Pistol Review: The PPQ Q5 Match – A Return to Walther’s Roots
Walther’s got a brand new gun entering their lineup. The PPQ Q5 Match Steel Frame is a gun that will redefine how agencies and competitive shooters look at the brand. The new PPQ SF is a welcome evolution of the PPQ, but it is more complex. The use of steel is more than mere product creep; it is a return to Walther’s roots.
Let’s set the scene. Walther had planned an impromptu press event in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Tulsa is an easier travel destination than Fort Smith, Arkansas, where Walther’s American headquarters are located, so a handful of media folks and industry insiders headed to Tulsa. None of us were given any advanced warning about what we would see, just the invitation.
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We met at the range early that morning. Those of you who are familiar with Tulsa in the winter know what I’m talking about. The wide prairie offers very little to block the arctic winds. It was cold—below freezing—when we were introduced to one of the new steel framed PPQs: The Q5 Match SF.
It is times like these that what I do for a living feels like work. Getting to know a new gun when you can’t feel your fingers is complicated. After a couple of magazines, and the resulting shot of adrenaline, I began to warm up to the Q5 Match SF.
The gun handles incredibly well. That’s a bit of an understatement, actually. This pistol, like the others in the PPQ line, fits my hand perfectly. I’m not going to lie about record-breaking times, or stunning feats of marksmanship. It was too cold for that. I don’t shoot well with gloves on, even in temperate weather, but I can talk about the Q5 Match’s potential.
Why the Steel Frame?
Walther’s PPQ line is hard to pin down. When it was first released, many of us—including me—couldn’t put it down. The PPQ M2 remains my absolute favorite compact polymer framed 9mm. I shoot it better than I do any comparable pistol, and it feels like an extension of my hand.
There are a number of 9mms, though, with more robust frames that I’ve always had a soft spot for. I’m not alone. When you cross over the four-inch mark on barrel length, many want a more robust frame. The Beretta 92FS and the Sig P226 both have incredibly devoted fans. This PPQ feels better in the hand than both of those.
Historically, though, the PPQ has been a hard sell for law enforcement. Many departments have strict requirements about trigger pull weight and reset distances. The PPQ is known for its light trigger, consistent pull on every shot, and its .1” reset. The trigger on this gun is so good. But if your department wants a heavier first pull, or a longer reset, than you won’t be carrying a PPQ.
The steel frame PPQ still has that same brilliant trigger. The performance of the trigger is even easier to see in the Q5 Match SF than it is in the polymer framed guns. The increased weight tames a bit of the felt recoil and holds down muzzle flip.
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The ones we had out on the range were clearly designed for competition. I am not one who likes excessive cuts and milling or the more modern design elements at play in this gun, but I’m also not a competitive shooter. I see their purpose. And they work. The slide is lighting fast, and the gun is ideally balanced. It points easily, isn’t so heavy as to be cumbersome, and fits insanely well in the hand.
We’ll come back to those ergonomics, but there’s more to say about the steel. By producing a steel framed gun, Walther can offer more to their competitive shooters, while also going after more traditional military contracts. Police departments might still balk at the light trigger pull, but that may not be an impediment to military.
For the rest of us?
I’ve never met any serious shooter that complained about the factory trigger in a PPQ. Walther advertises a 5.6-pound pull, but I’ve pulled some that were lighter. The first pull is the same as the last (which, as I’ve mentioned, stirs some controversy). And Walther plans to sell a spring kit that will lighten the trigger even more.
The trigger shoe on the Q5 Match SF is wide and almost flat. The shoe (which I think is aluminum) is grooved. In the middle is a trigger safety that has to engage in order for the trigger to be pulled.
The first thing you’ll notice, though, is the microscopic reset. Seriously. The reset is .1”. Even in the polymer PPQ, this allows for lighting fast follow-up shots.
The trigger and the weight of the steel is further complicated by the gun’s exquisite ergonomics. The controls are easy to access. The gun points easily. It even retains the polymer PPQ’s grip design. Anyone who has ever held a PPQ will recognize the feel. I haven’t had the chance to put calipers on both, but I would assume any size differences would be measured in minute fractions of an inch.
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That grip is worth a closer look. The milling on this is well executed. The grip, rather than riding on top of the frame, sits in a milled cut so that it fits flush with the frame. That reduction shaves off some weight, but it also keeps the gun from feeling so huge in your hand.
As the gun makes its way into the real world, new grip options will become available. G10 and other textured grips are in the works. Now, though, it has a black rubber grip that wraps around the backstrap. This gives the steel framed pistol warmth, even on frigid Tulsa mornings.
Look at the exterior. There are a couple of things worth noting. The external extractor is wide and overbuilt. It is ambidextrous, and takes very little effort to engage, yet it doesn’t protrude far enough off the gun that you’ll end up riding the slide home accidentally.
On the left side of the frame, the take-down lever doesn’t move down to unlock. It moves up. If you are shooting, and hold pressure from your support hand (assuming you’re right handed) on the take-down lever, you will add pressure to the lever instead of potentially dislodging it.
The steel frame has an oversized beaver tail. The top of the slide has milled grooves that run the length of the pistol. The rear sight is a flat black target sight that is adjustable for windage and elevation. The front sight is an orange fiber optic. The Q5 Match SF comes with a flared mag well, which works as part of the grip and a huge target for the incoming mag. The underside of steel frame is railed, with five positions.
The front strap is highly textured. The milled pyramids bite into you hands, as they should. While many guns with aluminum or steel frames simply abrade the front strap, or cut in some vertical lines, the Q5 match has much more intense texture.
One of the features that sets this pistol apart from some of the others like it is the rear sight. While both sights are familiar enough, the rear is mounted on the plate that covers the milled red-dot slot. There’s no pretense about needing a rear sight and a red-dot—the plate with the rear sight is simply removed and an adapter for any of the common red dots put back in its place.
The magazines will also be familiar to anyone who has run a PPQ. The PPQ SF can use any of the previous PPQ mags, so long as they’re the right caliber (and long enough, obviously).
The mags are stainless steel and built to take the punishment of competition or duty. They’re not meant to be babied. They are standard 15 round PPQ mags, and cross compatible with the other PPQs. There are +0 base pads and +2 base pads, too, for those who want the extra protection and a solid protective bumper.
The Q5 Match SF Learning Curve
With its 5-inch barrel and exceptional balance, the Q5 Match SF is really intuitive. The flat recoil impulse is easy to feel. Even the length, at 8.7”, is easy to manage.
The trigger might be the only thing that would require some getting used to. The wide shoe meant I had occasional difficulty engaging the trigger safety with a gloved finger. The tip of my finger would fall beside the safety on the wide shoe and I’d pull back without having engaged the safety. This is obviously user error, though I wasn’t the only user having the issue.
As I engaged targets aggressively in the mock competition stages, I didn’t have the issue. When I’m shooting for speed, I tend to get more finger on the trigger. And without gloves, I could easily feel the trigger safety against the tip of my index finger.
Why am I even grousing about the trigger safety? It is the only issue I had with the gun. That’s not insignificant. These are early incarnations of this gun. They’ve not been used and abused by the masses, which I feel is a crucial step in the debugging process of any new design. Yet they stood up to thousands of rounds in a short period of time, from multiple shooters, and never hiccuped.
So what’s the real selling point of the new PPQ SF? If you like the PPQ, but want something even more robust, this is a great choice. If you compete with a PPQ now, this is a no-brainer. The improved recoil impulse will shave off time.
The Q5 Match SF will have an MSRP around $1,400. These, like the rest of Walther’s PPQ line, are being imported from Germany. These are built, 100%, in Ulm. They’ll be shipping soon. Pop in at your local FFL and get your mitts on one. You’ll like what you see.