The Walther PPS – An Unappreciated Classic

This oft-overlooked pistol is a fan favorite for those who know what they have.

The S&W Shield was released in 2012, and the world lost its mind. Seriously, I remember people paying way above MSRP to get an original Shield. It was the single stack 9mm that everyone needed and loved. For some reason, everyone needed a Shield but ignored the humble Walther PPS. The Walther PPS was one of the original single stack 9mms and was released in 2007. The gun came in both 9mm and 40 S&W, and it was my first serious carry gun.

PPS stands for Police Pistol Slim, and it’s all Walther. Walther produces innovative pistols that are often underrated, and the PPS is one of them. The intention of the PPS was to build upon the classic PPK pistol and offers a more modern variant of that small pistol. The Walther PPS took an interesting and surprisingly modular route.

The Walther PPS – The Face of Modern Pistols (Circa 2007)

The Walther PPS was a single stack 9mm, but Walther offered three different magazine sizes. The 9mm variant offered you a six-round flush magazine that gave you the smallest PPS possible. The seven-round magazine offered you one more round and a little more grip. Finally, the eight-round magazine fills your hand and maximizes your capacity.

The rear of the grip allowed you to swap backstraps to customize the fit of the gun to your hand. Removing one of the grip panels would also disable the gun, making it impossible to fire. At the front of the gun, we had a single-slot Picatinny rail to top everything off.

In 2007 this gun was high speed but still ignored. Well, almost entirely ignored. James Bond began carrying it in the newer Bond novels.

The Ergonomics

A lot of American shooters found fault with the ergonomic choices of the Walther PPS. Admittedly the uber-thin handle was oddly made with lots of corners. This resulted in the gun feeling like a 1×4 board in your hand. It’s not great, but serviceable.

The magazine release was the European-style trigger guard mag release. I love it. It’s easy to use and totally ambidextrous. You can easily do mag changes, and with a little practice, the Walther PPS is very easy to handle. Other than that, the controls are simple. It lacks a manual safety, and outside of the trigger and magazine release, you only have a slide lock.

At the Range

The Walther PPS has been retired as my carry gun. I’ve since moved to the SIG P365 but keep the PPS in the safe. I break it out here and there because I enjoy shooting it so much. It’s a bit of nostalgia for me, and I can still shoot the gun well. It’s light and thin, so you get the full dose of recoil when you shoot.

It’s not painful by any means, but a token of its era. The PPS features a striker-fired design with a smooth and lightweight trigger. It is very well worn in my model, and my muscle memory still knows exactly when it will break. At 25 yards, I have no issues making headshots, and up close, I can pull off an all-black 10-10-10 drill with the PPS.

The gun is quite reliable with everything but steel-cased ammo. For some reason, it doesn’t always extract properly. Sometimes the case needs to be convinced to leave. That’s not a huge deal to me since I never used steel-cased ammo for defensive use.

The big three-dot sights are easy to see and a familiar sight to me. I can find them, get them on target, and devastate my target. It’s the gun I remember it being, and I still enjoy shooting to this day. It’s not perfect by any means, but it’s one of the earliest subcompact single-stack 9mm pistols.

From Germany, With Love

The Walther PPS got no love during its release. It’s still a rather modular and modern pistol. Walther made an M2 model, which fixed ergonomic issues and was one of the earliest factory red dot-ready subcompact pistols. The M1 model is still one of my favorite pistols and seems to be rather rare these days. Even on Gunbroker, there are very few for sale. If you can snag one, do so. It’s a great gun.

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Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine gunner who served with 2nd Bn 2nd Marines for 5 years. He deployed in 2009 to Afghanistan and again in 2011 with the 22nd MEU(SOC) during a record-setting 11 months at sea. Travis has trained with the Romanian Army, the Spanish Marines, the Emirate Marines, and the Afghan National Army.

He serves as an NRA-certified pistol instructor and pursues a variety of firearms-based hobbies.




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7 thoughts on “The Walther PPS – An Unappreciated Classic”

  1. Nice article, I too have the PPS M1 and love it. Very accurate! I would compete in 2 gun matches with it to get more practice with it. Wish it had higher capacity, I would need 6 mags for some stages. I new I was at a disadvantage, but I was competing against myself.

  2. I don’t own a PPS, but I’ve shot the one my son owns (he has the M2 model I believe), and it is a fine weapon. The trigger is not quite as short a reset as the PPQ and PDP, but it’s darn close. I’ve big hands (2XL gloves are snug), so even though I carry a P365, I still added a Hogue sleeve to the grip to give my meat hooks a bit more to hang on to. I think if I did the same with the PPS it would be more comfortable to shoot.
    I would agree it’s an excellent choice if you’re looking for a single stack.
    My son, carries his as his off duty weapon, and several fellow officers were intrigued by its accuracy (it does shoots a tighter group than the Shield IMHO).

  3. The PPS M2 was my first EDC pistol and I love it. Although I’ve bought more EDC guns since, I still have it in my rotation. Reliable, accurate, simple to operate, easy to conceal and the price point is lower than other comparable guns. Overall a great gun. Had a co-worker asking my opinion (because I’m ex-military) what he should get for his for concealed carry gun. Without hesitation I recommended the PPS M2.

  4. Great article! Indeed, it’s a pet peeve of mine when I hear someone say “The S&W Shield started the trend of small carry 9’s.” My response is always, “The Walther PPS would like to have a word with you.”

    Even though it’s now considered “outdated” I still keep my PPS in one of my cars (properly stored of course) because it’s still a dead-nuts reliable, great shooting gun. I’ve found that using the 8-round mag makes the gun MUCH more “shootable”. Almost like a small Glock 19.

    Shame the PPS never got more traction, although I do recall hearing from a reliable source (Kokalis, I think) that at one point a small number of U.S. spec-op forces did carry the PPS as a last-resort boot gun. Wouldn’t surprise me if true. For the consumer market I think price was the big problem. While I bought mine for $299 right before the PPS M2 was released, at one point I believe these were $600+ guns. Expensive for sure!

    In any regard a great gun that to this day is still underrated.

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