The firm of Carl Walther GmbH Sportwaffen of Ulm, Germany has been in the firearm business since 1886. They started their first line of semi-automatic pistols in 1908 and by the 30s were making such legendary arms as the PP, P38, and PPK series pistols. In 1996, the company debuted its P99 full size polymer framed duty gun marketed to military and police sales. This gun went on to inspire a scaled down rimfire version with a cast slide imported into the US by S&W as the popular P22. Today, with lessons learned from all of these pistols, Walther’s premier polymer tech is embodied in the Police Pistol Quick-Defense, or PPQ.
Ergonomics and Recoil
This pistol is on the small end of the ‘full-size’ spectrum and is borderline compact. From a distance, it is easily confused with its slightly older cousin, the 22LR single stack P22 pistol. At 21-ounces unloaded, 7.1-inches long with a 4-inch barrel for the 9mm version; it is almost the same profile as the Glock 19. Still, the capability to carry a 15-round magazine, have a Picatinny rail, front and rear side serrations, and a full size grip with removable backstraps means this gun has full-sized features all day. The grip has a cross-directional texture that actually feels good and not the raspy wood file grip of the Gen 4 Glocks and other polymers in its class.
Muzzle flip, due to the high bore axis and the weight of the slide in respect to the frame, is a little stouter than you see in the XD and SR9, but about the same as in the Glock.
Trigger and Accuracy
Like the XD, SR9, and Glock before it, the Walther PPQ has a two-stage trigger with a short pre-set before the main trigger is engaged. DAO, the trigger pull is 5.5-pounds and only travels .40-inches before breaking. This is much tighter than the Glock. The striker fired action is unique in that it is precocked which allows an almost imperceptible 1/10th of an inch trigger reset after the first round is fired. If it wasn’t for the ‘click’, you feel once you’ve reached this reset, you’d miss it. Every combat DAO pistol should have this trigger.
Accurate all day, the PPQ hit everything we aimed at with it, which left a great taste in our mouth. The sights are fixed front, adjustable rear, and, while aren’t as elaborate as we’d expect in a German-made gun, are more than functional.
Reloading and Disassembly
The pistol has a horizontal magazine lever across the bottom of the trigger guard, like the P22, and not a release button, which takes some getting used to. Witness holes abound in the magazine, which is retained from the old P99. These mags, since there aren’t millions of PPQs floating around out there, are pretty pricey when you can find them. Italian made Magnum Research Baby Eagle magazines, which can usually be found slightly cheaper, also fit the PPQ but are known to cause malfunctions.
The gun breaks down a little trickier than most of the guns in the comparison. It’s a trigger puller during the field strip process, which is always a pucker factor in training. Once the two take down levers are pressed down, pull the trigger on an empty chamber and unloaded magazine, and ease the slide forward. From there everything is straightforward unless you go to remove the striker assembly. For this, we ding the PPQ a little in the scores.
Reliability and Durability
There have historically been issues with S&W made PPKs and Umarex-made P22s, but the PPQ seems to be an altogether different animal when it comes to reliability. We didn’t find any issues in its firing. It’s a Walther. Heck, James Bond even used it in Skyfall.
Durability, since it’s an import, may be a problem in the long run for repair/replacement work. Also, it’s one of the newest pistols in the comparison, at just a few years old so that may be a controversial subject as the gun could essentially be in a beta-test mode.
The PPQ is terribly under marketed. Most shooters don’t even know it exists in this country. Walther prefers to market their firearms to military and police users, so the fact that their civilian sales in the US aren’t very high isn’t really very surprising. Smith and Wesson is their US-based licensed distributor and most PPKs and P22s that are in circulation here at one time or another passed through Smith’s hands, which means a weird competition between the PPQ and the M&P. Walther knows what they are doing with the PPQ, and the only reason that it ranks lower on this list is the availability of both the guns and their magazines, or lack thereof.