Gun Review: Walther PPQ M2 (5″ Slide)

Courtesy Joe Grine

TTAG has a reputation for hard-hitting, no holds barred reviews. That’s why it pains me to tell you that this review is pretty much the same kind of slobbering lovefest that you’d expect from industry glossies. But after spending six months and well over 3,000 rounds running the Walther PPQ M2, Jeremy and I could find precious little to complain about. Even my quibbles amount to nothing more than minor personal preference issues. So without further ado, let me tell you why I think the Walther PPQ M2 is one of the best of the polymer wonder 9s . . .

When the Walther Police Pistol Quick (“PPQ”) was first released three years ago, my good friend and fellow TTAG writer Chris Dumm commented that “[d]esign evolution seems to be funneling most new pistol designs into the same proven formats. Everything looks pretty much like a GLOCK these days, no matter who makes it.” Well, I ain’t gonna lie: there’s a whole lotta truth to that statement . . .

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While the PPQ is technically a polymer refinement of the P99 series of pistols, at its heart the Walther PPQ is more or less a GLOCK clone in terms of function and general mechanics. Striker fired? Check. Polymer frame? Check. Double stack mag? Check. GLOCK-esque trigger safety? Check. Lack of manual safety? Check. But if the GLOCK is, as they claim, “Perfection,” the PPQ M2 is “Perfection2”. The Walther has better ergonomics, a better trigger, better (ambidextrous!) operator controls, easier disassembly, and definitely better aesthetics. And did I mention the better aesthetics?!

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Speaking of aesthetics, the sleek, svelte lines of the Walther PPQ slide make the blocky boxy GLOCKs, Kahrs, and Springfield XDs look like something made out of Legos. The PPQ’s slide is more narrow at the top than where it meets the frame. As it should be. Add to that the aggressive angled slide serrations on both the front and the back of the slide, and you’ve got one very good-looking, shark-like pistol. So good, in fact, it looks like HK just copied its basic look with their VP-9.

When I reviewed the Walther PPX, I decried it a bit for being “plump.” Not so with the PPQ: place it next to its porky sister and the PPQ M2 looks like a supermodel:

Courtesy Joe Grine

The lightening cuts on the top of the slide harken back to the GLOCK 34 and the Springfield XDM 5.25 Competition Series. Honestly, this might just be my first “quibble.” I’m just not a fan of drilling holes into pistol slides. Everybody I know thinks the cuts “look cool.” OK, I’ll admit, they do look cool, for whatever that’s worth. But for me, that’s not enough of a reason to add something to a gun.

Apparently, folks also state that these cuts lighten and rebalance the slide ever so slightly. OK, I get that, but that could be accomplished by thinning the interior metal of the slide, as opposed to making a hole. Others say that the holes are vents intended for “heat dissipation.” LOL – as if it was a machine gun or something. In my estimation, the holes are just another way for sand and dirt to get into places where it should not be. Since this pistol appears to be marketed at the competition shooter crowd, maybe it is not a big deal. But hey, the holes do look cool, right:

PPQ Pic 4.5

So with that eye candy out of the way, let’s run down the features one by one.

The Trigger

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I’ll start with the one aspect of this gun that really sets it apart from the pack: the trigger. Walther calls it the “quick-defense trigger.” They could have called it the “we basically copied GLOCK” trigger; it has the same basic look and function as a GLOCK trigger right down to the trigger bar safety. Only thing is, from a performance standpoint, Walther significantly improved upon the venerable GLOCK design. It’s a light, crisp trigger – the test sample measured right under 5 lbs – but it feels even lighter than that. And amazingly, this bad boy has a phenomenal 1/10th inch reset. This trigger makes the PPQ fast shooting and very accurate. Jeremy S. tested out this particular T&E sample and made an excellent video (scroll down for link, and don’t miss the last few seconds of it haha) that, among other things, has a close-up demonstration of the trigger reset.

The Finish

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Walther applies a tough Tenifer finish to the PPQ’s slide and barrel. Tenifer is a brand name of a type of salt bath ferritic nitrocarburizing, which is also known as liquid ferritic nitrocarburizing or liquid nitrocarburizing. Based on my experience with other pistols I’ve owned that were finished in Tenifer, it’s as tough and durable as any of the modern finishes – with the possible exception being whatever is on my HK USP-T. In any event, I rode the T&E sample hard and put it away wet (literally) on more than one occasion. I didn’t see any rust or wear on the Tenifer finish. It’s good to go.

Operator Controls

One thing I never really liked about my GLOCKs and my Steyr M9A1: the tiny slide stop. I replaced the one on my GLOCK with one made by Aro-Tec, which is better – but its still pretty small. That being said, I really like the dual oversized slide stops that come stock on the Walther PPQ because they are very comfortable to operate and easy to find (even for folks with small hands). With most 1911s, I have to break my grip in order to reach the slide stop, but with the Walther PPQ it’s right where I can get to it.

Having said that, haters are going to see this “right where you can get to it” feature as a negative: they will say that it’s “in the way.” In my estimation, the Walther engineers have really done an excellent job designing the slide stop, so that it is there when you need it, but not in the way when you don’t. And the fact that it is ambidextrous makes this pistol particularly well suited for both southpaws and for shooters that practice weak hand shooting.

However, in his video, Jeremy reported instances where the slide did not remain locked back on an empty mag as a result of the slide stop encroaching on his normal thumb rest real estate. It never happened to either myself or the other five shooters who I let test fire the PPQ , but lets chalk it up as a “quibble” nonetheless.  YMMV.

Another useful feature for southpaws: the magazine release. It is a traditional American “button” style release, which is more popular here in the states than the truly ambidextrous European-style paddle style release built into the trigger guard. While the button style release is not truly ambidextrous, it is reversible: the operator can switch the button from the left side to the right in a matter of a minute or two.

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The long oversized extractor also serves a loaded chamber indicator, giving the operator visual (red) and tactile indication that a round is chambered.

The Handgrip & Backstraps

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Walther pistols have always been known for their excellent ergonomics, and the PPQ may just be the finest example of Walther’s technology and research on the topic. Overall, the PPQ has a less aggressive curve in the handgrip than the PPX, and after extensive time with both, I prefer the PPQ’s by a small margin.

Like many of the other higher-end polymer pistols, the PPQ comes with three back straps to accommodate a wide variety of hand sizes. These call be swapped out in a matter of minutes by pushing out the small roll pin located on the bottom of the grip (see photo above). I did switch out the grips, and it was a relatively simple task if you have the right punch (not included).  The gun ships with the “medium” sized grip installed, and although that proved to be just fine for my purposes, I did swap out the other sizes just to test them out.  Easy as cake.

Walther’s cross-directional textured tactical grip provides good grip without being uncomfortable. Like many aspects of pistol design, this boils down to user preference. I’ve heard some guys complain that the PPQ’s grip texture is not aggressive enough, but both Jeremy and I absolutely loved it.  Certainly, I found it to be way more comfortable when compared to the more aggressive texture of guns such as the Springfield XD. To each his own.

The Sights

Courtesy Joe Grine

Courtesy Joe Grine Courtesy Joe Grine

The sights on the PPQ M2 are a standard three-dot variety, and are made out of polymer. The rear sight is adjustable for windage. These sights work well in daylight hours, and if this gun is used as a range toy or competition pistol, there is probably no need to change them out. Some folks may find that the cut in the rear sight is a bit too wide for their tastes, but I think the wide cut makes target acquisition a bit faster than if the cut were more narrow.

Steel night sights are available for the PPQ, and I suspect I will upgrade these at some point in the future.

The Barrel

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Obviously, the key feature of this particular version of the PPQ is the longer barrel. Why go with a 5” barrel? Three reasons: longer sight radius, better accuracy, and slightly increased muzzle velocity. This barrel is otherwise the same as the standard PPQ barrel: 6 groove, right hand twist.

The Rail

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Rails on pistols seem to be becoming more or less di-rigueur these days, and the Walther PPQ M2 is no exception. I have mixed feelings about rails on pistols, but that’s perhaps a topic left for another day. I do like the idea of having a light on my home defense gun, because it is so important to identify your target before you shoot at it. If the rails really bother you, you can always have them filed off.

Magazines

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The pistol comes with two 15-round steel mags manufactured for Walther by the Italian firm Mec-Gar. Mec-Gar is undoubtedly one of the top manufacturers of high-quality OEM pistol magazines; its client list boasts the likes of S&W, Beretta, Ruger, Steyr, Sig Sauer, Colt, CZ, etc. Oddly enough, from an aesthetic standpoint, I prefer the mags that came with the less expensive PPX better than these PPQ mags. But I guess as long as they work the rest is gravy. Replacement mags run around $37-42, depending on who you get them from. Availability appears to be good.

Walther also makes 17-round mags for this pistol.   It is my understanding (based on comments posted below) that P99 magazines will not work in the PPQ M2.

Courtesy Joe Grine

Disassembly is very much like a GLOCK, except slightly more simple. Like a GLOCK, the striker must be in a decocked position, which requires that you pull the trigger on an empty chamber. That may count as my third “quibble,” since it is not an ideal situation. Nonetheless, I’ve managed to go 22 years without AD’ing my GLOCK prior to disassembly, so maybe it’s not too difficult to remember.

In any event, once you decock the striker, you simply pull down on the take down catch and the slide can be removed to the front. The take down catch is much more simple to manipulate than the two small levers found on a GLOCK.  The barrel and captured mainspring can quickly be removed without any effort.

The following photo shows the “guts” of the frame, for those that are curious:

Courtesy Joe Grine

Accuracy

I’m not sure if it’s the trigger, the longer barrel, the excellent ergonomics or the longer sight radius that gets the credit, but this this is undoubtedly the most accurate 9mm pistol in my collection. I suppose it’s all of these things working in tandem that makes the PPQ M2 5 inch such a tack driver.

Courtesy Joe Grine

As shown above, Walther provides a test target with the PPQ, showing five shots fired at fifteen meters (49.2 ft). Even with the obvious flyer, the group measures exactly 1.96 inches. The other four shots measure 1.06 inches. And in my experience, the Walther PPQ M2 can consistently deliver these types of groups with a wide variety of ammunition. Here are some typical five shot groups at 10 yards:

Courtesy Joe Grine

At 25 yards, I was not able to keep things as tight, in part because the target was getting harder to see. But at just slightly over 2 inches, this group is still a lot better than I can do with most any other 9mm pistols in my collection.

Courtesy Joe Grine

On one of my accuracy testing sessions, I set up a “Tactical Encounter No.3” target at ten yards. In the photo below, I used the muzzle of the gun depicted in the image as a target, and delivered three carefully aimed shots at ten yards into a nice cloverleaf using cheap UMC practice ammo:

Courtesy Joe Grine

The “perp” then got four aimed shots into the eyeball. Since I was lazy and didn’t want to swap out the target quite yet, the “hostage” got some free dental work with five aimed shots to the mouth:

PPQ Pic 21

I’m not a great pistol shot by any stretch of the imagination. But the Walther PPQ makes me look better than I am. The PPQ also extends my effective range far beyond what I consider to be typical pistol distances. For example, I found it relatively easy to consistently hit my steel silhouette targets at 50 to 75 yards. It was possible to even get hits at 100 yards once I factored in the 2+ feet of drop for the trajectory of the bullet.

Reliability 

Courtesy Joe Grine

Walther PPQ with a soon-to-be-consumed patch of Candy Flower

To test the reliability of the PPQ, I carried this pistol in a wide variety of field conditions, from mushroom and edible plant gathering trips to off trail hiking trips, etc. I ran at least ten different types of ammo through the pistol, including top shelf loads such as Remington Golden Saber 147 grain, Hornady Critical Defense, and Federal Hydra-Shok, as well many different types of value-priced ammo, including Sellier & Bellot, Federal American Eagle, UMC, Remington and various types of bulk FMJ reloads purchased at gun shows, etc. The Walther PPQ ate everything I ran through it, and functioned well when totally wet. I have a very high degree of confidence in this pistol.  Jeremy S. had a similar experience with this T&E sample sent to us by Walther.  Check out his video:

Carry Case and Accessories

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The Walther PPQ comes with a pretty nice hard plastic case, and includes 2ea magazines, two extra back straps, a mag loader, a chamber flag, and a lock.

Conclusion

When it comes to handguns, I’ve tried to add as many different 9mms to my collection as I can, because I figure I won’t really understand a pistol until I’ve owned it. Without a doubt, I’ve already decided to add the PPQ M2 into my collection. It probably won’t become my concealed carry rig (the Lionheart LH9 gets the honors there) but it’s definitely going to be my go-to rig when accuracy is the goal.

Courtesy Joe Grine

It is rare that I experience “love at first sight.” Ironically, when I reviewed the Walther PPX last year my first reaction was quite the opposite. I eventually warmed up to the PPX, and these days I probably shoot it as well, if not better, than most 9mm handguns in my collection. But I knew the PPQ was something incredible from the moment I laid eyes on it. Whereas I described the PPX as a “minivan” the PPQ M2 is a flat out sports car. Think Porsche… but more reliable! Ha!

I’m now at the point where I frankly don’t understand why anybody would want a GLOCK. Well, that’s not really true; I do know why: GLOCKs come in at around $100 less than a Walther and have lots of accessories and aftermarket support. But with my Gen 2 GLOCK I ended up spending an extra $100 bucks to get upgraded parts – such as the 3½ lb connector ($15), enlarged slide stop ($30), an extended mag release ($30), and replacement guide rod and spring ($25). Newer GLOCKs have a better mag release and better triggers than the old Gen 2s, but they still need work. There are lots of ‘smiths that reshape and recontour the unique grip of the GLOCKs for $200 (+/-).

The Walther PPQ needs none of these things, and is ready to go out of the box.

A second reason that GLOCKs still command the market is simple availability / name recognition. When I walk into a typical gunstore there are usually 10-20 GLOCKs sitting under the glass. Walthers are a kinda hit-or-miss proposition in terms of availability. I’m guessing that GLOCK probably produces 20x the number of handguns as compared to Walther. At least that’s the way it seems here in the U.S. civilian market.

But the Walther PPQ is GLOCK-killer in virtually every non-monetary category. In fact, now that the Walther PPQ M2 is on the scene, I’m not even sure why I still own my GLOCK, other than perhaps for nostalgia. On the other hand, my buddy “Tony” (author of a TTAG article on the Ruger LC-9 and versacarry) said he still preferred his G19 after shooting both guns. Go figure.

When pressed as to the reasons why – he basically admitted that it came down to familiarity, his investment into holsters and extra mags, etc., and his trust in the GLOCK. OK, I get that. GLOCKS are without a doubt a very simple and reliable design. I did make some marginal effort to compare the number of parts between a GLOCK and a PPQ, but the factory schematics made for somewhat of an “apples to oranges” comparison.   Nonetheless, my general takeaway was that the GLOCK had somewhat fewer parts, but not enough so as to make it a real factor.

But for my money, I would gladly pay the extra for the PPQ. When I shoot the PPQ side by side with my Gen 2 G17, my hit percentage is much higher with the PPQ. Also, I really like the fact that Walther has released a full-sized .22LR version of the PPQ. This will allow PPQ users to get in more training time using cheap .22LR ammunition. Jeremy currently has about 500 rounds through his PPQ M2 .22 LR and a review will be coming in early August.

Overall, I’m extremely happy with the PPQ and am placing a check in the mail to Walther USA.

Courtesy Joe Grine

Specifications: Walther PPQ M2 

Caliber: 9mm (as tested), .40 S&W
Action:Semi auto, short recoil, locked breech.
Capacity: 15+1
Magazines:  2ea 15 round steel, by Mec-Gar. 10-round “commie state” mags and +2 mags are available.
Barrel Length: 5.0 inches
Overall Length: 8.1 inches Height: 6.3 inches Width: 1.3 inches
Weight: 1.5 pounds empty
Frame: Polymer
Metal Finish: Tenifer.
Sights: 3-dot low profile polymer; steel night sights available.
Features: Short reset trigger, fully ambidextrous slide stop, reversible mag release.
MSRP: $699 (Street price should be in the $550-$650 range)

Courtesy Joe Grine

Ratings (Out of Five Stars):
(All ratings are relative compared to the other weapons in the gun’s category. Overall rating is not mathematically derived from the previous component ratings and encompasses all aspects of the firearm including those not discussed.)

Accuracy: * * * * *
This pistol is capable of far better accuracy that your typical $500 polymer pistol. I believe that sub two-inch groups at 25 yards would not be out of the question for a shooter with a higher skill set than mine.

Ergonomics: * * * * * 
This pistol has the best ergonomics of any 9mm in my collection. All of the operator controls are right where I need them.

Reliability * * * * *
I experienced no malfunctions after more than 2,500 rounds, and Jeremy S. also fired 300 rounds without a hiccup.

Customization: * * * 
Here is the one area where Walther doesn’t enjoy the same benefits of larger companies such as GLOCK and Smith & Wesson. As of this writing, accessories and aftermarket parts are still a bit lacking when compared to some of the other major brands.

Overall Rating: * * * * *
It should be a GLOCK killer. Nonetheless, even though Walther has upped its game with the PPQ M2, many of the other gun manufacturers have recently upped theirs as well. For example, SIG SAUER & HK just released a polymer striker-fired pistols. Each company’s offering has slight differences, so folks in the market for a polymer 9mm/.40 S&W are well-advised to test-fire as many as possible in order to get the one that “fits” the best. Definitely check out the Walther PPQ M2, because it just might be your huckleberry.

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