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Review: Grand Power Q1S Pistol

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This article originally appeared in CONCEALMENT Issue 11

Photos by Kenda Lenseigne

We covered Grand Power’s fullsized, rotary-locked 10mm in CONCEALMENT Issue 3 and came away pleasantly surprised by its ergonomics and feature set. Since then, their product line has expanded, and the Q1S seems targeted squarely at the consumer who believes the Glock 19 is the answer, no matter what the question might be.

By the Numbers
Grand Power delivers a pistol that fits in the box defined by Gaston’s most popular creation, and as everyone else will compare it to the G19 anyway, why would we go against that particular trend? Striker fired and polymer framed, its 13+1 capacity puts it in the wheelhouse of what’s popularly thought of as the sweet spot of serious carry guns. But the Slovakians have their own way of doing things, and this handgun is a reflection of that design philosophy.

One of the first things that stands out upon picking up the gun is that indefinable fit in the hand, not at all reminiscent of a chunk of bar stock nailed to a 2×4. While its slide looks at first glance to hail from the CZ factory to the north, it follows a conventional layout, having its rails on the outside of the frame. This is a good thing, as it’s beveled to reduce both mass and profile — if it rode inside the frame rails, there wouldn’t be a whole lot to grab when it came to stoppage drills. Fortunately, the manufacturer has seen fit to bestow it with forward serrations, for those of us who prefer to manipulate the slide in this manner, and they’re decently sized and aggressive.

grand power pistol

Likewise, the ejection port is generously proportioned and chamfered to make sure empty cases are flung clear of the chamber, while the steel three-dot sights are dovetailed and pinned. The front sight could stand to be a smidge taller in order to aid speed of acquisition, and the rear would benefit from a more vertical forward edge to enable one-handed manipulations, but they’re usable as-is. The almost-standard firing pin drop safety and striker tail can be found in the almost-standard locations, though there’s been a fair amount of lightening work done to the slide’s underside. While it might look like it’s finished in the same way as most of its contemporaries, that flat black coating is just a basic industrial oxide. Unfortunately, here in the Arizona desert, hands tend to get a little sweaty during time at the range, and after just a few sessions, rust began to form everywhere we’d fondled it. We hate to think what would happen after a few days riding in an IWB holster in Florida or Georgia.

There are a lot of sweet design touches here, like the finely machined chassis and rotary-locked barrel. For those with an aversion to modern manufacturing process, the only MIM part is the heavily sprung extractor, just visible next to the breech block.

There are a lot of sweet design touches here, like the finely machined chassis and rotary-locked barrel. For those with an aversion to modern manufacturing process, the only MIM part is the heavily sprung extractor, just visible next to the breech block.

The Q1S barrel is conventionally rifled, six-groove, right twist, and 3.7 inches long, locking to the slide by means of a large, single lug, about ½-inch forward of the chamber. A helical cam groove at the 6 o’clock position rotates the barrel in much the same way as its ancient predecessor, the 1912-vintage Steyr Hahn, rather than employing a more conventional Browning-style tilting lockup. Because of this, there’s no integral feed ramp, though there’s a slight bevel to the chamber edge to help with getting rounds from the magazine. When unlocked, there’s almost no step for the new round to negotiate, as it’s as near as dammit a straight line from the feed lips to the chamber. While the path isn’t quite as clean as a fixed-barrel HK P7, it’s very close, and we don’t foresee failures to feed ever being a significant problem.

Our test gun’s finish started off like this. We caused it to rust after just a couple of range sessions.

Our test gun’s finish started off like this. We caused it to rust after just a couple of range sessions.

The entire gun owes much of its lineage to small arms developments that occurred just over Slovakia’s western border in the early part of the 20th century. The Roth-Steyr’s striker has been ripped off by just about every purveyor of plastic fantastics, and while the GP’s operating system hearkens to another Steyr design dating prior to WWI, the lower half of the pistol makes use of a more recent innovation from the same Austrian company.

It’s a chassis gun, and unlike the one employed by SIG in the P320, this one is CNC’d from bar stock, rather than being a sheetmetal stamping. It’s nicely executed with long frame rails and a highly polished feed ramp, which may seem like overkill given the magazine’s high-feed position — the top round barely contacts it before the bullet’s tip enters the chamber. The chassis houses all of the pistol’s lockwork, as well as the ejector and ambidextrous slide lock. The latter hinges on a pin that passes through the outer part of the frame, also serving to capture the recoil spring assembly — one less thing to misplace when field stripping. The most highly stressed part of the frame, namely the barrel cam, is replaceable; loosely held in the chassis, it’s a section of tool steel rod that’s both free to rotate and has its grain structure oriented at 90 degrees to the frame rails.

Extended baseplate is needed for a full grip and although the importer’s website lists capacity at 12 rounds, we had no issues when mags were crammed with 13.

Extended baseplate is needed for a full grip and although the importer’s website lists capacity at 12 rounds, we had no issues when mags were crammed with 13.

The rest of the frame is made of the same glass-filled nylon we’ve come to expect since the Glock 17 arrived on the scene in 1982. It has benefited from the refinements forced by users since then and features an undercut trigger guard, grip texturing, and Pic rail under the dust cover. It also has a pair of domed buttons above the beavertail, serving to blank off a hole where a manual safety could be added, should someone in a position to place a large order for such a variant demand it.

There’s a slight thumb shelf molded into the sides, which also serves as a fence to prevent inadvertent activation of the ambidextrous mag catch. We experienced some stickiness during our first range session, as the catch was remarkably difficult to press and gave the impression that its spring had been sourced from the rear axle of a dump truck. Once it had been cycled a few times, this went away, and we were able to reliably dump the mag with either hand.

Like a Glock, the Q1S’s trigger has the usual gas pedal in its face, preventing it from being pulled unless the tab at the rear of the blade is pushed out of engagement with the frame. Unlike the G, its striker is fully cocked, which in theory should make for a shorter trigger pull. But this isn’t the case, as it takes about 38 inch to move it from initial takeup to the point at which entertaining things happen — there’s an overtravel stop sticking out from the rear of the trigger blade, which comes into play about 18 inch after the striker slips off the sear, so from pinning the trigger to reset takes about 12 inch. If you’re looking for a trigger that will allow you to post your best split times on the ’Gram, this is definitely not it. But not all of us are that shallow. Think of it as a very smooth, very light, double-action trigger, which for a defensive pistol makes a whole lot of sense.

grand power 9mm

We were impressed by the soft-shooting characteristics of the rotary breech. Despite the DA trigger, rapid follow-up shots were easy to make.

Due to the rotary-locked barrel, the Q1S requires a different field stripping methodology than most pistols in the cabinet of your local gun store. Once proven clear, pull the slide to the rear, while pulling down the pair of takedown tabs (think Glock) forward of the slide catch. Then lift the slide up off the frame rails and run it forward to disengage the recoil spring. If this sounds like the possession of a third appendage might be a good idea, just wait till you try to put it back together. While the process does get easier with practice, it’ll never be as intuitive or simple as, say, a P226 or Beretta 92. Anyone with poor grip strength or less patience than a special-needs teacher will probably feel an urge to fling the Q1S across the garage the first time they decide to clean it.

Rounds Downrange
The very first time we shot the test pistol, it was halfway through a training session, which had already progressed to the 50-yard line. Loading up a full mag took some effort, as that new spring smell was in full effect, but every one of our BBs found their way to the center of a steel IPSC target. For a new pistol, right out of the box with no time to become accustomed to its nuances, that’s a good sign. The main human engineering factor that allowed us to exploit its inherent accuracy was of course its trigger, which on paper seemed to be a handicap. After all, it’s no 1911.

Due to the very smooth, long pull, we were able to make conscious sight corrections all the way through our trigger press. The shot broke without disturbing the sight picture, and there was no stacking or grittiness whatsoever, while its overtravel was like a period of mechanically mandated follow-through. Yes, the long reset did add a couple of hundredths to our split times, but in a self-defense application, is this really going to be a deciding factor?

The rest of the pistol’s functioning was entirely unremarkable. It went bang when it was supposed to, mags entered and left the grip without protest, and nothing fell off. In short, the Q1S did everything we demand of a carry gun; its low-ish bore axis and rotary-locked barrel made for a smooth recoil impulse. While we did have a couple of issues with the finish choice for the slide and the sights could stand some improvement, the first of these can be cured with Cerakote and the second is a matter of personal preference. Overall, the Grand Power is a competent carry gun option, and one we’d feel comfortable sticking in a holster as part of our EDC.

Caliber: 9mm Luger
Barrel Length: 3.7 inches
Overall Length: 7 Inches
Weight Unloaded: 22 ounces
Magazine Capacity: 13
MSRP: $574

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