Never heared of that happening before and I have known more than a few people with the gun. My wife loves hers and has had it for years. For every model of gun out there you can find some freak failure.
Considering how many thousands of p22s are out there a couple of freak failures does not make me dismiss the whole model.
If you are going to buy your wife a .22 cal pistol for the purpose of learning to shoot, then the Walther is alright, though there are at least five that are as good or better for less money. If you are buying it for a defense gun, think again. A .22 is not a close range defensive handgun. A .380 is probably the smallest you should go and 9mm, .40cal or .45 cal is even better. My wife has no problem handling any of those rounds, but carries a S&W 908 9mm because she has small hands. She is very accurate with that.
If you want a gun for both learning and maybe carry I recomend looking at the Bersa Thunder. It is 380 and light enough to not learn bad habits. It has a smalle enough grip for medium and small hands. Plus it carries well. Generally all new shooters should start on .22 though.
If you're looking for a gun for her to learn on then I suggest a Ruger MK 11 or MK111. You can find one reasonable at gun shops or even pawn shops. Plus it's good economical practice for you.
If she's eventually going to carry it. Don't. 22s are not a self defense round.
Look for a used K frame S&W revolver. Like a model 19 or 66. These fit into purses quite nicely and most women I know shoot them well.
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