The Walther CCP 9x19mm Pistol
By David Tong
One of the popular handgun types sales-wise these days is the sub-compact, single stack, 9x19mm auto. A lot of folks have become disenchanted with the .380 ACP cartridge and its lack of expansion and consistent adequate penetration. Hence, manufacturers have been scrambling to produce slender 9mm automatics with in-line column magazines carrying 6-8 rounds.
Carl Walther Waffenfabrik of Ulm, Germany has always been a leader in innovative pistol designs. In 2013, Walther announced their new, double action only (DAO) model CCP (Concealed Carry Pistol) and it is different from other current compact autos. It is a polymer-framed, striker-fired handgun. That much is conventional these days. However, they have borrowed some design elements from the late 1970s Heckler and Koch P7, which is intriguing to me as I am a great admirer of that pistol.
In a nutshell, the CCP has replaced the usual Browning-style short recoil/tilting barrel with a fixed barrel and a gas-piston delayed blowback design that closely mimics the P7. Walther calls this their "Softcoil" system. It has several advantages.
First and foremost, the fixed barrel offers the potential of good accuracy. It does not move when the action is cycling and feeding. While the barrel is conventionally rifled with lands and grooves, at the six o'clock location there is a small gas port leading to an under-barrel frame mounted fixed gas cylinder, a ridged gas piston pinned to the underside of the slide and a recoil spring mounting on the outside diameter of the barrel.
Because the gas delayed system retards the slide motion until the pressure has dropped off to a safe level, the recoil spring itself is much lighter than a true blowback design. This means that people with small or weaker hands should be able to rack the slide to load and unload the pistol. There are wide gripping serrations at the front and back of the slide.
The slide's breechblock is a separate part contained within the slide shell. What appears to be a metal-injection molded block contains most of the fire control parts, located at the rear of the polymer frame. What is interesting is that there are no conventional frame-to-slide rails to help guide the motion of that recoiling part. Instead, a fixed guide is part of the rear of the frame, which captures a slide mounted bushing that also houses the striker assembly. The front of the slide is governed and the motion is controlled mostly by the inside diameter of the slide's barrel aperture and the outside diameter of the barrel.
The CCP's control layout is conventional. The ambidextrous magazine release is located behind the lower trigger guard and the slide stop catch is above the front of the handle. (The slide locks back on empty.) This DAO (Walther calls it "Dynamic Trigger") pistol includes a frame mounted manual thumb safety, which is positioned above the grip and to the rear of the slide stop. Up is "safe" and down is "fire." There is a short Picatinny accessory rail on the frame beneath the barrel.
The CCP is designed for use with standard pressure ammunition. Only limited use of +P loads is permitted.
A lady friend had purchased this firearm some months back and had not yet had an opportunity to shoot it. She did not have much handgun experience, so I volunteered to join her at a local indoor range to give her some basic instruction.
Ranges fired were between seven feet to seven yards and we shot at a full size silhouette target. The ammo used was Winchester/USA white box 115 grain RN-FMJ and Winchester Train and Defend 147 grain truncated cone FMJ. Starting with the 147 grain fodder, she was quickly acclimated to the lower muzzle blast and recoil level of this subsonic cartridge, achieving several 2-3 inch full magazine groups at 21 feet. She commented that the 115 grain ammo at the higher muzzle velocity of 1130 fps felt notably harsher, but did not complain about the recoil.
I found the pistol rather soft shooting, no doubt due to its rather heavy (for a sub-compact pistol) 22 ounce unloaded weight. The butt of the pistol is closely modeled after the Company's PPQ service auto and I found it one of the most comfortable handles on any compact autoloading pistol. It is hand-filling, yet ergonomic and slender. There is a small magazine extension for the pinky finger, but it is probably not necessary for those with average sized hands.
In my hands, given the very short ranges at which we were shooting, shots mostly went into one ragged hole. I suspect it would be at least 15 yards from the muzzle before groups would open up significantly. Thus, I believe the CCP would be fine for most self-defense encounters.
In addition, enhancing the intrinsic accuracy of the fixed barrel were the three dot pattern fixed sights. Both of us shot to the point of aim without issue.
She encountered two stovepipe jams with the 115 grain ball ammo, while I did not. I would attribute this to her limp-wristing her grip. When I showed her the correct locked wrist grip, the problem did not re-occur over the remaining 40 rounds we fired.
The trigger pull bears mention. I believe the pull weight is approximately six pounds and it pulls like a very light DA revolver. It is quite smooth and linear in its motion to the rear, until the sear trips.
Disassembly is different from any other pistol I have experienced. A small polymer tool is inserted into the rear of the slide. This depresses the polymer bushing in the slide to allow the slide to be retracted about 1/8 inch and clearing the extractor from its barrel groove. The rear of the slide is then lifted up and off over the top of the barrel mounting lug on the frame, much like a Walther PPK.
Cleaning is easy and straightforward. I showed her how to use Slip 2000 "725" carbon cleaner to remove powder residue in the slide and barrel with an old toothbrush. After running a copper brush down the barrel from the muzzle end (easier than doing so from the breech end, due to the vertically protruding frame abutment that retains the slide's rear), we used Slip EWL lube sparingly on the outside of the barrel and in the areas of the slide that contact the MIM action block.
Reassembly is in reverse order, taking care not to retract the slide any more than necessary to get it to seat after the supplied polymer tool is used to depress the striker bushing. This is trickier to explain than it is to perform, but it is different from more mainstream designs that do not require tools to field strip.
I think the Walther CCP is a worthwhile pistol to consider in the crowded field of sub-compact concealed carry handguns. While its disassembly is more difficult than most, its gas delayed blowback action, light slide racking effort, good trigger pull, well regulated sights and competitive pricing means it will be a best seller for the German firm.
Copyright 2016 by David Tong and/or chuckhawks.com. All rights reserved.