Range Review: Walther PPQ Sub-Compact Pistol

The Walther PPQ sub-compact pistol has a wide array of features that should attract the attention of the most discriminating shooter.
Range Review: Walther PPQ Sub-Compact Pistol

At the 2018 SHOT Show, Walther Arms introduced its newest handgun for the concealed carry market. The Walther PPQ Sub-Compact (SC) is a striker-fired 9mm with magazine capacities of 10 and 15 rounds.

Like many “new” handguns, the Walther PPQ SC isn’t exactly a 100-percent unique pistol. It's an addition to Walther’s PPQ family of pistols; Walther scaled down the original full-sized PPQ line into a tighter package, making the pistol more concealable. Meanwhile, the 15-round magazine (included) provides the option of big boy ammunition capacity.

I used the PPQ SC during two different range sessions, and actually carried one as my EDC for a week. It’s a fine and very accurate pistol, comfortable in the hand and easy to control during multiple shots.

Given its many features, the Walther PPQ SC should sell very well on its own. But sales can be boosted by Walther’s extensive marketing campaign for the pistol, plus a good deal of in-store sales help to the FFL retailer from Walther itself.

Once I received a new-in-the-box pistol, I gave the Walther a cleaning, which, it turned out, was not needed. The bore and action were pretty much spotless.

The Walther PPQ is thin but has good gripping area for shooters.

At the Range

At the range, I used four different brands of 9mm ammunition to test the PPQ SC. Three were range loads: Aguila +P firing a 115-grain full-metal-jacket (FMJ) bullet; American Eagle with a 124-grain FMJ bullet; and Browning BPT with a 147-grain FMJ. I added one self-defense round, too, the Sig Sauer Elite Performance rounds firing a 115-grain V-Crown jacketed hollow-point bullet.

I did some shooting to get acquainted with the trigger and sights, then I moved on to see just how accurate the pistol was with the various brands of ammunition. My accuracy testing was done at targets five and seven yards away, which is what I consider more or less “normal” concealed carry distances.

Accuracy was exceptional with all the brands of ammunition. When I did my job and took a little time, I could easily peg five-shot groups right around one-inch or better at both distances. Highlights included a five-shot group at 0.762-inch with the Browning ammunition at 7 yards, and a 0.822-inch five-shot group with the Sig Sauer self-defense loads at 5 yards.

I actually put together a four-shot group with the American Eagle that I knew was very tight, and then ... I got nervous and pulled the fifth shot a bit. The first four rounds came it at 0.439-inch, while the fifth shot opened the overall group to 1.16 inches. My target was at 7 yards.

The Aguila +P rounds printed the largest groups — but still very respectable — with five-shot groups at five yards averaging 1.33 inches and the 7 yards groups coming in at 1.45 inches.

No doubt, much of that accuracy is due to the quality of the PPQ SC’s 3.5-inch barrel. The other big factor is just the fact the Walther PPQ SC fits so rock solid in my hand. Even with the flush 10-round magazine, the non-slip, multi-directional texturing on the grip and the back- and frontstraps kept the pistol under control.

But, Is It a Sub-Compact?

Now, I must add that I don’t really consider the PPQ SC a “sub-compact.” There’s no industry standard I know of as to what constitutes a “sub-compact” semi-automatic pistol — or a “compact” or “full-sized” pistol for that matter. However, the Walther PPQ SC is a bit too large, in my opinion, to qualify as model that’s even smaller (sub) than a compact pistol.

But here’s one advantage to the Walther not being a true sub-compact — the grip is wide enough, I can get a solid hold on the pistol. I’ve used sub-compacts with such narrow grips that I couldn’t get a firm grasp and they moved around in my hand when fired.

As mentioned, the Walther PPQ SC comes with two magazines. The 10-round magazine sits flush with the bottom of the butt. For most shooters, that means their little finger won’t fit on the front strap. I was leery of that, but with my little finger curled under the bottom of the magazine, and the superior texturing on the butt, I found my close-range accuracy with the 10-round magazine equal to the 15-round version, even though the larger capacity magazine actually provides more gripping surface.

That additional surface on the 15-round magazine is due to a grip extension sleeve that provides control and ergonomics similar to the full-size PPQ. At ranges out beyond 10 yards, I would expect this magazine and sleeve combination to provide better accuracy than the flush 10-round version.

The trigger breaks very cleanly. According to my Lyman Electronic Trigger Pull Gauge, the Walther trigger snaps off at an average of 5.5 pounds pull. The Walther “Quick Defense Trigger” has a very short reset that Walther rates at just .1-inch. A tough measurement for me to verify. But I do know that even when I shot off a magazine as quickly as possible, I never outran the trigger reset on this striker-fired pistol.

The three-dot polymer sights quickly came up on targets and didn’t snag on my clothing when I practiced drawing the pistol from a carry position. The rear sight has a relatively wide notch, too, and is a real help for getting on target quickly. The rear sight is also adjustable for windage.

The pistol is a little top and front heavy. Nothing terrible, though, and the placement of the weight does help diminish muzzle flip.

How To Sell It

So, how does a counter person sell the Walther PPQ SC? Start with the considerable support provided by Walther itself.

“We do provide plenty of in-store help for our retailers,” says Kevin Wilkerson, Marketing Manager for Walther Arms. “We have a full team of dealer support reps who are happy to talk with any dealer and offer sales and display advice and ideas. They will also set up the dealers with counter mats, counter displays and tons of swag to help promote Walther in general and our new PPQ SC in particular.”

Walther is making a significant marketing push for the PPQ SC, too. Wilkerson noted over a half-dozen reviews of the pistol are already slated in print publications, including a cover story in one of the country’s top gun consumer publications. Web-based reviews are appearing, too. Wilkerson suggested counter staff bookmark a review or two on a handy laptop for customers to peruse and to make some hard copies of the print stories, too.

Walther has been working steadily to improve its presence on all social media platforms. On Facebook and Instagram, Walther has positioned a series of videos, including several of the PPQ SC itself. Direct customers to these videos, especially the under-40 crowd interested in concealed carry.

Other Walther PPQ SC features Wilkerson suggested emphasizing to customers: the ambidextrous slide stop lever; a magazine release button that can easily change sides for left-handed shooters; handy and functional front and rear slide serrations; and a pair of interchangeable backstraps so the customer can create a custom fit.

Photos: Walther


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