Gun Test: Walther CCP M2
By Jay Grazio, Shooting Illustrated
So, what’s the difference? Whenever I’m tasked with writing up a new firearm, I try to envision the kinds of questions I would ask (or, more likely, the kind of questions my friends will be asking me as the token “gun guy” in the group). The most-obvious question with the CCP M2—as with any “new and improved” version, is “what’s different?” With the CCP M2, there are a few key differences from the original version, and they are pretty subtle.
One visible difference is in the striker channel. The original CCP had a stainless, well, something in the channel. It was visible, sure, but the M2 update has a shiny-red indicator that leaves no question as to the status of the striker. If the CCP M2 is cocked, the indicator is visible; if not, there’s a dark void. It’s a quick, intuitive change that immediately identifies the updated version.
The other difference is much harder to see; in fact, it’s pretty well-hidden. The design of the CCP, with the fixed-barrel and gas piston, necessitated a rather complicated cleaning regimen that involved a tool to take the CCP apart. In our initial write-up of the CCP, Tamara Keel (now Shooting Illustrated’s Handguns Editor) noted that “…if the special tool gets lost or broken, you can use an ordinary punch to depress the plug and a small screwdriver to lift the hook, while your third hand retracts the slide and then removes it.”
Overly complicated takedown procedures are certainly nothing new. I say this as the owner of a Remington Nylon 66, who foolishly attempted to take it apart for cleaning sometime in the mid-aughts. Getting it apart wasn’t too hard, but when it came time to put it back together? Well, I’ll just mention two things: A quick internet search on putting the Nylon 66 back together came up with a bunch of web pages—all saying to never, under any circumstance, take it apart. The other thing is that the receiver and associated parts stayed in a bag in my gun safe for the better part of a decade before I got the nerve to try it again (I did eventually succeed, and I will vouch that a third arm would have been beneficial to the process).
Ease of takedown, cleaning and reassembly of a plinking .22 LR rifle is of less importance than a pistol upon which you might stake your life, however. It’s not unreasonable to be wary of a cumbersome, complicated process that requires a special tool; after all, tools get lost. Anyone who has ever searched for exactly the right-size socket driver knows how tools love to migrate to the farthest reaches of the house. Not needing any specialized hardware to quickly and easily disassemble your pistol, clean it and put it back together is a huge plus, and Walther deserves kudos for responding to the market in this regard.
For those who might scoff at this change and think it’s not worthy of a new model, I’ve got three words for you (well, technically, two words and a number): Ruger Mark IV. Refining the process by which its signature rimfire semi-auto is disassembled and reassembled garnered Ruger some serious accolades, and folks had been cursing the dance of the three arms and undulations to the gravity gods for several decades before the change came about. Let’s also not forget that both the Remington Nylon 66 and Ruger Mark series are rimfire arms designed for plinking purposes, not dedicated defensive firearms.
Cody Osborn, Marketing Manager for Walther Arms, explained the changes: “The CCP was upgraded because of what we were hearing from our consumers, dealers and sales team. The CCP had sold really well for us. But, the complaint that we kept hearing was it was too difficult to take apart for cleaning. With this gun being the only fixed-barrel, semi-automatic handgun that operates with a gas piston on the market, the takedown is going to be different. So, we developed the CCP M2 with an incredibly easy takedown method.” In addition to the improved disassembly, Osborn mentioned that Walther “…also added a loaded-chamber indicator on the rear of the gun. This was another feature that consumers seemed to ask for on a regular basis.”
Taking the CCP M2 apart for cleaning is only marginally more difficult than comparable pistols. After double- and triple-checking to make sure it’s unloaded (drop the magazine, cycle the action several times, visually and physically inspect the chamber), pull the trigger to release the striker (no, I’m not going to get into a debate on whether this is a good/bad/whatever thing). There’s a small lever on the back of the slide (Walther deems this the “locking-block release”) that needs to be pushed to the right, at which point the locking block will pop out of the back like the timer on a Butterball turkey.
Pull the slide forward a tiny amount (maybe 0.25-inch) and it can be lifted off the frame. At this point, the slide should pretty much launch itself free of the frame, leaving the recoil spring to fall on the ground (if you’re not paying attention, like I wasn’t the first time I pulled the CCP M2 apart) and the components can be cleaned and lubricated according to factory specifications. Reassembly follows the reverse, of course, with one area of attention needed: Make sure the gas piston falls into the appropriate spot in the frame. I recommend pointing the pistol skyward for this part so that you don’t have to fight gravity or grow the aforementioned third arm… It’s nowhere near as complicated as it sounds; one look and you’ll get it. Just be aware when putting it back together.
In her review, Keel covered the engineering behind the CCP’s “SoftCoil” system fairly extensively, and that has remained constant in the M2 update. Charging and firing the CCP M2 is just as easy as the original version, so all the positive attributes that won the Golden Bullseye Award are still in place. With four years of real-world experience and several important updates under its belt, though, the CCP M2 needs to be examined for the ease with which it can be carried as a defensive handgun.
We have a weekly video series here on our website called “I Carry.” In this series, numerous handguns, holsters, belts and other assorted everyday carry (EDC) items are reviewed as potential concealed-carry setups. While we attempt to cover a wide variety of all gear, there are certain handguns that find their way into the rotation simply because they’re common EDC pistols. Most are single-stack, polymer-framed and striker-fired, and for the most part they’re chambered in 9 mm.
Hmmm. That sounds oddly familiar, doesn’t it? It pretty much sounds like we’re describing the CCP, and for good reason—it’s an ideal size for concealed carry. Looking at the dimensions, it is quite close in length and width to its main competitors (the largest difference in length is only .3-inch, while width is barely .2-inch from the slimmest). It is marginally larger in height (.85-inch taller) and slightly heavier (1.7 ounces heavier) than the shortest and lightest in the group, but that’s easily explained by the one- to two-round capacity advantage it shares. With that extra height, also, comes the ability to get all three fingers on the grip itself, aiding the shootability of the CCP M2.
Before we discuss shootability, though, there’s a couple items that need to be addressed when it comes to the behavior of the CCP M2 on the range. First, make sure it’s clean and lubricated. Our first range outing was, well, less-than-desirable. Multiple failures baffled us—the pistol had been shot extensively before we got our hands on it, with no problems reported. A little sleuthing revealed that, although the pistol had been cleaned thoroughly, it had not been lubricated. Ah ha! Bottom line, make sure your CCP M2 (or, really, any pistol you intend to shoot) is thoroughly lubricated. Once re-cleaned and oiled, the test pistol returned to the range, functioned without incident and there was once again joy in Mudville.
Second point, though, has to do with the gas-piston-operating system, specifically the location thereof. It’s under the barrel. It’s under the rather short barrel. Directly over your trigger finger. Did we mention that it gets hot? Now, we don’t mean “a little on the warm side” here. We mean “Holy moly, I think I cooked my index finger to medium-well” hot. Extended shooting sessions will require gloves. Maybe Ove Gloves. Maybe even Nomex. Either plan extended breaks or keep the round count in the double digits.
Other than slightly toasted fingers, though, the CCP M2 shot supremely well. Notice the lack of a qualifier, there? No “for a gun with a short grip” or “despite the short sight radius” needed here. Even though it’s a fairly small pistol, the feel in the hand is excellent and the CCP M2 points well. Despite initial skepticism at the rudimentary sights, they’re sufficient for close-up work and not unduly difficult for long(er) shots, too. Do be aware, though, that the reset on the trigger is rather long, almost completely at release. If you’re the sort who rides the reset, be aware you’re in for a long ride.
On the range, it was evident that the new, specifically engineered 365 ammunition from SIG Sauer—designed for use in 9 mm pistols with short barrels—was a favorite, with superlative accuracy and near-spot-on velocity. In addition to the three tested loads, we loaded the CCP M2 up with 115-grain FMJ practice fodder, super-lightweight Inceptor ammo and numerous subsonic 147-grain offerings. All fed, fired and ejected with no difficulty. Accuracy, unsurprisingly, was great; a benefit of the fixed-barrel system.
Carrying the CCP M2 is also quite easy. Being a fan of appendix carry, the CCP spent the majority of its time unobtrusively carried in that position in a Clinger AIWB holster. Obviously, it’s equally at home in standard inside-the-waistband setups, with both Stealth Gear USA and DeSantis offering fits. External dimensions from the original CCP are unchanged, so any holster so designed will work. The beauty of the CCP M2’s size is that it will work for pretty much any holster type: ankle, shoulder and even pocket are not out of the question.
In the end, you’re getting one heck of a good little pistol for the money. Walther’s CCP M2 contains all the excellent engineering that won it awards at its initial launch, and combines a redesign featuring—gasp—actual input from consumers. It can be disassembled for cleaning without any tools and can be visually checked for striker status at a quick glance. It does this in a pistol that allows a full firing grip while still sized right for concealed carry, and offers capacity exceeding its competition.