April 22, 2019
By Eric R. Poole
Tired of Polymer? Some days, in this job, I am, too. I’m very familiar with Walther’s line of PPQ polymer-framed models, so I wasn’t prepared for the enhanced shootability of Walther’s new Q5 Match SF.
It is not just the new steel frame that caught my attention, it’s the pistol’s assemblage. It’s the lightened slide, the tacky wrap-around grip, the stipple-like texturing, the 17-round magazine and the flared magwell. Each component helps to make this pistol feel like it’s not moving in your hands when burning down targets. Replace the rear sight plate with a mini red dot and a day at the range gets even better. This pistol feels like you’re cheating, but the end result still amounts to a win.
There are two steel-frame models: Standard and Pro. The Pro adds an extended, wide-mouth aluminum magazine well to smoothly funnel any one of the three 17-round magazines provided. The magazines are the standard PPQ 15-round mags given plus-two base pads, which are necessary so that they can be seated in the deeply beveled magazine well. The Standard model lacks the mag well and is supplied with three flush-fit, 15-round PPQ magazines. The Standard model is also 1 ounce lighter and $100 less than the Pro.
The steel frame is really what’s new for the Q5 Match, which was previously only available as a polymer-frame pistol. Under the barrel is the frame’s extended, full-length rail, which adds weight out front where it helps to keep the muzzle down, reducing felt recoil. There’s also a huge beavertail at the rear of the SF, which eliminates any chance of your hand being bitten by the quick-cycling slide.
Control is amazing and something I also credit to three features: the checkering on the frontstrap and at the flat front of the triggerguard; the replaceable wrap-around grip panel that features stipple-like texturing and palm swells; and a hand-filling arch at the backstrap. Large and extra-large hands will also benefit from the upward pressure placed against the base of your grip’s pinky finger by the flared magwell on the Pro model.
The Q5 Match SF is competition ready, just like the original Q5 Match. The red fiber-optic front sight is fixed (and replaceable) and chased by a topstrap of glare-reducing serrations on a track between the sights. The rear sight is a black U-notch that lacks any white dots, white outline or tritium vials. The rear sight is fully adjustable for elevation using a flat-tipped screwdriver, but setting windage requires a jeweler’s.
The rear sight can easily be replaced with a red dot by removing the mounting plate assembly, which includes the dovetailed rear sight. Walther provides mounting bases to accept footprints for the new Aimpoint ACRO P-1, the Docter, Leupold and Trijicon red dots. Manufacturers sharing one of these patterns can be adapted, too.
Installing a red-dot sight is simple. Remove two hex screws using a provided 2.5mm wrench and remove the rear sight plate. Place an adapter on the slide with the markings down and tighten the hex screws to 18-inch-pounds (in.-lbs.) of torque. Then, install your red dot.
Unlike the polymer-framed PPQ and Q5 Match, the Q5 Match SF features wrap-around polymer grips. These can be removed and replaced with future aftermarket variants. Walther also intends to sell grips of various sizes and materials including G10 and laminate as well.
Before news of this pistol was released, I visited the U.S. Shooting Academy in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and evaluated a sample for accuracy and reliability alongside new members of Walther’s shooting team. I fired 2,000 rounds in one day without cleaning or oiling it. From beginning to end, it shot 1½-inch groups and never beat up my hands. It was awesome.
If you purchase the Standard model and later decide that you want to upgrade, Walther will also sell the magazine well in black or blue colors. (The blue matches the Q5’s trigger.) Walther will also offer a competition spring kit with heavy-, standard- and reduced-weight springs that can drop the trigger pull weight down to 3½ pounds while still being drop safe.
This Q5 Match SF is a gun built for range days and competition. From this, Walther indicates that it will follow up with a line of steel-frame, PPQ-derived pistols for the law enforcement and concealed carry markets. Yes, please.
Walther Q5 Match SF
- Type: Striker fired, recoil operated, semiautomatic
- Cartridge: 9mm
- Barrel: 5 in.
- Overall Length: 8.7 in.
- Weight: 2 lbs., 9.6 oz. (tested)
- Height: 5.9 in.
- Grip: Textured polymer; wrap-around (replaceable)
- Finish: Tenifer (steel)
- Trigger: 5 lbs., 4.5 oz. (tested)
- Sights: Fiber optic, red (front); U-notch, adj. (rear); red-dot optic mounts (incl.)
- MSRP: $1,500
- Manufacturer: Walther Arms, 479-242-8500, waltherarms.com
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