October 30, 2020
Full disclosure: I’m a Walther fanboy. It wasn’t James Bond’s PPK but rather the P99 that made me fall in love with the firm’s pistols. It was the first semiauto that really felt right in my hands. The P99 gave way to the PPQ, and when the M2 version (American-style mag release) came out, we shot one extensively on the set of “Handguns & Defensive Weapons.” I liked it so much I bought it. Next came a Walther Q5 Match Steel Frame. I was in attendance at the pistol’s launch event a couple years ago, shot it well, and today it is my Steel Challenge competition gun with a Trijicon SRO red dot on top.
Why am I boring you with all this? To introduce the Q5 Match Upper Conversion Kit. If you’re the owner of a standard PPQ or one is in your plans, for an additional $490 you can create a double-duty gun suitable for both daily carry and action-shooting competition.
The kit couldn’t be simpler. You get a Q5 Match slide, barrel and spring/guide rod assembly. Pop the top off your PPQ and install the Q5 kit, and you now have a Q5 Match. The kit fits on any PPQ in 9mm except the subcompact.
The Q5 Match slide offers a number of benefits for action shooting. It’s a five-incher, so it’s got a longer sighting radius, and it’s ported to reduce slide weight and thereby diminish muzzle jump. The front sight is an LPA red fiber optic, and at the rear there’s a removable plate featuring a fully adjustable LPA rear sight. This gives you the option of competing with open sights or adding a red dot.
The kit doesn’t come with any red-dot mounting plates, so in order to install a red dot you’ll have to order a plate. Walther has set up a link to order the plate of your choice—for free. Your footprint choices are: Docter/Vortex/Burris; Trijicon/Holosun; and Leupold/RMS.
So what’s the advantage here? An obvious one is price. If you already own a PPQ you don’t have to buy a new, dedicated competition gun. If you don’t have a PPQ, the pistol plus the Q5 kit would run you about $1,200 at suggested retail. That’s less expensive than the $1,500 Q5 Steel Match, which is a great competition gun due to the weight added by the steel frame but hardly a CCW pistol.
Yes, the PPQ/kit combo is more expensive than the $849 polymer-frame Q5 Match pistol, but with the PPQ and the kit you get two guns in one—a carry/competition combo with the identical trigger and grip.
Familiarity with your trigger pull is critical in defense and competition. Walther’s trigger is one of the best, and by competing with the same trigger that’s on your self-defense gun, you’re logging so many more quality reps—building muscle memory on the break and the reset.
Grip familiarity counts, too. It matters on the draw, and it matters during firing. In competition, you’ll be performing numerous draws and shooting hundreds of rounds, and you’ll be doing it with the exact same grip you would be using in a life-and-death situation.
I grabbed my PPQ, the conversion kit and my Q5 Match Steel Frame and headed for the range with Remington 124-grain full metal jackets and Federal 150-grain Syntech Action Pistol. I started out on the 10-yard line with a Revolution six-inch plate rack. I always thought I shot my PPQ well, and my times with it were decent, but I was blown away when I swapped the top end to the Q5 Match slide.
Times dropped significantly, and so did misses. The modified gun came back on target with lightning quickness, and the LPA sight made sight acquisition a breeze for an old codger like me. The combination of the bright red fiber optic and the plain black face was really easy to pick up and align. In fact, it shot to a dead heat against my steel-frame gun, which has a red dot aboard. I attribute this largely to the fact that the PPQ grip fits me a little better.
The same was true during multiple runs on a two-target “swing” drill—USPSA cardboard at 10 yards and a small, single CTS steel target 18 yards away at a 30-degree angle.
Again, I shot much better with the kit installed, and here it actually edged out the steel-frame gun. Judging by the split times, it seemed I was picking up the targets more quickly with the iron sights.
I’m a firm believer that competition is the best—and most fun—way to build basic shooting skills. Sure, you can easily compete with a daily carry gun like the PPQ. But if the competition bug really bites, you’re going to want a more capable rig, and with the PPQ coupled with the Q5 Match Upper Conversion Kit, you get the best of both worlds.