Those of you that know me know I’m not generally inclined toward polymer framed striker fired guns. I’m not knocking these guns. In fact, I recommend them often. I feel they meet most peoples needs very well in an affordable and convenient package. They are reliable, they hold ample rounds, they are simple to operate, easy to clean, and they are at a price point nearly anyone can afford. For these reasons I often steer new shooters to try out a couple and find what fits them before a first gun purchase.
Having said that, I prefer 1911s and 2011s, particularly for competitive shooting. This is primarily due to my love of a fine trigger and my old fashioned love of the feel (and recoil mitigation) of a heavier gun. Of course, I love the look of these pistols as well.
My biggest complaint about most striker fired guns is the trigger. After years of trigger time with 1911s most polymer guns are really disappointing in this area. So when we received our first Walther PPQ M2 at the store for a rental (pictured above left) I was expecting it to be more of the same. I was, however, pleasantly surprised with what I found. The trigger on the Walther still had more take up than I prefer, but once you get past that takeup (it isn’t long by striker fired gun standards) the trigger itself was rather impressive. It broke cleanly and without much overtravel at 5.5 lbs. The reset was fantastic for a striker fired gun. It was short, audible, and tactile. Exactly what I like in a trigger.
After dry handling it and finding I liked the trigger it piqued my interest so I started looking at it more seriously. I found that the small grip insert (the Walther has replaceable grip inserts like most polymer framed guns do these days) fit my hand the best. The slide release on the PPQ is long, meaning this is one of the few guns I can actually manipulate the slide release on using my firing hand thumb. I don’t have large hands and on a 1911 I can’t even come close. This actually posed a bit of a problem for me with the Walther, as I’m used to using my support hand thumb to release the slide. The Walther release was mounted further back, making it hard to use in this way. This isn’t a criticism of the Walther, it is just a work around I’ve had to develop using another platform that creates an issue for me with this pistol. The one down side for many shooters, however, is that with an appropriate high grip this long slide release may be prone to causing the slide to go forward on an empty magazine. Longer thumbs tend to ride on the slide release, holding it down and causing the slide to fail to lock open. Since my thumbs are short, this is not a problem for me, but it is worth mentioning.
I shot the rental gun early on and was happy with the results. It shot to point of aim out of the box and shot nice groups. I shot a few different types of ammo through it, mostly 115gr reman ammo we sell cheap at the store, and it never had any function issues. I did find that it was harder to shoot quickly than my competition guns, but that is to be expected. My STI DVC Limited is over a pound heaver, weighing in at 41.8 ozs compared to the PPQ’s 25.2ozs. The trigger is also 3lbs heavier (5.5lbs for the PPQ vs 2.5lbs for the DVC).
Ultimately I was impressed enough that I decided to pick one up for myself to try in USPSA Production division. I had never shot production before, as none of the guns I previously competed seriously with fit into the restrictions of that division. I had considered it in the past but never found a gun I liked enough to give it a try.
I ordered a PPQ M2 with a 5″ barrel (pictured above right). This wasn’t going to be a carry gun so I had no need to conceal it and the extra sight radius and weight would help with competition. I wanted the Q5 match but it was impossible to acquire at the time. Perhaps I will get one later for Carry Optics, but for now I’m using the PPQ.
When the gun arrived I found it to have the same trigger and feel as the 4″ we had as a rental gun. It also shot well right out of the box and has had zero issues with a variety of ammunition. I have approximately 2000 rounds through the gun as I write this, but we have well over 10,000 through the rental gun now and so far we haven’t had anything break or any malfunctions that we’ve been made aware of by those renting the gun. While it is still early, I have no negative reports related to durability or function.
On June 3rd at Wildcat Valley Rifle and Pistol Club I shot my first USPSA match with the PPQ. I used a Double Alpha Academy belt and Racer magazine pouches similar to what I use for other divisions. I used a Comp-Tac International holster with the drop offset attachment permitted in Production. Overall I found the gun and rig to handle very well. I was used to the Comp-Tac holster as I use it for IDPA and had used it in USPSA before upgrading to a DAA holster so it felt familiar and comfortable.
The gun had performed well for me in practice and I had dry handled it enough that the draw and reloads were smooth. I felt ready when I stepped up for my first stage. The timer went off, and away I went. I missed 4 times and my score was terrible…
Through the course of that match I learned quickly that in an actual competition environment I could not run the Walther like I run my STIs. Double the trigger weight (my STIs are 2.5lb triggers) and more muzzle flip under recoil simply meant I could not run the gun as fast. By the end of the day I was settling in with the Walther and my scores were competitive. By the end of the match I finished 4th out of 9 in Production. Not a bad showing, especially given my difficulty with that first stage.
After that first match I went back to the practice range and worked on my trigger speed with the Walther. I found a shooting cadence that, while marginally slower than with my STIs, was controllable and accurate. With more practice and a match under my belt I went out for my second USPSA match on June 25th at Atlanta Conservation Club. I went into this match with the goal of slowing down and making good hits rather than trying to make a production gun run like a limited or open gun.
My first stage the gun performed well. I posted a solid score and it felt good. I proceeded to shoot six stages and every one of them felt good, I made good hits, and my time was competitive. By the end of the day I had gained a great deal of confidence with the PPQ and once the scores were tallied I finished 3rd in Production Division out of 22 shooters. I was very happy with that.
In conclusion, I’m happy with the PPQ and plan to continue to use it for Production Division. I will also give it a try in IDPA Stock Service Pistol soon. The PPQ has been reliable, accurate, and fast for me compared to other striker fired polymer framed guns and I like it.
But it won’t be replacing my 1911s or 2011s any time soon…