Sunday, June 28, 2009

Police Pistol Slim (PPS) (9mm Luger)

It’s a little strange to finally write a review of a gun that you have had since the beginning of this journey into handguns. We bought the PPS in March of 2009 because it was slim, Sharon could rack the slide and the reviews were very good. Since that time we have put nearly 1,400 rounds down-range with both good and “OK” results. I like this pistol, LOVE its conceal-ability and accuracy, but worry a little about dependability.

The MAIN feature of the PPS is the size, of course. At 1.04 inches, this gun vanishes under a shirt making it great for Concealed Carry. The overall length is 6.3 inches, keeping it inside the concealable size. It feels more like a full sized gun but compares well against the Kel-Tec P3AT (the smallest gun we have reviewed). The polymer frame helps to keep the weight down to 25.3oz with the 8-round magazine(there are also 6 and 7 rnd mags).
PPS_vs_P3AT_size PPS_iwb_velcro_1
left photo: P3AT on top of PPS,
right photo: Wearing the PPS in waistband with velcro clips
(ignore the belly)

The ambidextrous magazine release is located on the lower section of the trigger guard. It takes a bit to get used to using you non-trigger finger to do the release, but it actually works out very well. The PPS comes with 2 sizes of backstraps (small or large) to adjust to your particular needs. The backstrap also serves the method of employing Walther’s Quicksafe™ feature that serves to disable the gun. When the backstrap is removed, the weapon cannot be fired.
PPS_mag_release PPS_backstrap_safety2
Left photo: Magazine release
Right photo: Quicksafe backstrap disables the pistol

The trigger safety is a pivoting piece of plastic that must be depressed, along with the trigger squeeze, to enable firing. The safety adds an odd feel to the trigger, somewhere between rough and sharp, but not either one. The spring tension of the safety pushes back against your finger from the center of the trigger causing an uneven pressure across the trigger. The trigger pull is a nice 6.1 lbs unless you live in Maryland where the pull is a required 10lbs. This is a “Striker Fire Action, Pre-Cocked” weapon. That means it is somewhere between an SA and DA. The “striker” means that the firing pin rod is not actually hit by a hammer. The rod is on a spring that is pushed back as you pull the trigger. When it reaches the firing position, it releases and strikes the bullet. That is similar to a DAO (hammer back, hammer forward) but the gun must be cocked FIRST before this can happen. Cocking is accomplished by chambering a round with the slide action. It cannot be de-cocked without pulling the trigger, and if you need to re-cock the gun (say to retry a misfire), you must rack the slide part way in order to reengage the cocking mechanism. There is a “loaded chamber indicator,” which is a peep-hole to look for brass. There is also a cocking indicator on the rear of the slide, with a red dot meaning that it is cocked.
trigger safety
Loaded shell visible through indicator hole
Red dot on end of striker indicates weapon is cocked

Disassembly is simple and easy. Hold the slide back with a little pressure while pulling down on the release levers on either side. Release the slide, pull the trigger and the slide is off. The Quicksafe™ mechanism also functions as a means to remove the slide without pulling the trigger. There is concern on the internet about the backstrap becoming loose if this method is used all the time. Since I ALWAYS check the chamber for a live round, I just use the trigger pull. The internals of the PPS are solid and straight forward. I polished the cartridge loading ramp just so I didn’t have to use chemicals to clean all the brass off every time. Now it comes clean with a dry cleaning patch.
PPS_teardown_hold PPS_teardown_release

The pieces

Polish job done on cartridge feed ramp

Shooting is definitely fun and a learning experience. Even experienced shooters have found themselves “limp wristing” the PPS, causing load failures. A change or better grip corrects this, and you usually never experience it again. The 3.2 inch barrel produces strikingly good groupings for me. The PPS is rather picky on ammo and it is NOT +P+ rated. Once you find the ammo that it likes, there will be no further problems in that area. The spent casings are sent FLYING out of the PPS and can end up going in almost any direction. I was even hit with one when I was about 8 feet behind the shooter. The casings occasionally bounce on the ejector port causing this directional hazard and leaving brass markings on the port’s sides.
PPS_SKD_shot PPS_DAD_shot

The bad1: Well, there is the limp-wristing tendency for new shooters. Not an issue once experienced with the gun. However, if someone else had to fire it, they might only get the one shot. All it takes is a firm grasp and keeping the slide in line with your forearm.
The bad2: You also have to keep the PPS CLEAN. We had a problem with the striker getting stuck in the rear position instead of returning to its normal state. That turned out to be excessive dirt in the striker firing pin hole, probably from cheap ammo. Cleaned and fixed.
The bad3: There is sometimes an annoying jerkiness to the trigger pull caused by spring binding on the striker pin. The spring bunches up and moves a little unevenly as you pull the trigger back, scraping against its channel in the slide. I took the striker out, lubed everything with Rem DriLube (with Teflon), turned the spring 90 degrees and replaced it. All better.

Overall impression is good. If you keep the gun clean, then it should be very dependable. It conceals easily, shoots accurately and the weight keeps it from being a burden as you go through your day wearing it. I am very happy with the Walther PPS and glad that we purchased it. It is not, however, a right-out-of-the-box gun that can be carried without learning how to care for it. I guess you get out of it what you are willing to put into it.


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