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Handheld Exterminator: Walther WMP Review

Walther's new WMP is a tack-driving .22 Mag. pistol capable of taking down any varmint.

Handheld Exterminator: Walther WMP Review

The WMP is built for performance, fitting well in the hand, functioning reliably and packing the punch needed to dispatch pesky varmints.

As I’ve said in this column before, there are few things more useful in the outdoors than a rimfire handgun. They’re portable, easy to shoot, relatively quiet and can be invaluable when it comes to controlling pests. My usual choice for this role is a .22 LR revolver, which works well, but there are times when that simply isn’t enough gun—dispatching trapped feral hogs being one example. Sure, I could move up to a larger and more powerful centerfire, but in doing so, I would lose some of those virtues. How about a lightweight, easy to carry handgun that bridges the gap between a .22 and a .357 or .45? I think I’ve found just such an animal.

The Walther Magnum Pistol, better known as the WMP, is a polymer-framed semi-automatic handgun chambered in .22 WMR. Famous for its classic PPK and P38 pistols, this storied German firm has really stepped up their handgun game in recent years, producing centerfire models such as the PDP that take a back seat to no one. These guns are well-designed, built with typical (excellent) German quality, durable and reliable. The WMP is one of the newest handguns in the company’s lineup and, to me, one of the most interesting.

The .22 Magnum has significant advantages over the .22 LR. Not only does the magnum rimfire achieve significantly higher velocity, it also offers a far more diverse selection of ammo. Polymer tipped bullets like the V-Max are available, as are hollow points, jacketed hollow points and full metal jacket options. Where legal, it can be a viable choice for predators, varmints and the like. I’ve used the .22 Mag. for head and neck shots on more feral hogs than I can count and it is effective so long as the correct bullet is used.

With a 4-inch barrel, a typical .22 LR revolver achieves a muzzle velocity of around 1,000 fps. The WMP averaged 1,417 fps with the Remington Premier Magnum Rimfire ammunition that we had available. That is a significant boost in velocity and energy which, combined with more aerodynamic expanding bullets, gets you a flatter trajectory and devastating terminal performance. I’ve been hitting the raccoon population on our farm pretty hard in hopes of increasing our turkey and quail populations—and to break up the monotony of the off season. The WMP is ideal for this task, making hits out to nearly 100 yards feasible.

The WMP is a full-size handgun but, since it is not designed to be carried concealed, its size is a nonissue. The .22 Magnum cartridge is quite long, nearly as long as a .38 Special, which translates into a larger grip and longer slide cycle. Despite its size, the WMP is light—weighing only 29 ounces fully loaded with 15+1 rounds thanks to its polymer frame and aluminum slide. Comparing apples to apples, it is shorter, narrower and with a comparable weight to most .22 revolvers and has more than twice the capacity—not to mention more power and reach.

For the lefties out there, the WMP is fully ambidextrous. There are four magazine releases on the gun, one on each side of the frame and on either side of the trigger guard. There is a slide stop on both sides of the frame as well. The polymer grip’s textured surfaces are extremely grippy and the same treatment is applied to the frame where the support-hand thumb is likely to rest.

Wood, Walther WMP studio image
Walther WMP

Give me good sights and a good trigger, and I can hit with a handgun. The WMP has great sights; a highly visible, orange fiber optic up front combined with a serrated black rear. It’s also fitted with a decent 4.5-pound trigger. This combo makes for great shootability. This gun is ridiculously fun. You get an impressive fireball at the muzzle, but recoil is essentially nonexistent. The sensation is like that of shooting the FN 5.7 (5.7x28mm), at a fraction of the ammo cost. From the bench, I determined that the WMP is capable of outstanding mechanical accuracy as well. Adding an optic, which is simple given the optic-ready slide, would even further enhance its capabilities. So much so, that I think that the WMP would be a viable choice for prairie dog shooting.

The WMP isn’t the first semiauto .22 mag pistol on the market, but it is probably the best-built gun available. It is also the first one that I’ve used that is truly reliable. Given the increased pressure of this round, getting .22 Mag. handguns to cycle can sometimes be a challenge for engineers. I put quite a few rounds through our test sample and found it to be 100% reliable with the ammo I had available.

At my core, I am a handgunner. Maybe I read too much Elmer Keith as a kid, but few things give me more pleasure than hitting small targets at distance with something that can ride on my hip. Handguns are also practical—you can carry one just about anywhere. In places where bears and other potentially dangerous animals aren’t likely to be encountered, the WMP would be an excellent choice as a farm/ranch/trail gun. In a pinch, it could do double-duty as a defensive sidearm.

Walther WMP

  • Type: Semi-automatic pistol
  • Caliber: .22 WMR
  • Barrel: 4.5 inches
  • Weight, empty: 1 pound, 11 ounces
  • Capacity: 15+1
  • Grip: Molded polymer frame
  • Finish: Black anodized aluminum
  • Sights: Fiber-optic front, serrated black rear
  • Trigger: 4.5 pounds
  • Price: $549
  • Website: waltherarms.com

Feeding the Beast

Wood, Walther WMP ammo

Semi-automatic rimfires—both rifles and pistols—can be finicky about what ammo they like. The Walther WMP is no different. While we had success with most of the ammunition we tested, there are some loads it liked more than others. Walther is very upfront about this and even did extensive testing with all .22 WMR ammo on the market to ensure WMP owners get the most from their pistol. You can find this data on their website, but here’s a brief list of what we’ve been feeding our WMPs:




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