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Walther’s PPQ Subcompact

Photos by Kenda Lenseigne

In the latest logical line extension to their well-regarded PPQ family, Walther’s engineers have chopped their base pistol down to Glock 26 size. At this point you might think there’s nothing more to add to this article; after all, Glock introduced the petite double stack in 1995, and it’s remained pretty much unchanged since then — but you’d be missing out on a very well-thought-out package.

Why should you care? Well, on a graph of size versus that nebulous term, “shootability” the PPQsc lies substantially above the line. In CCW handguns, as in marriage, it’s the little things that mean a lot.

Details, Details
The little PPQ traces its lineage back to the Walther P99, which rolled into production in the Ulm factory in 1997. It’s been a successful family of pistols in Europe, where its popularity outstrips the attention it’s gotten on this side of the pond, having been adopted in various guises by police and armed forces in Germany, Holland, and Poland. Over the course of two decades, the kinks have been worked out, and it’s a proven design. Of course, once you start chopping bits off the top and bottom in order to create a subcompact, things tend to get bit squirrely — just ask any owner of an Officer’s-sized 1911.

In tiny pistols, the biggest hurdle to overcome is getting it to feed reliably, as there’s an inevitable conflict between getting the spent case out in time to ram a fresh one in. Slide velocity goes up as mass goes down, reducing the amount of time the magazine spring has to present a round in front of the breech face, and because cutting back the barrel also means shrinking the recoil spring, that essential component has fewer coils with which to work. It would appear that Walther has gone about as far as they dare with regards to minimizing bulk, without compromising reliability too much. Despite the wide range of ammo types we fed it, our test gun never hiccupped during the three months in which it was evaluated.

wather ppq sc

One area in which the German company triumphs over its Austrian rival is ergonomics. Like the full-size variant, the subcompact PPQ feels great in the hand and ships with three replaceable backstraps to accommodate most users. Its frame is made from the usual glass-filled nylon, but there’s no advantage to be gained from busting out the soldering iron as it’s appropriately textured in the right places, and you can leave the Dremel in its box, too, as there’s a decent frame undercut, straight from the factory.

An ambi slide release pivots above the trigger, and we’re pleased to note an absence of slop in the right-side lever, which is riveted to the pivot pin. Although the release is, in comparison to others in the marketplace, huge it stays out of the way until needed. Despite being passed around several shooters, no one managed to accidentally lock the slide to the rear and given the size of the target, it’s easy to find, should you choose to use it to return the gun to battery.

walther ppq subcompact

Befitting a concealed carry piece, the magazine release is guarded by a fence on its lower edge. There’s almost no chance of inadvertently dumping the mag by pressing the gun against your soft, fleshy parts — it takes a deliberate stab of the thumb from above in order to get it to drop, and when it does, it’s kicked forcefully out of the gun. In reducing the length of the grip, Walther have sacrificed the magwell bevel present on the full-size model, but have added an odd-looking tab instead. At first glance, it’s begging to be ground off, but once you attempt an emergency reload you quickly figure out its purpose. Instead of the middle finger blood blister instantly raised by some pistols as you slam a new mag home, trapping skin between floorplate and grip, the Walther gently nudges your digit out of the way. A pinky extension gives a place for your fourth finger to sit, assuming the absence of shovels at the end of your arms. I wear XXL gloves, and had enough room for a secure hold.

walther ppq subcompact test

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