Umarex PPK/S (spring-powered)

In my experience, most spring-powered replicas are pretty dreadful in terms of both shooting and functional and visual accuracy. I’m not talking here about things like the Umarex Buck Mark URX reviewed here recently, but about low-power Airsoft replicas generally produced in China or Taiwan.

So, you might reasonably ask, why this review? And the answer is; because it’s a replica of the Walther PPK. The PPK is in every way a classic handgun with a design that’s heading for ninety years old but still looks as timeless as it did when it was first released. Of course, there is also the connection with a certain Mr Bond – the Walther PPK was probably the first gun I ever knew by name because I loved the James Bond movies of the 1960s.

As you may (or may not) know, the Walther firearm company is wholly owned by Umarex, makers of some very fine replicas. So, unsurprisingly, the only licensed Walther replicas come via Umarex who produce a CO2 powered, blowback PPK/S. However, in my opinion, it isn’t terribly good. It was first released in 1999 as the first Umarex blowback replica and it has a few notable issues. As a shooter, it isn’t very accurate, the slide-mounted manual safety is moulded in place and it has a nasty plastic manual safety on the right side of the grip. Recent versions have at least lost the large loading tab in the base of the grip, but its worst issue is that the grip is elongated, completely losing the classic, squat profile of the PPK.

I happened to come across an ad for another Umarex PPK/S recently, and this one was the right shape and looked as if it had a proper, working slide-mounted safety. It was also relatively cheap because it’s a spring powered replica. Thus this review. This certainly looks more like a PPK, but is it any better as a shooter than Chinese examples? Is it worth your time and money? Time to find out…

The Walther PPK/S

I have written a whole article about the PPK and you’ll find a link to it at the end of this review. For the moment, all you need to know is that in 1929 Walther produced the Model PP (Polizei-Pistole), a mid-sized, blowback operated semi-automatic pistol with an external hammer and double and single action trigger. The PP was intended for use by uniformed policeand in 1931, Walther began production of a compact version for detectives, the Model PPK (Polizei-Pistole, Kriminalmodell) which featured a shorter barrel, slide and grip. Production of the PPK continued after World War Two and this became a popular concealed-carry pistol in the US. However, restrictions introduced on the size of imported pistols as part of the US Gun Control Act of 1968 meant that the PPK was simply too small. The answer was admirably simple; the short barrel and slide from the PPK were combined with the frame of the PP to produce the hybrid PPK/S.

The Umarex Walther PPK/S

The Umarex PPK/S is a licensed replica with full Walther markings and it is constructed from plastic and metal. The slide is made of some sort of Zinc alloy but just about everything else is plastic. This is a spring-powered airsoft replica – pulling the slide back cocks the internal spring for shooting a single shot. It’s also low power at less than 0.5 joules of muzzle energy which, in Germany, means that it can be sold to folks of fifteen years of age and older.

Spec:

Calibre: 6mm

Magazine capacity: 23 BBs

Propellant: Spring

Barrel length: 63mm (2.5″) – estimated because I haven’t worked out how to disassemble this replica.

Weight: 314g (0.69lbs)

Overall length: 159mm (6.26″)

Sights: Notch and post, non-adjustable.

Packaging and presentation (2.5/5)

The Umarex PPK/S comes is a simple card box that includes two different magazines – one with a flat base and the other with a pinky-rest extension. The box also contains a short user manual and a small bag of unidentified BBs.

Visual accuracy 7/10

As a visual replica, this isn’t bad. The overall dimensions are spot-on and the Walther markings seem to be fairly complete. The only non-original marking is “Energy ˂ 0.5J” on the right-hand side of the slide, but at least it isn’t highlighted in white. The inner barrel appears to be made of black plastic rather than the more usual brass, so it really can’t be seen, even from the front. The magazine release and manual safety are both in the right place and look like the original. However, the black plastic grips that are a part of the main frame moudling look cheap and nasty – they would have looked much better as separate parts in brown and the ejection slot is not open but is simply a moulded recess on the slide. Overall, this is a good, but not great visual replica of the PPK.

Functional Accuracy 6/15

The metal slide moves through a full range of movement and provides cocking for the internal spring, though it can’t be locked back. The trigger is single-action only, unlike the original which is both single and double action. The magazine release works as per the original and the slide-mounted manual safety works, though it does not also act as a decocker as on the original.

With the longer magazine fitted

There is no means of field-stripping – the trigger guard, which is hinged and used as a take-down control on the original is fixed in place. In fact, there is no obvious means of disassembling this replica at all, or at least nothing I could see. 

Shooting 5/45

Both magazines have what is to me, a novel form of loading. Up to 23  BBs are poured in through a small door in the rear of the magazine. This is closed, then the follower is locked down and, if you give the magazine a bit of a shake, about twelve BBs move through to the front ready for shooting. You then release the follower and you’re good to go. When you have shot all the available BBs, you lock the follower down again and shake more BBs through into the front part. It’s a system that works well, and I wouldn’t mind seeing something similar in other BB shooting replicas.

The sights are, as on the original, rudimentary and small. To prepare for shooting, you pull the slide back and release. Or at least, that’s the theory. On mine, the slide frequently got stuck as it attempted to return to battery, meaning that you had to move it positively forward to make sure it was locked. Pulling the slide back also cocks the hammer and when this is done, you can apply the manual safety. This disconnects the trigger from the firing mechanism, but it’s imprecise in action and it’s difficult to be certain you have it fully in the “safe” position. You cannot de-cock the hammer. If you pull the trigger with the hammer held back, this replica will shoot.

Then, you’re ready for some shooting. And at this point, it’s probably best to prepare yourself for a bit of a disappointment. I wasn’t expecting much from this tiny springer, but it failed to live up even to my humble expectations. Power is pretty dismal. BBs amble out of the barrel at a decidedly leisurely 125fps. I know – this is a sub-0.5 Joule replica, but come on, you can shoot 0.2g BBs at up to 230fps and still be under 0.5 Joules… Using a card target at 6m, around half the BBs failed to penetrate, leaving only a small dent in the card. I used paper targets for the shooting test, and even then, not all the BBs had the power to punch a hole through the paper… 

Accuracy is simply awful too. Shooting at a 14cm square target at 6m, about one third of the shots failed even to hit the target. It shot best (though that is a relative term) with 0.25g BBs. The image below shows the result of around fifteen shots. A fair number have missed the target altogether and those that have hit are scattered all over the left side of the target. A couple of BBs hit the target but failed to penetrate the thin paper. The box claims that this replica is provided with “shoot-up,” which I assume is Umarex-speak for hop-up, but it does not appear to be adjustable.

Even shooting across your bedroom, you’d be hard-pressed to consistently hit something the size of a soda can with this replica. As a shooter, this is really bad. It isn’t even fun. I can accept a lack of power in a small springer, but the complete absence of anything approaching accuracy makes shooting this rather pointless. It’s possible, I suppose, that accuracy might improve with use, but I’m afraid my enthusiasm ran out pretty quickly.  

Quality and reliability 10/15

This replica does not give the impression of particularly high quality. It feels fairly plasticky and it’s very light. The action of the manual safety is very vague, the plastic trigger guard feels flimsy and the action of the trigger and hammer are very light. On mine, the slide sticks halfway forward when it’s released. That said, mine is showing no signs of wear or distress though to be fair, I haven’t used it a great deal.

The slide isn’t locked back in this picture, it’s stuck halfway forward.

Overall Impression 4/10

You know how some replicas just feel good when you pick them up? Well, this one doesn’t. It’s very light and it feels more like a toy than a replica. The black plastic grips are simply moulded as part of the frame, the magazines are very light plastic and overall this just feels cheap. Now, perhaps I’m expecting too much from a low-priced springer, but I would like to have seen something that at least felt a little more like, you know, a PPK.

Conclusion

Sorry Umarex, I wanted to like this, I really did. But honestly, it’s crap. I had hoped I’d be able to say that it’s cheap fun. Well, it is fairly cheap, but it sure isn’t fun! It does look like a Walther PPK, but as a shooting replica it’s just pointless. I have tried a number of cheap Chinese-made BB-shooting springers, many with plastic barrels just as short as this, and all of them were more accurate and more powerful. And some of them cost me less than the price of a beer…

This is the result of ten shots at 6m with a cheap Chinese springer. And you’ll notice that all the BBs managed to penetrate the card target… If the Umarex PPK/S had been capable of this sort of power and accuracy, I’d have liked it a great deal more.

I generally take the view that if I can’t hit a soda can sized target at 6m, shooting isn’t going to be much fun. I could only do this with the Umarex PPK/S if I threw it at the target… As a cheap wall decoration that resembles a PPK or as a prop for your 007 fancy-dress outfit, this is sort of OK. As a shooting replica, it’s just a waste of time and money. Avoid.

Total score: 34.5/100

Related posts

Classic Handguns; the Walther PPK

Umarex CO2-powered PPK/S review

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