Umarex Walther PPS M2 Part 3

Umarex Walther PPS M2 Part 3 Part 2 Part 1

Why Gun Manufacturers Change Designs

By Dennis Adler

Rarely do you have the opportunity to choose between an older and newer version of the same gun, the original version usually goes away, but not so with the Walther PPS and PPS M2, at least for the present. Making that choice is entirely based on aesthetics and function. The changes to the PPS in the M2 configuration has changed the way the magazine release works and where it is placed, changed the grip fit and contour and even the sights and magazines. They really are two completely different guns, especially as CO2 models.

I think this is an instance where one look at the new gun explains everything. There’s no question as to why Walther (and Umarex) redesigned the PPS, other than why it took them eight years. I’ll even concede that the magazine release button on the PPS M2 works just as well as the ambidextrous triggerguard release on the PPS (I’m right handed, so concession is easier). But that one issue does not detract from every other change in the pistol’s design and handling. The M2 is a better gun overall. Good enough, in fact, that the PPS has been updated as a CO2 model while the PPQ CO2 pistol is still based on the original 2011 design. (The PPQ Airsoft model has been updated to the M2 design as well as the .43 caliber paintball version). The original PPS CO2 model (or PPS Classic as it has been re-categorized), was an exceptional blowback action BB pistol and very close to the 9mm model in looks and general handling. It remains one of the best subcompact CO2 pistols in its class. The M2 version is unlikely to dethrone the original unless it is a more accurate pistol, and that’s a tall order.

Hand-sized compatibility based on a history of small handguns dating back to the Walther PPK, gives the PPS a heritage few subcompacts share today. The original 9mm and .177 caliber CO2 model have been winners for Walther and Umarex. The original gun has more squared lines to its very narrow 1-inch width. A flat sided pistol grips nicely but is not as comfortable as one with more rounded lines. The PPS was built to accomplish a mission not win a beauty contest.

In the average sized hand the PPS (9mm and CO2 models alike) are easy to hold but there are a couple of compromises with the original design, a triggerguard that is flat on the bottom and forces the hand lower on the grip…

…and the triangular projection at the rear, caused by the triggerguard-mounted ambidextrous magazine release, presses into the side of the middle finger under the triggerguard when gripping the pistol. One advantage lost with the M2 is the short rail, which was suitable for mounting a compact laser for improved sighting.

How does the new CO2 model compare to the 9mm PPS M2? Pretty much the same as the original PPS models compare. Here are the centerfire M2 pistol specs: Overall length 6.3 inches, barrel 3.18 inches, height (with 7-round capacity magazine) 4.9 inches, width 1.0 inches, and carry weight (empty) 21.1 ounces. Both the 9mm and CO2 models have polymer frames and metal slides (the air pistol’s being alloy not steel) so overall weight for the CO2 model is 20 ounces, overall length 6.3 inches, smoothbore inner barrel 3.34 inches (recessed 0.437 inches from 9mm muzzle opening), height 5.0 inches (base of magazine to top of rear sight), and width 1.0 inches. Close enough in any comparison to serve as a 1:1 training gun for the PPS M2.

The PPS M2 is a totally different fit in the hand with rounded grips and a cross-directional grip stippling, finger grooves in the frontstrap, and a contoured, undercut triggerguard.

Some finer points

There are just enough differences between the PPS and PPS M2, both in 9mm and .177 caliber versions, that the guns may not fit all the same holsters. And as I noted in part 2, the BB magazines are not interchangeable, so some of the changes have broader affects than looks and handling alone. Walther redesigned the trigger system on the centerfire M2 and reshaped the trigger. The CO2 model uses the same trigger and internal systems as the PPS, which is an SAO with a long take up, a little mild stacking and a clean break. The sights on the M2 are also a little easier to pick up (as they are on the 9mm PPS M2).

The M2 design fits the hand more comfortably than the PPS Classic’s squared grip…

…and the undercut triggerguard allows a more comfortable position for the middle finger and a higher grip on the pistol. Sacrificed for these improvements are the ambidextrous magazine release, and in redesigning the frame, the short accessory rail. Holster fit is also different.

Velocity comparison

From the start, I expected this to be an even match since both models have the same internal designs, but they are not exactly the same in terms of performance and Umarex is out front from the start on this, rating the PPS with a maximum velocity of 350 fps and the PPS M2 at 340 fps. Why the 10 fps variance? I don’t know what has changed but the felt recoil in the PPS M2 slide is a little lighter as well. Not a big difference, but different.

I am looking for velocity figures over 350 fps that send round balls down smoothbore barrels with accuracy at the optimal 21 foot distance, which is the same optimal distance for their centerfire counterparts as personal defense sidearms. Yes, you can shoot a subcompact 9mm accurately at 50 feet, at 25 yards and beyond. The CO2 models will not retain bullseye accuracy much beyond 25 feet, but they will still put every shot within center mass (about 3 to 3.5 inches) on a B-27 silhouette target at 45 feet; more than enough equivalence with its centerfire counterpart for training. Learning to handle a small pistol like the Walther PPS M2 is what training with airguns is all about. When I accuracy tested the PPS 9mm and original CO2 model a couple of years ago, my groups were almost identical; my best 5-rounds of Federal American Eagle 115 gr. FMJ fired from 7 yards with the PPS 9mm measured 1.20 inches. The PPS air pistol nearly matched it with a best five clustered at 1.22 inches; that’s what you want from a CO2 training gun. This test was shot at 1 second intervals from a Weaver stance using a two-handed hold. I was looking for parity between the CO2 model and the centerfire pistol and I got it.

The Old PPS that I have had since 2016 has always been a very accurate shooter and was right on point at 21 feet for today’s test with a best five shots at 0.56 inches.

Today’s test results

This is a dedicated bullseye accuracy test for the CO2 models, longer shooting intervals to prevent the CO2 from super cooling and changing velocity and accuracy, roughly 20 to 30 seconds between shots.

The PPS CO2 model sent steel BBs downrange at an average of 350 to 360 fps when I reviewed it in 2016. The same gun today clocked an average of 365 fps with Umarex steel BBS, and 386 fps with lighter weight Dust Devils. I threw in Dust Devils, which didn’t even exist when this air pistol was introduced, to get the most out of it for velocity. Running identical ammo through the new M2 version my average velocities were 360 fps and 378 fps, respectively, about 6 to 7 fps slower on average than the older model, but both guns performed above factory specs.

Almost out of air I had a few shots hitting low, so I decided to finish out the test aiming high, and surprise, the shots went pretty close to POA dropping five rounds into a near dime-sized 0.72 inches. Good to the last shot for accuracy.

The PPS (Classic) shot just about half an inch below POA so I adjusted my aim up and the best 5-shot group on a 10 meter target from 21 feet measured 0.56 inches with two shots in one elongated hole at 3 o’clock across the bullseye and 10. This is the best I have done with the PPS at 21 feet. My average groups are closer to 0.75 inches. With the CO2 running low, I shot my last target aiming high and the PPS still grouped five rounds at 0.72 inches.

The PPS M2 was a bit confounding as it continually shot high and left with the Umarex steel BBs. My POA for this target was at 4 o’clock and holding under the black by an inch, i.e., my bullseye was sitting to the upper left of my sights. Not a great situation for shooting practice when the pistol is supposed to be aimed center at 6 o’clock. I’m used to making corrections with guns that have fixed sights so this was less a problem for me than it might be for some shooters. This gave me a best 5-rounds at 0.75 inches from 21 feet.

Unfortunately, I did not get the same results with the PPS M2. The test gun consistently shot left and high, so my aiming correction was at 4 o’clock, 1-inch below the center of the target. That gave me a best 5-round spread of 0.75 inches with two shots overlapping at the bottom of the 9 ring. I switched to Dust Devils to see if accuracy would change. And it did. The M2 still shot high but was not nearly as far left, and I was back into dime-sized groups with a best five rounds out of 10 measuring 0.5 inches and an overall spread of 0.94 inches. For one final run I went back to the PPS with Dust Devils and the older model punched five into 0.56 inches.

Can changing what you shoot change how you shoot? It can and it did with the PPS M2. Switching to Air Venturi Dust Devils, the lighter weight frangible BBs still shot high but not as far left and grouped pretty tight from 21 feet with the best five of 10 shots strung together at 0.5 inches.

Conclusions

From a purely technical standpoint the PPS M2 is a better gun in the hand. As for equal accuracy with the original PPS or “PPS Classic” which, as it turns out, is a suitable title since it is the better of the two guns for consistent shooting accuracy and velocity, I have to give the nod to the original gun. Sometimes new and improved is more about new, and while this may not translate to the centerfire pistols, the original formula is still my choice in CO2.

13 thoughts on “Umarex Walther PPS M2 Part 3

  1. The enemy of good is better. Seems like other than grip design the old classic comes out on top. Umarex does some strange things. I think their efforts would be better spent on a complete redesign of the Ppk/s. A new version of excellent but dated P38 , with aco2 mag and battlefield finish. Personally would like to see more classic pistols like a Walther P5, but doubt these will happen. Classic da revolvers , and more Peacemaker variations seem like a dream only. Too bad . Airguns are a possibility for classic guns to live again.


  2. Dennis,

    The PPS Classic and PPS M2 both appear to good CO2 pistols, but as you said, the PPS Classic appears to be the more accurate one.

    Do you have any thoughts on why the PPS M2 was shooting high and left? With respect to design and manufacturing of these CO2 pistols, what is the likely cause for one pistol shooting to point of aim and another not shooting to point of aim?

    Also do you have any thoughts about why Umarex has not yet updated the design of the 0.177 caliber PPQ CO2 pistol? Could the explanation have anything to do with the choice of ammo, either pellets or BBs? In the case of pellets, could Umarex be working on a new magazine design?


    • At this point I do not know why the M2 was shooting so much differently than the PPS. I hesitate to call it build quality until I can get a second gun for comparison. This happens with cartridge guns, too, so I am not unfamiliar with the situation, but no less disturbed by it with an air pistol. Since there is no way to adjust windage on the molded-in rear sight it is a pretty tough situation. Have any PPS M2 purchasers run into this issue? I’ll update as soon as I have a chance to do a second comparison test with another PPS M2 test gun.

      As for why the PPQ in .177 has not been updated to the PPQ M2, it is hard to say since there has to be tooling changes already in place for the Airsoft and paintball models. Possibly as current inventory dwindles, they will make an M2. On the outside looking in, with Umarex at full capacity, another product change might be further down the road.


  3. Dennis,

    Speaking of CO2 pistols not shooting to point of aim, my new HK USP Blowback pistol fits in that category.

    I am eagerly looking forward to your review to see if your pistol exhibits similar shooting characteristics

    I will begin my testing report with Umarex Steel BBs. I use a simple 6″ ruler to measure group sizes, so you’ll notice that the measurements are intervals of eighths, quarters, and halves of an inch. Although the HK USP Blowback manual says to aim at the center of the bulls eye, I started out using a 6 o’clock aim point on the 2″ diameter shot spot. Shooting from a bench rest at 18 feet to target, ten shots of Umarex BBs produced a 1.875″ group with 9 out of 10 shots within a 1.375″ group. The overall group was almost 1″ below the lower left quarter of the shot spot.

    Seeing how low the Umarex group was, I switched my aim point to the center of the bulls eye as recommended by the manual. This 10 shot group of Umarex BBs was still left of center but partially on the shot spot. The 10 shots were 1.625″ with 7 out of the 10 producing a 1.125″ group.

    I shot a third group of Umarex BBs using an aim point just off the edge of the shot spot between 1 o’clock and 2 o’clock. Two of these 10 shots widened the entire 10 shot group to 2.375. The best 8 shots produced a 1.5″ inch group which was still nearly an inch below point of aim.


    • Try shooting from 15 feet offhand using a two-handed hold and aiming dead center on the bullseye. Fire 10 shots at 1 second intervals. At 15 feet you should be able to see your shots hit (or use a Shoot-N-C target) and begin correcting your POA as you go. This is what I did with the PPS M2 to find a better POA given the gun’s high and left hits with a 6 o’clock hold.



    • Lawman67

      I agree that as much as possible these action pistols should be made with rear sights adjustable for both windage and elevation. Even though that would increase the cost to purchase the pistol, I would gladly pay it.

      Like the USP firearm, this CO2 pistol has what Heckler and Koch call “universal mounting grooves” in front of the trigger guard. I’m hoping Dennis can tell us how to use those to mount a laser on this USP Blowback pistol. I’ve tried searching for directly attachable laser accessories or weaver / picatinny rails and haven’t found any that can attach to these universal mounting grooves.

      I’d also like to know after all these years of designing and manufacturing these CO2 action pistols why Umarex, KWC, and other manufacturers still can’t consistently make these pistols shoot to point of aim. The Glock 19 and Beretta APX CO2 pistols are two examples of pistols that shoot to point of aim. Why then did they fail with the PPS M2 and the HK USP pistols?


  4. I also shot a couple of 10 shot groups of Hornady Black Diamond BBs with the HK USP Blowback.

    Using an aim point at center of bulls eye, 10 shots produced a 1.688″ group which was low and to the left. Seven of those 10 shots produced a 1.25″ group.

    Using the aim point between 1 o’clock and 2 o’clock, 10 shots produced a 1.938″ group which was also low and to the left. Eight of those 10 shots produced a 1.125″ group.


  5. I’ll finish my comments on the HK USP Blowback with these results using Daisy Premium BBs.

    I shot only one 10 shot group of Daisy Premium BBs and used the 1 o’clock to 2 o’clock aim point. Ten shots produced a 2.438″ group to the left of the aim point. Seven of these 10 shots produced a 1.688″ group.

    I will say that I do not think the Daisy BBs are to blame for this large group. These 10 shots were shots 51 to 60 on the CO2. I only got a total of 65 shots on this CO2.


  6. The most accurate pellet revolvers made by Umarex are the fixed sight Peacemakers , with the bb versions not far behind. The Colt 1911 is a tack driver, so it can be done without adjustable sights. The least accurate bb revolver I have is the Umarex Colt Python. Cannot be regulated with adjustable sights and doesn’t group at all . Is relagated to sitting in a box. Adjustable sights do have a place since my Sig 226 X Series was off by inchesand needed maximum sightsdjuztment . You are quite correct that there should be some effort made by the factory to ship more regulated airguns .


  7. I do not suppose I shall ever use a centrefire PPS M2 but I have used the co2 M2 for over a year discharging 54 rounds from 3 magazines most mornings. It would be interesting to see how quickly you could transition to the centrefire. I suspect very quickly.


    • Derek:

      When you have proficiency with the CO2 pistol (any comparable pistol to a centerfire gun) you have the basics down and aiming really doesn’t change when you transition to a cartridge pistol of the same design. The big variable is recoil and learning to handle recoil, reacquire your sights and fire consistently. The heavy lifting of learning to handle the gun has already been mostly accomplished by working with the CO2 pistol. In working with one local law enforcement agency, using the M&P40 air pistol for indoor training, officers have been able to get in more practice with handling, presenting, re-holstering (with level three LEO rigs), reloading (which in the case of the CO2 M&P is identical to the .40 S&W), so training with air works. Have you ever tried going to an indoor range that rents guns to shoot? Can be very enlightening!

      Dennis


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