock solid. When I later shot the pistol, the light did not loosen up at all. The squared-off front of the triggerguard allowed me to mount the TLR-2 G far back on the accessory rail and within easy reach of my finger.
The fit of a pistol to the hand is very important, and highly individualized. What may work for one person might not for the next. I was very pleased to find that the Walther PPX’s grip felt very good in my hand. Several other shooters, both male and female, also handled my test pistol and really liked the grip.
At the top of the grip, the frame is recessed significantly, allowing even my short fingers an easy reach to the trigger. The grip has a multi-directional pattern that I found helped keep the gun from wiggling in my hand. The pattern is aggressive, but not abrasive.
Field stripping the PPX is very easy. You remove the magazine and lock the slide to the rear. After ensuring the chamber is empty, you rotate the takedown lever 90 degrees. You can then release the slide forward, and it will easily come off the frame rails. A captive recoil spring assembly is then removed and the barrel can be lifted from the slide. For routine cleaning and maintenance, that is the extent of the disassembly. Reassembly is just as easy. While I do not believe anyone should shop on price alone when buying a defensive handgun, I have to admit the PPX is a great deal. Standard black finish PPX pistols carry a suggested retail price of $449, while the two-tone models are slightly more with an MSRP of $499.
The Walther proved to be an outstanding performer on the range. I experienced no failures when shooting the PPX. It is not unusual to need a break-in period to get a gun running smooth. However, this Walther pistol did not seem to need any. With about 350 rounds of various ammo types fired both slowly and rapidly, the gun never faltered.
The trigger pull on the PPX is extremely good, especially for a factory pistol. It is light, about 6 pounds, with a crisp break and no obvious creep. The overall pull is longer than what might be found on a striker-fired pistol, but seemed perfectly normal for a hammer-fired gun. There was no perceptible overtravel. A moderate amount of movement is required for the trigger to reset. Trigger reset is plainly audible and can be felt in the trigger.
Recoil is often a concern for shooters. Even though the cartridge has been the darling of law enforcement and many armed citizens, the .40 S&W is not without its drawbacks. Chief among them is the sharp recoil in lighter handguns. With a polymer frame, I wondered how well the Walther PPX would handle the .40 S&W.
Is .40 too much for the PPX? Not at all. Recoil, especially with self-defense cartridges, was sharp but not harsh. The ergonomics of the pistol kept muzzle flip to a minimum. Running several drills that involved rapid follow-up shots, I found the PPX was easy to control. However, I imagine some people might not enjoy the .40’s sharp kick, and novice shooters could pick up a flinch that would impact accuracy. For those that like the gun but are looking for something softer shooting, the PPX in 9mm would be an excellent choice.
Without a rest, I managed groups of 1.5 to 3.75 inches at 25 yards with a variety of practice and self-defense ammunition. The best results were had with Hornady’s Critical Duty 175-grain rounds, which I managed to shoot into a group measuring 1.5 inches. Using a rest, I would expect less than 2-inch groups for all of the ammo I tested. The gun is certainly accurate enough for law enforcement and self-defense work.
I found that the pistol’s magazine release button was perfectly located for my thumb. It was out of the way while shooting, but instantly accessible when needed. The release button is large, textured and easy to reach quickly. Likewise, the slide stop lever was also easy to reach and manipulate while remaining low profile and out of the way during shooting.
Ready To Serve?
Many people claim that German engineering is unparalleled. I don’t know if that is true, but I do know that the Walther PPX .40 is a very well designed gun that offers great features and reliability at a very affordable price.
The Walther PPX performed admirably on the range. Accuracy was good and reliability was perfect. I found the controls very easy to manipulate, and the gun fit very well into my hands. The gun is large enough to shoot comfortably, and holds 14 rounds of your favorite load in each magazine. In either a home defense or law enforcement function, I believe the PPX would serve you well.
While the .40 S&W is fine for many shooters, I would suggest checking out the 9mm version of this pistol if you don’t care for the larger caliber. The 9mm cartridge offers very good defensive shooting performance, recoils less and adds two additional rounds to the magazine.
For more information, visit http://www.waltherarms.com or call 479-242-8500.
This article was originally published in the December 2014 issue of COMBAT HANDGUNS. Subscription is available in print and digital editions below.