by Rob Kay

Let me be upfront. This is not going to be the most unbiased firearm review I’ve ever posted.

I was head-over-heels smitten with this pistol the first time I handled it earlier this year at the SHOT Show in Las Vegas. This was at an event dubbed “Industry Day at the Range” which provides manufacturers an opportunity to introduce writers to their latest models. For journalists, it’s like being a kid in a candy store.

PPQ Encounter

I’m a not guy that generally swoons over polymer handguns. You can’t carry in Hawaii, they’re not generally good for target shooting, and frankly they all look the same. I wondered, how different can one really be from the other?

Well, suffice it to say, my attitude about polymer guns quickly changed when I had my first encounter with the Walther PPQ, short for “PolizeiPistole Quick Defense”.

What hooked me was the trigger. The PP has a clean crisp action that breaks at around 5.6 lbs–not unlike a decent rifle.

Yet, when you think about it, you wonder why it took so long. It’s not that it was impossible to build. Surely if you can land a spacecraft on comet, you can build a factory polymer gun with a decent trigger. The truth is no one, except the folks at Walther, was able to execute.

The good news is that this great trigger is just one component of a finely balanced, ergonomically sound pistol. In short, it feels right in your hands and is naturally “pointable”. The great balance inspires a kind of confidence. Over at SHOT I didn’t know if I was shooting better with the PPQ but it sure that way.

Walther 3
Backstrap has three options and mag release can be placed on either side of the grip. Texture is “grippy” without grating on palm.

There are five different versions of the PPQ M2:

These include three 9mm models in with 4, 4.6 and 5 inch barrels and, two versions available in .40 cal with 4. and 5 inch barrels. Over at SHOT I had a chance to shoot the full sized 5 inch nine but for this article I opted to test the 4.6 inch “Navy” model which is designed for special ops. It’s more on the compact side but the length of the barrel was great enough to provide more than enough potential accuracy.

The Navy

There are two PPQ Navy versions–the PPQ Tactical Navy and the PPQ Tactical Navy SD. The latter has a slightly longer (4.6 in) long special barrel thanks to a threaded muzzle for mounting a suppressor. The Navy model is engineered so that it can be submerged and even fired in water.. Tiny orifices perforate the striker channel, which allows water to drain. In addition, specially designed guides diminish water resistance when the striker moves forward. This, along with a beefier striker spring, allow the gun to be fired when completely flooded. Finally, the PPQ Internals are recoated with phosphate to prevent corrosion.

The closest item on the market today resembling the PPQ is the Glock G19 Gen4. Except for the Navy’s longer barrel the dimensions are nearly identical. Other components that may also be familiar to Glock owners are the interchangeable backstraps, moulded equipment rails, and reversible mag release buttons. Other controls include an ambidextrous slide-release lever which has serrated finger shelves that can be smoothly manipulated without changing your grip.

IMG_1286
The excellent two-stage trigger is unlike any polymer gun on the market. Large trigger guard makes the PPQ glove-friendly.

Walther 4Walther 4The PPQ M2 comes standard with two 15-round magazines, gun lock, mag loader, lockable hard case and Walther’s lifetime warranty.Oh yes, the gun flags you when the chamber is loaded by exposing a red rectangle at the rear of the extractor. Good to know.

For all its cool features, the PPQ is not a brand new design. It may resemble a Glock but it’s a refinement of the P99QA model which was introduced about 8 years ago.

What’s been redesigned are the grip, trigger guard and slide. The PPQ retains compatibility with P99 sights and P99 second-generation magazines.

The main innovation of the PPQ over the older models is the striker fired, two-stage, DAO trigger, that I’m so enamored with. The two stage trigger has a fairly long take-up and then reaches a definite wall. At that point you know you’re near the break–it’s very predictable. The striker fired action is preset, which provides for a very nuanced, nearly indiscernible trigger reset after the first round is fired.

Of course the trigger is a huge enhancement but what makes the makes the PPQ so compelling is the cumulative impact of all the improvements.

For example, like most of the higher end polymer handguns, the grip has removable backstraps that will allow one to customize the firearm to fit any hand. The grip area is sprinkled with a finely textured pattern of raised dots and crescents that provide an almost tacky hold without being overly aggressive so that the grain grates on your palms.

Field stripping the gun is easy.  First off is what you’d do with any gun–remove the magazine and check the chamber, both visually and mechanically while pointing the weapon in a safe direction. For Glock owners, the rest of the drill is second nature. Just grasp the slide with the top three fingers of your right hand while wrapping your thumb just beneath the slide at the top of the grip. Pull the trigger and move slide back ever so slightly–no more than half an inch. With the other hand pull down on the slide release and move the slide forward and off the frame.

The only “issue” to contend with is the screw that protects the threaded barrel. So what’s the deal? It has to be removed in order to clean the slide. Normally you’d want to Loctite a part like this because it’s going to loosen up as the gun is fired. However if you “Loctite” it, you’ll have a chore removing the screw when you do the cleaning. (Of course if you have a suppressor this is a non-issue).

IMG_1280
The most distinctive features of the PPQ Tactical Navy SD is the threaded barrel, which makes this firearm suppressor-ready. (It adds an extra .6″).

Walther 6Range Report

“User-friendly” comes to mind when describing the PPQ’s range-side manner.

First off, I liked the square-notch rear sight. It employs a three white-dot system. The front sight is slightly ramped and grooved. The rear sight can be adjusted for windage with the click-adjustable screw on the right side of the mount.

What was unusual was that I didn’t even have to sight this gun in at all. Right out of the box it was dead on. I used a standard 25 yard bullseye target and lined up the sights at six o’clock. Walther Arms provides you with a factory target which is pretty much one ragged hole at 15 meters.

We put several hundred rounds of ammo including Remington UMC 115‑grain FMJ, American Eagle 124 grain FMJ, a bunch of handloads, and the brand new Sig Elite Performance 124 grain JHP ammo. With all of the varieties, the PPQ performed like clockwork.

It was not only 100% reliable but extremely accurate. This was especially the case with the Sig rounds where I could get up to 1.5-2” groups at 25 yards. At 50 yards I wasn’t exactly getting 2” groups but was consistently in the black (again with a regulation 50 yard bullseye target). Over at the silhouette range we were able whack metal plates at up to 100+ yards with some consistency. I’ve not been able to do this with other 9mm pistols.

Recoil was entirely manageable but of course like any relatively short-barreled polymer gun, there’s some “flip” that you have to accustom yourself to. However, it certainly wasn’t much different than my 4“ CZ P01. My co-editor, RN Price (who owns a several Glocks) reckons that the PPQ handles a great deal like a Glock.

Final Thoughts

Walther 6
PPQ comes with a factory-test target. (Illustrated grouping was at 15 meters). We consistently got groups of 1.5-2″ at 25 yards.

The impressive trigger and great balance make this a natural gun to aim and shoot. The short trigger reset is ideal for rapid follow up shots. As mentioned above, it’s extremely accurate and will consume any kind of ammo without a hiccup.

The only thing this pistol didn’t have, which I would have definitely liked to see, was an option to mount a red dot optic. I was told by Everett Deger, Director of Marketing at Walther Arms, that several major manufacturers are working on models that will work with the PPQ but this may require a redesign of the slide. Something is on the way, we’ll just have to see how this manifests itself.

If you’re looking at a polymer gun for carry, home defense or competition, you will not go wrong with the PPQ. With an MSRP price at just over $750 it’s competitive with comparable items from HK. (The other models are less expensive if you don’t need that threaded barrel).

If you’re thinking of gifting yourself something for Christmas consider the PPQ Navy M2.

I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Photos courtesy of  On Target staff.

Questions?  Comments?  Contact us at ontargethawaii@gmail.com

Rob Kay writes about firearms for Hawaii Reporter and is the author of How to Buy an AK-47.

Read more of Rob’s articles on OnTargetHawaii.com

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