Guns Review: Walther Q5 Pistol Tom Marshall August 14, 2019 This article originally appeared in RECOIL Issue 43 STEEL BEAST Walther’s Q5 Match SF Brings Pistol Racing To The Sales Counter Photos by Tom Marshall and Niccole Elizabeth There can be little to no reasonable contest when we make the statement that competitive pistol shooting, particularly at the club level, is gaining ever-broader popularity. More and more handgun owners are realizing that friendly competition is a great way to hone skills, test new gear or upgrades, and keep their beloved sidearms from languishing in a safe, sock drawer, or worn-out holster. But the growth of the sport has created, in our opinion, a widening gap among participants. On one end, you have everyday enthusiasts and concealed carriers who simply want to run their daily-driver stock guns under some kind of pressure test to gauge their abilities. On the other, you have career competitors with massive sponsorships shooting Excalibur-level open guns like the Limcat Customs Shadow Cat we reviewed way back in Issue 2. That particular gun was listed in the article at a stomach-dropping $4,895. There was also the STI Costa Carry Comp that this author reviewed for Issue 30 at an almost-equally staggering $3,699. The Walther Q5 Match SF comes as a well-appointed package, with three mags and three separate optics plates that accommodate half a dozen different optics. For shooters who can afford those guns, or are provided them, they are masterful examples of handheld lead projectors. But in between those two extremes is a steadily rising populous of pistol shooters who are well beyond shooting stock guns. Maybe that’s how they started before getting bit by the bug. Now they’re sacrificing nights, weekends, and countless dollars in practice ammo to push themselves beyond the pack. They want to win, and they want to win against the best opponents they can find. But in the world of race guns, bottom dollar will quickly become the thickest glass ceiling for mid-level competitors. This is why we’re glad to see a burgeoning desire among manufacturers to offer “factory race guns.” This is a breed of pistol offering a feature set well beyond their stock counterparts at a much more attainable price point that still allows at least a gateway into higher classes of competition. Among the first true qualifying entries into this market segment is the Walther Q5 Match. Originally offered as an extension of the polymer-framed PPQ line, they recently announced a couple of more refined variations: the Q5 Match SF and SF Pro. More is More The SF stands for “Steel Frame,” as these new guns both come with full steel frames. This gives the SF line a substantial heft in the grip. In an age where smaller and lighter seems to be the conventional wisdom of new pistols, this might seem like a step backward. But in the competition world, there’s a very real method to this madness. The reason that single-stack remains such a popular division in many matches is that 1911s, whatever their shortcomings, by and large still consist of slab-side steel lowers. This drops the gun’s center of gravity into the palm, instead of over top of it, and helps create a smoother felt recoil impulse due to that extra weight modulating rearward energy. Said weight also pulls the gun back down quicker between shots. The end result is often quicker split times and faster shot-to-shot recovery due to a more rapid acquisition of follow-up sight pictures — and a gun that overall is a pleasure to shoot. The Q5's front strap sports a combination of serrations and checkering, with a beveled undercut beneath the trigger guard. Despite the benefits of the added weight, we were a little bit apprehensive of the steel frame at first, only because modification and customization becomes much more difficult (and expensive) when it comes to cutting on a metal frame. With the straight-back grip profile of a 1911 remaining popular, we were particularly unsure of how the Q5 SF would point with the sizable hump on the bottom of the backstrap. Having said all that, it’s clear that Walther really did their homework on the matter. The grip panels are a wraparound affair with a honeycomb texture that provides a rock solid grip without being painfully aggressive. Slide lightening cuts and a tunnel-sized magwell — both offer a competitive edge in their own right. On the Pro model of the Q5 SF, the grip is capped on bottom with a magwell big enough to drive a Mini Cooper through, and we didn’t fumble a single reload in our many attempts during testing. Our sample box came with three 15-round metal magazines, already setup with large metal base plates that, by our rough measure, will still allow the gun to fit in a 140mm box. The front strap is checkered, with an undercut already built in where the trigger guard meets the frame. This feature, combined with a large, sweeping beavertail at the back, allow the Q5 to drop low in the hand and point very naturally. We had absolutely zero issues with attaining a quick and repeatable sight picture out of the box. Moving up top, the slide includes a series of oval lightening cuts at the front end which help reduce muzzle flip and allow the slide to cycle like it’s motorized. The top rib has lengthwise serrations to reduce glare, and slide-to-barrel lockup is rock solid. The sight configuration is plain black rear (non-serrated) with a fiber-optic tube up front that might as well be a neon light bulb in good lighting conditions. It’s also worth noting that, for those who prefer red dots, the rear sight is attached to a cover plate that’s easily removed and swapped out. The Q5 comes as a kit with three separate plates that will accommodate all of the following brands and then some: Docter/Vortex/Burris/Meopta, Trijicon and Leupold/RMS style. A steep, smoothly contoured beavertail at the top of the backstrap helps drop the pistol’s substantial weight right down into your hand. In terms of the control suite, our test gun included an oversized, slightly extended mag release, a massive slide release lever equipped with lengthwise serrations, and a very smooth match trigger. For true, dedicated competitors the bang button may cause a little bit of heartburn. Our test sample had nearly 1,000 rounds through it before we got it. We probably came close to doubling that number by the time we sat down at the keyboard, which means this trigger is more than broken in. Our initial estimates were that it came out of the box with approximately a 4.5 pound trigger. But putting it to a digital gauge revealed that true break weight came in right at the factory-listed 5.6 pounds. On paper, this is significantly heavier than most die-hard racers might want to see. But it’s well-engineered with about a ¼-inch of takeup that gives mild resistance, a clean carrot-like break, zero overtravel, and an audible reset that can be measured in millimeters. If we tried hard, we could feel a little bit of stacking, but there was no grit or scratching at all. To us, the 5-pound-plus pull weight opens an interesting door for the Q5 to be pressed into service as a duty gun. While it would certainly be an abnormal choice for such use, we’re seeing more and more police holsters holding guns with red dots, magwells, and other “race features” that are quickly becoming popular in the LEO/military arena. On that note, the Q5 Match SF also features a Picatinny rail for lights and lasers. While it might take some progressive thinking leadership to select this as an issued pistol, the author would have no issue carrying the Q5 in this capacity. Competitors may be in luck though, as Walther Germany recently announced the release of their Master trigger that's compatible with the Q5 and capable of being dialed down as low as 2.5 pounds. At time of writing, that trigger has yet to hit the U.S. shores. Keep your fingers crossed. Rounds Downrange As stated, we ran somewhere between 500 and 1,000 rounds through this gun during testing. Most of that was 115-grain FMJ from Winchester and Federal. But we also cycled several boxes of Hornady 124-grain XTP and 124-grain Critical Defense. The author had no issues whatsoever. Two other shooters reported a couple of isolated stovepipes. There seemed to be absolutely no ammo or magazine consistency across malfunctions. As best we can deduce, the increased weight of the SF may have led to some limp-wristing among shooters more accustomed to lighter polymer-framed guns. Make no mistake that, compared to your favorite plastic princess, the Walther SF is a hog leg and might require a little more muscle to drive the gun at speed. Accuracy was boringly consistent — multi-string hits on 6-inch steel out to 40 yards was a better-than-three-fourths proposition on a regular basis during casual range sessions. That was all with iron sights. We imagine a dedicated shooter with a dialed in red dot would be able to push past that with relative ease. The Walther Q5 Match SF Pro, despite being a mouthful to say, is one of the coolest pistols we’ve come across in recent memory. While any of the individual features listed are quickly becoming commonplace, the combination of add-ons and considerate engineering results in a pistol that allows rising competitors ample room for growth not afforded by most other off-the-shelf guns. The standard Q5 Match SF has an MSRP of $1,450, with the magwell-clad Pro model coming in at $1,600. Maybe not cheap enough to be an impulse buy, but totally attainable with a little bit of financial planning. If you’re looking for a setup that provides a solid competitive edge, but your pockets aren’t deep enough for a Grandmaster race gun, the Q5 Match slides handily into our Top 5 list. If it’s not on yours, it probably should be. Walther Q5 Match SF Pro Caliber: 9x19mm Barrel length: 5 inches Overall length: 9 inches Weight: 42.3 ounces Magazine capacity: 15+1 Visit https://www.waltherarms.com/handguns/q5-match/ Explore RECOILweb:Osprey Sportsmen’s DuoLink up with us at NRAAM, Get Some SwagA Critical Look at Failure Drills: Part IPanteao Releases Survival Series NEXT STEP: Download Your Free Target Pack from RECOILFor years, RECOIL magazine has treated its readers to a full-size (sometimes full color!) shooting target tucked into each big issue. Now we've compiled over 50 of our most popular targets into this one digital PDF download. From handgun drills to AR-15 practice, these 50+ targets have you covered. Print off as many as you like (ammo not included). Click here to get IMMEDIATE ACCESS to a digital PDF of this target pack!