Concealed Carry Hunt: Walther PPS 9mm
I’m the market for a new gun.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my Ruger P95. This was once a tanker-issue sidearm. It will last forever, shoot any preloaded round (it’s never once jammed) and take tons of abuse. The sights are fixed, but they’re fixed well. It shoots right where you point it.
It has kept me and my loved ones protected for years and I’ll never get rid of it.
But I carry concealed, and man is it HEAVY and BULKY. The thing feels like a brick in your hand, and even more so on your hip. Its size also sometimes causes it to print through clothing, and while I live in a state that permits open carry, I sometimes just don’t want to. With all this in mind, I’ve decided to keep my Ruger in service as room/home defense and spend the next few months shopping around for a new concealed carry sidearm.
After a little bit of internet research and face-to-face discussion with knowledgeable folks, I’ve decided to compare and contrast three very compact 9mm handguns: the Walther PPS 9mm, the Ruger SR9c, and the Sig 239.
What follows is my first review, the Walther PPS 9mm.
Walther PPS 9mm
Size & Capacity
The first thing that struck me about the PPS is just how incredibly thin it really is: only 1 inch. (1.04 to be exact.) You could literally slip it into almost any pocket. But don’t presume that the slender profile makes it difficult to handle. My biggest apprehension at purchasing a subcompact gun has previously been that it will be too small to comfortably control. The PPS addresses this concern with two interchangeable parts.
The first is the magazine itself.
There are three sizes, holding 6, 7 and 8 rounds respectively. The 9mm comes with two medium (7-round) mags, which are the size I used, and the extension at the bottom gave me plenty of room to wrap my pinky finger around comfortably.
The second interchangeable part is the backstrap (the rear of the grip), which has two size options for optimum ergonomics.
Between these two part options, I think most people will be able to find a comfortable setup for this firearm. It’s hard to imagine, even with the largest 8-round clip, that printing through clothing would often be a problem.
Obviously related to size is round capacity, which I have already detailed. For some reason I had failed to consider what a drastic reduction in capacity would be necessary for a gun this small. My Ruger holds 16 rounds (plus 1 in the chamber) and seeing this 7-round limitation gave me a little mental *gulp*. I would like to think that 7 rounds would be enough to save my life, were I to ever need them, but cutting capacity fully in half doesn’t exactly sound wise.
It’s a trade-off that has to be made though. It’s not barrel length that makes a gun difficult to conceal. It’s the length of the grip/magazine. If you want lightweight concealability, you’ve got to take a hit to capacity.
The PPS has three independent safeties.
The first is a trigger safety. If you’ll look at the trigger in the above photo, you’ll notice what appears to be a smaller, thinner trigger protruding from the middle. This first safety prevents the trigger from being pulled back accidentally from the sides, by rubbing up against something for instance. Only when the trigger is pulled back with pressure on the center of the plate can it depress.
The second safety is an internal striker safety. This keeps the striker from ever hitting the firing pin unless the trigger is depressed completely, which means the gun won’t go off if dropped.
The third safety is especially handy for bag transport and storage. To engage, simply remove the interchangeable backstrap (shown above). The gun cannot fire at all when detached.
This safety combo is a step up for me. My Ruger P95 has a thumb safety, which I’ve always had to practice disengaging during the draw from my holster. Much like a Glock, the PPS is ready to fire the moment you touch it, but secure when your hands are clear.
Here again was a drastic change for me. My P95 has a double-single action trigger, which makes the first pull long, requiring a whopping 22lbs of pressure to fire. Subsequent shots require about 6 lbs of pressure. With no external hammer to mess with, a PPS trigger only requires about 5 lbs of pressure each and every time.
This makes the first pull of the PPS trigger much easier than my P95. Is that a good thing? It’s probably just a matter of opinion, but this won’t really be a selling point for me. My Ruger feels safer to me with that heavy trigger. If – GOD FORBID – any small child were to ever somehow get their hands on a gun like the P95 (despite what you see in movies and on TV, it very rarely happens), and if they were to also coincidentally undo the safety, I think it would actually be quite a challenge for small hands to pull such a trigger. If my handgun is ever going to be fired by anyone, I don’t mind being certain that it’s intentional, even if that means training myself to pull hard.
The accuracy and grouping with the PPS I used were perfectly acceptable. The is the very first target (life-sized) I shot at from 30 feet. As you can see, 8 of 11 headshots were placed within a 3-inch grouping, with the outliers still on target. All remaining shots were dead center, with only 1 straddling the 9-point line.
One interesting and unique feature of the PPS is its mag release. Most pistols are designed for right handers with a button on the left side of the weapon to release the magazine. The PPS has integrated the mag realease into the trigger guard itself. You literally flip the bottom of the guard down with your trigger finger to release the magazine. This effectively makes the gun ambidextrous, which is great for lefties.
As you can see, the PPS also has Picatinny rails for lights, laser sights or other accessories, though it’s hard to imagine this being used for anything other than concealed carry, which aren’t typically equipped with accessories.
This was a fine little weapon. It felt good, it fired accurately and it was as concealable as a 9mm firearm possibly can be. The low capacity of only 7 rounds gives me pause, but I suspect that the two other compact guns to be reviewed will be comparable. The Walther PPS definitely deserves to be on the short list.