Over the last several years Walther has been introducing new guns, updates to existing guns, and line extensions. The latest addition to their line of 5-inch pistols is the Q5 Match. The Q5 is seeking a home in the competition arena, first and foremost, and you can tell that it was designed to accommodate the needs of competitive shooters. Three (three!) 15-round magazines are waiting inside the box to greet you. Multiple plates to mount your favorite optic ( like those from Trijicon, Leupold and Docter) to the slide of the gun are included as well. There’s even a bag of Allen wrenches and screws to mount everything up!
Model: Walther Q5 Match 9mm
Barrel: 5 inches
OA Length: 8.1 inches
Weight: 26 ounces
Grips: Integral polymer; three interchangeable backstraps
Sights: Fiber optic front, adjustable rear
Let’s Talk: Red Dot on a Handgun
Over the last few years, we have seen most of the large handgun companies bringing out pistols that were specifically designed to accept a red dot optic. This design choice, coupled with several of the optic manufacturers making mounts that can be attached to a properly milled slide, has resulted in a stampede of red dot-equipped handguns. Like it or not, this is certainly the trend.
For this article, I elected to install a Trijicon RMR red dot sight, which was one of the three optic mounts that were included with the Q5. To do so, I first removed two screws from the installed plate that was equipped with the adjustable rear sight on the gun. Next, I installed the mounting plate that was labeled for the RMR, using the two included screws that were also labeled as such. Finally, I attached the RMR to the gun with two mounting screws. This entire operation took maybe six minutes. Not bad.
Walther has taken a unique direction when it comes to the mechanics of mounting plates for optics to attach to; they have actually incorporated a half dovetail into the slide and plate. As a result, rather than the screws holding the optic down and taking the shearing force of the slide, the screws merrily keep the plate snug in the dovetail.
One of the most noticeable differences you’ll encounter when installing an optic on the Q5 Match is that the gun has no rear sights once you swap in the optic plate. I’ve run several handguns with optics and rear sights simultaneously, and I have yet to find a pair of sights that work with an optic installed, due to the height difference between the sight and the optic. Some manufacturers offer an integrated mounting plate that features a tall rear sight. After going to the trouble and expense to install these types of fixes, I’ve never found a setup that will truly co-witnesses like a long gun. My best advice is to rely on either the red dot or your iron sights, because trying to make the handgun work like a carbine is going to end up being a fool’s errand. I am quite sure that people will try to make this out to be some type of failure on the part of Walther, but I see it as an acceptance of the realities that are created by installing an optic.
More Than Just Fancy Optics: It’s in the Details
Before we go any further, I would like to make something clear: The Q5 Match is a lot more than just a 5-inch PPQ with a red dot. Walther really thought this gun through and brought together lots of details that make the Q5 Match special. As I mentioned above, they even included three magazines, which should allow you to carry enough ammunition to shoot almost any stage.
The second most obvious standout is the blue trigger, which I just had to ask the folks at Walther about. The distinctive blue trigger is part of the company’s “Quick Defense Trigger” system. The advertised pull weight is 5.6 pounds (although my testing produced an average pull weight of 4 lbs. 13 oz.). The trigger only travels 0.4 inches, with a quick reset of about 0.1 inches. And then there’s the new super-secret blue coating also on the transfer bar and other internal pieces, designed to provide a smoother trigger pull. The Walther PPQ series has always been known for its excellent trigger pull, and this sample represented one of the best I have ever felt.
The original 5-inch PPQ had small reliefs cut into the top of slide, while the Q5 match has three different styles of cuts added. These additional cuts significantly lighten the long-slide gun. The rear sight is fully adjustable, and a bright fiber optic sight sits up front.
One of the other features that certainly must be touched on is the removable and interchangeable backstraps. The impressiveness of this feature lies not in the fact that this gun comes with three choices, but that the straps mount so flush that it is almost impossible to tell without close examination where the backstrap begins versus the frame of the gun. This is a perfect example of design and engineering coming together successfully.
On the Range
I knew that I was going to be at the range for five full days and that there would be approximately 160 people visiting that week to perform an annual qualification. There was a cadre of around 10 instructors, with four of us there at all times. My thought process was that, in addition to performing my usual function and accuracy testing, I would offer the gun to be shot by as many instructors and students as possible. As a plus, we experienced almost every variation of weather possible, including several substantial downpours of rain, during the five-day trials.
Some common themes quickly developed with the Q5. The gun had zero malfunctions during all testing. The accuracy from the gun equipped with the red dot optic was outstanding in all of the instances I was able to closely observe. One of the instructors, who probably shot at least 100 rounds through the Q5, was able to place four rounds in what looked like two holes from the 10-yard line. Everyone who took the time to learn the red dot easily achieved 50-yard line shots on the steel.
The trigger was another point of consistency: It was almost universally greeted with an expression of “Wow that’s light!” or “Man, that is smooth,” by folks who had just finished shooting a Glock 17 or 19.
One of the advantages of the Walther Q5 Match that I found was that accuracy was greatly extended in distance once the shooter became familiar with the sighting system. We were operating on a range that had a maximum pistol distance of 50 yards; I would put the gun in a shooter’s hands and would begin walking them back on steel plates that were 8 inches across. Almost all of the shooters were able to consistently ring the plates all the way back at 50 yards. This task was not easily accomplished when the shooters were re-equipped with their traditional iron-sighted Glock 17s.
Another advantage that I observed was increased speed without sacrificing accuracy. After an appropriate number of repetitions on the gun, shooters who were challenged to fire every round as quickly as they could saw a measurable increase in shooting speed and round placement when using the red dot sight.
Without going into one of the debates that will never end, like caliber choice or brand selection, I would like to enumerate some of the challenges that I saw when a new shooter was invited to take a turn with a red dot:
- Turning on the dot
- Finding the dot
- Reconciling the dot with the front sight
- Using the dot in heavy rain
One quite unique issue with the red dot was using it in the rain. The water did not cause any malfunctions in the electronics or LED, but the drops on the glass seemed to create multiple dots for the shooters, while also occasionally spraying some water into the shooters’ eyes.
I currently own several Walther PPQs, and I count the 5-inch gun among one of my favorites. It was a pleasant surprise to discover that the holsters that I currently own would accommodate the Q5 with an optic installed!
A red dot optic on a handgun is not for everyone—it is going to require some dedication and involvement to become proficient with a red dot on your pistol. However, those who are willing to invest the effort will be rewarded with the ability to perform at a higher level of speed and accuracy than can be achieved with the same level of practice with iron sights.
Walther has done their due diligence to provide the shooter with the right set up. I predict that the Q5 Match will quickly find a home not only in the competition arena, but in the winner’s circle as well.
For more information about Walther products, visit http://www.waltherarms.com/
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