Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Iver Johnson TP22

Bond is back!  If Skyfall is not the best Bond film ever it certainly is one the best in a long, long time and today's review focuses on the Iver Johnson TP22 which is a clone of Bond's iconic pistol; the Walther PPK.  I am at the stage of life now where handguns I did not have the opportunity to pick up when they were new can sometimes be found in the "Used" gun case at my local shop and such is the fortune that prevailed a couple of months ago when I stumbled into Bill's Gun Shop in Robbinsdale, MN and found the TP22 which is chambered in 22 Long Rifle.

The TP22 is a dead ringer for the Walther PPK whose heritage goes back to 1928 when Walther introduced the slightly larger model PP.  Not long afterward they shortened the grip frame, barrel, and slide and produced the PPK which was certainly more comfortable.  Both models were originally produced in .32 ACP caliber but the .380 ACP or 9mm Kurz (as it was known in Germany) soon followed.  I have owned four PPKs in my time including a 1966 West German made PPK which predated the Gun Control Act of 1968.  After the GCA they could no longer be imported because of their size until Walther mated the shorten barrel/slide of the PPK to the larger grip frame of the PP and called it the PPK/S.  I have owned three of those; one imported by Interarms and two built by Smith & Wesson under contract with Walther.  All four of my pistols were in caliber .380 ACP and all were extraordinarily accurate. 

Walther did produce both the PP and the PPK in .22 Long Rifle and if you are lucky enough to find one expect the price tag to be well over a grand.  A quick internet search finds the PP model in 22LR going for $1295, $1299, $1500, and $2395 for an engraved boxed limited edition. .22LR PPK pistols are found with prices of $1695 and $1995.  So finding a used Iver Johnson TP22 for over 85% less than the going price for a .22 caliber Walther seemed like a bargain!

One of the interesting things I found was that Iver Johnson's advertising completely omitted any mention of the fact that the TP22 was clearly patterned after Walther.

If there is any difference between the Iver Johnson and the Walther it is the sights.  The sights on the TP22 are smaller than the Walther and while not great, they were usable with the understanding that this is not a target pistol.

Below is a copy of a review of the TP 22 at the time it was first manufactured.  Although the name of the magazine was cut off by whoever posted the copy of the review I tend to think it my be from the "American Rifleman" published by the National Rifle Association.  By the way, if you're reading this and you are not a member of the NRA it is time to pony up.  The second amendment would be completely ignored by many in today's government if the NRA was not there to constantly remind them of the rights afforded by our founding fathers and the Constitution of the United States.

Strangely enough this magazine review also makes no mention of the obvious similarities in appearance and design to the Walther PPK.  The article does come to the same conclusion I found with the TP22:

  1. Fun pistol to shoot!
  2. As accurate as you would expect a small pistol of this type to be.
  3. Is ammo sensitive.  If you find one of these pistols buy many different 50 round boxes of ammo and select the one that gives 100% reliability and the best accuracy.

The Iver Johnson TP22 breaks down exactly like a Walther PP, PPK, PPK/S.  First remove the magazine and double check the chamber to make sure the pistol is unloaded.  Then pull down on the front of the trigger guard.  This unlocks the slide which can then be pulled back and up before sliding it forward and off the barrel.  Once the slide is removed the recoil spring can then be taken off the barrel.  Reassemble in reverse order remembering that the tightly coiled portion of the recoil spring goes on the barrel first.

My go-to holster company, Remora, has a small size that fits the TP22 to a "T".  The little Iver Johnson PPK-clone is ready for pocket or inside-the-waistband carry.

Galco B919H inside-the-waistband holster provides deep concealment.

CCI Mini-Mag 28 Feet 

Federal Spitfire 28 Feet 

CCI Mini-Mag at 21 feet 

CCI Stinger at 21 Feet-- The Stinger was a very accurate round unfortunately it could not cycle the action turning the TP22 into a Single Action Pistol

CCI Velocitor at 21 feet 

Remington Yellow Jacket at 21 Feet 

Remington Cyclone at 21 Feet

Of the rounds I tried I like the CCI Mini Mags & Velocitor along with the Remington Yellow Jacket ammo.  

This is a fun gun that is best enjoyed outdoors with action targets such as aluminum cans and spinners.  And let's face it...it has that cool Walther PPK look with a budget price.


Mitch Gurowitz said...

Great article, It is very depressing seeing "Middlesex, NJ" engraved on the slide. That is about a mile from my home.

NJ despite their grand heritage including Colt in Paterson in the 1800's has no great understanding or love of this history.

Bluesteelalchemist said...

On a plus note this was another knock-off Walther, not a very popular knockoff so should be found pretty inexpensive. I have had a bit of experience with Walther .22 pistols the TPH and the P-22.
All Walther pocket .22 instruction call for high velocity .22 like Stingers & CCI Mini Mag to work properly. You have most reliability follow recommended loading.

David James said...

I've seen these that also said "Jacksonville, A.R" instead of "Middlesex, N.J."

David James Piano and Bass Studio said...

Can you tell me the model number of the Remora holster you show here? Thanks, dj@djpianobass.com

Average Joe's Handgun Reviews said...

David James,

It is a number 1B.


Unknown said...

I have a Iver johnson tp22 . Can I use another clip/magazine for this gun. Or does it gave to a iver Johnson mag?

Anonymous said...

Can you use a different clip/mag for the iver Johnson. Or does it have to be the same manufacturer.. can I use a walther clip

Anonymous said...

Can you use another clip for the iver tp22

Anonymous said...

Can you use a different clip for the iver Johnson

Unknown said...

you can use erma 552s mags and px-22 and think there is one more manufacuter that is also compatible. still they are hard to find mags, and today almost cost as much as the gun because most aftermarket manufacuters have quit making them since the gun itself had a short production time. think 1980-86.

Anonymous said...

I just purchased one for less than 200 to replace my walther TPH. So far it's shot very well with the limited brands of 22 ammo out there. It is also as accurate a pistol as my larger FEG SMC 22 (again a Walther PPK clone) and my pre war Walther pp 22

Anonymous said...

I bought the chrome model I-J TP22 as my b-u gun in my pocket. Typically I only carry that as it doesn't hardly print during summertime when it's in my jeans or shorts pocket and I am not heavily dressed. I also carry it all other months along with my Taurus PT638 semi auto that I keep under my coat.
Due to it's smaller size, it makes a good in-the-car gun that's easy to conceal.

Reliability of this gun is good, however they ARE ammo sensitive and if you're shooting ammo that isn't high power, it's not going to shoot right and will stovepipe.
I have had good results with HP ammo and hi power round nose ammo, but the standard velocity and the fragment rounds don't work. They will fire but not rack the gun for your next shot.

Cons to the semi auto guns.
Parts availability. Parts are hard to find for them due to only a short manufacturing run of about 5 years. It seems that revolvers were more common than the semi autos as I see a lot of parts for revolvers on eBay. However, I DID get lucky and find an extra mag for my tp22 on eBay.

Anonymous said...

I bought a TP22 new in the 80's, carried it as a backup. I liked the size and the accuracy, but later had problems. The hammer sear wore, causing it to go full auto a few times. And one time while loading the chamber, as the slide came forward the impact both flipped the safety and dropped the hammer, blowing a small hole in the floor of my car. I can only assume that the hammer block safety failed as well. When I bought the gun, I tested both safeties at the range and they worked fine. I had to stop carrying this gun due to the unreliability of safe operation. I would advise extreme caution when handling this firearm.