Had an unexpectedly pleasant chat with a counter-fella at one of my "local" fun shops, and got a chance to do a little more side-by-side comparison of a few defensive pistols. Some interesting data points, plus a real surprise I wasn't expecting from a piece I hadn't met before now.
I've written here before about being impressed by the Springfield XD-S 4.0 as the logical heir to the Colt Commander. I still stand by that idea on the whole, but I have to admit that a S&W Shield in .40 seems to stand right there with the XD-S 3.3 in .45, as an EDC pistol. It's comfy in the hand, and dang if that thumb safety doesn't continue to work every time I try it out, despite always looking and feeling "too small".
I also got to compare the single-stack XD-S against double-stack XD-Ms in both .40 and .45, and essentially confirmed what I'd concluded last time I handled those guns: as double-stacks go they are among the most comfortable I've met--but I still don't much care for double-stack guns.
Trigger comparisons were very interesting, especially now having met a sufficient handful of examples of each model. Both among XD pistols and Shields, it seems that the quality of both trigger pull and reset can be highly variable in individual samples, and when the time finally comes for me to acquire one for myself, I will probably just shop triggers. (That may yet be a while, of course, both with my being freshly unemployed and having used up a great deal of gun karma on the Gunsmoke projects. And to be honest, my humble little Kahr CW40 already serves this functional need; has done so admirably for nearly a decade now.) At their best, all can be very good; at their worst they are still better than revolver triggers, and most seem to be distinctly in between.
All this is mostly confirmation of previous meetings, of course. It's good to see the consistencies stack up, and I now think I can discuss these pieces with a bit more confidence when noobs ask me questions. Fortunately, there is much of interest to discuss between the XD-S and Shield options.
Then, I had occasion to pick up a Walther PPQ, which I had not met before.
It's not in the same category as the XD-S / Shield / Kahr; Walther's entry in that space is the PPS, which I've not met in firearm form yet. (I do have a spring-piston Airsoft replica PPS, and frankly I've been pretty impressed with it thus far--I hope to meet the firearm soon.) The PPQ is a full-sized pistol in 9mm and .40, and most dimensions and stats seem pretty standard and even humdrum.
In the hand, though, that grip is uniquely comfortable. It is far and away the most comfortable double-stack grip I have ever picked up. I'll be interested to see if I have the same experience next time; I was not expecting it to be that nice. Most of the rest of it seemed to be as I'd expect from a brand like Walther, and I suspect it will run as well as anything else in its class. On the downside, I'm not a fan of the overtly trapezoidal slide (a slab-sided slide is easier to manipulate) and I positively dislike large slide stops.
Then I tried the trigger.
Really? Whoa, that was nice! Will it do that again? Then I tried the reset, and nearly fell over. The fella behind the counter started giggling knowingly, having seen my expression after running the test. "I see you noticed," he said. "Hell yeah I noticed. Jeez, is that for real?" I asked, racking the slide over and over again to prove to myself I hadn't hallucinated it. At least on this example, yeah, it's for real.
This is a striker-fired pistol, but I swear that trigger felt nearly like a 1911 in its release and reset. Not a match 1911 maybe, but certainly a good street gun. Like no other striker-fired gun I've seen, tuned or otherwise. Sure, I realize maybe it's just this one example, but it sure got my attention, and you can be certain that I'll check out every PPQ I can find for a while, to see if it's inherent to the design. If it is, then at the price I saw this gun at, that is one hell of a value in a full-sized pistol.
I'd kinda written Walther off years ago, on account of not liking their fire-control systems, but between the promise of the PPS and this first introduction to the PPQ, I think I may have to rethink that.