In the late 1990s, Walther’s original P99 caused a stir in what was largely, until then, a market that considered “polymer” a synonym for one of Austria’s leading national products. If you mentioned “light,” “hi-cap,” “polymer,” and “striker-fired” all in the same sentence, there just weren’t enough other pistols out there to leave much room for confusion. The situation’s quite different today, but just before the turn of the century Walther drew quite a bit of attention for attaching “plastic” to the venerable company’s name, and kicking poly pistols up a notch…or two.
The P99, still carried by Walther, did the usual stuff with a hammerless striker, a 15-round magazine (in 9mm), 3-dot fixed sights, and that lightweight lower, but added to the foundation with a unique magazine lock lever located on the triggerguard’s rear, an elongated decocking “button” set into the top of the slide and an ergonomic grip section with inserts that could actually make the gun fit nearly any adult-sized hand comfortably. The partially pre-cocked QA (Quick Action) trigger was just that. As it was, the P99 sold well enough to justify a .40 version later, a P99AS (Anti-Stress) trigger variation, compact versions, the P22 hammer-fired rimfire pistol, and now- the PPQ.
Carrying on a tradition that leads back to the 1930s, Walther continues to apply model names with catchy abbreviations, and the PPQ is no exception. PPQ is a bit more convenient in normal discussion than Police Pistol Quick, I suppose. Anyway—the new PPQ is the latest evolutionary step in P99 progression, and “quick” certainly applies.
Outside, the PPQ shows the same general and instantly recognizable P99 profile, with a few changes as you look closer. While the takedown catch, magazine levers, and grip inserts are still in place, and there’s still no magazine disconnect, there are front slide serrations now, a longer accessory rail with three slots instead of the current P99 QA and AS single-slot rail, a trigger with an Austrian-style pivoting “safety” lever in its face, an ambidextrous slide lock lengthened to two inches, an inwardly “hooked” curve up front on the triggerguard instead of the current P99 outward curve. The de-cocking button’s entirely gone, along with the cocking indicator provided by the rear end of the striker extending through the back of the slide. The PPQ’s loaded chamber indicator, shared with the other P99s, is a section of red paint visible inside the extractor cutout in the slide when a round is chambered, and the new pistol’s grip area uses what Walther describes as a “Cross-Directional Textured Tactical Grip” surface, which is totally different from anything on previous P99s. Sights are polymer 3-dot adjustables, and the PPQ uses the same mags as the other P99 models; 15-rounders in the 9mm (optional 17-round available) and 12-rounders in the .40 S&W (14-round available). The double-stack magazines are black, with easily removed polymer baseplates for cleaning and witness holes on the rear, instead of the sides. Inside, the PPQ includes the passive firing pin safety found on most new service-type pistols’ slides, and between it and the trigger safety, the design is both accidental discharge and drop resistant.
And, if you’re a fan of quick trigger resets, you’re going to love this one.
With the increasing emphasis over the past decade or so on rapid fire during defensive engagements, the length of travel (and corresponding time) that a trigger uses up in returning to a point where the hammer or striker and trigger/sear engagement are all back in a full firing position has generated much attention. Current training in police and defensive handgun schools leans toward taking full advantage of the autopistol’s ability to provide rapid successive shots on target in a very short time frame. In that context, the shorter the distance the trigger and trigger finger have to travel forward after firing before a follow-up pull will fire the pistol again, the faster a competent shooter can run the gun. While speed isn’t the only criteria in defensive fire, it certainly can be an important one, and the PPQ has it in spades. In fact, it should really have been named the PDQ, for obvious reasons. With a trigger reset of only 0.01 inches, it’s the fastest reset going, and you’ll need to try one in hand to see what it offers. Walther has obviously taken the current interest in resets very seriously with what they call the Quick Defense Trigger (QDT, in Walther-speak), and besides the short travel the trigger also tells your finger quite positively when the clickpoint is reached, with a corresponding audible signal that my fading ears can even pick up through a set of range earmuffs.