Thursday, January 8, 2015

A pleasant fun shop surprise.

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.



MamaLiberty said...

One of my students bought a Walther PPQ in 9mm. I've shot it a good number of times and it is a very good gun. She likes it exactly for the slide, saying it is easier to rack than any other she tried. That's a big thing for lots of women, though it never mattered that much to me.

I can say that I like the Walther she has almost as well as my XD compact 9mm... but not quite. As with so many other guns, the Walther trigger is ALMOST too far away for my short fingers. I can shoot it, but can't hold it absolutely square as I can the XD.

I don't use the trigger "reset" at all, and don't actually see any trigger difference between the XD and the Walther. I'll leave that to the purists. LOL

Paul Bonneau said...

I've got a PPQ. The trigger on mine is pretty good, but still definitely inferior to my CZ-75, as is the inherent accuracy of the gun. In fact I wouldn't even have looked for an alternative if I had not finally got tired of the weight of the CZ.

But I do like the PPQ. The trapezoidal slide probably makes IWB carry easier although I don't carry that way. The grip is very good which I consider more important than most people, apparently (almost as good as the CZ, heh).

In fact now that I think of it, the PPQ can be considered, "almost a CZ-75"! :-)