It seems like every time a reputable pistol manufacture releases a top notch standard or compact-size pistol suitable for personal defense, one of the first questions folks ask is when will the sub-compact version be available? Last fall, during the same Walther sponsored writer's event in which I had the opportunity to work with the PPQ M2 Q4 TAC 9 mm , we were given equal amounts of trigger time to get to know the freshly minted PPQ SC 9 mm, the long-awaited sub-compact version of the PPQ.
Walther was careful not to throw the baby out with the bath water in the process of trimming down the PPQ into a more portable package. Like the larger versions, this PPQ is a double-action-only, striker-fired semi-automatic with a 3.5" Browning-type tilt barrel action. Both the barrel and the slide are treated with a corrosion and abrasion resistant matte-black Tenifer finish. The same process is used to protect the internal components.
The slide is milled with front and rear cocking serrations, a flared ejection port and fitted with an oversized extractor. The rear sight of the polymer 3-dot sight set is drift adjustable for windage. The barrel features polygonal rifling and two loaded chamber witness holes found on the top and right side of the chamber.
Removing the slide reveals an internal configuration reminiscent of the Glock design. As is often the case with modern sub-compacts, the single guide rod has been replaced with a dual recoil spring assembly with a steel support plate were in comes into contact with the barrel. The internal safety systems include two drop safeties and a firing pin block safety.
The Quick Defense trigger, with integral safety, was specifically designed for on-duty and defensive applications. Although it’s listed as shipping with a 5 lb. 10 oz. trigger pull, the sub compact I worked with exhibited a 4 lbs. 13 oz. trigger pull at the conclusion of testing. The full trigger stroke was typical of striker guns with a slightly mushy take up. The trigger reset was short with a distinctive click.
The black polymer frame's short dust cover provides just enough room for a 1.25" long, 2-slot Picatinny accessory rail. The trigger guard is full sized for gloved fingers with a textured finger rest along the front edge. The point where the trigger guard meets the grip frame undercut and contoured to complement the top finger groove along the front strap.
The three remaining external controls, including the takedown lever, slide stop and magazine release button are all ambidextrous. The polymer takedown lever can be comfortably pulled straight down with either hand. The slide stop’s extended low profile right and left side levers have a snag-free design while remaining easy to operate.
Inside the storage case you'll find a second round, push-button type magazine release, which can be traded out for the factory installed, left-side button for-right side operation. The grip frame is indented on the right and left sides, directly behind the trigger, to provide improved access for the trigger finger, the shooting hand thumb and the magazine release button. A small ledge runs along the frame directly below the magazine release to help reduce the chances of an accidentally bump releases.
If I had to pick a favorite among the PPQ SCs useful features, it would be the grip configuration. The entirety of the gripping surface from the finger grooves along the front strap to the interchangeable backstrap is covered with Walther's cross-directional texturing. This pattern provides rock solid purchase without rubbing the skin off your hands. While the larger PPQs arrive with three back straps, the PPQ SC ships with just two. Tapping out the roll pin at the base of the grip, which also serves as a lanyard connection point, allows the back straps to be traded out.
This pistol ships with two double-stack magazines. The blued-steel 10-round magazine fits flush with the grip. An extension at the back of the grip frame prevents the polymer base plate from pinching the shooting hand during recoil. The extended 15-round magazine is fitted with a polymer cuff treated with the same effective cross-directional texturing as the grip frame to provide a third finger groove for a full-size frame feel.
Taking the PPQ SC apart for routine lubrication and cleaning is a straightforward process. Field stripping a pistol always begins with removing the magazine and verifying the gun is completely unloaded. The slide should be in the forward position with the pistol pointed in a safe direction. Pull the trigger and then grasp both sides of the takedown lever. Pull it down into the trigger guard to release the slide. Press the slide assembly forward and off of the frame. Lift the recoil assembly out of the slide followed by the barrel. The PPQ is now ready for maintenance.
Shooting sub-compact, double-stack semi-automatics can be a challenge when the grip is a poor fit for your mitts or the little finger of the shooting hand is left to fend for itself. Like most folks, I prefer to use grip enhancements with compacted semi-automatics, including longer magazines or magazine base plates with finger extensions. Although I could have used the 15-round magazine to run the PPQ SC during the writer’s event, I opted to spend most of my time with it using the flush-fit 10-round magazine (with my little finger curled under it for support).
The days spent shooting this pistol bare handed in stubby grip mode were most informative. I learned that the PPQ SC handles exceptionally well with moderate recoil which is easy to control even with just two fingers instead of three. Some grip and trigger designs can start to wear the shooter out pretty quickly over the course of a long shooting session. Not only were this Walther and my shooting hand still on good terms with each other at the end of the first day, I was actually looking forward to more trigger time.
After the event was over, I requested a PPQ for additional informal and formal testing at my local range. There were no ammunition related issues or mechanical problems in the course of both tests. The pistol took a licking and just kept on ticking through it all. Formal accuracy testing was conducted from a bench rest at 15-yards using the factory installed sights. Browning's Personal Defense BXP 147-gr. jacketed hollow point printed a single best 5-shot group of 1.89" with a five group average of 2.04". Federal Premium's new Hydra-Shok Deep 135-gr. jacketed hollow point yielded a best group of 1.67" with an average of 1.75". Inceptor Ammunition's Range and Target 65-gr. +P RNP load produced a best group of 1.83" with an average of 1.97".
Today's gun store displays are filled with black polymer framed 9 mm options with striker-fired ignition systems that manufacturers hope will inspire the spending of commercial consumer dollars. In order for yet another new sub-compact semi-automatic to catch a shooting enthusiast's eye, it has to offer something more than a no-snag design, good sights and reliable operation. The Walther PPQ SC has those positive qualities, but what sets it apart from the crowd is its excellent handling characteristic. Not only is this pistol sleek, reliable and well designed, I actually want to keep shooting it. Even with the two finger, flush fit magazine installed, this version of the PPQ points and feels better to use than some full-size pistols I've worked with. Installing the extended 15-round magazine makes it just that much better to work with.
Specifications: Manufacturer:Walther Arms Model: PPQ M2 SC Action: Double-Action Browning Type Tilt Barrel Semi-Automatic Caliber: 9 mm Slide: Matte Black Nitride Finish, Front and Rear Cocking Serrations Frame: Textured Black Polymer with Interchangeable Back Straps Sights: Polymer 3-Dot, Drift Adjustable Rear Slide Release: Low Profile Extended, Ambidextrous Magazine Release: Round Button, Reversible Trigger: Quick Defense with Integrated Safety Trigger Pull: 5 lbs. 10 oz. (Listed), 4 lbs. 13 oz. (As Tested) Barrel Length: 3.5" Overall Length: 5.4” Height: 4.4" with Flush-Fit Magazine Slide Width: 1.1" Grip Width: 1.3" Weight: 21.4 oz. with Empty 10-Round Magazine Capacity: 10+1 or 15+1 Rounds Twist: 1:10” RH Rifle Grooves: 6 Accessories: One 10-Round Magazine, One 15-Round Magazine, Right-Side Magazine Release Button, Two Grip Inserts, Magazine Loader, Hard Case, Lock, Owner's Manual MSRP: $649