Thanks to today’s concealed carry permit holders, the list of excellent pistols designed for concealed carry is unprecedented. Back in the days before nearly universal “shall-issue” concealed carry laws, the demand for a wide variety of easily concealed defensive pistols just wasn’t there. The only people who could carry handguns legally in those days were cops, and there probably weren’t more than 200,000 police officers in the entire U.S. at the time. When I started my police career in 1980, there were really only three choices cops could make for concealable off-duty or undercover carry: the Smith & Wesson .38 Special snub-nosed five-shot revolver, the Colt six-shot snub-nosed revolver, or the Walther PPK/S .380 Automatic.
Now that there are thousands and thousands of concealed carry permit holders added to some 400,000 cops today, development of compact concealable handguns is a profitable endeavor. One of the newest handguns in this category is the 9mm Walther CCP (Concealed Carry Pistol).
Made in Germany and chambered only in 9mm, the Walther CCP looks like any other nicely set up single-stack, striker-fired concealment pistol. Weighing in at 1.39 pounds with a barrel length of 3.54 inches, the CCP has a polymer frame with integral accessory rail, an ergonomic stippled grip area, a reversible magazine release, an easily reached slide release/lock, a manual 1911-style safety, and 3-dot sights. The stainless steel slide can be had in a natural finish or black Cerakote for additional rust resistance. Two eight-round steel magazines are included.
One of the first things that I noticed about the CCP was its trigger pull. The non-repeatable, striker-fired mechanism produces a light and crisp trigger pull that feels a lot lighter than the listed weight of 5.5 lbs. There is no trigger mounted safety mechanism—hence the manual safety (which I recommend be used when carrying the CCP), which is easily and positively activated and de-activated.
So far, all pretty standard stuff. But what isn’t standard is the operating system. Instead of a traditional, locked-breech mechanism, Walther uses a gas-delayed blowback system called “SOFTCOIL.” SOFTCOIL uses gas pressure from the ignited cartridge and directs it through a small port in the barrel to slow down and delay the rearward motion of the slide. A piston located under the barrel slows the rearward motion of the slide until the gas pressure has been lowered to a safe level. This allows the fired cartridge case to be ejected and a fresh round chambered.
Walther claims there are two advantages to the SOFTCOIL system. First, the slide is more easily retracted due to the lack of an actual locking system. Second, muzzle flip is reduced. While I didn’t notice a palpable difference in slide retraction over a similar sized, locked-breech gun, I did notice a clear difference in recoil. The muzzle rises less with each shot, and recoil force is directed more to the web area of the hand. This allows more accurate rapid-fire shots.
One important advantage that Walther doesn’t mention is that the barrel of the CCP is fixed to the frame in a fashion similar to that of the PPK. It does not move during the firing cycle, which gives the CCP accuracy similar to that of a revolver, an advantage that proved true on the range.
I test-fired the CCP using aluminum case 124-grain Blazer, 115-grain Hornady FTX Critical Defense, 105-grain Federal Guard Dog, and Liberty Ammunition’s +P 50-grain high speed loads. The first three loads cycled flawlessly through the CCP and produced excellent groups in the 1- to 1½-inch range at 30 feet. The exception to reliability was the Liberty Ammo load, which chronographed around 2000 fps. There were a number of stovepipes, and some unburnt powder was blown back into my face during testing. Neither issue was the fault per se of the CCP or the Liberty ammo. I am certain that the gas-delayed blowback action was timed to work within a certain velocity range. At 2000 fps, the Liberty loads were just too fast for proper cycling of the action. The Liberty Civil Defense loads work just fine out of a standard, locked-breech 9mm pistol, and the Walther CCP works just fine with more conventional 9mm ammo. That still leaves plenty of choices for a favorite self-defense load.
The CCP is a great little pistol, and marvelously accurate. I think the SOFTCOIL action is an interesting application of gas piston technology in a compact pistol. Price of the black slide version is $465, while the stainless slide version runs $485. For more information, go to: www.waltherarms.com.