April 27, 2012
From time to time I am introduced to a new pistol design at some invitation-only, pre-production rollout event. Quite frequently, though, I become aware of something new or interesting the old-fashioned way, and such was the case with the Walther PPQ. I walked into my local gun store to use the range, and an employee said to me, "Hey, have you checked out the new striker-fired Walther? It has the best factory trigger of any striker-fired gun I've ever shot."
Well, I am not so jaded that after five decades of Bond movies the name Walther doesn't give me a little thrill. I introduced myself to the PPQ in the display case and found out for myself that it indeed had the best trigger of any striker-fired polymer-framed handgun I've tested, with a crisp 4.5-lb break and a short reset. Hello, Walther? Please send me one to test ASAP.
The Walther PPQ is a full-size auto chambered in both 9mm and .40 S&W. I obtained a 9mm model, which comes with two 15-round magazines and three sizes of interchangeable backstraps, with the medium-size one installed on the gun at the factory. There is very little difference between the medium and small inserts, but the large is noticeably bigger. The grip feels small for its capacity, and I think this impression is helped by the profile of the slide, which narrows at the top.
With a four-inch barrel and an overall length of 7.1 inches, the Walther PPQ is roughly the size and weight (24.5 oz) of a Glock 17 but with a better trigger. Unfortunately, the engineers at Walther took a page out of the Glock design book, as the PPQ comes with polymer 3-dot sights. The rear is adjustable for windage. While the sights are very functional, I have no faith they'll still be on the pistol if it is dropped upside down or whacked on a door frame while walking through it (I've done that myself more times than I can count).
My test pistol had the same excellent trigger as the one I tried at the gun store. Walther calls it the Quick Defense Trigger or QDT, and it has a short, audible reset. The trigger itself has a safety lever in the center ala Glock (to prevent against accidental discharges if dropped), and the pistol has a firing pin block safety as well.
The PPQ's slide features flat-bottomed serrations fore and aft that provide a very good gripping surface. The front of the square trigger guard has similar horizontal serrations, and the top of the slide is serrated to reduce glare. The front of the frame has a tactical rail for mounting a light or laser. The ambidextrous slide release is surprisingly long but not overly bulky.
The frame is covered with what Walther calls its Cross-Directional Textured Tactical Grip. While it does not look like much at all, it provides a better gripping surface than you'd think, and combined with the relatively mild recoil of a 9mm it was no trouble at all to hold onto the pistol during rapid fire.
Unlike traditional American designs, the PPQ's magazine release is a sizable ambidextrous lever on either side of the trigger guard. Trying to figure out how to operate it efficiently was frustrating. To use your shooting hand thumb you have to turn the gun completely sideways in your hand, almost pointing the muzzle back at yourself—not good. Using your trigger finger to drop the mag, because of the angle, results in your finger pressing against the side of the trigger as well as the magazine release—very not good.
Well, luckily for me that gun store employee is a big Walther fan, and as an Iraq combat veteran he knows the how important it is to be able to manipulate your weapon quickly. He schooled me on the proper way to operate the Walther's unusual magazine release by using the middle finger of my shooting hand. While this sounds awkward and slow, in actuality I found it was nearly as quick as hitting a traditional mag release with my thumb, and probably with practice it would be just as fast. It also forces you to get your finger off the trigger during mag changes, which is a good habit to get into.
While the PPK is still the quintessential "Bond gun," at a recent industry event an S&W rep was asked if James Bond was ever going to be seen on screen with a Walther PPQ in hand, and his response, with a smile, was, "We're working on it."
- Type: striker-fired semiauto
- Caliber: 9mm (tested), .40 S&W
- Capacity: 15+1 (9mm), with optional 17-round magazine available; 12+1 (.40 S&W), with optional 14-round magazine avail.
- Barrel: 4.0 in.
- Weight: 24.5 oz. (9mm), 24.9 oz (.40 S&W)
- OAL/Width/Height: 7.1/1.3/5.3
- Finish: matte black
- Sights: 3-dot
- Trigger: 4.5 lb. (as tested)
- Price: $729
- Manufacturer: Walther
- Smallest avg. group: 115 gr. Black Hills FMJ—2.4 in.
- Largest avg. group: 124 gr. Hornady TAP—3.0 in.
- Avg. of all ammo tested (3 types)—2.7 in.
- Accuracy results are the averages of four five-shot groups at 25 yards from a sandbag rest.