Those new to handgun ownership likely won’t be aware of how much the landscape has changed in recent years. The sidearm market has become dominated by polymer frame guns, and as a result many newer shooters don’t know what they’re missing. Veteran gun enthusiasts, however, will miss the familiar feel and balance of an all-steel model that you simply don’t get from polymer frames. No matter how light and durable they may be.
In this, the short 4 inch version of the 9mm Steel Frame pistol, Walther reassert not only the engineering prowess they built their brand upon, but a dedication to the old school frame composition that so many of us yearn for. There’s really nothing like the feel, precision, control and reassuring heft of an all-steel pistol.
But is there more to this model than nostalgia? Does Walther make good on the promise of its branding and deliver something that will appeal to seasoned gun lovers and newbies in equal measure? Let’s take a closer look…
At a glance
Essentially, the BMW of handguns, Walther’s precision engineering can be heard and felt in every round fired. The Q4 Steel is a double-action, striker-fired semi-automatic pistol that has a Browning-type tilting barrel. As in Walther’s Q5 Match series, the genetics of the PPQ can be seen throughout the build, most notably the slide’s distinctive contours, the ignition system and the configuration of the controls.
The one-piece grip profile ensures that the pistol remains secure when firing. However, you can gun hard for as long as you need to and you’ll never get the cutting sensation in the hand that can plague some steel framed pistols. The front strap and trigger guard have a distinctive checkering that ensure secure purchase for the trigger finger.
When it comes to aesthetics, everyone is looking for something a little different in a sidearm. And while reliability, accuracy and handling trump good looks any day of the week it’s okay to admit that the look of your weapon is important to you.
Suffice to say that the Walther Q4 is a very handsome little pistol!
The 7.4″ long PPQ-style slide features the distinctive cocking serrations, although this model lacks the cutouts that were used in the Q5 Match series to reduce weight. You’ll notice that there’s a matte-black Tenifer finish to carbon steel slide which is not only aesthetically appealing, it also improves durability. The barrel, internal components and frame are also treated with Tenifer to protect your weapon from wear and corrosion.
While this model takes many of its aesthetic traits from the PPQ range, it lacks the interchangeable back featured in the polymer models. There is a one-piece polymer grip that wraps around three sides of the frame, held in position by four hex head screws.
You won’t find a single tool mark anywhere inside or outside, either. Such is the trademark Walther precision and attention to detail.
Handling and ergonomics
The Walther Q4 SF doesn’t just look great, it feels great too. As previously stated, old school gun enthusiasts will appreciate the reassuring heft of the carbon steel frame. But that doesn’t mean that the Q4 is too heavy to be a viable concealed carry weapon. In fact, this model has a couple of facets that are designed to make it easier for use by law enforcement or anyone else licensed to carry a concealed weapon. The beavertail grip extension has been shortened and rounded to ensure a snug fit in law enforcement-type holsters that use retention hoods for comfort and safety. It also protects the hand from uncomfortable slide bite.
The gun is also whisper quiet and rattle-free for maximum discretion when concealed.
The trigger and reset have a satisfying crispness, with a 5.6 pound trigger pull. Best of all, the contact points between the slide and the frame are so smooth that you likely won’t feel the need to break this weapon in to ensure reliable firing.
Contrary to popular belief, this is not a chop job of the Q5 Match SF and the frame has been meticulously rebalanced in ways that play to the strengths of a heavier steel framed weapon like less perceived recoil.
Cleaning and maintenance are easy with this weapon, too. Just lock the slide in the open position, rotate the take down lever clockwise, depress the slide stop and then ease it forward into the closed position. Press and release the trigger and the slide assembly can then be pushed forward away from the frame. Lift the out the recoil assembly and the barrel and your weapon is ready for cleaning.
All in all, this is a reassuringly robust but eminently comfortable weapon to use.
Of course, when it boils down to it you need a firearm with accuracy, and the same precision engineering that goes into this weapon’s ergonomics is also brought to bear on its accuracy. In fact, with the Q4 you’re getting a competition gun disguised as a carry piece.
Using the iron sights, a skilled shooter can expect groups of between 2.5” and 3” at 25 yards.
This model comes with a factory-fitted LPA micrometer sight. This can be replaced by a red dot sight using plates which are sold separately. There’s also buzz of an Optics Ready version in the pipeline.
Weighing in at just under 40 ounces with an empty magazine, this steel frame pistol is over 50% heavier than its polymer counterpart, and may be unwieldy for those who are looking for a light, discreet weapon. However, those who prefer a firearm with a reassuring heft, or those who appreciate the reliability of an all-steel frame will appreciate all the care and attention that has gone into every facet of this weapon.
Perfectly balanced, handsomely crafted and intelligently engineered, the Q4 should more than fulfill most people’s requirements for a handgun. Whether you’re looking for a competition gun, a duty model or something reliable to protect your home and family, this model won’t disappoint.