You can shoot pretty much any functioning handgun in action-shooting sports like USPSA and Steel Challenge and have a good time. But if you get serious, you’re eventually going to want a competition-specific pistol. Look no further than the new Walther Q5 Match Steel Frame.
With this model Walther is reaching out to newbies and veterans alike by delivering a competition gun that’s ready to rock and roll right out of the box. Yes, the company already has its Q5 Match, but that pistol is a polymer-framed gun weighing about 29 ounces while the new steel-frame version tips the scales at nearly 42 ounces.
That’s a big difference, and the proof is in the significantly lower muzzle flip—allowing for faster, more accurate shots. The steel frame puts added weight in your firing hand, which helps anchor the gun, and also out front courtesy of an extended accessory rail. The cuts in the slide make it lighter so it cycles faster and imparts less rearward force—while keeping the barrel cooler as well.
The Q5 Match Steel Frame is based on the excellent PPQ platform, and I’m a huge fan of that pistol; a standard PPQ M2 is my go-to all-around semiauto. It starts with the excellent Quick Defense trigger. On the Q5 Match Steel Frame it’s blue and not black, but that’s merely a styling cue. It has the same 5.6-pound pull, with a 0.4-inch take-up and 0.1-inch reset. My sample’s trigger matched those specs.
The ambidextrous slide-lock lever is also the same, and I really like this oversize lever because it provides a ton of leverage and is easy to reach. I’m training myself to use the slide-lock lever instead of slingshotting the slide for competition reloads because it’s faster, and this is the kind of lever I want.
The reversible magazine release button is same size as the standard PPQ as well, but with the Q5 Match Steel Frame there’s no shelf underneath it, so there’s nothing that could interfere with fully depressing the button. Three 15-round magazines come with the standard model. (The magazines for the Pro model have extensions that increase capacity to 17 rounds.)
The rotating takedown lever—as opposed to the “grasp and pull” latch found on the standard PPQ—is teardrop-shaped and provides a great index spot for the support-hand thumb. The front of the trigger guard is squared-off and serrated for those who wrap an index finger there.
Since it’s a steel-frame pistol, it doesn’t offer interchangeable backstraps. I run medium backstraps on my PPQ, and I find the grip circumference on the steel gun to be on the cusp of being too big for my hands—although it’s only 1/4-inch bigger around than my PPQ with medium backstraps installed.
On the plus side, the checkered polymer wraparound stock and 25-lpi serrated frontstrap keep the gun solidly in your hand. And an extended beavertail permits a high grip on the pistol and provides additional control.
The Q5 Match Steel Frame ships with a fully adjustable LPA rear sight installed on a plate. Turn out two Allen-head screws and you can swap out the rear sight for a plate to accommodate a reflex sight. Three plates are provided for Trijicon RMR, Leupold Delta Point and Docter sights.
The front sight is a red fiber-optic from LPA, and it’s held in place with a slot-head screw in case you want a different front sight. A hole in the bottom of the slide permits easy access to the screw.
The pistol was accurate from the bench as expected, but of course, the real test is running targets, and I put several hundred rounds through the gun in various drills—much of it with SIG’s Match Elite and Federal’s Syntech Action Pistol loads. There were no failures with those or any of the other ammo I used for accuracy testing and drills.
The pistol comes out of the holster nicely, points well and, as promised, has minimal muzzle jump. For me it excelled on drills like Failure to Stop—allowing super-fast double-taps to the chest A-zone and providing the stability and excellent trigger pull for that precise A-zone head shot.
Winter was in full force when I tested the gun, and I didn’t shoot an actual match with it, but I plan to remedy that when spring hits. I think I’m really going to fall in love with the gun then. If you’re a competition shooter, I think you will, too.
As an added bonus, until June 30 you can pick up a Q5 Match Steel Frame (or any other PPQ) at your local gun shop or online and try it for 30 days. If you don’t think it’s for you, you can return it to Walther for a full refund.
WALTHER ARMS Q5 MATCH STEEL FRAME
TYPE: striker-fired semiauto
CALIBER: 9mm Luger
CAPACITY: 15-round magazines (as tested)
BARREL: 5 in., Tenifer-coated 1:10 twist
OAL/HEIGHT/WIDTH: 8.7/5.4/1.3 in.
WEIGHT: 41.6 oz.
CONSTRUCTION: Tenifer-coated steel slide and frame
TRIGGER: Quick Defense; 5 lb., 7 oz. pull (measured)
SIGHTS: LPA adjustable rear, LPA fiber-optic front; 3 plates to accommodate reflex sights
SAFETIES: 3 passive
MANUFACTURER: Walther Arms, WaltherArms.com