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For Episode 100 we decided to do something a little special: We put an HK VP9 against a Walther PPQ and took them to the range to shoot side by side with Bob who’s been on the podcast in Episodes 30 and 54. We shot about 300 rounds between the two pistols, rotating shooters, and doing our best to find out where the weak points are on both of them. The two pistols are surprisingly similar, both being polymer 9mm service pistols close in size to the Glock 19. Both the VP9 and PPQ hold 15 rounds on 9mm in the magazine, and aesthetically they look very close.
Here’s the skinny on the HK VP9 vs. Walther PPQ:
Both the VP9 and PPQ have interchangeable grips. The PPQ has 3 sizes of backstraps that can be changed, and the VP9 has 3 sizes of backstraps, as well as 3 sizes of grip side panels that can be changed to change the palm swell of the grips.
The grips of both pistols were very comfortable, and the backstraps on each of them can be changed after driving out a roll pin at the bottom of the grip.
The sights on both the VP9 and the PPQ leave a bit to be desired. The VP9 that we had for review has the luminescent sights that get charged up by ambient light, and then they glow for a few hours after the fact. Outdoors these sights aren’t too bad (they have a decent sight picture that allows a little bit of light on each side of the front sight) but on the indoor range with bright LED lighting we found that the glowing dots on the sights grabbed a LOT of light, and became pretty distracting when attempting to shoot the pistol accurately at 20 yards.
The sights on the Walther PPQ were a little better. Standard 3-dot sights, with an adjustable rear. The notch in the rear sight is quite wide which allowed for a good sight picture, and the LED lighting in the indoor range didn’t make the dots wash out like the VP9. I was concerned that the wide rear notch would make the PPQ hard to shoot accurately, but that wasn’t the case as I was able to slow fire the PPQ best at 20 yards.
Both pistols have great trigger pulls, but the contrary to the hype, all three of us thought the PPQ had a better trigger. They are both short, crisp-ish, typical striker fired pistol triggers, however the PPQ’s trigger is absolutely ball bearing smooth. It’s so smooth that it makes the trigger weight feel much lighter than it really is. The VP9 trigger is nice, especially when compared to most any other striker fired pistol, but it’s not as nice as the PPQ.
Ben really liked that both pistols have forward cocking serrations on the slide, and the VP9’s “cocking wings” on the rear of the slide that make using the slingshot type grip just a little easier on that pistol. The two pistols had a distinctly different recoil impulse, with the PPQ having more of a snap, and the VP9 having more of a push. If I had to guess I’d have to say the lighter PPQ has a faster lock time, which gives it that snappy feel. I think we all liked the faster recoil impulse of the PPQ best.
The PPQ that we reviewed was the PPQ M2 version that has a button magazine release, vs the original PPQ pistols that have a paddle type. We all found the button to be nice and big, but not so big that it gets in the way. It was really well done. The VP9 has the standard P30 type of magazine release which is a little harder for me to get to, and requires shifting the pistol in my hand a bit to hit it reliably. The VP9 magazine release is ambidextrous and the PPQ’s magazine release is reversible.
We did a bunch of shooting with the pistols at the 10 yard line, and then moved the targets out to the 20 yard line and shot them slow for accuracy. The VP9 seemed to want to group to the left of the bullseye no matter how much or little trigger finger I used, and the PPQ stacked rounds vertically right along the axis of the bullseye. Both pistols held tight groups, with the VP9’s group being about 4.5″ and the PPQ grouping just under 4″. We didn’t shoot them off of a ransom rest, so this isn’t really a test of mechanical accuracy, just one C-class USPSA shooter shooting the pistols…
Shooting the VP9 and PPQ fast and slow, using reloads, and doing our best to really wring them out we didn’t have any malfunctions to speak of. Both pistols were very reliable, no complaints there.
Given HK’s reputation, I think all three of us went into this thinking that the VP9 would be the winner, but after doing all the shooting, the underdog PPQ was the winner. It has a great trigger pull, good sights, nice magazines, and just seems to shoot a little better than the VP9. The VP9 however is a fantastic pistol as well, and I wouldn’t blame someone from buying either one of these as a self defense or beginner competition pistol.