The PPQ Rattle Explained

There’s been a few discussions about how the Walther PPQ gives off a rattle when you shake the gun, whereas the VP9 and many other guns do not give off a rattle at all, with some concluding that the PPQ is of lesser quality than other handguns such as the VP9.

This impression is somewhat disturbing as I’ve stripped both guns apart completely, and I noticed nothing that would indicate how one pistol is of superior quality in fit and finish than another gun.  In fact, I found the PPQ to be more accurate of a pistol.

So what’s the deal?

To get to the bottom of the issue, let’s first measure the actual frame to slide fit of each pistol, and see if it’s true that the PPQ is more “sloppy”.

VP9 slide to frame fit:

Rail thickness – 0.0700″
Slide groove opening – 0.0750″
Amount of play – 0.0050″

PPQ slide to frame fit:

Rail thickness – 0.0595″
Slide groove opening – 0.0620″
Amount of play – 0.0025″

So mechanically speaking, the PPQ has a tighter slide to frame fit and has less play involved.  Then why would the PPQ rattle?

The answer lies not in the pistol’s fit and finish, but how hard the recoil spring is pushing the slide against the frame when the pistols are in battery.

The first picture shows the position of the markers when the gun is in battery, I put a masking tape on, then cut the tape with a razor blade between the slide and the frame.

IMG_3735

Then I took off the slide lock so that the recoil spring is returned to its neutral position held together by the guide rod:

IMG_3734

Difference in distance between slide unlock and locked positions:

VP9 – 0.105″
PPQ – 0.02″

Having to travel 0.1 inch, the higher compression of the VP9’s slide against the frame means there’s a constant pressure pushing the slide up and away from the frame at all times.  In fact, it takes about 3lbs of force to push or wiggle the slide against the frame.  The PPQ on the other hand, barely applied any force on the frame, making the slide able to wiggle freely.

Does this difference in design determine fit and finish quality?  Obviously not.  It does raise the question of “would a difference in initial compression of the recoil spring make a difference in felt recoil”?  Now that’s a much more interesting question.  Almost everyone talk about how the PPQ has a stronger felt recoil than the VP9, but the bore axis on the PPQ is only about 0.1″ higher than the VP9.

Update: (July, 2016)

Having tried a soft recoil spring on my PPQ, I’ve noticed that there weren’t that much of a difference in recoil.  The fact remains that the PPQ has a stronger flip than the VP9.

But back to the worry over the PPQ rattle.  Conclusion here is that rattle comes from recoil spring placement and strength, not a sign of higher or lower quality on a polymer pistol.  Perhaps what’s more important are factors such as accuracy, trigger group, reset, and other factors that actually determine accuracy and longevity of a pistol.  All these categories combined still outweigh the higher muzzle flip on the PPQ.

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12 thoughts on “The PPQ Rattle Explained

    • Yes, if any guide rod is slightly longer than the standard one, then the rattle will be reduced. There are 2 or 3 metal guide rod options out there, and it would be interesting to measure them and see if they will provide a more snug fit.

      • Thanks for response. I’ll start doing my research. If you end up replacing yours please post on it as I’m sure a lot of people are interested in finding good simple ways to make the gun even a little bit better. Its a great base but always fun to tweak with.

  1. So happy to have found your website. You do really great explanations and diagrams mechanically how the trigger movements work.
    Havent noticed the PPQ rattle on my M1 but ill look later.

    Another big thanks is on the Spring kit ideas from home depot.
    Better cost savings FYI (if you are a prime member) try this
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000K7M36W

  2. Unfortunately, you give numbers that apply to the “up and down” fit… which is indeed quite good. The problem is in the left/right fit, which at the rear, is perfectly good. The front L/R is where the problem is! The L/R play looks to be an atrocious .020″ or so. While I would have checked any Glock, S&W. etc for such issues, I foolishly assumed quality was a given on this German pistol. ‘Fraid not. Quality – in the crapper. I will be selling this one

    • You’re correct about the fact that the play on the front of the slide is greater than the back. However the play, which is about 0.020″ (0.015 on mine) is still lower than the side to side play on a VP9, which is about 0.025″. Load a PPQ with some Lawman 115gr ammo and see if a Glock, HK or other polymer pistol can outshoot a PPQ in accuracy would be a more meaningful test.

  3. Just checked my PPQ M2 5″, no rattle at all, can move it a few thousand left to right by hand but no rattle. I do have aftermarket metal guide rod, for a 5″, BT guide rod assemble, no rattle no matter how hard I try.But I maybe have 1500 rounds through mine as I had it replaced by Walther after the Front Picatinny Rail notch broke off using a laser on it. so this gun is only 3 months old, as they replaced the complete pistol at Walthers

  4. Hi there Lanzer,

    I really like you post of the PPQ. All the info is very detail so I learned a great deal. i do not consider myself capable of doing something the adjustable creep conversion but the trigger return spring weight reduction is doable for me.

    I did notice the rattle noise on my PPQ with the original recoil guide rod assembly and with the new DPS system recoil guide assembly. It seems to me that the cause is how the slide fits on the polymer body thru the metal guides on the polymer body (two on each side of the body). I notice the same noise when I move or wiggle the slide on to the polymer body with my fingers gripping the slide and the other hand holding the polymer body. I tried this ton both ends of the slide and I noticed the rattle sound and I am able to see how much it moves. it is very noticeable.
    Also there is quite a gap between the slide and the polymer body. this may be part of the issue.

    Like you mentioned before this does not take away from the accuracy and shoot ability of the pistol.

    I do still welcome any enhancement to make a great pistol even better. you should try the Apex forward set trigger and let us know if the enhancements in your post are still beneficial. i refer in particular to the adjustable creep conversion guide and the other areas that you did smooth on the trigger and the sear housing assembly to avoid the grinding feeling on the trigger.

    Thanks a lot for the great articles

    • Thanks for leaving the comment. In regards to the rattle, many people compare the rattle between polymers and think that it’s all due to the gap between slide and guides on the frame. In reality more often than not, the lack of rattle is just caused by tension from the recoil spring. From an engineering standpoint, I do wish that the parts are more tight, but that’s because I’ll never get my gun dirty. 🙂 I don’t have plans to buy the Apex trigger because I really don’t like the way flat triggers feel. I’ve heard from very credible members on the Walther forums that the flat trigger is fantastic, and I don’t doubt its performance. To me it’s just a preference.

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