Concealed Carry

Walther Q4 SF — The Steel Frame Striker

Walther Q4 handgun resing on a flat of ammunition ona wood shooting bench

The bulk of the handguns I evaluate trends toward small-to-medium-sized polymer guns that are optimized for size and weight but still give the shooter a viable gun for self-defense. That doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate guns built for other purposes or with other parameters. Especially when they are a work of art and engineering, such as the Walther Q4 SF.

When the Q4 was first announced, I was in a pool of writers all vying for the opportunity to get our hands on one of the limited number available for the press. As luck would have it, I got one of the first ones. That was a little over a year ago, and I’ve had the opportunity to use and enjoy the Q4 in various roles since that time.

Walther Q4 9mm pistol, right, profile
The Q4 has aggressive but ergonomically comfortable grips, a large undercut trigger guard, Picatinny rail and generous ejection port.

A Little Background

All-steel guns. Aren’t they heavy? Why sure. Heavy like my 40-ounce Colt Q45 Marine 1911. Heavy like the new SIG 320 X5 Legion. Heavy like the SIG P226 the SEALs carry. Speaking of the P226, the Q4 fits right into a couple of my IWB/OWB holsters made specifically for the P226, and that’s saving me money.

I know people balk at the idea of carrying a gun that weighs anywhere close to two pounds, but lots of us carry them. It’s simply a matter of having the right belt/holster combination. I am admittedly a big guy around the midsection, but I have buddies who are beanpoles who carry big guns because they like them, and the right holster makes it not a problem.

What makes this gun worth even thinking about carrying it on your person? Let’s start with the name Walther. Technically it’s Carl Walther GmbH Sportwaffen. However, it is known around the world as simply Walther, makers of some of the finest pistols on the planet from ultra-small hideout guns to the Q5 Match and the Q4 which is the subject of this review.

The Walther factory was churning out police guns before WWII and P08s during the war — until the factory was destroyed near the end of the war. Production resumed after the war with a contract to equip the new West German Army with P38s — renamed P1. Walther was acquired by Umarex in 1993 and now has a distribution facility for the U.S. in Fort Smith, AR.

Walther has been responsive to the concealed carry market with several fine pistols including the easy-to-rack PDP (Performance Duty Pistol) that in appearance and operation is very much like the Q4, except the PDP is a polymer-framed handgun. Like the PDP, the Q4 is a smooth operator.

Walther Q4 9mm pistol, left, profile
Cocking serrations front and rear, and a long, flat slide lock, make operation of the slide easy. The large mag release button can be swapped to the right side.

Walther Q4 SF Features

Cycling the slide, and operating the trigger, reminds me of driving my son’s Bimmer. The parts are fitted superbly, and the overall balance makes the weight seem inconsequential. The pistol is 7.25 inches from the crown of the muzzle to the back of the generously long beavertail. It measures 5.25 inches from the top of the rear sight to the base of the magazine. These are typical dimensions for a mid-size defensive pistol.

The Q4 is wider than many, measuring 1.37 inches at its widest point at the ambidextrous slide locks. Speaking of slide locks, these are some of the easiest to operate in the industry. They’re long and thin which helps in two ways — leverage and positioning.

Your thumb can operate it from wherever your thumb naturally rests, instead of having to reposition it to find a small lever. The slide locks are also recessed to help with concealability. The frame is machined from solid steel billet and interfaces with the slide as if they were hand-filed to match — German engineering at its finest.

Walther Q4 9mm semi automatic handgun in an Alien Gear holster
The author finds carrying the Q4 easy in this Alien Gear IWB holster.

The slide profile is a familiar one if you’ve handled other mid to full-size Walthers. The sides and front are rounded. There are cocking serrations front and rear with the Walther logo superimposed over the front ones.

The top of the slide has full-length, anti-glare grooves and large phosphoric night sights. A large opening is cut for ejection and a small window at the rear of the port on the righthand side serves as a loaded chamber indicator. The combination of the slide’s weight, the excellent machining of the steel, and the balance of the recoil spring make racking the slide an easy task — even for my arthritic hands.

The trigger guard is large enough for gloves and generously undercut to allow a high grip. The whole scheme of the grip promotes a strong grip. The metal wrap-around grip panel is aggressively textured but not painfully so. The palm swell produces a natural fit and the checkering extends to the front and rear.

Walther Q4 handgun quartering away showing night sights
Large phosphorus sights on the standard model are easy to see regardless of the light.

You can operate this gun when it’s raining, snowing, or muddy, and you’re not likely to drop it. But if you do, there is a drop safety for the trigger. There’s also a blade safety on the trigger.

The front of the trigger guard is squared off with a small tab. I’ve read many instructors and reviewers who discourage putting the index finger of the support hand on the front of the trigger guard, and I think I was once in that group. However, these days as I’m dealing with age-related shaky hands, I find that position helps, and it works on the Q4. Ahead of the trigger guard, a three-slot Picatinny rail facilitates mounting your favorite light, laser, or combo. The big mag release button behind the trigger guard is reversible.


There are two things somewhat legendary about Walther handguns, both found on this model. One is the barrel, which is known to be very accurate for a production gun. The other is what Walther calls the Quick Defense trigger, hailed by many as one of the best striker-fired triggers in the industry.

I haven’t fired every striker-fired pistol out there, but I have fired a lot of them. I have to say this trigger is one of the best. There’s less than .25-inch take-up, then a very smooth break at about 5.5 pounds. Reset is almost too short to measure.

In addition to the firearm with two magazines, a magazine loader and the requisite lock in the plastic carrying case the Q4 arrived in, there was a 15-meter target fired by Heir Graetz at the factory with a group that I thought might be a challenge for me to beat. It wasn’t.

Walther Q4 9mm pistol with spare magazine and magazine loader
The Q4 ships with two magazines and a mag loader.

At the Range

The Q4 made me look good on the very first outing with one of my grandsons and his friend. As I invited them to shoot it, I discovered it made them look good, too. Most of the ammo I had with me that day was 115-grain. I shot some pretty good groups from 10–12 yards, but the best ones were with 135-grain Speer Gold Dot Carry Gun. That made me think the gun might like heavier rounds better.

On the next range trip, I shot heavier defensive rounds: Hornady 135-grain Critical Duty, Speer’s 135-grain Gold Dot Carry Gun, Speer 147-grain G2 and SIG Sauer’s 147-grain V-Crown. The SIG Sauer V-Crown rounds almost followed each other into the same hole. The other heavier rounds also grouped very well.

This was the first time for me to shoot Critical Duty in years because it hurts me to shoot it, but not with the Q4. My entire shooting session with these heavier rounds was comfortable because of the weight and action of the gun. I was in no hurry to end the shooting session, and I experienced no discomfort later.

Walther Q4 9mm pistol with a box of SIG Sauer V-Crown ammunition resting a bullseye target
The Q4 is exceptionally accurate. It really likes the heavier-grained 9mm bullets as indicated by this 12-yard offhand target with Sig Sauer 147 grain V-Crown.

Parting Thoughts

My Walther Q4 left the factory before they started adding an optic-ready slide. Those are now available, and at a recent writer’s conference, I did get a chance to shoot a Q4 with a Riton red dot sight mounted on it. I found it a delight to shoot and easily blew the center out of a target that was 15 yards down range. If you’re looking for a quality handgun that will last several lifetimes, you can’t go wrong with a Walther Q4 SF.

Steel guns are not as in vogue as polymer designs, but like the Walther Q4, they have their following and fans. What is your preference polymer, steel, or both? Share your answer and why in the comment section.

  • Loaded chamber window through the ejection port
  • Walther Q4 9mm pistol, left, profile
  • Walther Q4 9mm pistol, right, profile
  • Walther Q4 9mm semi automatic handgun in an Alien Gear holster
  • Walther Q4 handgun quartering away showing night sights
  • Walther Q4 9mm pistol with spare magazine and magazine loader
  • Walther Q4 9mm semiautomatic resting on a piece of angle iron
  • Walther Q4 handgun resing on a flat of ammunition ona wood shooting bench
  • Walther Q4 9mm pistol with a box of SIG Sauer V-Crown ammunition resting a bullseye target
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Comments (13)

  1. I love my Q4 SF OR. Just mounted a SIG RomeoPRO with the circle/dot reticle on it. Makes aiming way faster. Might have to get my SP01 Shadow milled. I don’t believe I’d ever buy a new semi auto not milled for an optic now.

  2. Todd, you asked about holsters. I’ve used the following holsters built originally for a P226 with the Walther and with several other semi-automatics: 1) Crossbreed SuperTick, 2) Bullard Leather Co. – Dual Carry (can be IWB or OWB), 3) Alien Gear

  3. Up until 4-5 years ago all I owned were steel guns. The only polymer gun I trusted was a Glock. They had been around since the 80’s and I had gotten used to seeing them around, I
    but wasn’t a big fan. But weird things happen in this funky old World. My old partner and very dear friend died, he didnt have much,, but he was always generous & he left me some things. That’s how I became the owner of a Taurus G2 Millennium. My partner swore by it. I personally would have never given a $5 bill for a Taurus, let alone a polymer 9mm sub compact “girl gun”. Boy was I wrong on so many levels, and my ignorance caused me to miss out on a lot of fun. I’ve always been a huge revolver fan to this day I still am. I’ve had semi autos and
    I carried a 9mm all through the 90’s, never had a problem with it. It served me well, but when it comes to shooting large calibers especially if we’re just out shooting for fun, I’ll take a revolver over a SA every time. I love them with the bigger rounds, like 38, 357 Mag, 45, 44 Mag. It’s just my thing.
    I don’t knock anyone for the type of firearms they like.
    I have shot a lot of 9mm but since I medically retired I had gotten away from 9mm, and semi autos in general. All except 2 of the pistols I own are revolvers. I like the big calibers, (For No other reason than I just like to hear sh** go “Boom!”). The only autos I own are my 9mm, and a Glock 21.
    I do admit the 9mm turned out to be quite convenient, light weight, and very reliable. When I CC it’s almost always that 9mm, mainly for capacity. But also for weight. I do have a 44 Special snub-nose it’s a Charter Arms Bulldog that seems lighter than the 9mm, but a snub nose 44 is a hand full, and an ear ringer.
    With the 9mm I started seeing what the fuss was about with these polymer frames. Then I had the opportunity to shoot a Glock 21. I had shot Glocks in the past but they never swayed me either way. I just never caught “Glock-Fever” (Just not the fan boy type). But those were all 9mm. Then I shot the 21 and I fell in love, IMO the most under rated Glock on the market is the 21. It is a lot bigger than most Glocks, but when its fired its a lot more comfortable than most steel framed 45’s. I don’t have big hands. Most steel 45 autos are heavy, a little awkward and always have a pretty good thump from the recoil, and frankly I don’t care for them. Generally if I’m shooting lager calibers I want a revolver. It’s just my preference, but unless it’s a rifle, semi autos just don’t suit me personally, never have.
    But this Glock felt like it wasn’t going anywhere, like it was made for my hand. It was really enjoyable and it felt like the pistol was drinking up all the recoil. Way better than any revolver I’ve owned, except maybe my King Cobra
    I realize not everyone might have that experience, but to me it felt amazing. I finally found a 45 Auto I really enjoyed shooting. I love that pistol, and I would never part with it, and same goes for my 9mm. I’ve learned that sometimes changes is not only better, it can be fun.

  4. Dave you mention several holsters you had for for P226 that fit the Q4 SF. Could you let us know which ones they were?

  5. I have several of both (polymer & all metal) handguns. Enjoy shooting all of them. Now that I have filled out my “wishlist” of styles & calibers, I am only buying all steel handguns as I imagine my collection being a legacy to pass down to my children & grandchildren. I just don’t see my Gen 3 Glocks and S&W M&Ps being still reliable 100+ years (and thousands of rounds) from now in the same way a WW I 1911 would today.

  6. There are lots of good handguns out there, most reliable and accurate. Those of us that have collected and shoot them since the early 80’s appreciate the great improvement in manufacturing and metallurgy. That said, Walther is at the top of the hill, with few friends right behind!

  7. I prefer steel-framed guns for home-defense, due to the reduced recoil which may result in faster follow-up shots and polymer guns for every day carry due to the lighter weight. Am glad that gun manufacturers make both, allowing-us to purchase the best gun for it’s intended use.

  8. Would it be a crime if you actually mentioned the caliber the gun is chambered in? Nowhere in your text do you mention that particular information. If I have overlooked it in the 3 times I read this article, this 70 year old apologizes.

  9. while a steel frame pistol might be heavier to carry, it is infinitely more accurate and pleasant to shoot.

  10. My preference is 100% all steel gun. The steel handles the recoil better and feels balanced. The polymer gun feels top heavy with the steel slide over the plastic. Just my opinion.

  11. i seriously dont know wtf pics or gun u are handling but that “undercut trigger guard aint spit” i dare to compare!!!!!!!!

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