CONCEALMENT 8 Not Your Daddy’s James Bond Tom Marshall 0 COMMENT From the archives: CONCEALMENT Magazine Issue 8, November 2017 Photos by Straight 8 and Kenda Lenseigne THE PPQ M2 Q4 TAC BRINGS PLUG-AND-PLAY MODULARITY TO WALTHER’S PISTOL LINE The cottage industry for aftermarket accessories, enhancements, and modifications for carry and duty pistols has grown to levels previously unseen in the American firearms market. Customization, personalization, and modularity are the names of the game in today’s pistol scene. While it’s unlikely that any big box manufacturer of firearms will ever be able to outpace or out-spec the aftermarket for pistol upgrades, (some) of these companies are growing more savvy by the quarter and realize that it’s possible to at least keep up. Walther’s PPQ M2 line of carry and defensive pistols have a lot going for them. They fit the industry-standard size sweet spot that makes them usable for duty issue or concealed carry. The ergonomics are commendable. The trigger is perfectly acceptable. But, as with most things, there’s always room for growth and Walther has seized on that mantra with their Q4 TAC model. We had two of our editors wring one out and come away pretty pleased. BITS AND PIECES What’s so wonderfully swappable on the PPQ TAC? Well … just about everything. The slide release lever is already ambidextrous. No need to swap anything. The mag release comes set up for righties … a statistically smart choice … but it’s user-changeable for all you southpaws out there. There are three interchangeable backstraps, all of which are textured in the same places and same pattern for no loss of grip “feel” between frame sizes. This is where the Q4 TAC starts to get ahead of the pack. It comes from the factory cut for optics. This in and of itself isn’t necessarily anything to write home about. But Walther also includes four top plates in the box. First is a “battle plate” with a plain black steel rear sight. This sight is both elevation and windage adjustable with a front ledge sufficient for one-handed slide manipulations, if necessary. There are no dots or tubes of luminescent material. The red fiber-optic front sight jumps out against the plain black notch and this combination is gaining steady popularity among a wide array of shooters. There are also optics-ready plates for Docters, RMRs, and Leupold Delta Points. We happened to have one of the latter on hand and mounted it. Below the sights is a 4.6-inch threaded barrel. This barrel is offered on the PPQ M2 Navy, but not in conjunction with the interchangeable optic plates. The threaded tube was the only option included with our test gun. We love running a can as much as anybody, but having to appendix carry a threaded barrel pistol with an endcap can be … how shall we say … irritating to our most prized possessions. However, when we opened the hard case, there was an empty cutout in the foam that we deemed to be suspiciously barrel shaped. It appears that somebody is at least considering kicking it up one more notch and including both barrels. Or, at a minimum, if you purchase the shorter barrel, you’ll have a convenient place to store it. There were even two types of magazines included in the package — 15- and 17-round variants with the former being truly flush fit. When you also consider the now-industry-standard Picatinny framerail, and the continually shrinking size of pistol suppressors, the PPQ TAC begins to look like a jack-of-all-trades tool that’s mission configurable for a wide array of applications. The whole package gives the very distinct impression of being built from the ground up as a “duty package,” making for very easy use and reuse at the agency/unit/department level. [Author’s note: We don’t claim to have any inside track about this gun being issued anywhere or inspired by any kind of solicitation. I’m just going off my own experience working overseas and seeing the kind of weapons packages and accessory suites I, personally, had to sign for. Having said that, this particular setup, with just one or two more accessories, would’ve been awesome to have.] UNDER THE HOOD On the inside, the PPQ TAC looks like pretty standard fare for a striker-fired pistol. That’s no knock. When you pop the hood on your car, you expect to see things like an engine, transmission, and radiator. There’s a formula that works, and Walther, with its own design tweaks and perks, has stuck to what they know to run. We will say that the takedown lever on the PPQ is refreshingly easy to manipulate. We’ll also mention that you do have to pull the trigger to remove the slide. Since a large portion of the population does this regularly when breaking down the German Walther’s Austrian counterpart, the author doesn’t see it as good or bad. It just is. Know your gun. Follow the Four Rules. You’ll be fine. But for the folks who find this to be an issue, we’ve now given you full disclosure on it. The recoil system is a single beefy flatwire spring and the locking-lug end of the guide rod has a small blue plug. We’re not sure if there’s an intention to make the recoil system adjustable with different weight springs, but it appears that may be possible if Walther, or the aforementioned cottage industry, should choose to support it. ROUNDS DOWNRANGE We took the Walther out on a couple of separate range trips, with a couple different types of ammunition including SIG 115-grain FMJ, Hevi Shot 100-grain, American Eagle SynTech, and some good old Winchester White Box. The DeltaPoint performed admirably. The wider, oblong window makes acquiring the dot easier than normal. We fired almost 50 rounds on a walk-back drill that started at 3 yards and ended at 50, burning off an entire box of the bright red SynTech slugs. When we finally got back to the bench, the whole enchilada was inside a single ragged rat-hole about 3.5 inches end to end, with a solitary flier, ½-inch outside the main cluster. Going another 10 or even 15 yards back would probably not have changed what our target looked like. One-handed groups, both left and right hand, came in right around 2 inches at the 20-yard line. That’s more than enough to run the PPQ TAC at your local club match. Mag changes were no trouble at all. The grip texture kept our hands mostly locked in without being over aggressive. Walther’s house pattern for frame finish seems to “walk the line” very well. Johnny Cash would be proud. The only time this pistol gave us any flak was when we pushed the speed. Bill Drills came in a little less than satisfactory. While we definitely liked the PPQ TAC’s overall performance, it does rock a bore axis noticeably higher than some of its peers. Compared to the Austrian, who shall remain nameless in this article, we measured about a 5mm difference. Driving the gun at full speed made this apparent with a definitely perceptible increase in both group size and felt torque against the wrist. The latter wasn’t uncomfortable or painful, but did require a liberal dose of elbow grease to keep rounds going just where we wanted them. Our other gripe was with the trigger. Or at least, one of our testers had a gripe — the other one wanted to have its babies. It took us some getting used to — the Walther’s bang switch could almost be described as a three-stage trigger. The first 1/16-inch of pretravel is a buttery glide. The next ¼ inch gives you firm resistance before hitting the wall. Final break is crisp and reset can be felt as a definite push against the pad of the trigger finger. Overall pull weight, measured on our digital gauge, was between 4 pounds, 11 ounces and 5 pounds, 11 ounces, with a 10-pull average of 5 pounds, 3 ounces. This is right around where we’d expect it out of the box and, in terms of smoothness and repeatability, it’s better than most, and light-years ahead of a stock Glerk. But the “tri-stage” take-up definitely takes some getting used to and, in the opinion of one of one of our staffers at least, isn’t ideal. PARTING SHOTS Aside from nitpicking the trigger and bore height, the Walther PPQ M2 TAC is a wonderfully well-rounded package that has potential in both civilian and duty sectors. With a white light, optic, and short can, it’d be great for home defense or hush-hush work in the badlands. A non-threaded barrel would make it an excellent contender for concealed carry in any environment — running a flush-fit mag in the gun with the +2 extended mags as your reloads. It can be configured with or without optics to align with whatever division you compete in. An IR light-laser unit like the SureFire X400 V would bring the PPQ TAC right into its element for work under NVGs. The swappable mag release and dual slide levers make it easy to operate regardless of which hand is your dominant. Our range tests have shown us that, properly configured, A-zone hits out to 50 will be short work. The included three magazines, plus one in the chamber, will give you exactly 50 rounds of your chosen target-stopper on hand. Anything that can deliver 50 rounds at 50 yards quietly, and in total darkness, puts a smile on our faces. All told, the PPQ TAC gives you an out-of-the-box solution to just about any problem you may have that requires an answer involving close-range lead delivery. So if you’re in the market for a one-stop-shop pistol for … well … anything, really … we can confidently recommend you reach out to Walther and give the PPQ TAC a hard look. Explore RECOILweb:Accuracy International AX CovertSunday Night Range Pr0n: Out shootin' with S.T.A.Getting them 1911s MuddyThe Ashley Update: Will It Shoot?