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Walther is a company that has earned one whale of a reputation in the firearms industry. This German-based company is responsible for some of the world’s great guns. To select just one example, the Walther P-38 semi-auto 9mm was the first widely accepted double-action/single-action (DA/SA) pistol to be adopted for military service. I’ve shot one of those – the gun itself was the harbinger of things to come in the pistol market. We will look at the company’s history first, and then look at the gun itself a little later. So, here we go…
A Brief History Lesson
Carl Walther founded the Carl Walther GmbH Sportwaffen company in 1886. (GmbH is the German equivalent of the U.S. designation LLC, limited liability corporation). This is name of the parent company headquartered in both Ulm and Arnsburg, Germany.
The company was technically founded in 1886, but an ancestor of the future Walther business empire began working on guns in 1780. Matthias Conrad Pistor was the chief armorer of the Kassel Armory and oversaw the manufacture of pistols and other weapons. A granddaughter of another Pistor married a Walther (to make the story a bit shorter) and settled in what is now Thuringia. They made hunting and target rifles. Carl Walther was employed as an apprentice in this factory. The factory began to make pistols, at the request of Fritz Walther (oldest son of Carl), in 1908.
Skipping ahead to more modern times (and guns), in 1929 the company began to make one of the all-time great guns – the PP (Polizeipistole, Police Pistol). This was a gun made for police agencies, and was followed soon afterwards by the PPK (Polizeipistole Kriminalmodell, Police Pistol Detective model). These guns were made in .32 ACP, .22 LR, .380 ACP and a few in .25 ACP.
In 1938, Nazi Germany awarded Walther a contract to replace the older P-08 Luger with the new P-38 DA/SA pistol.
The company continued production during the war, but lost basically everything at the end of that conflict due to the factory having been bombed out. In 1953, Carl Walther started over again in Ulm, West Germany where he continued building his P-38 (renamed P-1) for the West German Army, the Bundeswehr. Fritz Walther died in 1966, so his son Karl-Heinz took over. The company concentrated on the sports sector and started another subsidiary, Umarex. This company concentrated on air guns.
The U.S. Connection
In 1999, Smith and Wesson became the importer for Walther’s guns and even manufactured some for them, if my memory is correct – I remember seeing S&W-made PPK pistols for sale. At any rate, the company formed an American subsidiary to import its guns in 2012. The new U.S. facility was located in Fort Smith, Arkansas. Since 2018, PPK and PPK/s pistols have been made in that factory.
Enter The PPQ
I won’t attempt to describe the history, or backstory, of the 25 pistols Walther is remembered for producing, so let’s just say the company made many different models for law enforcement and civilian use. The PPQ came about in 2011 as a possible replacement for the P99 and shares some of its design features with that popular pistol. One departure, though, is the trigger action. Described as an “internal preset striker ‘Quick Defense’ trigger”, the gun is basically always cocked. This gives the gun a let-off point and trigger pull that is identical from one shot to the next, unlike some striker-fired guns. This gun is marketed in Germany to special-forces-type agencies, (not “regular” police) due to its different trigger. Speaking of German police pistols, here is the 2008 specification for triggers on guns considered for adoption by agencies:
The Technical Specifications (TR) of the German Police (Technische Richtlinie Pistolen im Kaliber 9mm x 19, Revision January 2008) for obtaining a German Police duty pistol certification require a first shot trigger pull of ≥30 N (6.7 lbf), a trigger travel of ≥10 mm (0.4 in) and a trigger reset of ≥4 mm (0.2 in). We will look at more design features below. For a fairly detailed look at the PPQ, here is an interesting article – it makes a decent read.
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Specs and Pictures
In terms of the specific gun we have here to review, it was loaned to me by a good friend, who has been (among other jobs he’s held) a deputy sheriff. This is his personal carry piece, as the wear on the finish indicates. The definition of an “everyday carry weapon” fits this gun perfectly – it gets carried by him regularly. He usually has a light mounted on it but removed it for this write-up. The gun was broken in and was fun to shoot. Plus, I know that its reliability is top-notch, or otherwise it wouldn’t be carried as often as it is. This is one heck of a carry gun (read more about CCW insurance), as the finish wear demonstrates.
Let’s check the specs…
|Barrel Length / Finish||4.0"; Black Tenifer-Coated; Stainless Steel|
|Sights / Radius||Fixed; 3-Dot; Low-Profile; Polymer; Phosphorescent Markings; Non-Snag; Rear Adjustable for Windage; 6.1" Radius (factory night sights are available)|
|Weight||24.5 oz (empty mag)|
|Frame / Finish||Matte Black Polymer|
|Slide Material||Tenifer Coated|
|Trigger||Striker-Fired Double Action Only; Pre-Cockede|
|Trigger Press||5.5 lb|
|Trigger Travel||0.4" Short; 0.1" Reset|
|Magazines / Capacity|
|Safeties||No External Manual; Trigger Drop Safety; Firing Pin Block; Disconnector Safety; No Mag Safety|
|Grip||Polymer; Non-Slip; Cross-Directional Surface|
|Other||Picatinny Rail; Limited Lifetime Warranty|
|“Real World” Price||$450-$500|
By way of comparison, let’s look at a few of the specs for the Gen 5 Glock 19 – arguably the most popular compact 9mm that others are compared with…
|Weight (empty mag):||23.6 oz.|
|Magazine Capacity:||15, 3 included; higher-capacity mags will work|
I am not trying to prove any points by including these specs – I thought I would just list them for ease of comparison for those of you out there who may be looking to buy a 15-or-greater round 9mm.
Here is a quick list of features that the Walther PPQ M2 enjoys, from the Walther website…
- Ambi and Extended Slide Stop
- Front/Rear Slide Serrations
- Three Interchangeable Backstraps (S/M/L)
- Reversible Magazine Release (M2)
- Large, Button-Style Magazine Release (not a paddle release – if you like the paddle-style release, find a 1st gen PPQ, the M1)
- Rear Sight Adjustable for Windage; Front Sight replaceable
- Three Interchangeable Backstraps (S/M/L)
- Enhanced Trigger: Smooth and Clean Break; Crisp, Tactile and Audible; Short Reset
- Rounded with No Sharp Edges – Thin and Very Concealable
- Front/Rear Slide Serrations
- No Trigger Press Needed to Field Strip
I especially like that last feature. My reloading bench took one for the team once upon a time when I pulled the trigger on an “empty” Taurus semi-auto .45 in order to take it down to clean it. Come on, ‘fess up – who out there has done the same thing? Anyway, I really like this gun’s takedown drill – more on that later.
Let’s look at some photos before we go shooting…
DE = Germany;
CIP/N = Commission internationale permanente pour l’épreuve des armes à feu portatives (“Permanent International Commission for the Proof of Small Arms”), an international organization similar to our SAAMI that sets standards for safety testing of firearms;
N = Nitro;
BG = date code. “B” = 1; “G” = 6. So, our pistol was made in 2016. (Here is a good article about proof marks);
Antler = Ulm, Germany
Front sight has a matching dot.
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Taking The PPQ Apart
So, you’ve shot your PPQ and now want to clean it. Very admirable. How hard is it to get the thing into its component pieces for a cleaning? Pretty simple, actually. Here are the steps…
- Make sure gun is empty (double-check, trust me) and remove the mag.
- Pull the trigger.
- Retract the slide a half-inch or so and pull down on the takedown tabs directly above the trigger.
- Slide the slide off the front of the frame.
- Separate the barrel and recoil spring.
- Clean everything and put it back together in reverse order.
That’s it. It took longer to type it out than it did to take the thing apart. I was impressed by the flat-wound recoil spring and the ease with which the gun came apart and went back together.
Speaking of being impressed, here’s something that many Walthers and HKs have that I really appreciate: an ambidextrous slide release that actually works and is not just a right-side extension with little leverage.
If you look closely, you will notice the right-side slide release’s length. (It’s the same length on the left, as well). This longer lever adds to the leverage applied to the internal release, making it just a bit easier to drop the slide. I have always liked this feature on these guns. As a lefty, I’ve found that Walthers and HKs are a bit easier to shoot for me due in part to this longer, ambi slide release. They are especially handy for me if they have the trigger guard magazine paddle release. I know that many, many shooters don’t like that style release, but I sure do. You can get to it with either hand without having to move a button to the other side of the frame. I like that. Nothing wrong with the button-behind-the-trigger-guard…unless it’s there permanently and you’re a lefty.
I know, my left-handed brethren will say they just got used to pressing the mag release button with their trigger or second fingers, but why do that if you can get a gun that doesn’t require it? Why break your shooting grip if you don’t have to? The first generation of this pistol (along with the first gen PPS) used a paddle release. So many shooters objected that Walther re-released them in their respective M2 versions. Anyway, this is not a rant and there’s no soapbox handy, but it is an issue with me. At any rate, the mag release has zero effect on where the bullets go. Putting bullets downrange is the primary function of the gun, not releasing magazines. The paddle is just more convenient for me.
Shooting the PPQ
I was really looking forward to shooting this gun. I’d owned a PPQ once, briefly as I mentioned above, and was impressed with it. At the time, I did wonder about the outward angle that the backstrap takes towards the bottom of the grip. It look like it sticks out pretty far, which would have the result of forcing the front sight higher as the “hump” in the grip pressed into your palm. But, it does not move the sight appreciably. Actually, the gun points naturally for me. The hump was a non-issue when I owned one before, and so I didn’t even think about it when shooting this one. I’m not sure why I traded my PPQ, but sometimes I think I like trading almost as much as shooting.
At any rate, I took this gun to my backyard range and tried three different loads. I almost feel the need to issue a disclaimer about not shooting a lot during any of my recent gun reviews due to the fact that you can’t find 9mm (or several other calibers) ammo anywhere. My gunshop owner buddy Duane has only been able to find very small amounts of 9mm in particular, and of course the guns he’s selling are mostly 9mm… when he can even get the guns to sell. They’re just about as rare as the ammo they shoot. It’s almost as bad today finding 9mm ammo as it was getting into a speakeasy during Prohibition…knock on the little door-in-a-door and tell the guy the password… were it that simple. (And, as my 8-year-old granddaughter would tell you, the password is “swordfish” — her Marx-Brothers-loving-daddy has raised her right).
I shot a few Winchester white box and Fiocchi loads, both 115-grain FMJ. I also shot my favorite 9mm do-all handload of a 124-grain Lee RN cast bullet over 4.8 grains of Long Shot. This load has proven to be accurate in several different 9mm pistols I’ve shot it in, and most always shoots close to the point of aim. The two factory loads did alright, shot at 20 yards, but the handload was even better. All loads hit a bit low, which made my previous concern about the grip’s “hump” causing the gun to shoot high moot.
Again, I feel like I almost have to apologize for not having 6 or 8 targets and a nice, neat Excel table listing loads arranged alphabetically with velocities, standard deviations, etc. but I just don’t have the ammo to do that with right now. The reloader in me (the OCD part, anyway) would love to be able to do that. Suffice it to say that, in this particular gun’s defense, if it weren’t accurate my friend would not be carrying it. So went the shooting of the PPQ – I wish I had more ammo to put through it, but shooting what I could was fun. It’s a very easy-to-shoot 9mm.
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What did I think overall of the PPQ? As I said above, I owned one for a good while and shot it a lot. I am short and round, so I have trouble concealing full-size (or even some compact) guns. The grip tends to print. My friend who loaned me the gun is tall and thin, so he is a natural for guns like the PPQ, Glock 17, Springfield XD, S&W M&P, etc. His frame tends to “hide” guns better than mine. He carries the gun in an IWB holster and you can’t tell there’s a gun there until he reaches for it. So, if you are built in such a way that you can pull off toting a full-size pistol around, you might want to give the PPQ a look. It’s not expensive (I’ve seen them for around $450), and you get a real Walther. With the included two 15-round and an aftermarket 17-round magazine on your person, you’d be ready for just about anything that came your way. Give the PPQ a try – you might be glad you did. If you own one, or a PPS or other Walther 9mm, let’s hear from you below. As always, keep ‘em in the black and stay safe!