Parvusimperator Reviews the Walther PPQ

Spectre premiers this week. What better time to talk about Walther’s fine modern pistol, the PPQ? In general, Mr. Bond arms himself with the Walther PPK, after a long and rather famous discussion between Ian Fleming and one Geoffrey Boothroyd.1 Yes, dear readers, there was a time when .32 ACP was considered to have plenty of stopping power. But that was then. I’m not very fond of the PPK, and don’t think it has any place other than possibly in my date’s thigh holster, if she’s wearing an evening gown. For a time, the Pierce Brosnan Bond used the P99, which is a right proper double stack service pistol in 9mm Parabellum.

The P99 is an interesting looking design, and is a double action semiautomatic pistol. It’s the direct predecessor of the PPQ, as it has a very similar shape, and shares magazines. Of course, being a double action design, the trigger isn’t good, and Walther made a couple of efforts to improve this. Interestingly, it’s striker fired, but Walther gave it that familiar double action feel.

Walther has a fine history of target weapons, in addition to service pistols. I first set about trying to learn pistol marksmanship seriously in a basement range, armed with an Olympic-grade Walther CPM-1. It’s still the nicest pistol trigger I’ve had the pleasure of firing. So Walther clearly knows how to make a quality trigger. One other historical note is that Walther had one of the earliest double action service pistols in the P38.

The PPQ is based on the latest models of the P99, the P99QA. It has the same sculpted grip, the same slide design, the same giant trigger. However, the PPQ has a somewhat different striker mechanism. It is no longer double action like a P99. Unlike a Glock, which has a partially cocked striker, the PPQ features a fully cocked striker. Since you don’t have to work against the striker spring, the trigger can be made very nice. Trigger travel distance is 0.4 in (9mm, conveniently enough), and has a sharp 0.1 inch reset. This is the shortest reset of any striker fired pistol around, and it’s very easy to feel. Trigger pull is very light, and there’s no ‘wall’ that you feel in a Glock trigger. So it’s pretty close to a rolling break. You can find that break point if you’re going slow, but it’s super easy to go right past it. This is the best trigger available on a striker fired pistol. But for the pretravel, it feels very 1911-like. And that’s probably the highest compliment I can pay.

The PPQ grip curves quite a bit. This looks a little strange at first, but it fits the hand really well. Again, it’s right up there with the 1911 in feeling very right. The 1911 does this with steel, wood, a single stack of .45 American Combat Pistol rounds, and a big slice of apple pie. The PPQ has to work with a double stack of 9mm rounds and a bunch of plastic. But those curves in the plastic mean the pistol fits your hand really well. Kinda like a certain fraulein I met on a trip to Europe not too long ago…

Moving on, the PPQ uses 15 round magazines. There’s also a factory extension available for +2 capacity. Since the model I got was a PPQ M2 Navy, Walther included one regular-baseplate 15 round magazine and one magazine with extender. The Navy model also comes with a factory threaded barrel. M2 denotes a switch from the lever release in the trigger guard to a traditional button style mag release in the handguard. The mag release catch is positioned well, and is easy to depress without being so raised that you’ll hit it accidentally. Much ink has been spilled on which mag release is better. I don’t really have a preference. I will say that the button is a little more familiar to me than the lever, and it’s more popular by far in America. Since it was in the case ready to go at the shop today, I didn’t agonize too much over the mag catch.

In my reviews of my Glock 17 and my M&P40, I mentioned market share. No getting around it, Walther doesn’t do a ton of marketing here in America, and as a result they don’t have a ton of market penetration. That said, the PPQ is popular enough that several of my favorite holster makers, including Dale Fricke, make holsters for it, and both 10-8 and Dawson make sights for it. Trijicon also makes their fine HDs for it. And my slide miller of choice, Mark Housel (L&M precision) will mill the slide for an RMR. So I should be set with whatever I need, though I don’t quite have the ubiquitous options that I had with Glock. I also have to suck up higher mag prices. Sizewise, the PPQ is about the same size as a Glock 19. Big enough to be very shootable, small enough to conceal easily. There’s also a long barrel version available.

How does she shoot? Great. Really, really great. That fabulous trigger really makes precise shots or fast shots easy. It makes up for less than perfect trigger control on the part of the user. My one objection is that the texture could be more aggressive, which seems to result in a flippy 9mm. Nothing that bearing down on the grip won’t cure, though. This is also a very early review. I may come to prefer the less texture; some professional shooters like a less grippy gun so they can correct a non-ideal grip from draw as they bring the gun up.

Bond should carry this gun, and not some lame pocket pistol. It’s that good. Accurate, fits nicely in the hand, conceals easily. It really works with the shooter to get great results.

1.) Fleming originally thought fit to equip Bond with a Beretta 418, a .25 ACP pocket pistol that you probably never heard of. It is a phenomenally wussy handgun, and I shall waste no more characters discussing it.

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